Harvard | Mr. Aspiring FinTech Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Fill In The Gaps
GRE 330, GPA 3.21
Darden | Mr. Military Communications Officer
GRE Not taken yet, GPA 3.4
INSEAD | Mr. Behavioral Changes
GRE 336, GPA 5.8/10
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Texas Recruiter
GMAT 770, GPA 3.04
USC Marshall | Mr. Strategy Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 4.0
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Qualcomm Quality
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
HEC Paris | Mr. Introverted Dancer
GMAT 720, GPA 4.0
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. Navy Vet
GRE 310, GPA 2.6
Kellogg | Ms. Retail To Technology
GMAT 670, GPA 3.8
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Entertainment Agency
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Quant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Ross | Mr. Top 25 Hopeful
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Well-Traveled Nonprofit Star
GRE 322, GPA 3.0
Yale | Mr. Gay Social Scientist
GMAT 740, GPA 2.75 undergrad, 3.8 in MS
Wharton | Mr. MBA When Ready
GMAT 700 (expected), GPA 3.3
London Business School | Mr. Low Undergrad GPA
GMAT 760, GPA 65/100 (1.0)
Chicago Booth | Ms. Hotel Real Estate
GMAT 730, GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. EduTech
GRE 337, GPA 3.9
Columbia | Mr. Infra-Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.68
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Vigor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Comeback Kid
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
London Business School | Mr. Family Investment Fund
GMAT 790, GPA 3.0
HEC Paris | Ms. Freelancer
GMAT 710, GPA 5.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Sans-Vertebrae
GMAT 730, GPA 3.78
INSEAD | Mr. Business Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0

MBA Essays: How To Write About Weakness

To wrap up our series on major application essay topics, here are a few thoughts on the weakness essay. I bet it’s your favorite!

You, like everyone else, doesn’t like to write about (or think about) your flaws, especially when you are striving to present a desirable portrait of yourself. But if that’s what the application asks for, then just as with the criticism question, that is what you must provide. In fact, by answering the weakness question thoughtfully, you’ll be adding to your desirability, not detracting from it.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Be honest. Don’t try and make up a flaw that’s really a positive attribute in a shallow, transparent attempt to look good. Skip the “I’m a sucker for detail” flaw – being detail-oriented is a good thing. The same thing goes for “I work too hard” – a strong work ethic is good. As long as OCD isn’t involved, don’t pretend otherwise.
  2. Remain personally focused and take responsibility. Don’t discuss the blemishes of other people as a way to minimize yours or transfer responsibility AKA blame.
  3. Write about traits that are relevant to management. For example, a weakness for chocolate is…a weakness indeed, but it’s not directly relevant to business school or your career.
  4. Finally, discuss how you’ve addressed your weakness. The only way to turn talking about your weaknesses into a strength is to talk about the steps you’ve taken to address the defect. If your quant skills are weak, have you enrolled in courses that will boost them (statistics, accounting, etc.). If you had difficulties delegating when you first became a manager, discuss how you learned to delegate more effectively and tell about a more recent managerial experience where your led an effective, efficient team.
  5. Try to choose a weakness from a few years ago and from an arena of your life not discussed in other essays. Doing so allows you to reveal another side of you and also gives you more opportunity to show growth.

All human beings have weaknesses. The ones who succeed are aware of them and work to minimize them. Use this essay to show that you belong to this group of winners.

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: