Business school essays are an opportunity for candidates to share aspects of themselves with the MBA Admissions Committee in order to provide a more holistic picture of who they are; however, many candidates are daunted by the prospect of writing essays for business school applications. Based on my experience and that of clients whom I have worked with, by approaching the essay writing process in a systematic way, it can actually be quite enjoyable. If you are facing writer’s block, follow the steps below to get your juices flowing.
Read the question
Make sure you clearly understand the question that is being asked – read the question, re-read it again, and then re-read it yet again. Too many times I’ve seen candidates respond to a question without addressing what the question is asking. As you read the question multiple times, think about how you would go about answering it. Jot down some thoughts and notes (and no need to worry about grammar/word choice at this point; this is meant to be a very informal exercise).
Here are some questions to think about as you start to write down some points: What will you try to convey in the essay and how will it fit in within the context of the entire application? How will you structure the essay?
Outline your response
Once you have done some initial brainstorming, begin to crystallize your thought process through an essay outline. Many candidates skip this step and jump right into writing the essay; however, this often results in an essay that lacks clarity and focus as the writing is typically done without any clear purpose as to what the end result should be. An outline will help you pinpoint the content that should be included in the essay as well as ensure that the structure is resulting in an essay that will flow smoothly. And again, this does not have to be a perfect piece of work; approach the outline as a guide that will help you stay on track as you begin to actually write the essay.
Start writing the essay
You’re ready to write the essay! Follow the outline from the prior step as you formulate your response to the essay prompt. Writing the essay should (hopefully!) be a seamless process as you now know exactly what content will be included and how the essay will be structured. Although a formal piece of work, the essay should express your unique voice; this is what is going to make your essay authentic and help it to stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Revise your essay
The essay writing is an iterative process, so don’t expect to write the most polished piece in the first go. Once you have written the first draft, take a step back and then come back to it with a fresh set of eyes. If you are planning to seek feedback from others, try to do so earlier in the process rather than later, so that any thoughts can be incorporated at the outset. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to agree with all the feedback that others provide. YOU make the ultimate decisions when it comes to your essay; remember this essay is a representation of you and your work.
One final piece of advice – give yourself plenty of time to write your essays. Pacing yourself will make the process much less stressful and lead to a stronger product. If we can help you develop your essays, please reach out!
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Ivy Groupe is a boutique MBA admissions consulting company founded by Shaifali Aggarwal, who received her MBA from Harvard Business School and undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Shaifali’s philosophy focuses on authenticity and storytelling to help clients craft compelling and differentiated applications that stand out. With this approach, Shaifali’s clients have gained admission to top-tier MBA programs such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia, Booth, Tuck, and Yale, among others.