Next to test preparation, a common MBA concern for business school applicants is the essay, or the several essays, that need to be submitted as part of the application package.
The essay is extremely important in communicating the applicant’s values, uniqueness, and choice of program. There are many different requirements that schools come up with in regard to the text, but in this article, we have outlined some of the MBA essay questions asked by many prospective business students out there.
How many essays are required for MBA admission?
The number of essays required depends entirely on the preferences of each program. Some programs require the submission of only one essay. The topic or question is usually listed on the university website or it may be updated and announced once a year, with the start of the new admissions period.
Check out: Be Yourself During the MBA Video Essay
Other programs will list more than one question which applicants need to answer, but even then, there is no need to worry that you will be overwhelmed with writing. In some cases, schools even post an optional essay question. These are usually reserved for situations in which applicants may benefit from addressing particular aspects of their background. For example, if you have gaps in your professional career or an aspect from your academic life that needs clarification, the optional essay might be the perfect way to explain this in more detail. MBA consultant Stacy Blackman concurs:
You don’t have to explain a short gap between school and a secured job, but something like several months between two jobs should be addressed.
The bottom line is – be sure to follow the essay instructions explained on the program description. Provide the exact number of texts you are asked for and stick to the specific formats and word limits requested by the school.
How can I best portray my fit for the business school and the program I am applying for?
Research, research, research. Finding the program that best corresponds to your career goals and personality is essential not only for business schools but also for you as a professional. Even if you manage to secure a spot in a prestigious program, the experience may not produce the positive outcome you are looking for if your values and objectives are not aligned. In order to realistically evaluate what different universities stand for, you need to research their MBA offerings, program specializations, alumni testimonials, and any other type of useful information you can get your hands on. The consulting team behind MBA Crystal Ball explains:
The ‘right fit’ school would be different for each individual based on various parameters including the academic profile, career profile, GMAT score or the extracurricular involvement. Not everyone can make it to Harvard or Stanford! Be practical and apply to the best possible schools you find a good fit and where you have a good chance of getting in!
As long as your motivation and suitability for the program are clear to you, it should be easy to transform them into words and into the essay. Do not try to project an image of yourself which is unrealistic because then the essay will not serve your purpose.
Should I get my essay reviewed by a professional before submitting it?
A professional editor is not always necessary, but reviewing and editing your text several times with a friend or by yourself is essential. As advised in the article published by MBA Crystal Ball,
Having a second pair of eyes review your work will help you gain fresh perspectives as well as identify gaps or missing elements in your story.
However, you should also edit and spellcheck the work yourself. MBA admissions consultants at Accepted.com recommend using the so-called editing funnel when reviewing your essays. Firstly, start with the big picture and evaluate the overall argumentation of the text. If submitting more than one essay, do the different texts complement each other without repeating the same thoughts? Secondly, make sure the specific information is well-structured and clearly presented. Only then move to the bottom of the funnel by checking details, albeit important ones, such as style, grammar, and punctuation.
What are the most common mistakes to avoid in MBA essay writing?
The admissions directors of different schools will give you different answers to this question. However, there are some common mistakes that have been pointed out in our exchanges with admissions directors of international MBA programs – and those mistakes can usually be avoided quite easily.
For instance, Anna Pauwels from Emlyon Business School (France) stresses the importance of spellchecking your written essays before submitting them. According to her, a text full of spelling mistakes “shows that you are unprofessional and that you do not check your work.”
According to Joel McConnell, Director for Europe and Central Asia at IE Business School (Spain), professionals who apply to the school in Madrid sometimes fail to read the essay questions properly and end up submitting unimpressive texts. He advises MBA applicants to “choose essay topics that are going to allow you to put forward the match between your profile and what the school is looking for.”
On a similar note, admissions officers of the MBA program at Warwick Business School (UK) expect to read about the managerial and leadership skills of professionals in their essay submissions. When applicants fail to give strong examples of these qualities, their application may be at risk.