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© Accepted 2018

Introduction 4

Why Our Clients Love Us 6

Chicago Booth 7

Columbia Business School 11

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business 15

Dartmouth Tuck 20

Duke Fuqua School of Business 25

Georgetown McDonough 29

Harvard Business School 35

IMD 39

Indian School of Business 42

Kellogg 45

London Business School 50

Michigan Ross 52

MIT Sloan 56

NYU Stern 61

Oxford Saïd 65

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Stanford GSB 67

UC Berkeley Haas 72

UCLA Anderson 78

UNC Kenan-Flagler 83

UVA Darden 87

Wharton 91

Yale SOM 95

Conclusion 97

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The best way to ace your application essays is to ANSWER THE ESSAY QUESTIONS. This may
sound like an easy feat, yet so often applicants go into the essay writing process with an ulterior
motive: to write their preconceived essays based only loosely on the given essay topics.

Newsflash: No matter how compelling and well-written your essays are, if they don’t answer
the questions as they are presented to you on the application, they will not impress the
admissions committee—or at least, not in the way you want them to.

In this admissions guide you will receive the guidance you need to a) understand exactly what
each essay question is asking, and to b) answer the question in the most compelling and
impressive fashion. To make the most of this guide, I recommend you keep the following in

● These questions were originally used in the 2018-2019 MBA application cycle.
Whenever you read this, don’t assume they are unchanged. Check the schools’ websites
for the current version.

● Each school asks different questions; therefore, each essay you draft should be unique
to each essay question and to each program. While it may be tempting to use the same
essay for a few different applications, adcoms can usually tell the difference between a
recycled essay and an essay that was written specifically to answer their question – and
they certainly prefer the latter.

● In our analyses below, you’ll find valuable tips on what to include in your answers, as
well as advice on what you should avoid at all costs. Don’t stop reading after the “do’s”;
the “don’ts” can be just as valuable, if not more so.

● Since “fit” is so crucial to each of these schools, be sure to research each program you
apply to and envision yourself at that particular school – on its campus, in its
classrooms, interacting with its professors, etc. – while drafting your essay. If you want
the adcoms to believe you will be an irreplaceable fixture in their next class, then you’ll
have to convince them that your ideals and goals are one with theirs.

● Whether you’ve already written a draft or are just starting to think of ideas, our
consultants are standing by, ready to be of service to you.

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● Enjoy the guide...and answer those questions directly. Effectively. Successfully.

Disclaimer: Please double-check the original application on each individual b-school’s website to
ensure accuracy. Accepted is not responsible for any discrepancies in the text or any changes
that may have been made to the original applications since the time of publishing.

Note: As you read through this guide you’ll find that we formatted it as clearly as possible so you
can easily tell where Accepted commentary begins and ends. Accepted comments are all in blue.

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Why Our Clients Love Us
No matter where you live and no matter where you're applying, our expert admissions
consultants are ready to listen, mentor, and guide you as you prepare an outstanding b-school
application that will get you accepted. You'll love us because you'll see from the first phone call
or email that we care about you and support you as you strive to achieve your goals and

But you don't need to take our word for it. See what some of our clients have to say about

"I did find out just over a week ago that I was admitted to HBS! Super exciting news – I
definitely would not have been as successful without your help! Thank you for the
practice and support – it was a pleasure working with you!"

“Just wanted to let you know that I got into Wharton! I am really shocked, and it is still
sinking in.”

“Thanks again for all your help. I have been admitted to Booth and am accepting. Your
help and guidance was outstanding and allowed me to focus my energy on presenting
myself in the best light, gaining the result we wished for.”

“Very happy to tell you that I have been accepted to Columbia! Your insight and careful
critiquing of my essays truly did the trick!”

“I was accepted at Kellogg and Yale!!! Super excited!!!! I am very happy all the hard
work payed off finally! Thank you so much for being supportive and helpful during the

“I was invited to interview with every school that I applied to despite my low GMAT of
only 660. Now the results have started coming out and so far I have been admitted to
Tuck and Fuqua. There is no way I would have been successful without your invaluable
edits and mock interviews.”

Read more feedback on why our clients love Accepted.

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Chicago Booth
Chicago Booth, which has never shied away from change, has changed its MBA application
essays almost entirely this year.

A few highlights:

• Booth went from one required essay with a visual presentation option to two required essays.

• There is no visual component to Booth’s application this year. After pioneering the visual
element roughly ten years ago and having you choose from several pictures for the last two
years the “moment” that most resonated with you, Booth’s app this year is entirely written.
Booth may, however, invite waitlisted applicants to submit a video.

• The two required questions have 250-word ​minimums.​ While specifying MBA essay length
minimums is very unusual, it fits with Booth’s history of breaking the mold. At the same time,
don’t infer that the absence of a maximum is a license for verbosity. As Booth says, “We trust
that you will use your best judgment in determining how long your submission should be.” Do
use your best judgement, otherwise you will be showing a different kind of judgement, and you
really don’t want to do that.

• The optional question this year is more restrictive than in years past.

• The reapplicant question is unchanged.

While most prompts have changed, the intent of these questions is the same: to get to know
you, see how you think, and to see ​how you will fit into Booth’s community​.

Chicago Booth MBA Application Question #1:

How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career
goals? ​(250 word minimum)

In order to answer this question you need to know three things:

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1. Your immediate post-MBA goal, which you should be able to define in terms of function
(what you want to do after you earn your MBA — not study during the MBA) and industry or
type of company. Sometimes location can play a role, and if so, provide that information, too.

2. Your longer-term professional aspirations. These don’t have to be as specific as your

short-term goal, but the two should be related.

3. The Chicago Booth program. Specifically how do you intend to use distinctive Booth
strengths to build on your past and prepare yourself for your chosen career? If it’s not obvious
how your previous education and experience when combined with the Booth MBA will help you
achieve both goals, clarify.

To answer the question, you can start with a seminal experience, preferably an achievement
that shaped your goals and aspirations. Tell a story about this experience and describe what
you learned from it and how it has influenced you and ​your short- and long-term goals​.

Then talk about Booth. Look at the curriculum, strengths, career placement, and
extra-curricular activities that support your ambitions.

Alternatively, start with the achievement of your goal — a day-in-the-life approach — then flash
back and tell the story of that seminal experience and how it and Booth prepared you for the
future day that started your essay.

Last week I attended the AIGAC conference, which Chicago Booth hosted for one morning.
During the informative sessions at Booth, the admissions committee members made clear that
they are looking for students who demonstrate self-awareness and direction. They want to read
your application and see, based on what you’ve done, that you’re going to make a mark on the

Write this essay so that it shows both self-awareness and your ability to make that mark.

Chicago Booth MBA Application Question #2:

Chicago Booth immerses you in a choice-rich environment. How have your interests, leadership
experiences, and other passions influenced the choices in your life? ​(250 word minimum)

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Choose 1-3 important decisions that you’ve made, ones where the outcome was anything but
certain, you had lots of options, and there was no obvious right way or clear winner among the
options. Think of a fork in the road with many pathways leading from it.

You were then in a choice-rich environment, like the one that Booth will provide. What
“interests, leadership experiences, and other passions” influenced your choices? Is there a
common thread to your decision-making process that will tie together these decisions, as well
as your essay?

An excellent response to this essay has to show the self-awareness that I heard about last week
as well as a clear sense of priorities. The ability to prioritize will be vital to anyone accepted to
Chicago Booth’s MBA program.

Response Guidelines:

• Length: There is no maximum length, only a 250 word minimum. We trust that you will use
your best judgment in determining how long your submission should be, but we recommend
that you think strategically about how to best allocate the space.

• File Size: Maximum file size is 16 MB.

• Acceptable Formats: Use the text box provided in the application or upload a Word

Chicago Booth MBA Optional Essay Question:

Is there any unclear information in your application that needs further explanation? ​(300 words

This is a restrictive ​optional question​. Booth is really asking only for information that will clarify
something that is unclear, like a drop in grades one semester or a period of unemployment, or
why your current supervisor is not writing your letter of recommendation..

This question, unlike the required questions, does have a word limit. Respect it.

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Chicago Booth MBA Reapplicant Question:

Upon reflection, how has your perspective regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting
an MBA changed since the time of your last application? ​(300 words maximum)

The answer to this question is critical for MBA reapplicants, and it’s different from most
reapplication essays in that it’s more about your perspective than what you’ve done. Chicago
wants to see growth and development. Same old, same old got you a ding last time and
probably will again this time.

Let this brief essay show a maturation and evolution of your goals and reasons for wanting to
attend Chicago Booth. Let it also reveal that ​you meet Chicago’s criteria​better this year than

For expert guidance with your Chicago Booth MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions
consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Chicago Booth’s MBA
program and look forward to helping you too!

Chicago Booth 2018-19 MBA Application Deadlines​:

Application Deadline Decisions Released

Round 1 September 27, 2018 December 6, 2018

Round 2 January 3, 2019 March 21, 2019

Round 3 April 4, 2019 May 16, 2019

*All application deadlines are at 11:59pm CST

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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Columbia Business School
Columbia Business School has changed to two of its three required questions, leaving
unchanged its short answer question, first essay question and optional essay question. Total
word limits are the same as last year. The word limits are tight.

Columbia Business School Application Essay Tips

Goal: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? ​(50 characters)

No changes with this question. Note, it is a character (not word) limit. Your response must be
significantly less than a tweet. What do you want to do professionally and in which industry
immediately after earning your MBA? Here are CBS’ ​examples of possible responses​:

“Work in business development for a media company.”

“Join a strategy consulting firm.”

“Launch a data-management start-up.”

Warning: This question is not asking about intended area of study while in business school or a
non-professional goal or even a long-term goal. And the subject in your response is assumed to
be you. No need to waste characters by including “I.”

Succinctly define your goal in terms of function (what you want to do) and the industry (or type
of company) in which you want to do it.

Columbia Business School Essay #1:

Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path
to date. What are your career goals over the next 3 – 5 years and what, in your imagination,
would be your long-term dream job? ​(500 words)

Columbia apparently liked the answers it received to this question, its longest, because it is
back this year. CBS wants you to focus on your career goals not immediately after graduation,

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as in the short-answer question, but in the longer-term. They want to see how you believe your
career will develop after that immediate post-MBA job. This question does not ask you how
CBS will help you achieve your goals.

To answer this question realize that the readers already know what’s in ​your resume​. Don’t
repeat “your career path to date.” That’s a waste of valuable essay real estate and means
you’re not telling them anything new or answering their question.

Do tell them what you want to do 3-5 years into the future, which should build on your first
post-MBA job. Make sure to answer the long-term question and feel free to dream and aspire,
but at the same time reveal an ambitious, but feasible professional goal.

Columbia Business School Essay #2:

How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? ​(250 Words)

Please watch this​ short video featuring Dean Glenn Hubbard

While Dean Hubbard’s video is shorter, I believe the following video illustrates more effectively
what “being at the very center of business” means.

Different from last year’s question, this year’s Essay 2 is very similar to the question that
occupied this slot two and three years ago.

Really think about the points these videos are making: What does being at the center mean?
Access to an infinite variety of opportunities. Proximity to ​thought leadership and executive
leadership​. Convergence of theory and practice. NYC is an — if not ​the​ — international business

After watching the videos, reflect on how you intend to take advantage of the myriad
opportunities and energy that reside at Columbia University and in New York City. How will you
benefit from the entrepreneurial eco-system in New York and Columbia University? The ties to
bio science and pharma? Madison Avenue? The cutting-edge research and thought leadership?
Not to mention the practitioners who lead Wall Street and teach at Columbia. Or will you

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explore the cultural riches of NYC and take advantage of the incredible business opportunities
present in the arts and media?

Be careful not to speak of those opportunities in the generalities that I have. If you are
interested in luxury goods marketing, as stated in your short answer, then write here about
how you will take advantage of Madison and 5th Avenues as well as Columbia’s offerings. If you
are interested in finance or consulting, Manhattan and all the businesses in it are at your feet.
How will you benefit from this incredible location as well as the practitioners teaching at CBS
and the strengths of Columbia’s curriculum and program? Be specific.Final point: you don’t
have to address all the points raised in the videos, but you do have to write persuasively about
at least one.

Columbia Business School Essay #3:

Please provide an example of a team failure of which you have been a part. If given a second
chance, what would you do differently? ​(250 words)

First of all think about what causes teams to fail. Accepted consultant Natalie Grinblatt Epstein
brilliantly and briefly explores that topic in “​Get a GRIP on Team Questions.​” Secondly, realize
that CBS is looking here for applicants who can examine their actions critically, learn from
mistakes — both their own and others, and take responsibility for errors of commission and

In your response, succinctly describe the failure. analyze its causes, and what you would do
differently. If you have room and an appropriate example, conclude with a later team
experience when you successfully implemented the lesson you learned from the earlier team

Columbia Business School Optional Essay:

Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, use
this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your
personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points.
(Maximum 500 words)

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Clearly you can use this optional essay question to address a weakness in your profile or
qualifications, but in my mind, this question is also open-ended enough to allow you to discuss
a challenge overcome in your personal background.

Don’t use this essay as a grand finale or wrap up. And definitely don’t use it to rehash your
reasons for wanting to attend Columbia; those reasons should be perfectly clear from the
required essays.

If you would like professional guidance with your Columbia Business School MBA application,
please consider Accepted’s ​MBA Application Packages,​ which include advising, editing, interview
coaching, and a resume edit for the CBS MBA application.

Columbia Business School 2018 Application Deadlines​:

Early Decision October 3, 2018

Merit Based Fellowship January 4, 2019

Final Regular Decisions April 10, 2019

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
If you are looking for a small MBA class in an idyllic location with warm and genuine classmates,
then ​Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management may be your program​. Johnson
places the largest portion of its class in the financial industry after graduation (32% of the class);
in addition, 25% enter the consulting industry, 12% join the technology industry, and 6% go into
consumer produts, which is a diversity of industries that reflects the strong quant, analytical,
and marketing curricula of the school. Cornell’s class of around 300 students is known to be
close-knit and collaborative. Most first-year students choose to spend their second semester in
an Immersion Experience, a unique combination of course and fieldwork that positions them to
thrive in their summer internships.

The school’s curriculum improvements in 2014 introduced more critical thinking, data analysis,
financial modeling, and leadership assessment and guidance into the program – changes that
helped improve the class of 2016’s 3-month post-graduation rate of employment to 94% (up
from 91% in 2013). Most interesting is that students who were not authorized to work in the US
actually had a higher placement rate (95%) than those who did have US citizenship or work
visas: clearly the Ivy League Cornell education is valued in global industry.

Below are ​Johnson’s essay questions​ and the admissions office’s guidance. My comments are in

Cornell Johnson MBA Goals Statement:

Use this short answer question to succinctly share your short and long term goals. If invited to
interview, you will have the opportunity to elaborate further and should be prepared to
connect your prior experience with your future aspirations.

A statement of your goals will begin a conversation that will last throughout the admissions
process and guide your steps during the MBA program and experience. To the best of your
understanding today, please share your short and long term goals by completing the following
sentences and answering the enclosed short answer question​ ​(250 words maximum):​

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Immediately post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) ____[Role]____ at

Targeted Job Role:

Target Job Company:


In 5-10 years post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) ____[Role]____ at


Targeted Job Role:

Target Job Company:


How has your experience prepared and encouraged you to pursue these goals?

If ​your goal​ immediately after graduating from Johnson is not deemed possible by the
admissions office, then you might as well not bother finishing the application. No applicant will
be accepted if their short-term goal is unachievable: at the very least it will ruin Johnson’s
placement rating, but at worst it could potentially leave a graduate in a great deal of financial
debt for their MBA degree. Speak to current students and recent graduates to hear about the
recruiting process, positions available, and the qualifications, if any, that students must have to
enter your field of interest.

Cornell Johnson Impact Essay:

This essay is designed to explore the intersection of engagement and community culture.
Whether during the program or following graduation, our students and alumni share a desire to
positively impact the organizations and communities they serve. To help you explore your
potential for impact, we encourage you to engage with our students, alumni, faculty, and
professional staff. You may choose to connect with them via email or phone or in person during

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one of our on campus or off campus events. As you seek their input and insight, please be
respectful of their time and prepare a few discussion points or questions in advance ​(500 words

At Cornell, we value students who create impact. Please indicate the opportunities for impact
that you’ve identified through engagement with our community and describe how what you
learned has influenced your decision to apply to Johnson.

The best answers to this essay question don’t solely focus on the impact you hope to make at
Cornell Johnson but rather ​demonstrate how your background and previous impacts​ have
prepared you to make this future impact. To prove you will be an engaged community member
in Ithaca, you will need to show in what other environments you have been such a member in
the past. Thus, this essay requires evidence that you know about campus life at Cornell Johnson
AND about how you will uniquely make your mark.

Cornell Johnson Back of Your Resume Essay:

This essay is an opportunity to present yourself as an individual. We encourage you to think

about your proudest accomplishments, interests and passions, and personal highlights that will
help us to get to know you as a person and potential community member. We value creativity
and authenticity and encourage you to approach this essay with your unique style. Alternative
submission formats may include a slide presentation, links to pre-existing media (personal
website, digital portfolio, YouTube, etc.), as well as visually enhanced written submissions.
Maximum file size is 5 MB. If you choose to submit a written essay, please limit your submission
to 500 words or fewer. Multimedia submissions should be under 5 minutes.

The front page of your resume has given us a sense of your professional experience and
accomplishments as well as your academic summary and extracurricular involvement. If the
back page reflects “the rest of your story,” please help us get to know you better by sharing the
experiences that will give us insight into your character, values, and interests.

Here is your chance to showcase the highlights of your life, in text, pictures, or multimedia to
pique the admissions office’s interest. Five minutes of multimedia will give the admissions staff
time to really get to know you – to see and hear you, much more than a 500-word essay could.

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Cornell Johnson MBA Optional Essays:

You may use this essay to call attention to items needing clarification and to add additional
details to any aspects of your application that do not accurately reflect your potential for
success at Johnson ​(500 words maximum).​

If you are reapplying for admission, please use this essay to indicate how you have
strengthened your application and candidacy since the last time you applied for admission.
Please also review our ​Admissions Policy​ for additional information about re-applying ​(500
words maximum)​.

If you are a reapplicant, this is a great space to demonstrate that you have made considerable
efforts to improve your candidacy: you have improved your GMAT score, taken on more
leadership roles​, reached out to more Cornell staff and students, or researched your career
goals in greater depth.

If you are a first-time applicant, then you should use this space to address any issue that you
feel the application left unaddressed. In particular, if you feel your goals require some
explanation beyond the very terse phrasing allocated to them, this is a great opportunity to
share it.

For expert guidance with your Cornell Johnson MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions
consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Cornell Johnson’s MBA
program and look forward to helping you too!

Johnson at Cornell 2018-19 MBA Application Deadlines:

One-Year MBA:

Application Deadline

Early Action September 10, 2018

October Round October 10, 2018

November Round November 15, 2018

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January Round January 3, 2019

Rolling March 15, 2019*

*After January 3rd, applications will be received and reviewed on a space available basis with a
final submission deadline of March 15, 2019.

Two-Year MBA:

Application Deadline

October Round October 10, 2018

November Round November 15, 2018

January Round January 3, 2019

April Round April 10, 2019

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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Dartmouth Tuck
In a nutshell, Tuck’s ​Admissions Director Luke Pena​, who assumed the position about a year
ago, is building on the legacy of transparency and friendliness left by former admission director
Dawna Clarke. After a year of “listening and more listening,” he is clearly putting his own stamp
on Tuck’s MBA application process.

Under Pena’s leadership, Tuck has developed a very purposeful process focused on admitting
people who meet its four criteria, summed up as smart, nice, accomplished, and aware. The
criteria match my understanding of the Tuck community, but also are relatively easy to grasp.
Once Tuck established and defined these criteria, it designed its application process to unearth
the qualities it is seeking in candidates.

To have a clear understanding of the criteria and the application process, please review:

•​ ​Tuck’s Evaluation Criteria

•​ ​Tuck Introduces Essay and Reference Questions Mapped to New Admissions Criteria

•​ ​An Interview with Dartmouth Tuck’s Admissions Director, Luke Pena

Dartmouth Tuck MBA Application

The essay questions provide you with an opportunity to articulate your candidacy for Tuck to
the Admissions Committee. Please be clear, succinct, forthright, and thoughtful in your
responses. Additionally, we ask that you share what you truly feel, as opposed to writing what
you think the Admissions Committee would like to read. There are no right or wrong answers.
Reapplicants should also complete the reapplicant essay. Tuck expects that the work contained
in the essays is completely accurate and exclusively your own. Use of professional essay writing
services violates Tuck’s admissions policies.

Tuck MBA Application Short-Answer Questions

1. Share your short term goals. ​(50 words)

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2. Share your long term goals. ​(50 words)

3. How did you arrive at these goals? ​(75 words)

4. How will Tuck help you achieve these goals? ​(75 words)

The short answer questions are a great place for you to show the awareness and possibly a bit
of the “accomplished” quality that Tuck is looking for. ​Are you motivated by a clear purpose?
And by the way you can set “audacious” goals as long as they are “grounded in reality.”

Obviously given the word limits, you will need to be succinct. In responding to #1 define your
short-term goals in terms of desired role and industry, and perhaps location. Long-term goals
(#2) can have an aspirational quality to them, but they should be supported by the short-term

Question #3 is about your motivation. You can succinctly discuss an experience that influenced
the development of your goals as well as why this incident proved so influential.

Finally #4, is why Tuck? Do you have a solid understanding of what Tuck offers and how it will
help you realize your short-term goals and set you on a path to achieving the long-term ones?

Tuck MBA Application Essay #1

Tuck students are aware of how their individuality adds to the fabric of Tuck. Tell us who you
are and what you will contribute. ​(500 words)

This is a hard question. No doubt about it. You could start by attempting to define yourself.
That may work for some of you. For others it may be easier to start with how you intend to
contribute to Tuck and then discuss the qualities, perspective, and/or experience that will
enable you to contribute effectively.

With either approach, review the website thoroughly so that you have a good understanding of
the program. If you can, talk to current students or recent alumni with interests similar to
yours. Then think about how you will participate and contribute to the Tuck community.

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Whether initially or at the end of this process, reflect on the attributes, perspective, and
experiences that will allow you to contribute distinctively, if not uniquely.

I suggest you choose 1-3 means of contribution and discuss the qualities you have that qualify
you to give in this particular way. Perhaps start with a story about an experience that reveals
these qualities and then move forward to reveal how that experience defines you or reflects
your identity. Close with what you intend to contribute.

Alternatively, start with the “who you are’ part of the question and then move to how you
intend to contribute.

Tuck MBA Application Essay #2

Tuck students are nice, and invest generously in one another’s success. Share an example of
how you helped someone else succeed. ​(500 words)

This question is about one experience. It requires you to choose one time when you helped
someone else succeed. Your assistance could be on or off the job. While Tuck hasn’t given a
time frame, I wouldn’t recommend that you go back more than three years and certainly not
more than five years.

A CAR approach will work well here:

• Challenge

• Action

• Result

Keep it specific and concrete or you will blend in with others writing in generalities. Your
empathetic, helpful response to the other party’s challenge is key. Set the scene by describing
the situation. How did you help the other party succeed? What were the results?

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Tuck MBA Application Essay #3 (Optional)

Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere
(e.g., atypical choice of evaluators, factors affecting academic performance, unexplained job
gaps or changes). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented
by this application.

If you have any of the elements mentioned in Tuck’s question, by all means address them here.
You do NOT want the admissions committee guessing or assuming wrongly when they come
across something anomalous.

If you feel your application represents your candidacy well, don’t feel compelled to respond to
the optional. If you believe, however, that your application is ​missing key elements of your
story​ and candidacy even if not mentioned in the question, then briefly include here. If you
application is missing critical context, succinctly add it here. Whether it’s a challenge that
you’ve faced or a hardship overcome or other context for what you’ve achieved that will help
the admissions committee appreciate you candidacy, include it.

But don’t waste their time with drivel or material that’s elsewhere in your application. Doing so
would reveal a definite lack of judgement, and in Tuck terms, awareness.

Tuck MBA Application Essay #4 (To be completed by all reapplicants)

How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you
have grown personally and professionally. ​(500 words)

Straightforward ​MBA reapplication question​. It is critical that every reapplicant be able to

answer it for every school they are reapplying to: What has changed that would compel Tuck to
admit you this year?

For expert guidance with your Dartmouth Tuck MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions
consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Dartmouth Tuck’s MBA
program and look forward to helping you too!

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Dartmouth Tuck 2018-19 Application Deadlines:

Application Deadline Decisions Released

Round 1 September 24, 2018 December 6, 2018

Round 2 January 7, 2019 March 14, 2019

Round 3 April 1, 2019 May 9, 2019

Round 1 - Consortium* October 15, 2018 December 6, 2018

Round 2 - Consortium* January 5, 2019 March 14, 2019

Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. EST

*Prospective students who are applying to Tuck through the Consortium will receive two
decisions; one from Tuck regarding their admission decision and a second from the Consortium
regarding their membership decision.

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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Duke Fuqua School of Business
Leadership, teamwork, ethics, and a global approach to business are essential elements of the
Duke Fuqua MBA​, which is why you’ll need to make sure you express your passion for these
ideals in your application essays. Impress the Fuqua adcom by ​positioning yourself as an
innovative leader​ and team player, as someone who can see the big picture, work
collaboratively, and shape global business.

Duke Fuqua 2018-19 MBA Application Essays:

You’ll need to provide your thoughts on three short-answer questions and two essays as part of
your application.

Instructions for all written submissions:

● Responses should use 1.5-line spacing and a font size no smaller than 10-point.
● Do not repeat the question in the document you upload with your application.
● Respond fully and concisely.
● Length requirements vary by question and are detailed below.
● Responses must be completed before submitting your application.

All submissions are scanned using plagiarism detection software. Plagiarism is considered a
cheating violation within the Honor Code and will not be tolerated in ​the admissions process​.

Duke Fuqua Required Short-Answer Essay Questions

Instructions: Answer all three of the following questions. For each question, respond in 500
characters only ​(the equivalent of about 100 words).

1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?

State what you see yourself doing immediately after you earn your MBA in terms of
function and industry. If location or geography are important to your goal, include them.
If you know the type of companies you would like to work for, you can include that
information too, but don’t say you want to work for Company X, unless Company X is
sponsoring you. Without sponsorship, a “Company X” answer is probably too narrow,

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but saying you would like to work for a firm like Company X would work.

2. What are your long-term goals?

Your long- term goals should flow logically from your short-term goals. They can be
fuzzier both in terms of direction and timing. But you should have them. They can, but
don’t have to, include larger aspirations and present a broader perspective on where
you are headed. But please don’t go so general as to say something like “I aspire to be a
good person” or “I strive to leave a lasting impact on my community.” Nice sentiments,
but way too vague.

3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result,
navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you
provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?
What’s your Plan B? If you can’t get a job at a leading strategy consulting firm – your
first choice – what do you want to do? If Plan A is investment banking, what’s Plan B?

Plan B should relate to Plan A and have the potential to prepare you for the
achievement of your long-terms goals almost as well as Plan A. It should also be
something that the Duke MBA will prepare you for.

Duke Fuqua MBA Essay #1: 25 Random Things About Yourself

Instructions: Present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a
few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed two pages.

For context: Fuqua believes different types of people, points of view, and experiences bring out
the best in everyone. And above all, we place a premium on succeeding while making a positive
impact on businesses, organizations, and the world. These ways of thinking set the Duke MBA
experience apart, and this concept extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff,
and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share
with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team,
we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25
Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and

In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you – beyond the
professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share

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with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or
anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25
Random Things” about YOU.

Have some fun with this list. It certainly allows a more creative approach than permitted by
most essay prompts. Note that the question asks you to go “beyond the professional and
academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript.” So you can list your Pez
collection or perhaps your brief membership in a rock band, or the fact that you took violin
from ages 6-18, or your membership in a gospel choir, or your volunteer work in a hospital,
your needlepoint, your favorite recipe or photo. Gosh – the list is endless. Just let it reflect you.
Think of this list as an introduction to potential friends. For more insight into this question and
the motivation behind, ​please read Megan Overbay’s, the former Director of Admissions,
advice​. Yes, it’s old, but I believe you will find it helpful. And very friendly. For even more ideas,
check out Associate Dean for Admissions Shari Hubert’s 25 Random Things or these examples
from different Fuqua students..

Duke Fuqua MBA Essay #2: The Fuqua Community and You

Instructions: Your response should be no more than two pages in length.

Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of
student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal
fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. Our student-led government, clubs,
centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and are vital to providing you
with a range of experiential learning and individual development experiences.

Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and
contributing to our community, outside of the classroom?

Do your homework about Fuqua (and yourself) before responding to this question. What
activities and groups appeal to you? How do you see yourself participating? Making a
difference? Imagine how you would participate and sometimes lead. While you can reference
similar activities in the past, keep the focus of this essay on what you would do at Fuqua.

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One approach to responding to this question: Address a letter to a close friend or colleague and
tell them how you would contribute to this very participatory culture. That letter could morph
into this essay.

Duke Fuqua MBA Essay #3 (Optional): Tell Us More

If you feel there are circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware (such
as unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic
performance), please explain them in an optional essay.

Please do not upload additional essays or additional recommendations in this area of the
application, and limit your response to one page.

Why isn’t your current supervisor writing your rec? Why is there a six-month gap on ​your
resume​? Why did your grades dip during the first semester of your senior year? What are your
responsibilities while working for a family business after having left a prestigious investment
bank, and why did you make the change? Answering any of those questions (but not all) could
be the topic of your optional essay.

For expert guidance with your Duke Fuqua MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions
consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Duke Fuqua’s MBA program
and look forward to helping you too!

Duke Fuqua 2018-19 MBA Application Deadlines:

Submission Deadline Decisions Released

Round 1 (Early Action) September 12, 2018 October 19, 2018

Round 2 October 10, 2018 December 13, 2018

Round 3 January 3, 2019 March 18, 2019

Round 4 March 20, 2019 April 29, 2019

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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Georgetown McDonough
We want to hear your story. When responding to our required essays, be authentic and take
time to reflect on your goals and past experiences. Craft a response that explains how these
experiences led you to pursue an MBA.

Our goal at Georgetown McDonough is to craft a diverse class with people who have had
varying personal and professional life experiences. As such, we want to give our applicants the
opportunity to select one essay (from a list of three) that allows them the ability to best
highlight their experiences, characteristics, and values that showcase the value proposition that
they can bring to the McDonough community. Please select one of the following three essays to
complete in 500 words or less and include the essay prompt and your first/last name at the top
of your submission.

The first issue you need to address is ​which question to respond to​. All three prompts below ask
you to use examples or “a situation” to support your answer. The goal of your response is to
allow the readers to see you as a distinctive contributor to the Georgetown McDonough
community by showcasing how you have addressed one of these three experiences.

So which should you choose? Respond to the one that you will be able to write most easily and
enthusiastically while complementing the material presented elsewhere in your MBA

As you’re choosing, review ​Georgetown’s mission​ and the influence of Jesuit values on the
school. Then think about which of your experiences show that you identify with those values
and will contribute to Georgetown’s community.

I’ve provided tips for the individual prompts below.

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Georgetown McDonough 2018-19 MBA Application Essays:

Georgetown MBA Essay #1

It can be said that life begins outside your comfort zone. Describe a situation when you were
asked to lead outside of your comfort zone. What leadership characteristics did you exemplify
in this situation that allowed you to succeed?

While I hate the cliche “comfort zone,” Georgetown doesn’t apparently share my allergic
reaction. To address the prompt, discuss when you have led in an uncomfortable or new
situation. When have you led and didn’t want to lead? Finally as the question asks, what
characteristics allowed you to succeed​?

You could structure the essay by starting with the point of discomfort and the challenge you
faced. Discuss how you resolved it, the results or outcome, and conclude with the attributes
you utilized to succeed. Those are your value proposition.

Georgetown MBA Essay #2

“Failure is not something to be ashamed of, it’s something to be POWERED by. Failure is the
high-octane fuel your life can run on. You’ve got to learn to make failure your fuel.” -Abby

Describe a situation when failure has been your fuel. What was your failure (or when did you
not succeed to your full potential), and how did you use this as motivation to move forward and
be successful in a future situation?

I have a quote on my bulletin board (attributed to Will Rogers) that is good to keep in mind if
you choose to write this essay: “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes
from bad judgment.”

This question is ​looking for resilience​. When have you bounced back from failure or from a
situation when you disappointed yourself? Describe the situation, what you didn’t do optimally,
the outcome, and then a similar situation that you handled well because of the lessons learned
from the first experience.

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The resilience and ability to learn, adapt, and grow will be your value proposition.

Georgetown MBA Essay #3

Your personal brand reflects your values and beliefs, and impacts your relationships and
community. Describe the personal brand that you will bring to business school using examples
or experiences that support how you’ve developed it. How do you believe your personal brand
will strengthen the McDonough community? As you complete your MBA program, how do you
hope to see your personal brand evolve through the transformative experience of business

I think this is the hardest of the three prompts to answer because it is the most open-ended,
but if you know your personal brand and are comfortable responding to this one, go for it!
Clearly Georgetown values self-aware, thoughtful, purposeful individuals.

Please realize that personal brand (AKA reputation) is not just ideals; it has to be reflected in
your behavior. To take an extreme example, if someone espouses kindness but is cruel, their
personal brand is one of cruelty. If one espouses activism and initiative, but is passive, their
personal brand is one of passivity.

So if you want to present yourself with specific values, the behavior has to match, or you don’t
have the brand you claim. The essay readers will see the hollowness of your claims very quickly.

On the other hand, if you have lived your ideals, you should have no problem presenting
examples. You will have a clear personal brand and be able to showcase the value proposition
that Georgetown is looking for.

Georgetown MBA Essay #4 (Video Essay)

We ask that you introduce yourself to your cohort in one minute or less. The Admissions
Committee would like for you to appear in person during part of your video, and we strongly
encourage you to speak outside of the experiences we can read on your resume. Use this video
as an opportunity to bring life to your application. For more instructions, view our ​Video Essay

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● You may use your phone, computer, or other means to record the video, but please
ensure all audio and visual components are clear. We recommend a well-lit room and
minimal noise distraction.
● Upload your video to an accessible website (such as Youtube, Vimeo, Youku, or Tudou),
and submit the direct video URL into your online application.
● Please note that all videos must remain active and accessible to the admissions
committee online for a minimum of five years for record retention purposes.
● For your privacy: Do not include your name in the title of your video. You may submit
“unlisted” videos via Youtube or password protected videos through Vimeo. If using a
password, please include immediately after your link in the text box below. [Ex:, password: Hoyas]

This is one of those questions when you are not supposed to think about the fact that your
essay is being read by admissions people. Address your peers, your professional network to-be,
and your future friends, i.e. your classmates. And assume that your peers have already ​read
your resume​. You certainly don’t want to bore them by telling them what they just read.

What would you want them to know about you?

Your future friends (and the adcom) are looking for more than just spreadsheet skills or
professional mojo here, although they might creep in. Balance personal and professional. As
Georgetown says, “bring life to your application” with this video. If you used Essay 1 to discuss
a professional experience, use the video essay to reveal something that is not work-related. If
you used Essay 1 for a personal example of resilience, then I still wouldn’t focus exclusively on
work, because you are addressing your peers and classmates here.

Take the time to sketch out what you want to say in these 60 seconds. I don’t recommend that
you write it out and memorize it, but definitely have a plan. And then ​practice, practice,

It’s really strange to speak to a camera. Since by its very nature the camera gives no feedback,
you need to either practice by yourself and view the videos of your practices so that you
improve, or ask an encouraging friend to film you so that at least you have your friend’s
reactions to respond to. Another idea: ask a friend to have a video call with you, but your friend

© 2018 33
should turn off the camera so that your friend can see you, but you don’t see your friend. Then
ask for feedback.

What is the Georgetown admissions committee looking for in this video? They are trying to
imagine you as a member of their community. They also want to see how you present yourself
without going to the trouble and expense of an interview. They want to assess your presence:
how will you appear to a potential employer?

Georgetown MBA Essay #5 (Optional)

Please provide any information you would like to add to your application that you have not
otherwise included. ​(500 words or fewer)

Please see ​Optional Essays: When and How to Write Them​.

Georgetown MBA Essay #6 (Required for Reapplicants)

How have you strengthened your candidacy since your last application? We are particularly
interested in hearing about how you have grown professionally and personally. ​(500 words or

This is a key question (whether asked explicitly or not) for all reapplicants to any MBA program.
What have you changed? How are you “new and improved” since your previous application
when you were rejected? Georgetown does you the favor of providing this explicit prompt so
you can address this question while retaining the ability to address the main essays.

For expert guidance with your Georgetown McDonough MBA application, check out Accepted’s
MBA Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced
admissions consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Georgetown’s
MBA program and look forward to helping you too!

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Georgetown McDonough 2018 – 2019 Application Deadlines:


Round 1 October 9

Round 2 January 7

Round 3 April 1

Round 4 May 1

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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Harvard Business School
The big news about the upcoming 2018-19 application cycle at Harvard Business School is that
it is dropping its third round for all MBA applicants except 2+2 applicants.

This past MBA application cycle all 2+2 applicants were reviewed after the Round 3 deadline
but non-2+2 MBA applicants could also apply. For this upcoming cycle the last deadline will be
the exclusive 2+2 deadline, unless Harvard changes something. In 2018, that deadline occurred
on April 2.

Ironically, MIT Sloan, Harvard’s neighbor in Cambridge, only added a third round a couple of
years ago. Until then MIT had only two rounds.

Harvard Business School, ranked #1 by ​US News​, is, according to Accepted’s ​B-School Selectivity
Index​, the second hardest MBA program to get into, following Stanford GSB. That status reflects
HBS’ second lowest acceptance rate (11%), the third highest average GMAT for accepted
students (729), and second highest GPA for accepted students (3.67). However, that
second-place status is misleading. The Harvard brand is matched perhaps only by Stanford, and
the second-place standing is probably accounted for by class size more than anything else.
Harvard’s class is more than double Stanford’s, and Harvard simply accepts more people so its
acceptance rate is higher (Data is from the ​US News 2019 Rankings​ for the class that entered in

On to the Harvard MBA application and essay question itself: HBS clearly likes the responses it
has received to the last two years’ excellent essay question because this year’s question is
identical. Indeed there is little change in HBS’ application this year, period. The essay is again
required, and there is NO word limit.

The round 1 and round 2 deadlines are only slightly different from last year. The Round 1
deadline is Sept. 5, 2018, one day earlier than last year.

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Harvard Business School Application Tips

There is ​one question​ for the Class of 2021:

As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider
your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?

There is no word limit for this question. We think you know what guidance we’re going
to give here. Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear
language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.

Before you begin to write I have two suggestions for you:

1. Review ​Harvard’s criteria for admission​.

2. Watch ​this video​ on the case method at HBS.

My two cents: I think this is a great essay question. It allows you to choose what you want the
school to know about you without having to fit that information into a framework required by a
question that doesn’t really align with your story. It also allows you to demonstrate judgment
and communications skills, which are critical given Harvard’s residential culture, study groups,
and case method. Finally, this essay is a chance for HBS to get to know you beyond your resume
and the limited (and limiting) boxes.

Now THINK. What else – really and truly — do you want HBS to know about you? The HBS
admissions committee has told you what it wants to know in the other sections of the
application. What do ​you​ want the HBS readers to know? The answer to that question is not
something I can give or even suggest to you in a blog post aimed at the many (for individual
guidance, please see Accepted’s ​MBA Admissions Consulting​). It will be different for each of
you. Again, refer to the HBS criteria, as you contemplate possible topics, but the options are
infinite. A few possibilities:

• Context for events described in the required elements.

• Motivations for the decisions or commitments you have made.

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• Experiences that shaped your dreams for the future, which may just benefit
enormously from an HBS education (caveat: HBS doesn’t ask why you want to attend

• ​Challenges you have faced.​ These could be personal challenges, or perhaps

interpersonal challenges.

• Something you would like to do at HBS.

• More depth on an activity or commitment that is particularly important to you.

Please don’t limit yourself to these suggestions. I am offering them to stimulate your creativity,
not to shut it down.

[Free Webinar: Get Accepted to Harvard Business School]

Since I’ve been in MBA admissions consulting (over 20 years now), HBS has valued concision.
And, in today’s tweet- and sound-bite-driven world, it is requiring even shorter responses, at
least in the other portions of the application. Don’t take the absence of a word limit on this
essay as a license for verbosity. Make every word count, no pun intended. If you must pull a
number out of me, keep it under 1000 words. And if you can say what you need to say in less
than 1000 words, do so. A few cautions and warnings regarding this essay — it is NOT:

• Stanford’s “what matters most to you and why?”

• The kitchen sink in which you throw everything.

• An autobiography.

• A resume in prose or a rehash of your transcript and honors.

• An ode to the awesomeness of Harvard. They don’t need you to tell them they have a
great institution that you would be honored to attend. They’ve heard it before.

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Harvard Post-Interview Reflections: ​Watch this video​ for Post-Interview Reflection advice.

For expert guidance on your Harvard Business School application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for
the HBS application. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to the Harvard MBA
program and look forward to helping you too!

Harvard Business School 2018-19 Application Deadlines​:

Application Deadline Decisions Released

Round 1 Sept 5, 2018 December 11, 2018

Round 2 January 4, 2019 March 26, 2019

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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IMD, the International Institute for Management Development, in Lausanne, Switzerland, offers
a 1-year MBA program ​focused on global general management and leadership,​ with a growing
emphasis on digital innovation and entrepreneurship. While there are only 90 students in each
class, the diversity among that class is wide: students hail from 44 countries: 41% from
throughout Europe, 35% from Asia, 6% from the Middle East and Africa, 6% from North
America, 10% from Latin America, and 2% from Oceania (Australia/New Zealand and the
surrounding islands). Unlike programs in the US, which tend to build the bulk of their classes
from students aged 26-28, IMD’s average student age is 31, and most students are in their early

IMD has simplified its application significantly this year, requiring only one long essay and brief
responses to short additional questions. My guidance is in blue.

Describe two situations, one professional and one personal that had a significant impact on
your life and the learning that followed. ​(500 word maximum)

IMD is looking for students who have made a real difference in a complex and rapidly changing
world, so stories in which you navigate that complexity to make an impact will be especially
effective here. A professional story that is recent and shows leadership – with or without a
leadership title – will fit nicely here. The personal story can be anything outside of work – in a
volunteer/community role or even just with friends and family.

500 words total gives you around 250 words for each situation, which is not much, so follow a
concise Challenge-Action-Results structure to avoid excessive detail that may distract from the
essential elements.

What is your career goal : right after IMD / in 5 years / in 10 years? (​Response in bullet point.
100 word maximum)

To answer this question well, you need to look to the future and predict both trends that will be
emerging and the roles you hope to play in them. IMD prides itself on its graduates’ ability to
transition to new industries, functions, and global locations, so these transitions can certainly
be part of your bullet points. However, you must explain how ​your professional background

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and expectations for the future of the global markets will ease those transitions: you must
demonstrate the logical connection between your past and these future ambitions.

Is there any additional information that is critical for the Admissions Committee to know which
has not been covered elsewhere in this application? If you would like to comment on career
gaps, education, GMAT/GRE, a disability or illness, please use this space. ​(50 word maximum)

This is very short, so don’t waste any of this space on material that will be covered by your
2-page CV or the application form. Yes, a short application like this one does require that ​your
CV and application form carry the extra weight​!

What other programs are you considering? Of the programs you are considering, what can IMD
bring to you as a differentiator? (​100 word maximum)

What they really want to know here is whether you realize what makes IMD great. The best
way to answer this question after listing the other school names is to share some of the details
you revealed through conversations with alumni and students about ​how IMD best fit your
unique needs and ambitions​.

Application deadlines are at 23:59 pm CET (Switzerland) time in the following order:

Within a maximum of 3 weeks, you will be informed whether you have been selected to
participate in IMD’s exciting Assessment Day or even to be fast-tracked through an online

IMD 2018-19 Application Deadlines:

Application Deadline

Round 1 February 1, 2018

Round 2 April 1, 2018

Round 3 June 1, 2018

Round 4 August 1, 2018

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Round 5 September 1, 2018

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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Indian School of Business
For MBA aspirants who want to build or advance their careers in India, the Indian School of
Business PGP program offers excellent preparation. International job offers saw a slight uptick
in the class of 2018, a total of 30 offers were made for roles outside of India compared with
2017’s 12. While 2018’s industry distribution has not yet been released, the Consulting and
Technology industries have in previous years consistently been the largest recruiters at ISB.

ISB students learn from visiting professors from the top MBA programs around the world
including Entrepreneurship with London Business School’s Rupert Merson, Negotiation Analysis
with Chicago Booth’s Radhika Puri, Leveraging Web 2.0 with NYU Stern’s Anindya Ghose, and
Economics of Strategy with Wharton’s Louis Thomas among many other visiting scholars.

ISB is clearly the ​ROI winner​ when compared with its peer US programs for Indian students:
instead of 2 years out of the workforce for a similarly-ranked US program at a tuition cost of
over $130,000, ISB students are out of the workforce for only 1 year, paying tuition of only
$37,000, with post-MBA weighted salaries only slightly lower than their American counterparts.

ISB has created new essay questions this year and cut the length of essay 1 by 100 words. Note
that ISB’s online application will not accept even one word over the limit of either of its essays.

Here are ISB’s questions with my advice in blue:

ISB MBA Essay Question #1

At ISB we value diversity as it enhances both the in-class and out of class learning experience.
Tell us how would you contribute to the same? ​(400 words max)

Applicants must decide what unique experiences and insight they have gained that will best
contribute to the learning experience of their fellow students. In my experience, the most
compelling essays will share anecdotes that illustrate your ​leadership​ and impact, not simply a
list of roles that mirror the application form’s details about your responsibilities, initiatives, and
achievements. This is your opportunity to explain the “why” (what motivated and drove you to

© 2018 43
these experiences) and the “how” (what creativity and interpersonal skills you applied to make
an impact) and how these will benefit the learning experience of your classmates.

ISB MBA Essay Question #2

Enrolling in a Business School is an important career decision. Critically look at your career to
date, the choices you have made, the key influences behind those choices, your goals for the
future and how do you think ISB’s PGP can help you in achieving your goals? ​(300 words max)

I like that this question breaks down the essays into components: how and for what reasons
have you directed your career in the past, what are your goals for the future, and how will ISB
help you reach them?

MBA programs ask about ​your goals​ to ensure that they are reasonable: can their program
prepare you for them and has your career so far positioned you to achieve them? If the answer
to either of these questions is no, then they cannot accept you – you will simply be unhappy
when you graduate – so speak with recent graduates about their recruiting experiences and
take the initiative to speak with post-MBA professionals with 10 or more years of experience to
guide you in your longer-term career discussion.

ISB does not offer an optional essay. However, applicants have space on the Education page of
the application to explain any gaps during their education.

The only comfort in such a short application is that your fellow applicants are just as limited in
how much they can share!

For expert guidance with your ISB MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA Application
Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions consultant.
We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to ISB and look forward to helping you too!

ISB MBA Application Deadlines:

Cycle 1 Cycle 2

Application Deadline September 15, 2018 December 15, 2018

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Final Offer Decision November 2018 February 2019

Acceptance Date 10 days from the date of the 10 days from the date of the
offer offer

Advantages of applying in Cycle 1:

• Full tuition fee waivers will be offered only to Cycle 1 applicants

• 50% of all merit and need-based waivers will be offered to Cycle 1 applicants

Non-Indian Origin Applicants

To enable non-Indian origin applicants to complete their Visa formalities in time, we follow a
rolling evaluation process for them. Their application is evaluated and their admission decision
is communicated within six weeks of receiving the completed application.

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

© 2018 45
As I write this post I’m on an airplane after spending two days on the gorgeous Northwestern
campus and at Kellogg as part of the Association of International Graduate Admissions
Consultants’ annual conference. I have come away not only with a deeper appreciation of the
Kellogg MBA and its admissions process, but immense admiration for Dean Sally Blount’s
accomplishments in her tenure at Kellogg. Dean since 2010, she has invigorated the school and
spearheaded several initiatives, including a record-breaking fundraising campaign and the
construction of Kellogg’s magnificent, airy, and light 415,000-square-foot new home
overlooking Lake Michigan.

It is simply stunning.

However, she is stepping down in June, taking a one-year sabbatical and then returning to
teaching. She leaves very big shoes to fill.

While Kellogg searches for a new dean, their admissions team is moving forward and preparing
for the 2018-19 application cycle. They liked the results of last year’s application and have
made only minor tweaks to the video component this year.

I’d like to highlight one of my takeaways from our sessions with the Kellogg admissions team. If
there is one theme I heard over and over from them, it’s “intentionality.” They want to see it in
you. They really want to understand why you’re making the choices that you are making. Keep
that theme in mind as you respond to ​Kellogg’s questions​.

Kellogg MBA Essay #1:

Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip & inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Tell us
about a time you have demonstrated leadership and created lasting value. What challenges did
you face, and what did you learn? ​(450 words)

First things first: Kellogg is asking for ONE experience. Not more. Unlike many similar essay
questions, Kellogg is not limiting you to professional settings. You do have the option to use a
non-professional leadership experience.

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You can use a CAR framework for this response (Challenge, Action, Results). Start with the
challenge or challenges that you faced by simply describing the situation and obstacles. Then
relate your actions. How did you motivate others to move in one direction? How did you
influence and persuade?

Keep in mind that word “brave.” It implies there were risks (absent risk, bravery isn’t

Finally, what were the results? How did you create value, not just for yourself but for your
team, group, department, company, club, or whatever entity you were contributing to? And
what did you learn about leadership, collaboration, and influence?

While it isn’t a requirement, and I can imagine instances where this may not be true, examples
where you led by virtue of your stature and others’ respect for you will be more compelling
than those where you led by virtue of station and title.

Kellogg MBA Essay #2:

Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the
past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? ​(450 words)

This is a difficult question, and the response should provide Kellogg with real insight into the
individuals applying to its MBA program. Before responding, do your homework on the Kellogg
program and ​what you want to do after you leave Kellogg​. The latter will tell you how you want
to grow and the former will tell you how you will do so at Kellogg.

First, think about times you have grown either professionally or personally. Which of those
instances would you like Kellogg to know about? Ideally the event you choose to focus on will
relate in some way to the growth you want to have at Kellogg.

Then reflect on how you intend to grow while at Kellogg. I think a strong answer to this
question will really go beyond mere skill acquisition, although that can be part of your
response. How are you going to take advantage of what Kellogg offers to become a person who
can see opportunity when faced with challenge, envision an outcome when faced with a void,

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and harness emotional intelligence, data, and acquired skills to lead collaboratively and with
clarity of purpose?

Finally this very short essay also asks for you to give an example of a time you grew in the past.
You can tie your future growth to this past growth, even if not in a professional arena, by
highlighting your vision, interpersonal skills, or ability to lead collaboratively in the past and in
the future.

Certain applicants will respond to additional questions:

Kellogg Essay for Dual-degree Applicants:

For applicants to the MMM or JD-MBA dual degree programs, ​please explain why that program
is right for you​. ​(250 words)

A straightforward response is required here. What do you want to do that requires both
degrees? Why is this joint program the right one to fill in the gaps in your education and take
you to a point where you can go down your desired professional path?

Kellogg MBA Reapplicant Essay:

Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? ​(250
word limit)

No trick questions here. How are you a better candidate today than when Kellogg rejected you?
How have you addressed weaknesses in your previous application?

All applicants have the opportunity to provide explanations or clarification in Additional


If needed, use this section to briefly describe any extenuating circumstances (e.g. unexplained
gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic
performance, etc.) ​(no word count)

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This is a true ​optional question​. If necessary, use it to provide context for possible negatives.
Take responsibility for mistakes if necessary and discuss what you have changed so that you
don’t err in the same way again.

Keep this section short and to-the-point. Don’t be fooled by, “No word count.”

Kellogg MBA Video Essay:

The Video Essay is one component of the application and provides you with an additional
opportunity to demonstrate what you will bring to our vibrant Kellogg community – in an
interactive way. You will respond to several short video essay questions. The questions are
designed to bring to life the person we have learned about on paper.

• After submitting an application and payment, you will be able to access the video essay
through your application status page. One question will be a “get to know you” icebreaker type
of question. The second question will be an opportunity to describe your plans for the future
and how Kellogg will help you on that journey. The other questions will be randomly generated
questions that will be similar to interview questions.

• There are practice questions that you may complete as many times as you like to get
comfortable with the format and technology. The practice questions and experience will
simulate the actual video essay experience, so this is meant to be a useful tool to help you feel

• We encourage you to practice so you are comfortable with the format once it is time to
complete the official questions. There is not an opportunity to re-do the answer to the official
video essay questions.

• You will have 20 seconds to think about the question and up to one minute to give your

• We estimate the video essays will take 20-25 minutes to complete – which includes time for
set-up and answering all the practice questions. You will need an internet connected computer
with a webcam, microphone and an updated version of Adobe Flash in order to complete the
video essay.

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To prepare for your webcam session, you need to practice for the experience of talking to a
video camera with no responses from another human being. For tips on how to prepare and
behave during the webcam session, please see Kellogg’s “Video Essay” on its ​Application
Process page​ as well as my ​Tips for Video MBA Essay Questions​.

For expert guidance with your Kellogg MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA Application
Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions consultant.
We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Kellogg’s MBA program and look forward
to helping you too!

Kellogg 2018-19 MBA Application Deadlines​:

Application Deadline Decisions Released

Round 1 September 19, 2018 December 12, 2018

Round 2 January 9, 2019 March 27, 2019

Round 3 April 10, 2019 May 15, 2019

*Your application must be received by Kellogg no later than 5 p.m. CT on the deadline for the
round in which you are applying.

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

© 2018 50
London Business School
London Business School boasts one of the most diverse student bodies, with 90% of its 425
students hailing from a total of 69 countries outside of England. If you are looking for a globally
focused MBA program in a city bursting with culture, finance, and industry, then LBS is certainly
a program to consider. My tips are below in blue.

London Business School MBA Application Essays:

Essay 1.

What are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business
School programme contribute towards these? ​(500 words)

This is a mainstay in the LBS application, a straightforward career goals question. You need to
demonstrate in the first paragraph that you know what you would like to be doing after the
MBA, and it had better excite LBS. They are looking for applicants with a global outlook,
committed to challenging the status quo and making an impact on business.

In general, I find that this essay needs to apply one-third of the word limit to ​defining your goal​,
one-third to summarizing what you have gained from your career and how it has prepared you
for your goals, and one-third to how the London Business School education will complement
that experience to propel you to your goals. Please note: 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 are guidelines, not rigid

Essay 2. (Optional)

Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you
and your application to London Business School? ​(500 words)

LBS has allotted a decent amount of space for this essay, which is a subtle hint that they are
open to hearing more from applicants here. I always advocate writing the optional essay, but in
this case I am highly recommending it since the one required essay will leave you little space to
share details about your past experiences.

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In particular, ​examples of your leadership​, changing the status quo, making an impact, or
navigating cultural differences would make great use of this space if you didn’t have room for
them in the required essay.

If you would like professional guidance with your London Business School MBA application,
please consider Accepted’s ​MBA essay editing​ and ​ MBA admissions consulting​ or our ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for
the LBS application.

London Business School 2018 MBA Application Deadlines:

Application Deadline

Round 1 Mid September 2018

Round 2 Early January 2019

Round 3 Early March 2019

Round 4 Mid April 2019

All application deadlines are 17:00 UK time. All Admissions Committee decisions are
communicated via email and will be sent on the relevant deadline day by 23:30 UK time.

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

© 2018 52
Michigan Ross
The Michigan Ross MBA program is thriving. Its graduates are getting jobs throughout the
United States and the world. Here are a few of the stats:

• 97% had at least one job offer within three months of graduation.

• Per ​Poets & Quants​, Amazon is the top employer of Ross grads, and their 2017
Employment Report shows that consulting and tech snagged over 50% of all Ross MBAs.

• Ross broke into the ​U.S. News​ Top 10 this year, moving up from #11 to #7.

• The average GMAT score for the entering class of 2017 was 716, climbing significantly
from last year’s average of 708.

• Average GPA moved up a notch from 3.44 to 3.46.

Despite these fantastic results, Ross has the highest acceptance rate of any program in the US
News Top 10: For the entering class of 2017, 25.3% of applicants were accepted, and in terms
of Accepted’s Selectivity Index Ross placed #17. All this means that the Michigan Ross MBA
program is a fantastic option that is easier to get into than other top programs.

Michigan Ross 2018-19 MBA Application Tips:

Ross changed certain aspects of its application this year, but kept the same basic structure. It
still gives you choice regarding your short answers, but this year you choose from two options
for each question as opposed to last year’s three options. Per Ross, “We kept the ones that
seemed to provide the best platform for sharing something meaningful and unique about

The short answer questions definitely give you the means to paint a unique, multi-dimensional
picture of yourself. Keep that goal in mind as you respond. ​You don’t have to be something
you’re not​, but you can certainly use these questions to provide context for events described

© 2018 53
elsewhere and different perspective on who you really are. Remember, the application is a way
for the admissions committee to meet you.

Ross also changed the Essay to focus on short-term goals and your reasons for those goals. Last
year’s question was broader and also included a “Why Ross?” component.

Michigan Ross MBA Application Part 1: Short Answer Questions

Select one prompt from each group of the three groups below. Respond to each selected
prompt in 100 words or fewer ​(<100 words each; 300 words total).​

While I wish Ross would have given you more room to answer these questions, make the most
of what you’ve got. The first question you’re going to have to ask yourself is “Which prompts
should I respond to?” Answer the question in each group that is easiest for you to answer and
that allows you to present events and experiences that complement each other and the
information provided in other parts of the application. You want to minimize repetition and

Ross hasn’t labeled the groups thematically. It seems to me that Group 1 is an opportunity for
you to talk about something you’re proud of — a contribution you made or an achievement.
Group 2 relates to handling a difficult experience or situation. And Group 3 is about you
interacting with others. Again, choose the individual questions that allow you to present
yourself best. All three groups ask for a behavioral response, where you discuss one experience
or situation and reflect on it. You don’t have room for more.

Think a lot about what you want Ross to know about you as you choose the questions to
answer. The question tells you what they want to know. Now answer it in such a way that
allows you to tell them what ​you​ want them to know.

Group 1

• I want people to know that I:

• I made a difference when I:

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Group 2

• I was humbled when:

• I am out of my comfort zone when:

Group 3

• I was aware that I am different when:

• I find it challenging when people:

Given the 100-word limit on each response to these behavioral questions, describe the incident
or situation and succinctly analyze it in terms of the prompt. For example, why do you “want
them to know” about X (Group 1, #1) or why were you humbled or out of your comfort zone for
Group 2.

Michigan Ross MBA Application Part 2: Essay

Michigan Ross is a place where people from all backgrounds with different career goals can
thrive. Please share your short-term career goal. Why is this the right choice for you? ​(300

Ross is very clear in what it’s asking for: ​Your short-term career goals​ and the reasons (and
experiences) that make this goal right for you.

The question is pretty straightforward. The word limits, however, will make it difficult to go into
any depth. You could start with a “day in the life” that you foresee immediately after your MBA
and discuss how you developed this vision for yourself. Given Ross’ strong behavioral approach
I’d focus on a pivotal experience that shaped your goals. The experience could also reflect your
fitness for your goals once you earn a Ross MBA.

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Alternatively, you could start with an achievement or challenge that you faced and how it has
influenced your goals. Tell the story of that experience and how it influenced your short-term
MBA goals.

Michigan Ross MBA Application Optional Statement

This section should only be used to convey information not addressed elsewhere in your
application, for example, completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic
issues, etc. Feel free to use bullet points where appropriate.

Use this statement if necessary​ to provide context surrounding circumstances that affected
your performance or that may lead admissions readers to the wrong conclusion about your

Ross doesn’t provide a word limit, but keep it short.

For expert guidance with your Michigan Ross MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions
consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Michigan Ross’ MBA program
and look forward to helping you too!

Michigan Ross 2018-19 Application Deadlines​:

Application Deadline Decisions Released

Round 1 October 1, 2018 December 21, 2018

Round 2 January 7, 2019 March 15, 2019

Round 3 March 18, 2019 May 10, 2019

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

© 2018 56
MIT Sloan
What’s new at MIT Sloan? While innovation is “in the air” at MIT Sloan, they are enjoying a
period of relative stability amidst the excitement of constant creativity. They added a Round 3
two years ago to their application process, and in contrast to their neighbor on the Charles
River – Harvard – have not announced any intention to abandon it. Unlike many top MBA
programs, MIT Sloan is enjoying not having to search for a new dean or admissions director this

In terms of their selectivity, per ​Accepted’s Selectivity Index​, MIT Sloan is once again the 4th
most difficult MBA program to get into when you look at GPA, GMAT score, and acceptance
even though their average GMAT score for matriculating students declined slightly to 722 from
the entering class of 2016’s 724. Their acceptance rate is still a stingy 11.6%.

This year’s MIT Sloan MBA application, like most MIT applications in the last fifteen years,
includes its signature cover letter and resume. It also retains the video component, which was
introduced approximately two years ago.

My tips for these parts of the MIT Sloan application are in blue below.

MIT Sloan MBA Cover Letter and Resume:

MIT Sloan seeks students whose personal characteristics demonstrate that they will make the
most of the incredible opportunities at MIT, both academic and non-academic. We are on a
quest to find those whose presence will enhance the experience of other students. We seek
thoughtful leaders with exceptional intellectual abilities and the drive and determination to put
their stamp on the world. We welcome people who are independent, authentic, and fearlessly
creative – true doers. We want people who can redefine solutions to conventional problems,
and strive to preempt unconventional dilemmas with cutting-edge ideas. We demand integrity
and respect passion.

Taking the above into consideration, please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT
Sloan MBA Program. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence,
include one or more examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be

© 2018 57
addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Assistant Dean of Admissions. ​(300 words or fewer, excluding
address and salutation)

MIT helpfully provides insight into what it’s looking for in the cover letter. Like all cover letters,
this one is a marketing document. If you apply for a job, you research the firm to learn what it
values and is seeking. Based on your research, you send your resume with a cover letter
designed to make you as attractive to the company as possible, one that shows you have what
the firm wants.

Similarly, your MIT Sloan cover letter should show that you have what MIT is looking for. Make
your case for admission using your accomplishments, specifically those where you show the
qualities mentioned above. How do the talents revealed in your examples demonstrate fit with
the MIT Sloan program, its tight-knit community, and its innovative culture? ​Your resume
should reveal above-average progression on the job and increasing responsibility, as well as the
creativity and contribution that MIT Sloan requires.

In making your case and mentioning your accomplishments, highlight your role and the impact
on the entities you contributed to. Those results are “your stamp on the world” so far.

Note: this is not an essay. Make sure your letter is formatted as a professional letter with a
date, address, header, salutation, and close.

Please submit a one-page resume (Times New Roman 10-point font preferred) that includes
your employment history and academic record in reverse chronological order. Other
information appropriate to a business resume is welcomed and encouraged, including
extracurricular activities, awards, and achievements.

For formatting purposes, please list the information in the following order:

● Name/Contact Information
● Education – please feel free to include relevant awards, scholarships, professional
● Work Experience – please list in reverse chronological order and include: company
name, title, results-oriented bullets that demonstrate your skill set, and dates.

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● Additional information – languages, extracurricular activities/community service,
technical skills/certifications, special skills/interests (if appropriate)

For the MIT Sloan’s detailed resume formatting instructions, visit the MIT Sloan website.

In your resume, go beyond mere job descriptions to highlight achievement. If your title is
“consultant,” saying that you “consulted on projects” is redundant and uninformative at best.
Writing that you “Led a 6-member team working on a biotech outsourcing project to Singapore
with a budget of $X; it came in on time and under budget” conveys infinitely more.

Quantify your impact as much as possible. You want the reader to come away with a picture of
you as an above average performer on a steep upward trajectory who has the hands-on,
problem-solving focus that ​demonstrates you belong at MIT Sloan​.

MIT Sloan MBA Video Statement:

Please introduce yourself to your future classmates via a brief 60-second video statement. (This
video will be used for application purposes only and will not be shared.) Videos should be a
single take (no editing) lasting no more than one minute and consisting of you speaking directly
to the camera. We recommend using an application such as QuickTime or iMovie to record

Upload the video file according to the detailed instructions within the application. We support
the following file formats: .avi, .flv, .m1v, .m2v, .m4v, .mkv, .mov, .mpeg, .mpg, .mp4, .webm,

Should you experience difficulties uploading your file, please ensure that you’re using a modern
web browser (Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) on the fastest wired Internet connection available. An
intermittent or slow Internet connection can cause uploads to timeout.

The video statement was introduced at MIT Sloan about two years ago. Your goal here: ​deliver
your statement with poise and presence​. I suggest you outline a 60-second statement that you
would use to introduce yourself to your classmates (not the admissions committee members;
they’re just important flies on the wall who happen to be listening in).

© 2018 59
Don’t be too casual; your classmates are your future professional network and social group, but
do be friendly and remember to smile. What would you tell them about yourself? What would
show that you are already a member of MIT’s community – you just don’t happen to pay tuition

A few tips for the video part of this exercise: Practice in front of a webcam so that you get used
to talking to a little lens that has no affect, feedback, or expression. Recording yourself on video
is not the same as talking on Skype with another human being. I suggest you put a smiley face
beneath or above the camera to remind you to smile at appropriate points in your statement.
Then view your practice videos looking for poise and presence. During some of the practices,
maybe have a friend present to encourage you, but also practice without anyone else in the
room. We here at Accepted are happy to help you prepare too.

For the real statement, dress in business or business casual attire. If you’re not confident that
your attire is appropriate, it probably isn’t; dress more conservatively. Make sure your location
is quiet and that pets and children are in a location where they won’t be heard or disturb you.
Make sure your background is neutral and not a distraction. Blank walls make a great

Additional Information (Optional):

Please provide any additional information you would like the Admissions Committee to know
that may be helpful in evaluating your candidacy (i.e. choice of recommenders, areas of
concern in your academic record, other extenuating circumstances, etc.). This information
should be provided in a written format. ​(200 words or less)

If there is an issue or concern that may confuse the admissions readers or incorrectly detract
from their evaluation of your application, address it succinctly here. For more suggestions on
writing the optional essay, please see​ Optional Essays: When and How to Write Them.

There are no required essays unless you are invited to interview. If you are so lucky, you will
also be asked to answer, in under 250 words, the following question:

“The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative
leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. We
believe that a commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and well-being is a key component of

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both principled leadership and sound management practice. In 250 words or less, please
describe how you, as a member of the MIT Sloan community, would work to create a campus
that is welcoming, inclusive and increasingly diverse. Details for submitting your response will
be included in the interview invitation.”

For expert guidance with your MIT Sloan MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions
consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to MIT Sloan’s MBA program
and look forward to helping you too!

MIT Sloan 2018-19 Application Deadlines

Application Deadline Decisions Released

Round 1 September 25, 2018 December 19, 2018

Round 2 January 22, 2019 April 2, 2019

Round 3 April 8, 2019 May 8, 2019

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

© 2018 61
NYU Stern
NYU Stern’s application this year, as opposed to last, reflects evolution more than revolution.
Last year Stern made significant changes to its application and added two focused MBA
programs to its MBA portfolio. This year the changes are less significant.

Let’s explore them:

1. Added back its November deadline, which is Stern’s Round 2 deadline.

2. Added a fourth round deadline on February 15 for its Tech MBA and Fashion & Luxury MBA.
Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for this deadline. The Round 4
deadline for the full-time MBA is March 15, same as last year.

3. Requires two EQ endorsements as opposed to last year’s one EQ and one professional letter
of recommendation. For more on the EQ endorsement, please ​see my interview with Stern’s
Associate Dean of MBA Admissions, Isser Gallogly​.

4. Requires applicants to choose one program to apply to. Last year applicants could ask to be
considered for more than one program. However, over 95% of applicants chose to apply to only
one program, and Stern decided to eliminate the option to apply to multiple programs.

5. One of the more experimental aspects of last year’s app was the Pick 6 essay. Stern liked the
visual element and is keeping it.

NYU Stern MBA Application:

My comments are in blue.

NYU Stern MBA Essay #1: Professional Aspirations

(500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

• What are your short and long-term career goals?

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• How will the MBA help you achieve them?

This question is unchanged from last year.

Stern’s #1 is a fairly typical ​MBA goals question​. At the heart of this question: What do you
want to do after you graduate that requires an MBA and why is the MBA the best next step for
you on this path? You should be able to answer Stern’s #1, or you shouldn’t be applying.

Make sure you answer all elements of the question while staying within the word limits (not
guidelines). No adcom member actually counts words, but readers can tell when you are
significantly over. “Significantly” in my book is more than 10%. Write succinctly.

You can start your essay with the goals and then give reasons for them as well as how an MBA
will help you achieve them. Also consider including an experience that shaped your professional

Alternatively, you can start with a past event or achievement and describe how it influenced
the development of your aspirations. Then discuss ​how an MBA will help you realize your goal
or perhaps how this or another event showed you that you currently lack the skills to achieve it.

NYU Stern MBA Essay #2: Personal Expression (a.k.a. “Pick Six”)

Describe yourself to the Admissions Committee and to your future classmates using six images
and corresponding captions. Your uploaded PDF should contain all of the following elements:

• A brief introduction or overview of your “Pick Six” (no more than three sentences).

• Six images that help illustrate who you are.

• A one-sentence caption for each of the six images that helps explain why they were selected
and are significant to you.

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Note: Your visuals may include photos, infographics, drawings, or any other images that best
describe you. Your document must be uploaded as a single PDF. The essay cannot be sent in
physical form or be linked to a website.

In ​my interview with​ Stern’s Associate Dean of MBA Admissions Isser Gallogly, he explained
that today images are used for communications as much as words. He strongly feels that
images combined with a few sentences and captions may be more comfortable for applicants
accustomed to communicating on Instagram, Facebook, etc. So let your visual talents shine.
You can go deep on one special interest, or let your six picks show different facets of you and
your experience.

You can use word clouds, graphs, infographics, charts, and of course pictures. Basically anything
two-dimensional that will go into a PDF for uploading can work for Pick Six.

NYU Stern MBA Essay #3: Additional Information (optional)

(250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the
Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further
explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to
retake the GMAT, GRE, IELTS or TOEFL, or any other relevant information.

Stern provides several suggestions regarding what to include in this essay. However, if you have
something significant you would like the admissions committee to know and that topic isn’t
mentioned above, this question is open enough so that you still should ​write this optional
essay​. Just don’t duplicate what’s found elsewhere.

For expert guidance with your NYU Stern MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions
consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to NYU Stern’s MBA program
and look forward to helping you too!

© 2018 64
NYU Stern 2018-19 MBA Application Deadlines​:

Application Deadline Initial Notification By:

Round 1 October 15, 2018 January 1, 2019

Round 2 November 15, 2018 February 1, 2019

Round 3 January 15, 2019 April 1, 2019

Round 4 March 15, 2019 June 1, 2019

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

© 2018 65
Oxford Saïd
Oxford Said​ expects its graduates to address the world’s great challenges, such as energy and
food and water security. Whether such challenges are one’s actual focus, the work of a business
professional will inevitably overlap with such issues. This reality leads the adcom to seek
individuals who understand integrity, who value the program’s effort to “burst the business
bubble” and bring in non-business perspectives and disciplines, and who are ready to become
dynamic leaders into a precarious and uncertain future.

Showing awareness in your essay(s) of these concerns and interests will help you ​portray fit
with the program​ while highlighting your distinctive attributes.

Oxford MBA 2018-19 MBA Application Essays:

Oxford MBA Essay #1

Consider a statistic or trend that shocks you. Why it is important to you and how could it be
changed for the better? ​(Maximum 500 words)

You might at first reasonably think that you should choose a statistic strategically linked to ​your
career goals​ in some way. Well, maybe. Or maybe not. (You are offered a short space in the
online application to present your goals.) What’s most important – and it’s appropriate to take
the adcom at face value and not project hidden expectations – is to pick a statistic that both
shocks and has some genuine meaning to you. That may be related to your career, or it may be
completely un-related. The key is that it be meaningful to you.

Why? Think about Oxford’s stated values. They appreciate people who are engaged in the
world, widely, ​as it exists​, not just in their chosen, focused niche.

This essay also reveals a lot about how you approach issues and situations, it reveals your
thinking. What triggers your shock and dismay? In determining what actions could be taken to
address the issue, how do you approach it? Where do you look for answers, how do you
synthesize your findings? How do you assess the viability of possible solutions?

In structuring this essay, keep it simple. Start with the statistic and describe why it’s meaningful
to you. The best essays in answer to this question will convey a freshness of inquiry; reveal

© 2018 66
some aspect of your interests, concerns, and perspective through the choice of topic and why
it’s meaningful; and your openness to examining steps that ​could ​be taken – you needn’t have
the perfect answer wrapped up in a bow; you ​should s​ hare the process of exploration.

Oxford MBA Essay #2

Is there anything not covered in the application form which you would like the Admissions
Committee to know about you? ​(Maximum 250 words)

The prompt implies that the adcom wants to get to know you as a person. So, take a holistic
review of your application – resume, online form, and above essay – and then consider what
other aspects of your life and/or experience would be worth sharing in this essay to further
illuminate your candidacy. Your application form will likely include brief references to hobbies,
community involvements, etc., along with work details. You can still write about such things
here in more depth – after all, the motivation and the details are not covered in the application.
Another possibility would be to describe a pivotal/formative professional experience and really
show its influence on you – meaningful reflection, not just the facts of the situation. Keep the
essay concrete – but DO present insight and DO reflect. You need to show that you have
something to say, to bring to the table.

For expert guidance with your Oxford Said MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions
consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Oxford’s MBA program and
look forward to helping you too!

Oxford MBA Application Deadlines for 2018-19:

Submission Deadline Decision Notification

Stage 1 September 7 October 19

Stage 2 November 2 December 14

Stage 3 January 11 March 22

Stage 4 April 5 June 7

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

© 2018 67
Stanford GSB
Stanford takes top prize for being the most difficult MBA program to get into. Per ​US News​ it
has a daunting 5.7% acceptance and the highest average GPA and GMAT score for the class that
entered in Sept. 2017 of any U.S. MBA program. No wonder it tops ​Accepted’s B-School
Selectivity Index​.

In terms of placement, Stanford GSB grads are prized, and rewarded handsomely. Its Class of
2017 started their careers with an eye-popping average annual salary of $159,440, second only
to Wharton’s $159,815. Furthermore, 16% of Stanford’s MBA grads started their own business
immediately upon graduation.

In terms of its application, Stanford is once again re-using its essay questions. And there’s good
reason for the recycling: These are excellent questions that succinctly ​get to the heart of what
Stanford wants to know​ about you. They are not easy questions, but they are thoughtful,
probing ones.

Stanford gives a lot of advice and guidance on its website as to what it’s looking for in the
essays. You should access that advice in addition to reviewing my suggestions below.

Essays help us learn about who you are rather than solely what you have done. Other parts of
the application give insight to your academic and professional accomplishments; the essays
reveal the person behind those achievements.

When writing your essays, resist the urge to “package” yourself into what you think Stanford
wants to see. Doing so will only prevent us from understanding who you really are and what
you hope to accomplish. The most impressive essays are the most authentic.

We request that you write two personal essays. The personal essays give us glimpses of your
character and hopes. In each essay, we want to hear your genuine voice. Think carefully about
your values, passions, aims, and dreams prior to writing them.

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Stanford MBA Essay A: What Matters Most To You, And Why?

For this essay, we would like you to:

• Do some deep self-examination, so you can genuinely illustrate who you are and how
you came to be the person you are.

• Share the insights, experiences, and lessons that shaped your perspectives, rather
than focusing merely on what you’ve done or accomplished.

• Write from the heart, and illustrate how a person, situation, or event has influenced

• Focus on the “why” rather than the “what.”

This superficially straightforward question has been Stanford’s first for at least the last sixteen
​ ost difficult MBA essay questions to
years, but it is actually one of the most difficult, if not ​the m
answer. Superficial responses will fail. The prompt demands introspection. Before you put
finger to keyboard or pen to paper, ​really reflect on what you value​, how you have acted upon
those principles, and why you live by them. Stanford’s advice urges reflection. The question
requires it.

When I reflect on our many successful Stanford clients, initiative in the face of need is the
common thread among them. They are always the ones who revealed, especially in Essay A,
that they do not turn away when they see a problem or need for action. They grab the initiative
when faced with an opportunity to contribute. They are comfortable expressing emotion and
their values, and their actions reflect both, but particularly the latter. Think purpose-driven,
principled lives and leadership.

More than anything else, initiative and self-awareness characterize the successful Stanford
applicant. Implication: You have to know your values and those times you have acted upon
them. Yes I wrote that a few seconds ago, but it bears repeating. Climbing Mt. Everest or
suffering from terrible social ills is not a requirement of admission, but you do have to know the
person occupying your skin.

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Stanford MBA Essay B: Why Stanford?

Enlighten us on how earning your MBA at Stanford will enable you to realize your ambitions.

• Explain your decision to pursue graduate education in management.

• Explain the distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.

• If you are applying to both the MBA and MSx programs, use Essay B to address your
interest in both programs.

Now that question is succinct, and really says what they want to know.

This question is a variation of a standard ​MBA goals question​, as revealed in the bullet points
after it. For this forward-looking question, you need say why you want an MBA. The best way to
do so is in terms of your desired post-MBA professional direction. Then explain how Stanford’s
program specifically will help you travel down that path. Note the bullet point about the
“distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.” Do your homework. You need to know
what are the distinctive characteristics of the Stanford MBA program or you simply can’t
answer the question.

Understand the flexibility inherent in Stanford’s curriculum, its integrated approach to

management, its entrepreneurial culture, and how all these elements (and others) will help you
learn what you need to know to achieve your career goals. Realize that the curriculum allows
for personalization based on your goal and your past experience, specifically your previous
business education. Two pieces of information are required to answer this question: A clear
MBA goal and an in-depth understanding of ​Stanford GSB’s curriculum​. (Folks: It’s not just the
ranking, brand, or location.)

Please do NOT write that you want to attend Stanford because of “the flexibility inherent in
Stanford’s curriculum, its integrated approach to management, its entrepreneurial culture….”
That phrasing is too general for your specific reasons (and besides the Stanford adcom can
google the phrase if they see it too often and see that you found it here). Go deeper and be
more distinctive in your writing so that you really tie your goals to different facets of Stanford’s

© 2018 70
Stanford also asks that if you are applying to both the Stanford MBA and MSx programs, you
use Essay B to address your interest in both programs. It gives those applying to both programs
an extra 50 words to address that interest.

Essay Length: Your answers for both essay questions combined may not exceed 1,150 words
(1,200 words if you are applying to both the MBA and MSx programs). Each of you has your
own story to tell, so please allocate these words between the essays in the way that is most
effective for you. Below is a suggested word count, based on what we typically see.

Essay A: 750 words

Essay B: 400 words

Essay B (if applying to both the MBA and MSx programs): 450 words


• Double-spaced

• Indicate the question you are answering at the beginning of each essay (does not
count toward the word limit)

• Number all pages

• Upload one document that includes both essays

Be sure to save a copy of your essays, and preview the uploaded document to ensure that the
formatting is preserved.

For expert guidance with your Stanford MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions
consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Stanford’s MBA program and
look forward to helping you too!

© 2018 71
Stanford GSB 2017-18 MBA Application Deadlines:

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

© 2018 72
UC Berkeley Haas
Haas, like several top MBA programs, is looking for a new dean to replace its dynamic,
innovative dean, Richard Lyons, on July 1. He has served as dean for the last eleven years. I
expect an announcement any day.

Despite the impending change at the top, Haas is extremely difficult to get into. It has for the
last three years been #3 in ​Accepted’s selectivity index​, right behind Stanford and Harvard.
While the acceptance rate and average GPA have remained pretty stable, Haas’ average GMAT
has soared 10 points to 725 from the entering classes of 2015 to 2017.

At the same time, while Haas has made it very clear that you need outstanding academics to
get in, they will not compromise their values to maintain those stats. The Four Principles are
taken very seriously by Haas’ administration and admissions team. You need to show you share
and live by those principles if you are to receive serious consideration at Haas. The Four
Principles are:

• Question the Status Quo

• Confidence Without Attitude

• Students Always

• Beyond Yourself

Keep those principles very much in the forefront as you prepare your Haas application.

My comments are in blue throughout. The black font represents ​quotes from Haas​, which
provide excellent resources and advice on their website.

Haas School of Business Application Essays

The Full-time MBA program annually enrolls approximately 300 diverse, talented, and creative
future business leaders. We admit candidates from a wide variety of industries and
backgrounds who demonstrate professional achievement, academic aptitude, and leadership

© 2018 73
potential. Our community is enriched by students who embody our ​Berkeley Haas Defining
Leadership Principles​: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always,
and Beyond Yourself, and we seek candidates who will contribute to our distinctive culture.

The admissions team takes a holistic approach to application review and seeks to understand all
aspects of a candidate’s character, qualifications, and experiences. We will consider
achievements in the context of the opportunities available to a candidate. Some applicants may
have faced hardships or unusual life circumstances, and we will consider the maturity,
perseverance, and thoughtfulness with which they have responded to and/or overcome them.

All interested candidates are encouraged to apply.

Haas MBA Essay #1

Tell us a six-word story that reflects a memorable experience in your life-to-date. Elaborate on
why it is meaningful to you. ​(300 words maximum)

First off, I strongly encourage you to ​watch the video​ and ​review the examples​we’ve linked to.
Then follow these steps:

1. Think about what you want Haas to know about you that isn’t covered in the other
information that you provide. Realize that by asking this question, Haas is seeking to get to
know you better. This is a great place to show fit with Haas and its Four Principles (or at least
some of them).

2. Then choose the six words that best reflect this memorable experience and perhaps make
them curious to know more. Haas says contractions are OK, and perfect grammar isn’t
necessary. The “what” clearly isn’t nearly as important as the “why.”

3. The elaboration – the why – is where the rubber meets the road. You may have to briefly
provide context so the reader will know what you’re talking about and elaborate on the
significance of those six words. Most of those 250 words should be devoted to why the event is
important and the meaning you ascribe to it.

© 2018 74
Please note that the six words and subsequent elaboration are supposed to ​focus on one
experience,​ not your whole life or several experiences.

Haas MBA Essay #2

Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goal, and discuss how it will put you on a path
to a meaningful and rewarding career. ​(300 words maximum)

Your answer, as Admissions Director Morgan Bernstein says in ​her video on the essays​, should
“connect the dots between what you’ve done in the past and what you want to do in the

To answer this question you need to know two things:

1. What you define as a “meaningful and rewarding career”

2. The post-MBA job that will start you down that path

The essay could start with a future day when you are on that meaningful career and then flash
back to your first post-MBA job. You could also include a brief paragraph reflecting why this
career is meaningful to you.

Alternatively, you can start with an experience, preferably an accomplishment that reflects one
or more of Haas’ principles, and discuss how the experience shaped your desired career path,
and specifically your understanding of “meaningful.” Then discuss the post-MBA job and the
path you want to take after attending Haas.

Haas MBA Optional Information #1

We invite you to help us better understand the context of your opportunities and

1. What is the highest level of education completed by your parent(s) or guardian(s)?

• Did not complete high school

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• High school diploma or equivalency (GED)

• Associate’s degree (junior college) or vocational degree/license

• Bachelor’s degree (BA, BS)

• Master’s degree (MA, MS)

• Doctorate or professional degree (MD, JD, DDS)

2. What is the most recent occupation of your parent(s) or guardian(s)?

• Unemployed

• Homemaker

• Laborer

• Skilled worker

• Professional

3. If you were raised in one of the following household types, please indicate.

• Raised by a single parent

• Raised by an extended family member (grandparent, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew,


• Raised in a multi-generational home

• Raised in foster care

© 2018 76
4. What was the primary language spoken in your childhood home?

5. If you have you ever been responsible for providing significant and continuing financial or
supervisory support for someone else, please indicate.

• Child

• Spouse

• Sibling

• Parent

• Extended family member (grandparent, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, cousin)

• Other

6. Please elaborate on any of your above responses. Alternatively, you may use this opportunity
to expand on other hardships or unusual life circumstances that may help us understand the
context of your opportunities, achievements, and impact. ​(300 words maximum)

Simply and honestly answer the short answer questions and then elaborate in #6 if relevant or
use this essay to discuss hardships or “unusual circumstances” that are the context for the rest
of the application.

In providing that context, especially when talking about hardships overcome, provide enough
information for the admissions committee to understand the hardship, but not so much that
you end up writing a pity essay or you end up appearing somehow “damaged” or broken.

Overcoming hardship​ can strengthen a person. That’s the kind of image you want to create if
you choose to write on the topic. Yes, you may have experienced something difficult, maybe
even tragic or terrible, but you have overcome this and are stronger as a result. The reader’s
reaction? Admiration, not pity.

© 2018 77
Haas MBA Optional Information #2

This section should only be used to convey relevant information not addressed elsewhere in
your application. This may include explanation of employment gaps, academic aberrations,
supplemental coursework, etc. You are encouraged to use bullet points where appropriate.

This ​optional essay​ is a restrictive optional. Only use it to provide context for events and
outcomes, like a dip in grades or employment gap. You don’t want the admissions readers to
(wrongly) assume something or imagine what caused that gap or dip. Just tell them succinctly
what happened if you haven’t done so somewhere else in your Haas application.

For expert guidance with your Berkeley Haas MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions
consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Berkeley Haas’ MBA program
and look forward to helping you too!

UC Berkeley Haas 2018 – 2019 MBA Application Deadlines

Application Deadline Decisions Released

Round 1 September 27, 2018 December 13, 2018

Round 2 January 10, 2019 March 14, 2019

Round 3 April 4, 2019 May 9, 2019

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

© 2018 78
UCLA Anderson
Although UCLA Anderson’s application has changed slightly this year, Anderson’s big news has
nothing to do with its application this year and everything to do with change at the top: The
school is one of several top MBA programs – including its neighbor to the north, UC Berkeley
Haas – that is looking for a new dean. Dean Judy Olian, who has served as dean of UCLA
Anderson since 2006, is leaving UCLA Anderson at the end of June to become the president of
Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

Accepted’s ​B-School Selectivity Index​ shows that UCLA Anderson is 13th in selectivity and 16th
in ​U.S. News’​ ranking. Its average GMAT is 715, the same as last year. However, the acceptance
rate at Anderson has climbed a bit from 20.7% for the class that entered in 2016 to 22.3% for
the class that entered in 2017.

Now on to tips for the application itself, which requires a 500-word goals essay and a 250-word
short answer.

In essence, the longer question is about how you intend to benefit professionally from an
Anderson MBA and the short question asks how you will benefit the Anderson community:
What will you get from and what will you give to Anderson (and I don’t mean donations as an

The essay advice that UCLA Anderson provides is excellent, not just for Anderson’s essays, but
for most MBA essays. We’ve provided it here in the black font. Read it carefully. Our advice is in
blue beneath it.

UCLA Anderson 2018 – 2019 MBA Application

Please note:

Your essays are the primary way for you to share your perspectives and plans with the
Admissions Committee. The best essays are introspective, genuine and succinct in directly
answering our questions and responding to our topics.

© 2018 79
• You should try to distinguish yourself by showing what makes you different from
others who share similar profiles.

• Personal expression is what we are looking for, not platitudes.

• Making a strong case for your future plans requires you to first do research on career
paths and find one that resonates. Even if this target will change during business school,
your application essays should lay out a clear trajectory for short-term and long-term
goals. Do this by demonstrating how you expect to build on skills from your past, and
those you expect to gain from the MBA.

• Essays are more compelling if they include specific courses, programs, groups,
opportunities and activities from which you would benefit if admitted to UCLA
Anderson. These references are best found through online research, personal
discussions and a campus visit (if possible).

• Content and clarity are key elements, as we seek superior communication skills.

• Style is a consideration, too, although we understand that those who speak other
languages may have different manners of expression in English. We do check your
essays for plagiarism, so make sure you always submit your own work.

• Length does not equal strength. A well-written short essay can have even more impact
than a longer essay. Please try to respect the word limits indicated above.

• All essays and short answer responses are to be submitted in written form only.

• All essays and short answer responses are to be entered directly in the text box
provided in your application.

UCLA Anderson MBA Essay Question:

Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. How can the UCLA Anderson experience
add value to your professional development? ​(500 words maximum)

© 2018 80
Anderson gives you enough room to write a revealing response. Make sure this essay shows
that you’re already a member of the Anderson community by virtue of your values and
experience. You just haven’t yet paid tuition.

​ atch the
First think about Anderson’s motto: ​Share success. Think fearlessly. Drive change.W
videos that Anderson provides on each of those values. Think about the ways you can ​show
that those values are your values​ while answering the question.

To respond to the question itself, what are you looking to gain from the Anderson MBA? How
do you hope to grow? How will that growth prepare you to realize your professional goals?
Focus on the elements of the Anderson program that are distinctive, if not unique, and most
supportive of your dreams.

A great way to approach this essay would be to discuss an experience or anecdote that reveals
you acting according to UCLA’s principles. Then connect that story to your goals and to UCLA
Anderson’s program and your reasons for choosing its MBA program. Conclude by connecting
relevant aspects of the Anderson MBA experience and program to the achievement of your
short- and long-term goals​.

Your particular story may benefit from a different order, and that’s fine. Just make sure that the
reader can follow it and that you include the requested elements.

UCLA Anderson MBA Short Answer Question:

What are you passionate about and why? (300 words maximum)

I once had a client who was asked a similar question for an application. He responded “I feel
passionately about child abuse. When I hear about incidents of child abuse my blood boils.”

I said “OK. Have you volunteered to help victims of child abuse in any way? Have you raised
money to help them or to prosecute abusers or perhaps get abusers help?”

“No,” he replied, ” I haven’t done anything like that, but when I hear about it on the news, it
really​ makes me angry.”

© 2018 81
Bad answer. Your ​passion must translate into commitment and action​ or it seems shallow. And
so do you.

If you love music, presumably you will either spend hours writing, playing or listening to it. If
you are passionate about sports, that passion will be reflected in how you spend your time. If
you are passionate about a cause or group, you will commit time to it.

Given the 300-word limit, don’t choose more than 1-3 things you are passionate about. I’d
prefer 1-2. Describe your passions and how you came to feel so strongly about this activity or
cause. If you choose to focus on more than one “area of passion,” see if you can tie the
different commitments together with a common theme so that the essay is a coherent whole.
Don’t force it if that doesn’t work.

UCLA Anderson MBA Reapplicant Question:

(For applicants who applied for the MBA program in the previous two years)

Please describe your career progress since you last applied and how you have enhanced your
candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued
interest in UCLA Anderson. ​(750 words maximum)

This is the key question in every MBA reapplication: How have you enhanced your candidacy?
Career progress is an obvious place to start and something you must address, but if academics
were a weakness, then what have you done since you last applied to show you can excel at
Anderson? Finally, if your career goals have evolved since you last applied, discuss that

UCLA Anderson Optional Question:

Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions
Committee should be aware? Please use your best judgment. ​(250 words maximum)

No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit a response to the
optional question.

© 2018 82
If there are extenuating circumstances that would add perspective or context for a weakness,
you can discuss them here. A few years ago, UCLA added the following: “Please do not submit
redundant information in the Optional Essay.” Good advice for all optional questions. For more
suggestions, please see ​Optional Essays: When and How to Write Them​.

For expert guidance with your UCLA Anderson MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions
consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to UCLA Anderson’s MBA
program and look forward to helping you too!

UCLA Anderson 2018 – 2019 MBA Application Deadlines​:

Application Deadline Decisions Released

Round 1 October 2, 2018 December 18, 2018

Round 2 January 8, 2019 March 26, 2019

Round 3 April 16, 2019 May 21, 2019

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

© 2018 83
UNC Kenan-Flagler
Are you a team leader?​ Are you committed to sustainable enterprise? Are you seeking
resources and intellectual capital needed to shape both business and government? Are you a
motivated, goal-oriented, innovative individual? ​UNC Kenan-Flagler​ adcoms are interested in
seeing your multidimensional personality and capabilities. Your challenge: Prove that your goals
mesh with the school’s goals and that your talents will contribute to the program’s
collaborative nature.

UNC has changed all its essay questions to varying degrees. Essay 1 is and was a goal question,
but this year’s version more focused on short-term goals and why Kenan-Flagler. Essay 2 is also
a much more directed question and really tells you what UNC wants in your response. The
optional #3 is little changed and UNC deleted the optional #4.

My tips are in blue below.

UNC Kenan-Flagler 2018-19 MBA Application Essays:

The Kenan-Flagler Business School at University of North Carolina has two required essay and
one optional essay.

UNC Kenan-Flagler Essay #1

Please respond to the questions below that will assist us in learning more about you:

■ Tell us what your immediate career goals are and how you will benefit personally
and professionally from earning an MBA at Kenan-Flagler Business School.
■ As the business world continues to evolve, circumstances can change and guide
you in a different direction. Should your goals that you provided above not
transpire, what other opportunities would you explore? ​(500 words total)

What do you see yourself doing immediately upon graduation and why? Perhaps include the
most influential experience that convinced you to go down this path? And then the critical:
Why do you need an MBA from UNC with its approach to business education to realize your

© 2018 84
UNC also wants to know your Plan B. If you are aiming for Goldman Sachs and a career in
investment banking, would Plan B be a similar position with, let’s say, Bank of America or would
it be a position in corporate finance or with a start-up? If you are aiming for McKinsey, Bain, or
BCG, what would your Plan B be? Perhaps a position in a leadership rotation program? Or
would it be working for a company like Deloitte or A. T. Kearney?

Your Plan B needs to be at least as achievable as Plan A – if not more so. It should also be
related to A so that the education you receive can also help you attain it.

Check out our free guide, ​Why MBA?​, for more tips on writing about post-MBA goals.

UNC Kenan-Flagler Essay #2

The UNC Kenan-Flagler community lives by its core values: excellence, leadership, integrity,
community and teamwork.

■ Pick a core value that resonates most deeply with you.

■ Identify the most challenging situation that you have encountered and how you
responded while upholding that core value. ​(250 words total)

You could respond with “My core value is X and the most challenging situation occurred

Frankly that’s a pretty boring (and unfortunately common) opening. I recommend a very
different structure. Start with the action.

Tell the story of the challenging situation and begin with a moment of tension or risk or
realization of what you were facing. Then describe the elements that led to this moment or
contributed to the challenge. Finally delve into how you responded while upholding the critical

If you have room, conclude with the outcome, lessons learned, or some form of analysis of this
event’s significance.

UNC Kenan-Flagler Essay #3 (Optional)

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Is there any additional information not presented elsewhere in your application that you would
like the admissions committee to consider? Optional areas to address include:

■ If you have not had coursework in the core business subjects (calculus,
microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting), how will you prepare yourself?
■ Inconsistent academics, gaps in work, or low standardized test scores
■ Choice of recommenders​ (300 words total)

This is pretty straightforward. Just answer it. You may also want to highlight professional
preparation that you have already had in quantitative areas.

Kenan Flagler explicitly says that it’s important for its students to have a “working knowledge”
of financial accounting, statistics, microeconomics, and calculus. If you don’t have it, acquire it.

My favorite: The optional essay. A gift allowing you to give the adcom one more reason to
admit you.

UNC Kenan-Flagler 2018-19 Application Deadlines:

Application Deadline Decisions Released

Round 1 (Early Action) October 15, 2018 December 7, 2018

Round 2 December 10, 2018 February 1, 2019

Round 3 January 14, 2019 March 15, 2019

Round 4 March 11, 2019 April 19, 2019

Applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the application date.

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

© 2018 86
For expert guidance with your UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions
consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA
program and look forward to helping you too!

© 2018 87
UVA Darden
If you like the idea of constantly being thrown into the decision maker’s role, using the case
method to navigate real-life business situations, then you may want to consider applying to
University of Virginia’s Darden MBA program. Darden is the second-largest case publisher in
North America, and because of Darden’s commitment to the case study method, a Darden
student will examine over 500 business cases throughout the course of their two-year Darden
MBA studies.

Darden is particularly proud of its recent significant increase in philanthropic support: it has
doubled the available funding for scholarships for students, and even international students
qualify for loans in the U.S. – a hurdle that many applicants lacking a U.S.-based cosigner
struggle with when accepted to other programs.

Many applicants will make the mistake of sweating over their two short Darden application
essays and then carelessly completing the rest of the application form. Darden actually has
several short answer sections in its online application that provide applicants more room to
demonstrate to the admissions committee that they are a great fit with the Darden program.
This year, the application offers 20 additional words for applicants’ responses to the
short-answer questions, while dividing the long essay into two shorter ones (and cutting 100
words). Note that Darden’s application uses text boxes, allowing only the exact allotted number
of words and not even one additional one for each reply.

Here are all of the questions that Darden asks in its application, with my tips in blue. In
addition, Darden’s admissions team put together ​several video tips last year for their

Darden MBA Essay #1:

Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personal, professional or
both. ​(100 words)

Darden is one of the smaller MBA programs, with 326 students in the class of 2019. That class
size means that every single student needs to be congenial: there’s just no room for a jerk at

© 2018 88
Darden. Moreover, Darden’s case study approach demands that students hail from a wide
range of industry backgrounds and experiences to support and enrich the class discussion.

Applicants who share an example here of ​contributing to a personal or professional team​ –

during a difficult situation, through a crisis, or just with a specific set of insights, talents, or
personality traits – will be offering the admissions committee the opportunity to truly envision
them in a Darden learning team and classroom.

Darden MBA Essay #2:

Each year, Darden connects with over 80 countries. If you could choose any location in the
world, where would you want to go with Darden? ​(5 words) ​And why? ​(50 words)

This question is slightly rephrased from last year and is now allocated an additional 10 words.
Darden has an array of ​international experiential learning programs​ and expects every one of
its students to take part in at least one global opportunity during their two years in the
program. Applicants should identify a location somewhere in the world that excites them and
then explain the unique opportunity to learn or make an impact that they envision there.

Darden MBA Essay #3:

Darden strives to identify and cultivate leaders who follow their purpose. At this stage, how
would you describe your evolving leadership style and please provide an example. ​(200 words)

This is a new question this year and reflects Darden’s long-standing emphasis on leadership:
1500 Darden alumni have the title of CEO/Chairman/Founder. In addition to the Leading
Organizations core course, Darden offers 11 electives just on the different facets of developing
as a leader! Darden is seeking students who have navigated ambiguous situations by working
with and managing people. Use this essay to express your purpose – your mission, your value
system, your character – and how you have applied your unique leadership style to connect
with people from diverse backgrounds, areas of expertise, and opinions.

Darden MBA Essay #4:

Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. ​(200

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This is another new essay question. Darden is seeking more than a brain on a stick, as Dean
Scott Beardsley likes to say. Yes, you have to have strong analytical ability, but you also have to
prove your drive for impact. This essay allows you to share an example (just one!) in which you
applied your drive – ideally in combination with your analytical and leadership skills – to shape
an organization or marketplace. CAR (Challenge-Action-Results) format will help you
demonstrate the before and after picture of this situation to prove your impact.

Darden MBA Essay #5:

What is your short-term, post-MBA career goal and why? ​(150 words)

This question is exactly the same as last year. You have room here for two small paragraphs to
explain your expected path after you graduate​ from Darden. If your goals are seen as
unachievable – for example, investment banking or consulting industry aspirations despite
having a low GMAT score, or a pharmaceutical general management ambition despite having
no background or education in that field – then you will have weeded yourself out of the class.
Darden also has a few fields to which they send most of their students; if you wish to stray
greatly from them, you will need to demonstrate your ability to tap your own connections and
network to help pave that path – as 14% of 2017 Darden graduates did.

A final note:

Darden’s online application form has no word limit for your job description in the “Where Have
You Worked?” section of the application form; a very long 500-word limit to describe each
activity in the “What do you do for fun?” professional associations and community activities
section; and a 200-word allotment for your College Extracurriculars and Employment
description. While I would not recommend detailing every single project you contributed to in
these sections, these spaces do certainly allow more detail than many other schools’
applications, which tend to be more parsimonious with their character limits and even the
number of activities you can mention in these sections. Darden is clearly seeking active
students and wants to hear about all of your passions! I recommend using some of the allotted
space to describe your most significant initiatives, roles, and impacts to compensate for the
limited essay space.

For expert guidance with your UVA Darden MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions

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consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to UVA Darden’s MBA program
and look forward to helping you too!

UVA Darden MBA 2018-19 Application Deadlines:

Application Deadline Decisions Released

Early Action September 7, 2018 October 17, 2018

Round 1 October 4, 2018 December 12, 2018

Round 2 January 10, 2018 March 20, 2019

Round 3 April 3, 2019 May 8, 2019

All applications for the full-time MBA are due by 12:00 p.m. EST (noon) on the deadline day.

Note: Darden’s new Early Action deadline is not binding (i.e., students accepted in this round
are not required to withdraw their applications to other programs). The benefit of this round is
that students applying Early Action may schedule their interviews over the summer (mid-July
through the end of September) without waiting to be invited. If you have vacation time and
plan to be visiting the campus anyway, this is a great option for you.

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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The big change in Wharton’s admissions this year occurred at the top. Frank DeVechhis recently
left his position as Director of Admissions. Blair Mannix, Director of Operations and Evaluations
since 2015, has assumed the role of Interim Director of Admissions at Wharton.

In terms of the application, Wharton introduced a new question for its second essay this year.
The tips for approaching both the new and old questions are below.

Last year Wharton introduced a new format for its recommendations and is continuing with its
recommendation experiment. It asks recommenders to choose from two lists of positive
adjectives the three that best describe the applicant. In addition, the Wharton MBA application
asks recommenders for two examples – one ​demonstrating fit with Wharton​ and one showing
the candidate’s career potential. The intention of this experiment is to see if the
recommendations can be more predictive both of success in the Wharton program and in the
one’s career.

In discussion at last year’s AIGAC conference, then admissions director Frank DeVecchis
acknowledged that on some level the words “recommendation” or “evaluation” are misnomers
for what Wharton is looking for from the people asked to provide “a recommendation.” They
are looking for insight into your character. Not a recommendation or an evaluation.

Wharton MBA Application Essay Questions

Wharton MBA Essay #1:

What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? ​(500 words maximum)

This question is exclusively “professional.” What do you want to do professionally that you
can’t do now and that a Wharton MBA will help you do? What “soft” and “hard” skills do you
hope to acquire at Wharton? How will a Wharton MBA – the education, the credential, and the
experience – help you achieve your dreams?

As with most ​MBA goals questions​, Wharton wants to see how you plan to connect your
Wharton education to your future. Keep in mind that​ ​Wharton has an incredibly rich

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curriculum​. ​How will you take advantage of its premier offerings to prepare yourself to achieve
your vision for the future?

To answer this question well, you need to have professional direction and you need to know
which of Wharton’s myriad resources make it perfect as the next stop on your professional

Wharton MBA Essay #2:

Describe an impactful experience or accomplishment that is not reflected elsewhere in your

application. How will you use what you learned through that experience to contribute to the
Wharton community? (​400 words maximum​)

Start with the end in mind: How do you intend to contribute to the Wharton community?

To answer that question, research the co-curricular opportunities and pedagogical approach at
Wharton. How will you contribute? Based on past experience and accomplishments, what
difference do you intend to make? How will you participate, and yes, contribute?

Now decide on your achievement that prepared you to have your intended impact. Make sure
it is one where you made a difference.

And now you’re ready to write.

I would start this essay with the impactful experience from your past and then analyze the
lesson you learned from that accomplishment. Then bring it forward and apply it to your
intended role at Wharton.

You could, however, start with your intended impact at Wharton and then go back to your past

Please note: To answer this question well, you need to know a lot about Wharton’s program
and opportunities.

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Wharton MBA Additional Essay Question:

(Required for all reapplicants)

Explain how you have reflected on the previous decision about your application, and discuss
any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework,
extracurricular/volunteer engagements)​. (250 words)*

The name of the ​MBA reapplicant​ game is Growth and Improvement. Wharton is asking for
reflection and you need to provide it, but also show how that reflection led to action and
improvement. You need to be a better candidate this time than last.

*First-time applicants may also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (​250

“Addressing extenuating circumstances” means that you should describe those circumstances
in a straight-forward way. Give the admissions committee context. Avoid excuses and whining.

For expert guidance with your Wharton MBA application, check out Accepted’s ​MBA
Application Packages​, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions
consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Wharton’s MBA program and
look forward to helping you too!

Wharton 2018-19 Application Deadlines​:

Application Deadline Decision Notification

Round 1 September 18, 2018 December 13, 2018

Round 2 January 3, 2019 March 21, 2019

Round 3 April 2, 2019 May 9, 2019

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*To be considered for a round, you must submit a complete application by 5:00 p.m. Eastern
Standard Time (EST) on the day of the deadline.

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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Yale SOM
Although its application is the same as last year’s MBA application, Yale School of Management
is in transition. Its innovative, dynamic dean, Edward Snyder, is stepping down from the
deanship at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. Dean Snyder oversaw the construction of
Yale SOM’s gorgeous new facility, launched Yale School of Management’s Global Network for
the Advancement of Management, and added a Masters of Advanced Management degree to
Yale’s degree options in graduate management education.

The application has little change from last year. As applicants have done for the last few years
when applying to Yale SOM, you need to make the most of its single required essay, but you
also need to take the time to ​make every box in the application a home run​.​ ​They are not
afterthoughts. Your job descriptions and activity history are very important. Write and edit
them carefully. Focus on achievements. Quantify when possible and keep in mind Yale’s
commitment to “educating leaders for business and society.”

My tips are in blue.

Yale SOM Essay Question:

Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made.​ (500 words maximum)

The question is based on the premise that actions speak louder than words. So if you make a
commitment, do you follow through? Do you make big commitments? What are the results?
What impact have you had as a result of your biggest commitment?

Your essay would do really well with an anecdotal response telling the story of the commitment
you made. What was the challenge or problem that triggered it? How did you follow up? What
was the outcome? The effect and significance? Did you successfully solve that initial problem or
achieve your goals in meeting that challenge?

You can start with the moment of challenge or the moment of triumph. If you choose the latter,
then go back, provide context, and tell your story of commitment, resolve, hurdles overcome,

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and challenge handled. If the impact has lasted – on you and others – succinctly include that
part of the story too.

Yale SOM Application Video Component

Yale also has ​a video component​ to its application. The questions are not posted ahead of time
and they vary from applicant to applicant. The key element to preparation here is practice.
Practice talking into a webcam without feedback from another human being. Practice the 60-90
second time frame. Rehearse answers to typical interview questions in this format. Remember
the STAR (Situation – Task – Action – Result) or CAR (Context/Challenge – Action – Result)
framework in structuring your answers.

Yale suggests that you practice via Skype with a friend, but have them turn off their webcam
and just provide feedback at the end of your response. I also suggest you put a smiley face
somewhere so you can see it and remind yourself to smile.

If you would like professional guidance with your Yale MBA application, please consider
Accepted’s ​MBA essay editing​ and ​MBA admissions consulting​ or our ​MBA Application
Packages​, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Yale
SOM application.

Yale SOM 2018-19 Deadlines​:

Application Deadline Decisions Released

Round 1 September 12, 2018 December 5, 2018

Round 2 January 7, 2019 April 2, 2019

Round 3 April 16, 2019 May 21, 2019

*​ **Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify
the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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You’ve taken an important step towards creating a successful application by reading ​Top MBA
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