Archives For Essay Analysis

Five-Steps-Email-croppedAre you ready for the 2014–2015 MBA application season?

Join Manhattan Prep, mbaMission, and Poets & Quants for a free, five-part webinar series to help you prepare!

Three leaders in the MBA admissions space—Poets & QuantsmbaMission and Manhattan Prep—are banding together to ensure that you will be ready for the 2014–2015 MBA admissions season. Together, we are launching a free, five-part webinar series entitled “Five Steps to Business School Acceptance”! In each of the first four sessions, a senior consultant from mbaMission will address and explain a different significant admissions issue, while Poets & Quants’ John Byrne serves as host, moderating any questions and answers. Then, an expert from Manhattan Prep will present a challenging GMAT issue, offering insight, advice and more. The fifth and final session consists of a discussion panel with current admissions officers, sharing their thoughts and answering questions about the upcoming admissions season.

We hope you will join us for this special series. Please sign up for each session separately via the links below—space is limited.

Session 1: March 19, 2014 - Watch the recording of our first session here to see what all of the buzz is about! 

Session 2: April 2, 2014 - Click Here to watch the recording of Choosing the Right B-School and Advanced Quant

Session 3: April 16, 2014 - What Can I Do with My MBA? and Getting the Most Out of Your Practice GMAT Exams

Session 4: April 30, 2014 - Essay Writing Workshop and Advanced Sentence Correction

Session 5: May 14, 2014 - Questions and Answers with MBA Admissions Officers

Do you have questions for our GMAT and MBA admissions experts? Ask them in the comments below, and we will do our best to answer them in the Q&A sessions following each presentation, or reach out to use on social using the hashtag #fivesteps.

We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper).

To us at mbaMission, one of the most notable things about the essay questions Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business is posing this application season is that the program has changed its approach to length guidelines by shifting from “double-spaced page” requirements to specific word counts. Candidates who have surveyed the school’s past questions may notice that Tepper has reframed several of its queries. The short- and long-term goals prompts are separated both from one another and from the “why Tepper” query, and the previous question about an obstacle or ethical dilemma has been replaced by one with a more internal focus, asking candidates to share an instance that fundamentally influenced who they are today. And rather than requesting that applicants pinpoint something surprising about themselves or that makes them proud, the school wants a more general exploration of what the candidate might contribute to the Tepper community in the long and short term alike. We feel these broader prompts may allow you to provide a more rounded and personal picture of yourself to the admissions committee, so let us examine each one a little more closely…CMU

Short Answer 1 (Maximum 250 words):  What is your professional goal immediately following graduation from the Tepper School?

Short Answer 2 (Maximum 250 words):  What are your long term career goals?

These two short answer questions cover the basic short- and long-term goals elements of a traditional personal statement. To help applicants write this style of essay for any school, we have produced the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which we offer to candidates free of charge, via our online store. Please feel free to download your copy today.

Essay 1 (Maximum 500 words): What transferrable skills have you developed that are related to your professional goals outlined in Short Answer 1?  Additionally, identify the skills that you will need to develop or enhance. Specifically, how will the Tepper MBA help you develop these skills?

With this question, the school takes a slightly unique approach to the usual “why an MBA” and “why our school” questions that most programs pose in one format or another. In addition to asking candidates to outline which skills they believe they will need to succeed after graduation, Tepper wants applicants to specify which ones they already possess. Essentially, to get from Point A to Point B, you will need to obtain/master certain abilities, and the school is interested in learning how far along this trajectory you have already progressed. This will allow the admissions committee to better evaluate how qualified you are (and may eventually be) for your chosen path and how effective the school may be in helping you move forward. By explaining how and why you see Tepper as the right program to provide the training you need, you will demonstrate how well you understand your current level of preparedness and how familiar you are with what Tepper has to offer. As always, framing this information using a narrative approach will make your essay more interesting to read, and likely more memorable as well.

Note that the school is focused specifically on skills. In similar questions from other programs (i.e. “why our school?”), candidates are typically asked to discuss which of the schools’ resources are expected to be valuable, in which case you could note that a particular club could provide you with a lifelong network or a speaker series could give you access to experts in your chosen field. These are not options for this Tepper essay, however. Clubs and speaker series are still valid resources to discuss, but you will need to pinpoint how these offerings will improve or impart skillsrather than provide external assets like a peer network or access to experts. Identify which capabilities you feel you will absolutely need, as well as ones that may just be beneficial and ease your path, and then research the school thoroughly to uncover which resources align directly with what you seek. For example, a certain class could teach you to prepare intricate financial models that will help you better predict certain outcomes, while the school’s Public Speaking Club would allow to you practice and improve your oral presentation skills, and participating in one of Tepper’s exchange programs could help you improve your foreign language capabilities. If you have targeted Tepper because you feel it is the right program for you, you likely already have an idea of what it offers that appeals to you and fits your goals—this essay is where you get specific about what these aspects of the program are.
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We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for Indian School of Business.

The Indian School of Business (ISB) appears to have somewhat narrowed the focus of its essay questions since last season. It again asks candidates to explain what differentiates them from others, but this year, it specifically requests two examples and characterizes what kinds of qualities it seeks, rather than leaving the query more open-ended. The ISB has also shifted its question about applicants’ post-MBA goals to focus less on the goals themselves and more on why its program is the right one to prepare candidates to achieve their ambitions. Applicants are no longer required to submit a video essay about what they believe “life” to be (we imagine a large number of candidates were relieved to see that prompt dropped), and a request for additional information that was mandatory last year is now optional. Overall, the ISB seems to want to get at the heart of who its applicants are—not just what they know and have accomplished—and to be able to evaluate “fit” with what it has to offer.ISB

Essay 1: Attitude, skills and knowledge differentiate people. Elaborate with two examples on how you would differentiate yourself from other applicants to the PGP. (300 words max)

This straightforward prompt is really rather self-explanatory. The ISB is basically asking what attitude, skill or knowledge (experience) you possess that makes you stand out. If you can readily claim some unquestionably unique qualities—a rare skill, an unusual upbringing, an uncommon perspective—deciding on your content will be easy. From there, just focus on presenting your differentiating factors in a narrative format (avoid direct declarations like “What makes me different is X and Y…”) and providing brief but sufficient context as to how you gained or developed these traits.

If you view yourself as a more “typical” applicant, however, you may have difficulty deciding what to spotlight in this essay. Just remember that, as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” You do not need to reveal that you have experienced something totally unique, but you do need to show that you truly understand and “own” your experiences. For example, if you are a consultant, you are like many other candidates out there—you cannot differentiate yourself by saying, “I am a consultant.” But if you think carefully about each consulting project you were staffed on, you will perhaps recall a unique client interaction, moment with your team, situation with your senior manager, dynamic with a trainee, etc. that reveals your attitude, skill or knowledge in an interesting manner.

Hypothetically, if you, as a consultant, found a way to implement a new training module, this is not earth-shatteringly different, but it gives you the granular experience upon which to build a discussion of initiative, commitment and developing others around you. You may not be the only individual who can lay claim to possessing these traits, but the details of your experience creating and implementing that module will ensure that you are able to differentiate yourself sufficiently.

The school asks for two examples, which means you could offer one from your personal life and one from your professional life to present a balanced view of yourself. However, we would encourage you to honestly evaluate what you believe are the two characteristics that truly distinguish you most, and if they are both personal in scope—or both professional—use them. The ISB wants to know what makes you you and who you will be as a student in its program, so being honest and enthusiastic in your essay will serve you best. Forcing the issue and choosing one quality to highlight from each realm just to be safe, rather than offering what genuinely is the most special about you, would unnecessarily weaken your submission.

Essay 2: How does the ISB PGP tie-in with your career goals? (300 words max)
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We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for Yale School of Management. 

As we have seen several top MBA programs do this year, the Yale School of Management (SOM) has reduced its essay requirements for the current round of applicants. During the 2011–2012 application season, the school asked candidates to respond to six questions using 1,600 words; in 2012–2013, this was condensed to four questions and 1,050 words; this season, the SOM poses just two questions, for which it allots only 750 words (300 for Essay 1 and 450 for Essay 2). This reduction should not be taken as an indication that the admissions committee is less interested in what applicants have to say, however. Instead, the school is in the process of incorporating a video component into its application in which candidates will respond orally to typical essay-style questions in a spontaneous manner, without knowing the questions in advance. We therefore encourage you to make the most of your essays, for which you will be able to take your time and carefully plan and craft your responses.

Yale School of ManagementEssay 1: What motivates your decision to pursue an MBA? (300 words maximum)

Yale’s first essay question for this season is very similar to the one it posed last year, but the school has doubled the word count and removed the query “When did you realize that this was a step you wanted—or needed—to take?” The focus and tone have also changed, in that the SOM had previously asked candidates what “prompted [their] decision to get an MBA,” which essentially emphasized a past event—in other words, what happened in the past to make you realize your need for this degree. This year, however, the school’s use of the word “motivates” carries with it a sense of positive, forward momentum and progression toward a goal—people are motivated to accomplish or attain things. You should therefore keep your focus forward as well and center your response on what you hope to gain from the MBA experience/education and what you plan to pursue after graduation. Identify the skills, guidance, experience and/or other factors that are key to enabling you to achieve your goals and that business school can provide. Then explain how gaining these will prepare you to succeed in your desired post-MBA position and industry.
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We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for University of London (London Business School).

London Business School follows in the steps of a number of top MBA programs this year in streamlining and downscaling its application essay requirements, going from six questions and 1,750 allotted words to three questions and 1,200 words. Two of the current prompts are reminiscent of several questions from last year—asking about applicants’ future plans and potential contributions to the school—but LBS throws candidates a curve with its unique third query, which takes a new angle on the relationship between MBA students and their school. Overall, LBS’s questions are much broader than ever before (and than most other schools’ prompts), which may be daunting to some applicants, but we encourage you to see this wide canvas as an opportunity rather than something intimidating. One of the school’s admissions officers explains on the department’s blog that the change in the scope and style of the questions was meant “to allow you more freedom in the way you go about constructing your essays.” We hope our analysis of LBS’s essay prompts will help you use this leeway to your advantage.

London Business SchoolThe essays form a major part of your application so we recommend that you spend a significant amount of time reflecting on the questions below and preparing your replies.

The essay questions for the class of MBA 2016 are:

What will your future look like after completing your MBA? (500 words)
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We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for INSEAD. 

INSEAD apparently has not felt the pressure to alter its essay questions or requirements this season, as many U.S. business schools have done. Except for reversing the order of some questions, no changes have really been made to the school’s queries or allotted word counts. The program’s six “motivational essay” prompts are the primary ones, and we will examine those in depth in this analysis, but applicants must also provide two to three shorter “job description essays” that generally require (or allow, depending on your perspective) candidates to provide a fuller picture of their current positions and career progression to date than a resume or CV might provide. We will briefly address these essays first.

Job Description Essays

Essay 1: Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved. (250 words maximum)

Essay 2: Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words maximum)

Essay 3 (If applicable): If you are currently not working, what are you doing and what do you plan to do until you start the MBA programme? (250 words)

For these essays, we would encourage you to very carefully parse what data the school is requesting in each and then provide all of the relevant facts. For example, the first job essay prompt requires that you outline as many as seven different aspects of your current/most recent position. Make sure not to leave any out just because you would rather write more about others. In addition, take care for all the job description essays to avoid using acronyms or abbreviations that would not be easily recognizable to most, and consider providing some description of your company or industry, if the nature of either might not be readily clear. Using shortcuts (in the form of abbreviations) and skipping this kind of information could make your descriptions less understandable and therefore less compelling and useful to an admissions reader, so you are in fact doing yourself a favor by more completely depicting your situation—while adhering to the maximum word counts, of course. To make your responses to these rather straightforward queries more interesting to the admissions reader, consider framing them in a narrative format rather than simply outlining the basic information. Strive to incorporate a sense of your personality and individuality into your submissions.

Motivation Essays
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We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for University of Texas, Austin (McCombs). 

By asking candidates to submit three essays of 250 words each, the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin, has drastically streamlined its essay questions this year compared with last year—and in concert with what many other MBA programs are doing this season. Then, the length requirement for Essay 1 alone was 800 words, and applicants had roughly 600 words for the school’s three-part Essay 2.  Overall, McCombs’s questions appear to have taken a more personal tone, asking candidates to introduce themselves to the student community, explain what they can contribute to the program other than professional qualities and describe how they expect to develop during their two years in the MBA program. Gone are any explicit references to short- or long-term goals and one’s career history, so the applicant’s more internal aspects and soft skills are highlighted instead.

 UTAustin_business1. Imagine that you are at the Texas MBA Orientation for the Class of 2016. Please introduce yourself to your new classmates, and include any personal and/or professional aspects that you believe to be significant. Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response.
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We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for UC-Berkeley Haas. 

The Haas School of Business at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, offers you more opportunity to tell your story than most business schools do these days—its three short essays favor those whose candidacies include a variety of dimensions and accomplishments. Your job is to ensure that the reader is constantly learning about you as he/she reads on. Ask yourself, “Am I offering a new skill or a new experience in each essay?” If your answer is not “yes!” then you must go back to brainstorming to ensure you are providing a broad and compelling picture of yourself. If you want the admissions committee to stay interested, you must keep providing new information throughout your essays.

UC Berkeley Haas1. If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why? (250 word maximum)

As absurd as this prompt may seem, you of course want to take it seriously. Rather than trying to identify what might be an impressive or interesting song in and of itself, stop, think about the various facets of your character and then back into your choice. Ask yourself what defines who you are and then work to find an appropriate song that reflects and reveals these elements—preferably one that you are sincerely connected to or that triggers a strong response in you. To add another level of creativity, consider different versions of the same song and the different singers who have performed or recorded it. (For example, the famed song “New York, New York” has been recorded by a number of artists over the years and in different languages—not that we are suggesting this song!) If the lyrics of a particular song seem to match well with your personality, you may also be able to identify a version of that song with a certain style, tempo or featured instrument, and these elements can further illustrate your personality. There is no “right” song in the eyes of the admissions committee. Your task is to find one that serves as an avenue for discussing your character and to clearly explain how and why it does so, using examples.

2. What is your most significant accomplishment? (250 word maximum)

Your most significant accomplishment can be from any sphere—professional, community, academic, personal. As mentioned in our introduction, be sure to represent different dimensions of your candidacy as you respond to these short-essay prompts. In other words, whichever aspect of your profile you choose to highlight here, it should be one that is not represented elsewhere in your application. (Note: you can tell two stories from the same “venue,” but they need to represent your skills/talents in different ways. Mentorship is a different skill than business development, for example, but both can occur in the workplace.) The key to this essay is choosing an experience that is simple but powerful—one that speaks for itself and draws the reader in, allowing him/her to draw a clear conclusion about your capabilities. Even with just 250 words, you can sufficiently recount a story that accomplishes this goal.
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