How MBA Adcoms Evaluate Your Essay

Curious about what deal-breakers can turn off the MBA Adcom as they evaluate your MBA application? Read on to find out!

Do this. Write that. Include the other. What TO put in your MBA essays is the topic of many discussions. But what NOT to include is a less talked about conversation. Until now…

Check out these three things that you should NEVER include your MBA application essays:

1. Private, intimate details about your life.

You want to provide a personal account that highlights your character, experiences, and achievements; but tread carefully – too much information will cross the line into an inappropriate zone. Topics to steer clear of: sex, divorce, gross medical details, childbirth, bathroom humor, heavy partying etc. Hopefully you’re thinking, “Why on earth would anyone include that in an application!” If, however, you’re thinking, “Wow, I never thought to avoid these subjects – this is good to know,” then I’m glad you’re reading this!

The only time when it may be acceptable to discuss any of the above is to mention it as context for poor performance in the past. And then less is more. Focus on how you have dealt with the issue, overcome it, and moved on.

2. Broad declarative statements unsubstantiated by specific examples.

You probably learned this rule in elementary school, but we’ll review it – each topic sentence you write must be followed by supporting sentences. So if you claim that you are a team leader, you can’t just leave it at that. Instead, follow that with a few examples: What have you done to show your leadership abilities? How many people were on your team? How did you motivate your team members? Did you encounter any obstacles? If so, how did you overcome them? What did you gain from the experience overall?

This is particularly important when talking about work accomplishments. Saying that you developed a new product or organized a huge event begs for more questions. Answer those questions so that the adcom readers don’t need to ask them.

3. Exaggerations and lies.

Fact-checking has become a regular part of an admissions reader’s job. Please don’t exaggerate or lie. It’s unethical and unwise. It’ll only come back to bite you.

So there you have it: three places you don’t want to go in your MBA essays – at least if you do want to go to b-school.

This article was originally published on the Accepted Admissions Blog.



  • Linda Abraham

    Linda Abraham is the founder and CEO of Accepted, the top-tier admissions consultancy that helps you unlock your competitive advantage. Linda has written or co-authored 13 ebooks on the college admissions process. In 2007, she co-founded the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) and became its first president. For the last 20 years Linda and her highly credentialed, experienced team have helped thousands of applicants get accepted to top colleges and graduate schools worldwide, including but not limited to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, Kellogg, and MIT. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, The New York Times, US News, The Sunday Times of London, Businessweek, Poets & Quants and MBA Podcaster.

More from Magoosh