McCombs School of Business | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Tuck | Mr. Land Management
GMAT 760, GPA 3.85
Stanford GSB | Mr. Seller
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Cricket From Kashmir
GMAT 730, GPA 8.5/10
Wharton | Mr. Researcher
GMAT 700, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Mr. Beer Guy
GRE 306, GPA 4.0
Columbia | Mr. MD/MBA
GMAT 670, GPA 3.77
Harvard | The Insurer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Data Dude
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Tepper | Mr. Automotive Strategy
GMAT 670 - 700 on practice tests, GPA 3.3
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Backyard Homesteader
GRE 327, GPA 3.90
Wharton | Mr. Finance to MBB
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
London Business School | Ms. Social Impact Consulting
GRE 330, GPA 3.28
London Business School | Ms. Audit Meme
GMAT 710, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Tech Start-Up
GMAT 720, GPA 3.52
Tepper | Mr. Insurance Dude
GMAT 660, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Ms. Indian Marketer
GMAT 680, GPA 8.9/10
NYU Stern | Mr. Middle Eastern Warrior
GMAT 720 (Estimated), GPA 3.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. Chile Real Estate
GMAT 740, GPA 3.02
Yale | Mr. Sustainability Manager
GRE 319, GPA 3.52
NYU Stern | Ms. Legal Officer
GMAT 700, GPA 4
Stanford GSB | Ms. Education Non-profit
GRE 330, GPA 3.0
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Social To Tech
GMAT 700, GPA 2.7
Wharton | Mr. Mobility Entrepreneur
GMAT 760, GPA 1st Division
HEC Paris | Mr. Business Man
GMAT 720, GPA 3.89
Harvard | Mr. Football Author
GMAT 760, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Deferred Admission
GRE 329, GPA 3.99

Two Components To Writing An Awesome Application Essay

A good application essay is comprised of both anecdote and analysis, the what and the why of your personal experiences. Telling a straight story (anecdote without analysis) will leave your essay flat, with no depth or insight into your character or motivations; on the other hand, an essay that rattles on about the why but omits the what will be boring and overly theoretical, lacking substance and voice.

Your goal: to create an essay that balances these two components, that tells an engaging story about what happened (your experience) AND why such things are important for an admissions committee to know.

Essay Component #1: Anecdote

The first component of a compelling essay is the retelling of what happened to you. This is the story element of your MBA essay. We frequently advise MBA applicants to launch their essays with an anecdote to draw in their readers. (For important storytelling tips, see our free admissions guide, From Example to Exemplary.)

What makes a good story? The experiences you write about should reflect all the following:

  • An achievement that you’re proud of
  • An experience that you would like the admissions committee to know about
  • A story that illustrates the theme of your response

Keep in mind that any good story has to have some kind of tension or challenge, your response to the challenge, and an element of transformation. A good framework for telling your story is CAR or:

  • Challenge
  • Action
  • Results

Essay Component #2: Analysis

For this second component, you’ll want to talk about why this experience is worth sharing. You can include the lessons learned as a result of the experience, its impact on others – an individual, your team, department, group, organization, or employer – and the impact it has on you.

Some of you may wonder how this analysis differs from “Results” (the R of CAR above). We’ve seen clients occasionally just think of results as impact on the organization or conversely just lessons learned. It should be both your impact on others and your personal growth that you include in your analysis.

The questions below will help you shape the analysis component of your essay. After thinking of a good anecdote or a key experience that you’d like to share, make sure your essay also addresses the following:

  • Why is this experience one that you wanted to bring to the adcom’s attention?
  • What makes you tick? Why did you make the decisions you made?
  • How did this particular experience influence your later actions?
  • What did you learn from this experience?

You’re applying to business school, so your quant skills are probably pretty good – so let’s put this in solid math terms: Anecdote + Analysis = Your Awesome Application Essay


Do you need help creating your awesome MBA application essay? Work one-on-one with an Accepted advisor to develop an anecdote and delve deep into the analysis so that you tell your story in the most compelling way possible. Check out our MBA Essay Services, write your awesome essay, and get ACCEPTED!

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.

More From Linda Abraham:   4 DON’Ts For Your MBA Essay,  Assessing Your MBA Admissions Profile, Deciding Where To Apply To Business School, Do Your Application Essays Reflect The Real You?