Yale | Ms. Social Impact
GMAT 680, GPA 3.83
Kellogg | Mr. 770 Dreamer
GMAT 770, GPA 8.77/10
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Military 2.0
GRE 310, GPA 2.3
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Agribusiness
GRE 308, GPA 3.04
Wharton | Ms. Healthcare Visionary
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Tech Evangelist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
IESE | Mr. Future Brand Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 2.8
Tuck | Ms. Green Biz
GRE 326, GPA 3.2
Wharton | Ms. PMP To MBA
GMAT 710, GPA 3.72
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare VC
GMAT 700, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. British Tech 2+2
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Government Consultant
GMAT 600, GPA 3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Space Launch
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
INSEAD | Mr. Media Startup
GMAT 710, GPA 3.65
Kellogg | Mr. Class President
GRE 319.5, GPA 3.76
Wharton | Ms. Future CEO
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
MIT Sloan | Mr. Unicorn Strategy
GMAT 740 (estimated), GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBA Class of 2023
GMAT 725, GPA 3.5
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Emporio Armani
GMAT 780, GPA 3.03
Columbia | Mr. MD
GMAT 630, GPA 3.24
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
London Business School | Mr. Green Energy
GMAT 710, GPA 3.1
Harvard | Mr. Investment Banker
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Ms. Media Entertainment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Civil Engineer
GMAT 770, GPA 8.9/10
Harvard | Mr. Colombian Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.96

Essays: Responding to Criticism

Next up in our series on major MBA application essay topics:  responding to criticism. A typical essay question in this category may be something like, “What is the toughest criticism/constructive feedback you have ever received, and what did you learn from it?”

Yes, you’d much rather write about your achievements and the great reviews you’ve gotten from your boss, but if the question asks for an example of past criticism, then that is what you must provide.

So why do they ask? The adcoms want to assess your ability to accept when you are wrong and respond constructively. They want to assess your maturity. The ability to react positively to criticism and grow is an important characteristic for an MBA student and future manager. Effective leaders and innovators are those who are willing and able to change their approach when introduced to a better one. Who cares if you can learn new methodologies or theories if you are unwilling to integrate such ideas into your own working style?

In answering such a question demonstrate that you possess self-awareness and resilience through examples in which you learned of your shortcomings and changed your ways. To demonstrate your ability to improve yourself, include the following topics:

  1. The circumstances: What actions did you take, and what were the results of that action?
  2. The feedback: What had been missing or lacking in your approach? What did you do wrong?
  3. Your response to the criticism: How did you change your approach? How did the results differ? What did you learn? Hint: This is the most important element.

A final thought– It’s OK to write you had to mull over the feedback a little before deciding to change your ways.  You don’t want to come across as a doormat or someone who lacks introspection or self-respect. Yes, you should change your ways if your ways were lacking, but only after thinking it through. Now that’s maturity.

By Linda Abraham, CEO and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the soon-to released book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools. Linda has been helping MBA applicants gain acceptance to top MBA programs since 1994.

Our Series On Perfecting Your MBA Essays: