Essays are an incredibly important part of the application process, says Stacy Blackman, an MBA admissions consultant. Seemingly straightforward questions require a great deal of introspection. Make sure you budget time to draft and redraft, try new approaches and carefully edit so that each line packs the maximum punch
1 As soon as you know that you are going to apply to business school, you can start to prepare in a low-stress way. Keep a notebook and jot down anything interesting that comes to mind. An inspiring lecture, a disappointing performance review, an enlightening conversation with a friend, a travel experience, running a marathon, a stimulating book—all of these can be terrific material for your essays. Don't agonise over whether it will make a great topic, just jot it down. You will find that you quickly have a plethora of material to choose from.
2 As you begin to approach essay-writing time, consider putting together a “brag sheet”. Write down all of the things about you that would not necessarily appear on a résumé: languages you speak, all extracurricular involvements, family traditions and more. This can also be mined for essay content.
3 Once you have the essay questions in hand, there may still be a few stumpers. Even with lots of content, when you are faced with answering a question such as “What matters most to you?” it is difficult to decide. Here is an exercise that stops you from over-thinking: set your alarm clock for 3am. When you wake up, ask yourself the question. The first thing that comes to mind might surprise you. Do this for a couple of nights and you may come up with a few options or find that you are building a consensus around a certain topic.
4 Before you actually write the essays, take the final step of mapping out the general topics you will cover in each essay. As you map a topic to a question, check it off on a master list of stories you want to cover. This way, you can make sure that a given school is receiving all of your key stories, and that you are spreading out different stories across an application and not being repetitive.
5 Everyone works in different ways: some work best first thing in the morning, others are night owls. Some need to outline concepts on paper, others go straight to computer. So develop a plan that supports your individual style. Many find that the first application can take around 40 hours of work—brainstorming, drafting, editing, refining. As you approach this process, make sure you have the time. Tackle one application at a go. Do not take work leave or attempt it in a single week. Essays require time to gel. Therefore make sure that you have plenty of time to do it right. You may require six weeks, or you may even want 12.
6 Many applicants are inhibited by perfectionism. They can sit at the computer for hours, unable to generate that “perfect” essay, rewriting so furiously that they don't get past the first few sentences. It is often easier to edit than to write. So just type. A page full of so-so text is less intimidating than that blank page.
7 It is essential that you research your target schools and understand how to appeal to each of them. Each will have a slightly different ethos and look for something different in their students. But…
8 …you can also save yourself a bit of work. There are certain qualities that all business schools want to see in a successful applicant:
- team skills
- communication skills
Just saying “I am a strong leader” is not enough. Every claim you make must have supporting stories that help the reader believe you. You do not need to check off every quality on the list. Select a few that apply to you and reinforce those in an honest and compelling way.
9 Nobody is perfect. The schools know this and you need to show them that you are realistic and self-aware. Revealing your humanity—in the form of quirks, weaknesses and flaws—can often help the admissions committee to like you. A story about how you learned from a failure, improved upon a weakness or struggled with challenges can be compelling. The other side of this is the ability to demonstrate that you can really benefit from the MBA degree. If you know everything already, an admissions committee may wonder why you want to return to school.
10 Get some help. Even the most meticulous writers benefit from a second or third set of eyes. Ask someone to review your essays, look for typos and tell you if you are hitting all of the points in the right way. Is your attempt at humour coming off correctly? Do you seem too humble, too cocky, too serious, not serious enough? After you have been buried with your essays for weeks, a fresh perspective can often help you see the application as an admissions-committee member does: for the first time. Enlist someone who knows about the application process and make sure they are not just reassuring you that all is well, but are actually giving you some quality feedback.
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Masters in Business Administration or MBA has been the most looked up to programme. With its rigorous selection process, the programmes demand a lot from the students. The top 10 business schools (QS Rank 2017) are the most coveted and thousands of aspirants from all over the world apply for the programmes.
Top 10 Business Schools
London Business School
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
University of Pennsylvania
University of Oxford
University of Cambridge
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
The MBA selection process includes a detailed application which includes a brief one-page resume, letters of recommendation, and Essays. The MBA essay question topics are actually everyday experiences and qualities of aspirants. Essay topics revolve around leadership, ethical issues, goals. This helps the admission committee members judge the aspirants on a social level. Admission committee looks for good communication skills, leadership potential, and analytical skills as the primary characteristics in the aspirants.
The MBA essay questions of the top 10 business schools are:
1. Harvard Business School, Harvard University, USA
MBA Class of 2020 Essay Questions:
Q. As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?- No word limit
Application Fee: $250 or $100 for 2+2 program
Harvard Application Deadlines
06 September 2017
12 December 2017
03 January 2018
21 March 2018
02 April 2018
9 May 2018
10 April 2018
30 May 2018
Stuck with your essays? Download MBA Application Essays Guide E-book.
2. London Business School, UK MBA 2020
1. What are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business School programme contribute towards these? (500 words)
2. Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School? (Optional) (500 words)
Application Fee: £190
London Business School Application Deadlines:
15 September 2017
5th October 2017
mid-October - early November 2017
22rd November 2017
3rd January 2018
01 February 2018
early February - early March 2018
27nd March 2018
2nd March 2018
5th April 2018
Early – mid-April 2018
22 May 2018
20 April 2018
10th May 2018
Mid – end June 2018
19 June 2018
3. INSEAD France, MBA Programme
1. Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary (approximately 500 words).
2. Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned (approximately 400 words).*
3. Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (approximately 300 words)*
4. Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (approximately 300 words)
Important Application Deadlines: September 2018 intake (Class of July 2019): The application process takes approximately10 weeks.
20 September 2017
20 October 2017
24 November 2017
29 November 2017
12 January 2018
16 February 2018
24 January 2018
02 March 2018
06 April 2018
07 March 2018
13 April 2018
18 May 2018
Click here to know more about designing your MBA Resume.
4. Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA
MBA Essay Questions:
A. Please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence, include one or more examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions (300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation).
B. Optional Essay: Please provide any additional information you would like the Admissions Committee to know that may be helpful in evaluating your candidacy (i.e. choice of recommenders, areas of concern in your academic record, other extenuating circumstances, etc.). This information should be provided in a written format (200 words or less).
C. Video Statement: Please introduce yourself to your future classmates via a brief 60-second video statement. (This video will be used for application purposes only and will not be shared.) Videos should be a single take (no editing) lasting no more than one minute and consisting of you speaking directly to the camera. We recommend using an application such as QuickTime or iMovie to record yourself.
Application Fee: US$250.00
Sloan Application Deadlines
September 15, 2016
December 19, 2016
March 1, 2017
January 17, 2017
April 3, 2017
May 1, 2017
April 10, 2017
May 17, 2017
June 1, 2017
5. Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania
Essay 1: What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
Essay 2: Teamwork is at the core of the Wharton MBA experience with each student contributing unique elements to our collaborative culture. How will you contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words)
Additional Question (required for all Reapplicants):
Explain how you have reflected on the previous decision about your application, and discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words)*
Wharton Business School Application Deadlines:
September 19, 2017
October 31, 2017
December 14, 2017
January 3, 2018
February 8, 2018
March 29, 2018
March 27, 2018
April 12, 2018
May 10, 2018
6. Stanford University Graduate School of Business
1. What matters most to you, and why?
2. Why Stanford?
Application Fee: $275
Stanford University Application Deadlines:
Acceptance and Deposit
19 Sep 2017
14 Dec 2017
6 Feb 2018
10 Jan 2018
29 Mar 2018
30 April 2018
04 Apr 2018
17 May 2018
31 May 2018
7. Said Business School, University of Oxford
1.Consider a statistic or trend that shocks you. Why it is important to you and how could it be changed for the better? (Maximum 500 words)
2.Is there anything not covered in the application form which you would like the Admissions Committee to know about you? (Maximum 250 words)
If you are applying under the 1+1 scheme you also need to submit the following essay:
1.Explain why you see this as particularly beneficial for you and how it fits with your careers and personal development aims (Maximum 250 words)
Re-applicants will need to complete the essays mentioned above and another essay on the topic:
1.What improvements have you made in your candidacy since you last applied to the Oxford MBA? (Maximum 250 words)
Application Fee: £150
Said Business School Application Deadlines
29th September 2017
27th October 2017
08 December 2017
05 January 2018
26 January 2018
09 March 2018
16 March 2018
06 April 2018
04 May 2018
11 May 2018
25 May 2018
15 June 2018
8. Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
1. Please provide a personal statement. It should not exceed 500 words and must address the following questions:
What are your short and long-term career objectives and what skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you achieve them?
What actions will you take before and during the MBA to contribute to your career outcome?
If you are unsure of your post-MBA career path, how will the MBA equip you for the future?
What did you learn from your most spectacular failure? (200 words)
1. Describe a situation where you had to work jointly with others to achieve a common goal. What did you learn from the experience? (up to 200 words)
Application Fee: £150
Interview dates for Cambridge MBA class 2018/9
8 September 2017
22 and 23 October 2017
27 October 2017
10 and 11 December 2017
5 January 2018
25 and 26 February, 4 and 5 March 2018
9 March 2018
29 and 30 April 2018
4 May 2018
17 and 18 June 2018
Read MBA Essay on Failure - How to write about my biggest failure to know the aspects to focus on essays related to failure.
9. TRIUM Global Executive MBA, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
LSE offers the TRIUM Global Executive MBA Programme jointly with NYU Stern School of Business and HEC Paris School of Management. It is divided into six intellectually rigorous modules held in five international business locations over a 17-month period.
1. What are your motivations for applying to TRIUM in relation to your current short and long-term professional objectives? (500 words)
2.As a senior executive, how will you use TRIUM’s unique approach to navigate the current business landscape to ensure success for your business? (500 words)
3.Share a work experience that changed your professional outlook. Describe any challenging aspects and outcomes (500 words)
Is there anything else you would like to add that would help the Admissions Committee with their decision? (In any medium)
The application fee: US $250.
Next Application Deadline: 15 November 2017
10. HAAS Business School, University of California, Berkeley
1. Tell us a six-word story that reflects a memorable experience in your life-to-date. Elaborate on why it is meaningful to you. (250 words maximum)
2. Respond to one of the following prompts: (250 words maximum)
Describe a significant obstacle you have encountered and how it has impacted you.
Describe how you have cultivated a diverse and inclusive culture.
Describe a leadership experience and how you made a positive and lasting impact.
Briefly, describe your immediate post-MBA career goals. (50 words maximum)
How have prior experiences motivated and prepared you to pursue these goals? (250 words maximum)
Use this essay to share information that is not presented elsewhere in the application, for example:
September 21, 2017
September 21, 2017
December 14, 2017
January 4, 2018
January 4, 2018
March 22, 2018
April 5, 2018
April 5, 2018
May 10, 2018
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