The 2011–2012 MBA application season is officially afoot. Harvard Business School (HBS) has just released its essay questions, maintaining its tradition of being the first school to do so each year. HBS usually strikes first in early May, and the other top 15 schools follow suit shortly after, throughout May and even into early June.
The HBS watchers among you will notice two significant changes this year, the first of which is that the school has released almost all new questions. Of the six essay prompts that HBS offered last year, only one remains—the school’s famed “three accomplishments” essay. The second major change is to a streamlined application that offers candidates few options. For the past few years, HBS has required MBA candidates to respond to two essay questions, allowing them to choose from among four. Now applicants face four mandatory questions, leaving them nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. So, this change could limit your ability to play to your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses. Our analysis of HBS’s essay questions can be found here.