Secrets to Writing MBA Essays

by mba

In 500 words

Secrets to Writing MBA EssaysA Wharton MBA graduate with a BS from MIT, Scott Edinburgh has been an MBA admissions consultant and career advisor since he founded Boston-based Personal MBA Coach in 2008. Through his boutique admissions consulting and tutoring company, he and his team have helped hundreds of applicants around the world get into top MBA and graduate programmes and advance their careers with a 96% success rate. Last year Personal MBA Coach clients earned over USD 6.5 million in scholarships. Prior to founding Personal MBA Coach, Scott began his career at Deloitte and worked across consulting, financial services and strategy & corporate development roles.


Applicants always wonder what the secret is to writing winning MBA essays. Any advice for applicants as they begin to draft their essays?

Applicants should start with the easiest essay first since their writing will improve over time. Jumping right into a draft without proper planning can be daunting and produce weak essays, which is why we ensure that the brainstorming and outlining steps are given adequate attention.

Most initial drafts will, and should, be approximately 10% longer than the finalised essay. If you write an initial draft that is too long, you will waste too much effort cutting and not enough fine-tuning. Also, at this early stage, we tell clients not to worry about grammar, spelling, and other minor errors. What is most important is that your points flow well and are easy to follow.

Which part of the essay writing process should candidates devote the most time to?

Editing is the longest part of the process. This is where candidates solidify general content and flow and begin to fine-tune their writing. If your essay is not working, do not be afraid to start again! You should expect to write multiple versions and do not waste too much time between each round of edits, as you will lose momentum.

What is a common MBA essay writing mistake?

Failing to answer the question you have been asked. You would be surprised how many people write beautiful essays but do not directly address the question. Avoid writing what you think the admissions committee wants to hear. Instead, your uniqueness will be one of your greatest selling points, painting a clear image of who you are, what you are passionate about and what motivates you.

Any advice for those who are having trouble fitting all their accomplishments into their essays, often with a 500-word limit?

Don’t! The admissions committee will read about all your accomplishments in your CV, short answers and recommendations. The essays are your chance to show your voice, explain your choices and share accomplishments and passions. Rather than stuffing as much as possible into the essays, focus on a few key highlights.

Do you have specific writing tips in terms of style?

Keep your language approachable. The terms you regularly use at work may be unfamiliar to others, including the admissions committee, so do not assume that the reader knows everything about your job.

Similarly, keep in mind that you are not submitting your essays for a Pulitzer Prize or trying to become a professional writer. Rather, you are telling your story and expressing why you are someone others would want to study with, learn from and ultimately be inspired by. While of course you want your essays to be well-written and grammatically correct, you also want them to be easy to follow and relatable.

How can applicants finalise their essays?

Once they have finished writing, applicants should ask someone who is unfamiliar with their work, and ideally their industry, to proofread their essays. A new set of eyes will catch mistakes that may have otherwise been overlooked. At Personal MBA Coach, we use expert proofreaders for this final step.

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