Categories: G GMAT S Study Tips B Business
Click Here to get our Award Winning Self Study GMAT Prep
Nailing Your Application Essay
Sep 25, 2015

Nailing Your Application Essay

For many, essay writing is the most dreaded part of the MBA admissions process. It can be intimidating to send your writing off to be judged by a group of strangers. I understand your concerns, but you should view this as an opportunity to express the individual qualities that make you stand out among your peers. Here are a few tips to set you ahead of the pack.

Make a Game Plan

Regardless of how talented a writer you are, admission essays are not something you want to approach blind. This means it is time to do a little research. Each MBA program has unique criteria that it evaluates its candidate’s essays on. Quite often this information is buried somewhere on the college’s website. If you cannot locate the information, contact current students, alumni, or check online forums to find it.

Once you learn what you will be evaluated on, make a list of the ways you meet each criterion. Be prepared to use personal stories and examples to add substance to your essays by including at least one story in each essay.

Be Clear and Concise

I can guarantee that there will be at least one essay topic that asks you about your past personal experiences. Your past may be messy and complicated, but your essay should not be. This does not mean that you have to gloss over the details, or paint a picture of the perfect life. Rather, your writing needs to have a clear direction and every sentence should address the topic at hand. It is critical that your message be focused and clear. Also keep in mind that the person reading your essay may not be familiar with your industry and will not know you personally. Do not assume that references to people and events will be understood without first giving context.

Pay Attention to the Structure of your Writing

I agree that content is king, but remember that style is queen. You need to take some time to consider how your essay is structured. Your writing should flow effortlessly from one topic to the next. To do this, you will need to use conjunctions to tie your thoughts together. Use words like “therefore”, “thus”, and “however” to show the reader when you are going to clarify points or transition between ideas. It may sound trivial, but conjunctions improve the readability and flow of your essay. An essay which jumps haphazardly from one sentence to the next makes the writer seem disorganized. Clearly, you want to avoid giving this impression and you should check to see how your writing flows by both reading your essay mentally and out loud.

Do Your Research

The “why our program” question is a staple in college admissions offices across the world. MBA programs not only want to hear about your past experiences, but they also want to determine if you personally fit with their culture, ideals, and traditions. Before you even think about answering this question you need to understand what it is that makes the program you are applying for unique. You cannot afford to be generic and vague during this question. A statement such as “I believe that my unique skills make me a fantastic student for your college” does not tell your reader anything other than you probably used that same sentence in all your other applications. Know the intangibles that make each of the programs you are applying for tick. The best way to learn this is to immerse yourself in the school and its history.

Write as an individual

It is okay to show your personality through your writing. Admissions boards want to know more than just your accomplishments and qualifications. Do not be afraid to show your true colors. Doing so will give your essay character and will allow it to stand apart from the hundreds of other essays on their desk.

While on the topic of making your writing sound unique, do not rely heavily on crutch phrases. This means avoiding cliché phrases and bland word choices. It is time to dust off that thesaurus your grandma bought you and get creative. You are not hard-working, you are industrious. You are not talented, you are adept. You would be surprised how quickly a few clever sentences can transform your essay.

Answer the Question!

I know this sounds obvious, but you would be amazed by how many people fail to address the prompt. Not only does this show that you cannot follow directions, but it also suggests that you do not care enough about the business program to check your work. Failing to answer the question you are asked is one of the fastest ways that I know to get a rejection letter in the mail. Read the prompt closely and answer precisely what you are asked.

There is absolutely no reason to be afraid of the essay portion of your application. For years you have proved the quality of your professional work and kept your grades high. The hard work is done, now you simply have to tell the admissions board about it. Make a plan, do some research, and be unique. Have you already finished your essays? If you would like to share a few words of encouragement to your fellow MBA hopefuls, sound off in the comments section.

Sign up now to gain access to the best GMAT Arithmetic guide, 250 pages absolutely FREE.