Having graduated from a top MBA program as a non-native English speaker, I still remember being quite worried about the MBA application, fearing that my English was not sophisticated enough. So I focused on improving my writing skills by doing just that writing.
Now as a Veritas Prep School Specialist, I have found working with my clients that there are a few common essay-writing pitfalls.
Here are some examples:
a) Essays written in a generic way, which focus too much on current work experience. This is not a job application, so try to avoid producing what looks like a resume or CV in essay form.
b) Essays that sound like a request for proposal (RFP), with an obvious Power Point sentence writing style with percentages, jargon and keywords such as “innovative” to impress Admission Committees. These committees have seen it all, so be innovative, don’t just say it.
c) Essays that don’t talk about you. If an essay question asks what matters to you most and why, the essay will be an opportunity to demonstrate that you are inspired and motivated thanks to XYZ. This shows determination and focus.
Personal essays provide precious opportunities to reflect who you have been, where you want to go and your current plan to achieve this. It’s about showing a balance between early leadership aptitude and self-awareness. Use simple sentences but entice your reader by showcasing your talents, creativity and maturity, and this will help them to envision you enrolled in their MBA program.
These are 3 simple but powerful tips by advertising guru David Ogilvy from the book “How To Write”:
1) Write the way you talk. Naturally.
2) Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
3) Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
Given that the business world does not usually demand essay writing or personal reflection, I would personally suggest keeping a personal journal or diary to practice writing about yourself, as well as to read both business and non-business oriented articles, such as those published in magazines like Harvard Business Review and The Atlantic.
Even if English is not your native language, the goal is to find your own unique voice and use writing as your instrument. Simply. Elegantly. You.
These are just some suggestions about how you can begin to approach the task of essay writing. Talk to an experienced Veritas Prep Consultant to see how we can help you write effectively to increase your chances for admission to the MBA program of your choice!
If you want to talk to us about how you can stand out, call us at and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!
This Veritas Prep Head Consultant received a BA in International Economics from UCLA, and went on to the Stanford Graduate School of Business to receive her MBA. Her specialties for helping students include low GMAT score, low GPA, multicultural marketing, and entrepreneurship.
It is a work that an applicant is obliged to send to an admission committee of a certain school he or she wants to study at. This paper is one of the most important documents in the whole application process, as it shows how you will fit into school's environment and what will the studies give you. If you don’t know how to structure the paper, reviewing several MBA essay samples can help you. However, as every essay, it consists of following parts:
- Introduction - intrigues the reader and outlines a scene.
- Body - tells a story that had a serious impact on your life.
- Conclusion - shows why you belong to a certain business school, and the way it will help you in future.
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The Master of Business Administration program becomes more popular among the post-graduates every year. Therefore, a flow of applicants increases dramatically, and it becomes even harder to enter the desired school. Some of the best facilities have hundreds of candidates for one spot, and it is only up to you whether you will be noticed in the crowd. Yes, your GPA and GMAT scores will matter. However, there may be thousands of other people who have better or nearly same results. And your only way to make it through is an essay.
Most of the documents you send to the school tell admission officers about your academic background and work experience. They do play a great role while making a choice, but they do not tell anything about your personality. Admission committees certainly want their applicants to be smart, but they also need people who will bring something new and unique to their classes. Therefore, your paper needs to show how creatively and seriously you approach important things in life.
The paper has to focus on a certain event, turning point or decision that have influenced you and changed the way you see the world. If nothing like that ever took place, it is still important to find a theme to hold on to in the paper. Although there might not have been a grand moment in your life, there are still some small and memorable ones that affected you somehow. You can choose a few interesting or even funny moments that show what you have been through, how you acted in certain situations, what your biggest desires are, and so on to present yourself from the desired side.
Writing a paper, you will need to show your strong sides, skills, and knowledge. However, you cannot simply claim how great and qualified you are. It is crucial to support everything you say with examples, which demonstrate your character. After reading your paper, admission officers have to understand clearly what motivates you and what values you have. They need to see that you are a real person with your own weaknesses, who is willing to overcome them and accomplish great goals in the future. Professionals also advise speaking about your talents and unusual hobbies in order to show how different you are from other applicants. Do everything possible to demonstrate uniqueness, creativity, and dedication and such approach will be appreciated.
Remember that best MBA essays are the ones tailored to the requirements of specific programs. Thus, if you manage to show not only own expertise but also its applicability in the future studies, this will drastically increase your chances of getting in. Also, do not forget that whatever you write about in the paper, it should end with an explanation of why you like the program, how it is different, and why are you the one for it.
However, the narrative is not the only thing to pay attention to. There are a lot of silly mistakes applicants make while writing. Some of them simply fail to follow the directions. If you are asked to send an essay of words, for example, you need to try to make the word count as closer to this number as possible. Also, a writing assignment usually goes along with a topic, which in some of the cases is a question. Your work should not necessarily stick to it the whole time, but it is important to have a clear answer somewhere in the paper. When admissions see that you can follow these requirements, it becomes evident that you will be able to do the same during your studies.
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