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MBA application essay tips

While MBA program admissions directors consider an applicant’s GMAT scores and academic track record, their goal is to get to know a potential student beyond the numbers. That’s why the essay component is an important—and enjoyable—opportunity for you to practice some self-reflection and state why you’re a uniquely strong candidate. 

With the goal of clarifying the essay writing process and easing some of the stress associated with it, here are some tips to keep in mind as you start writing 

Be a storyteller in your application essay 

The application essays are your story to tell. This is your shot to explain motivations and display your commitment and enthusiasm. Make sure you are presenting a consistent picture of who you are, what you have done and what you want to achieve.  

Be concise on why you want to go to business school and how you think the program specifically will help you in achieving your goals. Some people may feel that they are not able to fully express themselves given the essay word limit, but take it as an opportunity to focus on what is truly important and relevant to the question asked of you. 

While essay questions will vary by school and by year, they will often share some core objectives. 

Common questions of MBA essays 

Essay questions frequently fall along the lines of 

Tell us about a time that you created impact on an individual, company or community? What did you learn from it?

This type of question—perhaps worded along the lines of “Tell me about a time when you influenced someone?” or “Tell me about a time when you introduced new initiatives or brought in a unique contribution to the team?” — is your opportunity to think about what values drive your actions and how these learnings have shaped you.

What are some challenging situations you have faced? What are your motivators and how has that helped you in making decisions? How significant was the impact and what did it mean to you?

With this type of question, it’s good to remember not to rehash your CV. Instead, be authentic and passionate in your writing. Try to include personal and specific examples to give a clear understanding of who you are.

What are your post-MBA goals?  

Here’s the chance for applicants to express their personal objectives and illustrate how an MBA help them get there. 

There are two key things to remember when writing this type of essay:  

  • Be concise  
  • Be specific  

Your goal here is to express concrete career goals. You also shouldn’t hesitate to mention and describe target roles and companies. Going further, how do these goals fit with your values? And what impact do you hope to bring to potential organizations or sectors? 

Applicants pursuing a career change should detail the skills they already possess and how an MBA program will bridge the gaps in the way of a successful professional pivot. Here, you’re encouraged to identify relevant program offerings as well as clubs, classes and career treks that reaffirm why you are applying.  

Scholarship essay advice 

How do you plan to finance your MBA? Why do you think you deserve a scholarship? 

Pursuing your MBA is a big investment and it is essential to have a solid financial plan with contingencies. Applicants often combine various financing options including personal or family savings, public or private loans and scholarships. It is important to consider the feasibility of your financial plan and provide good reasoning to support your scholarship application.  

The IESE MBA program offers an array of scholarships. But highlighting your motivation and commitment to joining the school and emphasizing how you can further contribute to the school community is always advisable.  

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