Tag Archives: essays

MBA Admissions Tip: The Optional Essay

This MBA admissions tip is provided by our friends at Clear Admit. Check out their blog for more advice about the b-school application process.

We realize that the questions of whether to answer an optional essay and, if so, what to say are ones that loom large for many b-school applicants at this time of year. While we’ve been offering a great deal of school-specific essay advice over the past few months, we wanted to take some time to suggest a few considerations that applicants might want to take into account when making this call.

Is it relevant?
Perhaps this goes without saying, but the only information worth sharing in an optional essay is that which will make a material difference in your candidacy. Whether you wish to comment on an exciting leadership role you’ve just taken on or explain that you were overextended extracurricularly during that one bad semester in college, make sure to think carefully about whether this information will affect and enhance the reader’s perception of your business school candidacy. Continue reading

A Core Concept is Central to MBA Essay Success

This post is from Linda Abraham, founder and president of Accepted.com. Also check out the Accepted team’s first post on our blog for tips on law school personal statements.

I have just finished reading Made to Stick by the brothers Chip and Dan Heath. I recommend it highly to those of you in sales, communications, or teaching. Quant jocks? You probably don’t need it.

The authors researched and identified the factors that cause communications to succeed or fail. They boiled their research down to “six principles of stickiness.”

  1. Simplicity
  2. Unexpectedness
  3. Concreteness
  4. Credibility
  5. Emotions
  6. Stories

This post will focus on the first principle you should apply to your application essays: Simplicity.

Your B-school application essay needs a core idea. That essence or central point becomes the driver of all content for that essay. When responding to specific questions, your core must directly and elegantly answer the question. When writing a less-directed essay, you still need a driving concept; you just have more choice as to what your concept should be. Everything else in the essay should support that concept.

If writing multiple essays for one application, each essay has to have a core. Those themes should mesh and complement each other, but not duplicate.

The remaining principles of Making It Stick are means of effectively relating your core idea, but first you need to have a core. Unfortunately, many B-school applicants treat their essays like many teenagers treat their bedroom closets—as a place to put all kinds of “stuff” that may be useful or perhaps once was useful. There is no logic or organizing principle, no driving force. These messy closet essays then read like the mishmash they are.

Essays that are resumes in prose or that attempt to tell your entire life story descend into the mishmash category. MBA essays replete with irrelevant detail stray from their central mission. They are not engaging or persuasive. In fact, they bore.

When you write your essay, start with a central idea and then make sure that everything else supports it. That elegant simplicity is not simplistic and is not easy, but it is highly effective.

Accepted.com’s staff has been checking clients’ work for the essentials of great B-school application essays since 1994. Visit accepted.com/mba for professional advising and editing services as well as sample essays, tips, free ecourses, webinars, and more.

The College Essay: Getting Started

This piece is from Andrew at CollegeEssayOrganizer.com. He’s been in the SAT game for years, and he’ll post here from time to time with college essay tips.

A lot of the time, the hardest part of a college essay is just getting started. Too many schools, too many questions, not enough time. Not to mention, the way the essay prompts are written, they make it seem like you need to know what your life’s work is before you even graduate high school.

The name of the game for starting your college essay isn’t so much knowing exactly what you’re going to write, but which prompts you’re going to have to deal with in the first place. Once you have those assignments figured out, whittling down the amount of work you actually have to do can be a pretty easy job.

First, do yourself (and your parents) a favor and make a list of the schools you’re most interested in applying to, and try to identify your top choice. If you can’t pick a number one school just yet, that’s fine, you can worry about that later.

Then, once you’ve identified the schools you’re interested in, see how many of your essays ask similar questions. With a little organization, you can actually minimize the amount of work you have to do: think three essays instead of seven, five essays instead of twelve, that sort of thing.

College Essay OrganizerWe developed College Essay Organizer to help you see all your essay requirements in one place and show you how you can write as few essays as possible to answer all your required questions.

Doing this kind of work takes just a few minutes all together, and it helps you get your head off your desk and makes the whole essay process seem a lot more manageable than it used to be. Plus, when your parents come knocking on your door to find out if you’ve done anything with those gosh darned essays you’ll be able to say yes, thank you, please get me a beverage.

Five Steps to Getting a 6 on Your GMAT Essays


While many argue that your GMAT essays are meaningless, don’t forget that the essays can be a determining factor in the increasingly competitive admissions process. An extremely low score could set off flags, and raise doubts about your ability to complete graduate work. Additionally, admissions officers will use your GMAT essay as a check on your personal statements, to make sure they were authored by the same person.

1. Have an opinion. In both Analysis of an Issue and Analysis of an Argument essays, it is important to pick a side in the intro/thesis and argue it persuasively throughout.

2. Organize. And then don’t deviate. Shoot for the time-honored five paragraph model of Intro-Body-Body-Body-Conclusion. This template should help you organize your thoughts. Again, this is not the only way to do it, but it is perhaps the method that essay readers find most appealing.

3. Pick relevant and eclectic examples to back up your thesis. Each body paragraph should be about one (and only one) of the talking points.

4. Don’t relax come conclusion time. Many students will bail out of their essays at the end—and dash off only a sentence or two as the last paragraph. Hang in there and write a substantial conclusion. Restate the thesis in the conclusion, but introduce the thoughts in a new way—and make it at least three sentences. Remember, your conclusion is the last thing the reader will see before giving you a score.

5. Proofread. Scorers (both human and computer) will focus a trained eye on your grammar and syntax.

Visit the Knewton blog again in a few days for a sample essay scored a perfect “6”!