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Review Your Essays Like an Admissions Consultant: Use the Editing Funnel

If you are reading this, you are probably now – or will soon be – editing your application essays and personal statements for business school. When Accepted consultants review and edit MBA application essays, they go through a process called the editing funnel. When you edit your own essays, you should follow a similar process.

Here’s how it works…

1. Start with the Big Picture (Top of the Funnel)

At the top of the funnel you evaluate your essay in the context of the application. Does it contribute to the reader’s overall knowledge of you? Does it introduce the reader to a dimension not revealed in the boxes, numbers, and transcripts? If you are submitting more than one essay in your application, does each one contribute something new to the bigger picture?

2. Then Begin to Narrow Your Focus (Middle of the Funnel)

Going deeper into the funnel, your focus should narrow to the individual essays. Check that each essay has a clear theme and logical structure. Do you support the theme with clear examples? Are you infusing the essay with the details necessary to bring it to life and make it as readable and persuasive as possible?

As you go through this iterative process, make sure that your essay addresses the question(s) posed. The easiest way to double check that you are going in the right direction is to paste the question at the top of the essay. Refer back to it OFTEN. You would be surprised how easy it is to get sidetracked.
Once you have completed this step, you should recruit a friend, family member, or an objective third party to review the essay for you. Don’t have them do a grammar check yet – just ask them to ensure that you are in fact answering the questions asked and that the essay is engaging to the reader.

3. Move to the Nitty-Gritty (Bottom of the Funnel)

At the narrowest part of the funnel, check writing mechanics: clarity, grammar, style, word usage, spelling, punctuation, and all the nitty-gritty details of writing. You may be a little bleary-eyed at this point and almost unable to view the essay objectively. To restore a little objectivity, put the draft away, preferably for a couple of days; if you don’t have that much time, then wait at least a couple of hours. When proofing your essay, read it out loud. Doing so will slow you down and allow your ear to catch some of the little errors that your eye may miss.

As you reach the end of the funnel process, it is appropriate to re-engage with your chosen essay reader so they can do a final proof of your essay as well.

If you want professional editing that saves you time and guides your essay through the editing funnel while maintaining your voice, check out Accepted’s professional MBA application essay editing services.


Linda Abraham is the founder of Accepted, the premier admissions consultancy. She has coached MBA applicants to acceptance for over 20 years. The Wall Street Journal, US News, and Poets & Quants are among the media outlets that seek her admissions expertise