How To Write an Effective MBA Application Essay? Tips & Tricks

Your GMAT score, academic record, and GPA are very important factors when it comes to an MBA application. However, these are not the only things schools are interested in. They also want to know whether or not you’ll be a good fit for them, and who you are. To get a glimpse into your personality, schools require you to write an application essay. Your stats and scores make up the basis for your application, and the essay should complete it in the best way possible.

Your essay is the only thing that forms your image for the admissions committee before you see them at the interview. Therefore, you should put a lot of effort into writing and editing. In fact, MBA essay editing isn’t an option but a necessity, and this is a crucial step of the writing process. Your essay should be perfect in terms of grammar and structure, it should be clear and easy to understand. 

For many MBA applicants, a compelling personal statement can make a difference between being rejected and getting to the school of their dreams. Of course, good numbers can help your application, but they cannot guarantee that you’ll be accepted. For instance, Harvard Business School may not accept a student with a 2.5 GPA and a 500 GMAT. But some elite business schools may even reject candidates with a 4.0 GPA and a perfect GMAT. If your essay is terrible, good numbers won’t make up for it.

If you don’t want to fail your application, you should know how to write an MBA scholarship essay, and you must prepare. Quite often, MBA essay questions seem straightforward and simple. However, they require you to demonstrate your ability to think introspectively. For this reason, you should use your essay as an opportunity to show your thinking abilities.

What Admissions Committees Expect From You

All schools are different so they have different requirements. However, no matter what school will consider your application, the general purpose of the application essay is to prove that you’re the right person and that your goals align with the school’s values. The admissions committees want to get some understanding of who you are as a person, what your values are, and what you’ve done to achieve your goals. Of course, the essay alone won’t let you get in, but without it, your application will be incomplete.

When writing an admission essay, you need to present yourself in a positive light but you should also be honest and try to present a complete picture of your personality. Everyone has strengths and areas that require more work. You may feel tempted to downplay your growth priorities while highlighting the strengths, but this is a wrong approach. There's also a chance that you may shift focus to the strengths but you should also acknowledge your growth areas.

You should also keep in mind that essay requirements of various MBA programs often change. For instance, last year, many schools started to ask applicants to write less. Although some of the most popular programs, like Yale SOM, Dartmouth Tuck, Kellogg, Harvard Business School, and NYU Stern didn’t change their MBA essay format requirements, many schools decided to try a new approach when it comes to essay prompts. Such schools as UCLA Anderson, Michigan Ross, Duke Fuqua, and Stanford GSB now ask their applicants to write less.

For instance, Michigan Ross requires 400 words, and Duke Fuqua switched from two pages to 300 words. UCLA Anderson now accepts essays that don’t exceed 250 words. However, writing less doesn’t mean that your task becomes easier. In fact, writing concisely can be very difficult, especially when you need to write an impressive application essay. At the same time, even if your school requires a two-page essay, we suggest that you keep your ideas concise and clear and don’t include any unnecessary passages.

Now that you know the importance and challenges of writing a good MBA essay, let’s take a look at some useful MBA application essay tips that will help you focus on the right aspects of the writing process and avoid some common mistakes. These tips might also provide you with some inspiration and fresh ideas if you don’t know how to start an MBA essay.

Top 7 MBA Essay Tips for You To Follow

Be unique

As we’ve already mentioned above, your essay is aimed to demonstrate who you are. You may have your own opinions on what kinds of students a certain school is looking for, but don’t try to write what anyone else would write. Admissions committees read hundreds of essays, and you must stand out.

You don’t want to choose obvious topics any other applicant can choose. Instead, try to think of the personal and professional experiences that only you can talk about. Reflect on your experience and be specific so that your application essay will be impossible to confuse with anyone else’s.

Be authentic

This is one of the most important MBA essay tips that you should learn. Uniqueness and authenticity always go hand in hand. You should tell your own story, not a story that you think they want to hear. Why so? Well, the first reason is that your essay should stand out. The second reason is that you won’t be able to make your story look real if it isn’t yours.

The authenticity of your essay is extremely important because an authentic essay is exactly what any admissions committee wants to see. All business schools are looking for self-aware students. From their perspective, the best candidate perfectly realizes their strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, the best solution is to focus on your core qualities and values that actually make you who you are.

For example, if you’re a passionate traveler, musician, photographer, or athlete, make sure to mention it. Besides, stay away from subjects that have nothing to do with your personal background, even if you know that these subjects are relevant for many other applicants.

Demonstrate your priorities

An application essay gives you an opportunity to demonstrate that you have clear goals and that you’ve planned a direction for your professional life. MBA isn’t just another chance to find yourself. Even if you’re planning to get to a business school because you want to try a career path different from the current one, your essay should clearly describe the reasons why you want to change your career and your goals.

Be specific

The more specific the essay, the more credible your application. When talking about your goals, make sure to describe them in detail. For example, if your ultimate goal is to work in consulting or to join a private equity firm, you should narrow it down and provide more specific details about the niche. What industry would you like to focus on as a consultant? With what companies would this private equity firm work?

You can even provide examples of the companies you would like to work for. Do some research, mention names, and demonstrate your knowledge of the industry. This way, your essay will be not only more unique and authentic but also more believable.

Highlight your professional experience

If you want to attend an MBA program, it means that you must have had some personal and professional achievements. Make sure to highlight your professional achievements and skills, along with your personal successes. Explain how these experiences influenced your goals and priorities.

If you’re applying to an Executive MBA program, you should keep in mind that EMBA applicants usually have at least eight years of work experience. To be accepted, you should demonstrate your strong leadership qualities and professional potential, and explain the need for the degree.

Use your essay to make up for low stats

If your GPA turned out to be lower than you wanted, you can use your essay as an opportunity to explain how you’ve learned from this experience. To err is human so mistakes don’t determine you as a person. What determines you is how you deal with mistakes and how you learn from them. There is also important how you use this experience to grow.

You should acknowledge your weaknesses, not justify them. Show your understanding of your own mistakes, and explain how they’ve changed you. The way you deal with failures can demonstrate your resilience, discipline, and determination, as well as many other valuable qualities.

Why this school?

Explaining why you decided to apply for a particular MBA program is a typical and necessary part of application essays. However, it doesn’t mean that you should waste the admissions committee’s precious time by writing how amazing this school is. They know that they are good. Instead, explain what specific features of this program make it the best option for you. Applicants choose this program for different reasons, so what are your reasons?

Bonus: Application Essay Samples

As we’ve mentioned above, your application essay should be perfect in terms of grammar and structure. Not everyone is a brilliant writer, so the very writing process itself can be quite challenging. To better understand what a good application essay looks like, check out essay examples and essays that worked in previous years. There are many MBA application essay samples available online, and there are also many MBA essay services that can write custom essay samples for you.

If the very idea of writing an application essay makes you feel nervous, don’t hesitate to get professional MBA application essay help. For example, you can hire an MBA essay consultant, and you can also order professional editing and proofreading to make sure that your grammar will be impeccable.

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