What kinds of questions are the best international business schools asking of their MBA applicants? Here’s our cheat sheet for MBA essays for 2016-2017. Schools are listed in order of their Poets&Quants’ ranking:
Job Essay 1: Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved. (short answer)
Job Essay 2: What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company? (short answer)
Job Essay 3: Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (short answer)
Job Essay 4: Discuss your short and long term career aspirations with or without an MBA from INSEAD. (short answer)
Optional: If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme.
Essay 1: Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary (approximately 500 words).
Essay 2: Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned(approximately 400 words).
Essay 3: Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (approximately 300 words).
Optional: Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (approximately 300 words)
2. London Business School
What are your post-MBA plans and how will your past experience and the London Business School programme contribute? (500 words)
What specific areas of London Business School life are you most excited about getting involved in and where will you add value? (300 words)
Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School? (this question is optional) (300 words)
3. IESE Business School
Please describe your short-term professional goals and how you plan to achieve them. Be as specific as possible for example including the industry or sector, specific companies, etc. (200-word limit)
Describe one substantial accomplishment and one failure in a professional, academic or private endeavor (400 words)
Describe the most difficult situation (personal, academic or professional) that you have faced recently (200 words)
Describe a past experience that has shaped who you are today (200 words)
I consider myself a young talent suitable for the program because… (200 words)
4. IE Business School
here are 12 prompts, and applicants must respond to any three of them; however, only one of the applicant’s three responses must be answered with an essay of 400-600 words. The other two responses may be either essays OR photographs, drawings, videos, animations, or presentations a la Prezi or Slideshare hosted online.
Among 12 prompts, applicants must respond to three. Only one of the three needs to be answered with an essay of between 400 to 600 words.
1. If you had the opportunity, what actions would you demand of the United Nations Secretary General and why?
2. Describe the situation with the greatest ethical complexity that you have faced in your professional or academic life, and how your input helped resolve it.
3. Describe a time when you took a great risk. What was the outcome?
4. Cite at least one example of when your leadership had an impact on or changed a certain situation, and justify how an IE Master’s Degree program would help you to strengthen or improve this competence.
5. Describe the most outstanding leader you have worked with. Indicate some aspects of the way you work that are similar to the way this leader works and others that are different.
6. You have just participated in an important meeting with your superior. How will you ensure that every part of the instructions you received will properly reach all subordinates, suppliers and clients, located in different parts of the world?
7. Do you think that the lifestyle of the inhabitants of your town or city reflects behavior that is in line with the concept of sustainable development? In your opinion, what should be improved?
8. What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing the sector or industry you would like to specialize in at IE? What role do you hope to be able to play in this sector or industry in the medium term?
9. Show us an activity you enjoy doing. Tell us how you think it contributes to your personal and professional development.
10. How do you imagine social interaction within 10 years, taking into consideration the impact of technology on human relations?
11. If all of the world’s cultural heritage (sports, music, fashion, architecture, literature, painting, etc..) was contained in a time capsule, what would you include to demonstrate the legacy of your country?
12. How do you envision the city of the future?
5. HEC Paris
1. Why are you applying to the HEC MBA program now? What is the professional objective that will guide your career choice after your MBA, and how will the HEC MBA contribute to the achievement of this objective? (500 words)
2. What do you consider your most significant life achievement? (250 words)
Structure: simply narrate the story, and at the end, clarify why you deem it most significant.
3. Leadership and ethics are inevitably intertwined in the business world. Describe a situation in which you have dealt with these issues and how they have influenced you (250 Words max)
4. Imagine a life entirely different from the one you now lead, what would it be? (250 words)
5. Please choose from one of the following essays: (250 words)
a) What monument or site would you advise a first-time visitor to your country or city to discover, and why?
b) Certain books, movies or plays have had an international success that you believe to be undeserved. Choose an example and analyse it.
c) What figure do you most admire and why? You may choose from any field (arts, literature, politics, business, etc).
6. Is there any additional information you would like to share with us? (900 words)
1) Describe yourself in two hundred words or less [200 words]
2) Give an example of a time when you were confronted with an unrecoverable event. How did it affect you and what were your greatest learnings? [300 words]
3) On your 75th birthday someone close to you presents your laudatio (tribute). It can be a friend, colleague, family member etc. Please describe in detail what this person would say about you and your life. [300 words]
Short answer questions in the application:
What is your career goal post IMD? [200 characters]
What are the skills you need to develop in order to achieve your goal? [200 characters]
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. (Optional) [300 words]
7. JUDGE BUSINESS SCHOOL AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
What did you learn from your most spectacular failure? (200 words)
What are your short and long term career objectives? What skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you to achieve them? What do you hope to gain from the degree and how do you feel it will help you achieve the career objectives you have? (please do not exceed 500 words)
1. Which aspects have you improved on during your academic and professional career so far? Which tools or values have helped you achieve this? (300 words)
2. How will your background, values and non work-related activities enhance the experience of other ESADE MBA students and add to the diverse culture we strive for at ESADE? (300 words)
3. What are your motivations in pursuing a full-time MBA at this point in your life? Describe your mid-term and long-term visions for your post-MBA career path. What is it about ESADE you think will help you reach your goals? (300 words)
4. Complete two of the following four questions or statements (1000 characters per response)
a. I am most proud of…
b. People may be surprised to learn that I…
c. What has your biggest challenge been and what did it help you learn about yourself?
d. Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?
5. Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include gaps in employment, your undergraduate record, plans to retake the GMAT or any other relevant information.
10. Said Business School at the University of Oxford
How do you fit with Oxford Saïd’s mission? (500 words)
Is there anything not covered in the application form which you would like the Admissions Committee to know about you? (250 words)
If you are applying under the 1+1 scheme you also need to submit the following essay:
Explain why you see this as particularly beneficial for you and how it fits with your careers and personal development aims (250 words)
Re-applicants: What improvements have you made in your candidacy since you last applied to the Oxford MBA? (250 words)