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MBA – Tutorial

The essay is truly the section of the business school application that gives you the most opportunity to shine, the most control over what the reader sees of you. Unlike with a recommendation, you do the writing, and unlike in an interview, you have an unlimited amount of time to consider what you wish to say.

You should, of course, take advantage of the unique opportunity these qualities afford you. START EARLY and revise, revise, revise. Correct writing, good structure and style, and efficient use of language are all important, and you should obviously be sure that your essay contains no errors, but writing with mistakes reflects negatively more than an error-free composition reflects positively. You can be certain that everyone who applies to business school runs spell check.

A strong essay is more than simply correct. You should think long and hard about exactly what it is that you want to express about yourself, your personal marketing strategy. You may find it helpful to sit down with a pencil and a blank piece of paper and write down whatever comes into your head, without filtering your ideas at all. Take as long as you need, and try not to be too organized about it. You will find that this unstructured "brainstorming" puts you in an excellent state of mind to begin writing. Don't worry about writing down things that will be "productive" or clearly linked to what you will eventually write. The exercise is meant merely for clarity of thought, and no one will see it but you.

When you are finished look at the paper and consider what you wrote that is most descriptive of yourself. Try to draw connections between experiences and characteristics that you see as important then try to draw further connections between these and the MBA program. Like in the interview, you should consider your strengths and goals and how they intermingle with the particulars of the program to which you are applying. You should consider your weaknesses as well. Perhaps you have worked on large projects that have generated a substantial amount of revenue, but have never had the chance to manage people. Say so--you are going to business school to learn; no one expects you to know everything already. Be confident but not pretentious or verbose. An application essay is not the place for academic style writing.

After you have done some serious brain storming about who you are and what pieces of you an admissions committee would be most interested in seeing (and admitting), sit down to start a first draft. Here are a few basic tips to help you out:

  1. Remember your audience
  2. Avoid the verb "to be" like the plague. This bit of advice includes not only omitting passive constructions, which of course you should do, but also trying to replace is, are, etc. with stronger verbs wherever possible. For example, the sentence: "Our operations personnel and vendor partners were unaccustomed to handling hundreds of 30-foot long rods and putting them into use" is more succinctly stated:"Our operations personnel and vendor partners had never handled hundreds of 30-foot long rods nor put them to use."
  3. Organization-spend tons of time organizing your ideas in a natural, logical way, so as to avoid choppy transitions.
  4. Avoid prepositions and prepositional phrases whenever possible. Example: "My mother has always served as a model of all that women can achieve in traditionally male-dominated areas." Could be, "Traditionally male-dominated areas have never daunted my mother, whose example, women everywhere should follow."
  5. Remember, though there is a reason they call it a "first" draft. The first and most important rule of revision is not to get too attached to anything you've written. If a certain paragraph, phrase, or idea does not support your argument, or does not say what you want it to efficiently, don't be reluctant to take it out, no matter how catchy it may sound, or how long it took you to come up with it.

If you want your essay to be its best, many revisions, aided by second, third, and fourth opinions, will follow. Some should come from those who know you best, to make sure that your essay is honest, true to who you are rather than just to who you think a business school wants to see (chances are that if you write an essay with that in mind, you will end up sounding just like everyone else). Others should come from people who know what good writing is. Our professional editors can refine both the content, structure, style, and even the little mistakes in your essay to make it the best it can be.

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