A Plan for Writing a Great MBA Essay

Admissions expert EssaySnark comes at you again with advice on how to tackle the dreaded MBA admissions essay!

This is a guest post by BusinessBecause partner and admissions essay expert EssaySnark

Business school admissions consultant EssaySnark comes at you again with advice on how to tackle the most daunting of all daunting MBA admissions tasks; the essay.

Now that you've done all your research here on BusinessBecause and are excited about the schools you are going to apply to, you may be tempted to rush into the essays. Or, you may assume that the essays will be easy. B-school candidates often underestimate the essay's importance. They also underestimate the amount of time required to write a good one. Essays matter A LOT in the MBA admissions process, and you can't expect to whip one out in an afternoon and have it be good. All great writing is developed through revision. Your first draft will not be your last one – that is, not if you're serious about impressing your readers.

EssaySnark breaks down the steps involved in crafting a solid MBA essay:

  1. Start each essay from scratch.  There are very very few schools that ask identical questions to what another school is asked. Yes, you can re-use your ideas and themes from application to application, but you must plan on writing each school's essay from scratch. The nuances between how the question is phrased can trip you up. It's remarkably easy to go off course simply due to the different wording from question to question. And, the adcoms can tell when an essay was written for another school's prompt; they know what their peer programs ask. It's a quick path to the reject pile for your application if your admissions reader thinks that you didn't bother writing your essay specifically for them.
  2. Know what you're going to say before you say it. Resist the urge of sitting down at your computer and typing away. Instead, spend time thinking about the essay question, and come up with a direct one-sentence statement that answers what the school is asking. We even recommend building out a full outline to capture your key points before diving into your draft. Focus is important. You'd be surprised at how many people spend 500 words talking about stuff yet never respond to what the question has asked.
  3. Write your essay – then revise, revise, revise. Plan on at least three drafts for each essay:
  • Your first full draft gets your story down on the page.
  • A reorganize and rework draft to optimize the way your thoughts are being expressed and make sure you're being clear in your ideas
  • A polish draft to refine and smooth the writing, and to hunt down the typos.
  • You may also need an extra revision step to carve the essay down to the school's word limits. It's usually OK to go overlimit a little bit, but only a little.

Obviously this optimal process only works if you've clearly identified your strategy and defined your key idea before you start writing.

  1. The most important step? The time when you're not writing. Be sure to leave room in your schedule where you can put your essays aside and not think about them at all. It's much easier to see the flaws in your work and understand how to correct them if you leave the draft alone for a while and then come back to it with fresh eyes.

This is why we're encouraging you to begin now, early on, when the admissions deadlines are way off on the horizon. The strongest material takes time to develop. Create a structured project plan to take you through the weeks from now untill your school's deadline and you'll minimize the stress involved, and maximize the quality of your final output. Good luck with it!

Admissions consultant EssaySnark offers MBA application tips every weekday at the EssaySnark blahg. If you're especially brave, you can even submit an essay for a free review posted anonymously on the site. Hundreds of helpful articles available at essaysnark.com. Increase your odds of getting into a great MBA program with The 'Snark!

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