The Importance of Being Concise When Writing MBA Application Essays


Over the years, MBA programs have been reducing the word count for the essays in their applications. For example, Stanford’s most well-known question, “What matters most to you, and why” has been condensed from 750 words a few years ago to 650 words in more recent application cycles. While this may initially come as a relief to many candidates, the reality is that being more concise is actually more challenging; essentially, business schools are forcing applicants to focus on the key aspects of their candidacy.


So what does this mean for you as you approach your business school essays?


Have a plan - know what you are trying to convey in each application


Take time to strategize what you will be including in each essay for the application you are working on; this will become your roadmap as you delve into the actual writing of the essays. If you don’t take this very important step, you will likely end up repeating yourself and/or being superfluous. Remember that the application should represent a holistic picture of you; as a result, what you express in each essay needs to be well thought out. Use the real estate provided in each essay wisely and judiciously by having a plan.


Answer the question being asked


Since space is so limited in many MBA application essays, it is imperative that you make sure that you are answering the essay question that is being asked. Too many times, candidates either do not read the question carefully and/or convey information that they feel is important to their candidacy (even if it does not directly address the essay prompt). Always re-read an essay prompt multiple times; the last thing that you want to do is utilize precious space in an application to provide information that the school is not seeking.


Respect the word limits


Sometimes, candidates will exceed the word limits in an essay since they feel that the detail they are including is essential with respect to providing color to their candidacy. In such instances, these candidates believe that it really will not matter if they use more space. While it may be tempting to do so especially if you are struggling to reduce the length of an essay, don’t make this mistake! Admissions Committees have instituted the word limits for a reason; it can reflect badly on you if you blatantly ignore the directions and disrespect the word limits.


As you proofread, keep an eye towards concision


For each essay draft that you write, try to also keep an eye towards how you can continue to make the language more concise and compelling. This is an iterative process, so it will take multiple drafts to get each essay to where it needs to be. If you are finding it difficult to determine where you can cut the essay without losing the essence of what you are trying to convey, it can often be helpful to enlist the assistance of a family member or friend who can lend an objective eye and point out what can be cut or trimmed.


While the essay process can be daunting, especially with such limited room to express who you are, writing compelling essays in the allotted space is absolutely achievable if you approach the task in a systematic way. If we can help you in this process, feel free to contact us.

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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. Ivy Groupe’s philosophy focuses on authenticity and storytelling to help clients craft compelling and differentiated applications that stand out. With this approach, Ivy Groupe’s clients have gained admission to top-tier MBA programs such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia, Booth, Tuck, and Yale, among others.

Click on the links to learn more about our company and how you can work with us to maximize your chances of gaining admission to the MBA programs of your choice.

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