Every B-school application essay is different, but there are some key requirements an essay has to meet to stand out in the competitive MBA application evaluation process. If you’re like me, you probably intended to start writing this thing way earlier. You probably intended to think long and hard about it. Your MBA application essay is one of the most important pieces of writing you will do. And with so much riding on it, it can be very, very difficult to get a clear sense of perspective about your own work.
Does it answer the question?
The first item on your checklist should be to confirm that your essay still fundamentally addresses the question it’s supposed to. You want your essay to feel like it’s direct and speaks to the essence of the prompt.
What’s the “so-what”?
Once you have an essay that answers the question, think through why the answer you’re giving is important. What’s the big idea in your story that you want to capture?
Remember, the goal here isn’t just to answer the question and check off another item on your application to-do list. You want to actually convey something concrete that will add another dimension to your application and help you stand out in the minds of adcoms.
Does it flow?
Application essays are read super fast. That means you want to structure your essay in a way that’s logical, clear and easy to follow.
If you make your point in a way that’s clunky and meandering, you’ll lose your reader. On the other hand, an essay that’s concise, to-the-point and easy to read will help your main ideas jump off the page and ultimately make your essay more memorable.
Is it interesting?
Adcoms read a lot of application essays. Part of the task here is to differentiate yourself and not write a same-old-same-old essay that will be forgotten as soon as it’s read.
Are there blind spots?
You already know all the details behind your story, but the adcom doesn’t! One trap applicants fall into is failing to provide enough context.
Step back and read through your essay from the perspective of the adcom to see if they have enough context to grasp the important points in your story.
Often, when people think about having someone look at their essay, they’re thinking of basic editing: having someone check for spelling and grammar mistakes, and making sure the essay as a whole is readable and comprehensible. But an application essay isn’t a writing exercise (or at least, it’s not JUST a writing exercise). The admissions committee isn’t nearly as concerned with whether you can write well as they are with what you have to say.
So when you’re ready to move to the revision phase with your essay, you’re not just looking for someone to check it over and say, “Yup, this looks good.” You need someone who can give you a real critique of your message.
A thorough critique of an MBA essay should address several questions.
First, does your essay actually convey the message you were intending to send? Do your examples (which are hopefully very specific and detailed!) support your message? Does your essay effectively address the prompt? Is the essay consistent with your personal brand? What message does it send about you as a leader and as a scholar?
While it’s perfectly possible to edit your own work (although even there, outside help can be beneficial), you simply can’t do this kind of analysis of your own essay. You’re too close to the material, and know your own message too well.
The best sources for outside feedback on an MBA application essay are people who aren’t afraid to challenge you or hurt your feelings.
A spouse or good friend is often too close to be able to give you real, meaningful feedback. Admissions consultants are ideal when it comes to feedback, because they have perspective both in terms of knowing what admissions committees are looking for, and having seen hundreds of examples of application essays, both good and bad.
For more details read out the article written on Wharton School’s website on MBA Application Essay
First Published by EXPARTUS MBA Admissions Consulting