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Basic MBA Essay Tips: Writing & Finalizing Essays

Today, Aringo shares 8 tips for making sure your MBA essay stands out from the crowd.

Writing the application essays is usually the hardest part of the MBA admission process. Below, we offer a few MBA essay tips and guidelines to help you successfully navigate the often challenging writing process.

  • Develop your strategy
    Before writing the MBA application essays, take some time to familiarize yourself with the MBA program’s requirements of its candidates and with your qualities as a candidate. Below is an example of some recommended basic steps:

    • Make a note of the candidate evaluation criteria (“admission drivers”) used by the MBA program to which you are applying. You may consult the program’s website, current students, alumni, online forums, guidebooks, and services such as Aringo in order to draft an up-to-date list of criteria. Next to each criterion, estimate the weight given to it in the application process.
    • Figure out what you, as a candidate, can offer with respect to each one of these criteria and write it down. These are the primary messages you seek to convey through the MBA essays.
    • Allocate each of these messages to one or more essays. Use the aforementioned criteria weights to determine the emphasis you will use to present each message and the extent to which you will focus on that message.
  • Convey clear messages
    Life isn’t very clear-cut. Attempts to describe the path we have taken thus far, and our plans for the future, often require complex explanations and descriptions. It’s important to remember that the person reading your essay may be unfamiliar with your industry. Moreover, remember that application essay readers go through hundreds of essays within a short period of time. Your messages must be clear, crisp, short, focused, and easily identifiable in order to stand out to the reader, whose task is to evaluate your candidacy based on the Admission Committee’s evaluation criteria.
  • Use conjunctions
    Use conjunctions (such as however, therefore, thus, furthermore, moreover, and nevertheless) to connect phrases and/or paragraphs. Smooth transitions will help you write clearly and coherently. Moreover, such transitions will help the reader follow the text and stay focused.
  • Be personal
    Use concrete, personal, and factual examples to illustrate your point. It’s a good idea to avoid general statements, stereotypical phrases, and clichés.
  • Shake up your vocabulary
    Using a thesaurus is highly recommended. Essays that use a limited vocabulary with often-repeated words tend to wear out the reader, and usually fail to achieve their objective.
  • Do your homework
    Writing a strong “Why our school” essay requires comprehensive research on each university to which you apply. Sentences such as, “I made Columbia my top choice because of its strong alumni network, distinguished faculty, and excellent reputation” are an effective way to ensure rejection. These kinds of sentences show that you failed to recognize the program’s unique character. They also suggest that you did not devote enough time to identifying why you are a strong candidate for this particular school, rather than any other program.
    In addition to reviewing the university’s website, speak to students and alumni. Check out online forums to gather up-to-date information about the school, so you can present a compelling case for why you chose this specific MBA program.
  • Be unique
    Write a unique, personal essay. You want the readers to pore over your essay not only as part of their duty as Admissions Committee members, but also because they are intrigued. Like any good author, use techniques such as suspense, subheadings, an intriguing introduction, and a little humor to capture the reader’s attention. The last thing you want to write is an essay that sounds exactly like the five others that the Admissions Committee member has just read that week.
  • Answer the question
    It may seem obvious, but make sure you remembered to do it: answer the question! No less, and not much more.

Courtesy of the Aringo Admission Consulting research team. For additional MBA essay tips, visit

This post was originally shared on GMAT Club.


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