MBA Essay Questions From Two Decades Ago: What Top 10 Schools Were Asking

The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School – Ethan Baron photo


  • Describe how your experiences, both professional and personal, have led to your decision to pursue an MBA at the Wharton School this year. How does this decision relate to your career goals for the future?
  • Describe a situation where leadership and teamwork were critical to the outcome of a project in which you were directly involved. What did you learn from the experience and how have you applied what you learned to other situations?
  • Describe a personal achievement that has had a significant impact on your life. Give specific details. What did you learn from the experience? How did it help shape your understanding of yourself and the world around you?
  • Please tell us something else about yourself that you feel will help the Admissions Committee know you better.
  • (Optional) The Admissions Committee believes the required essay topics address issues that are important in understanding your candidacy. If there are extenuating circumstances or concerns affecting your application of which you felt the Admissions Committee should be aware, please elaborate here (e.g. your academic performance as an accurate measure of your potential, unexplained gaps in your work experience).

Chicago Booth

  • Why are you seeking an MBA or IMBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business? What do you hope to experience and contribute? What are your plans and goals after you receive your degree?
  • If you could be any age for the rest of your life, what age would you be and why?
  • If you had the opportunity to take the vacation of a lifetime, with whom and where would you spend it? Describe your dream vacation in detail.
  • If you had $10 million to give away, where would you give it?
  • If you could receive any award, who would present it and for what reason would it be given?

Columbia Business School

  • What are your career goals? How will an MBA help you achieve these goals? Why are you applying to Columbia Business School? (Limit 1000 words)
  • In reviewing the last five years, describe one or two accomplishments in which you demonstrated leadership. (Limit 500 words)
  • Discuss a non-academic personal failure. In what way were you disappointed in yourself? What did you learn from the experience? (Limit 500 words)
  • Columbia Business School diverse environment. Please discuss a life experience of yours that shows how you will contribute to the class. (Limit 250 words)


  • Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development. (30 lines)
  • Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (30 lines)
  • Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss what you learned from this experience. (20 lines)
  • Discuss your career goals, and explain how an MBA will contribute to achieving these goals. Why are you applying to INSEAD and what means of ensuring your personal and professional development are you seriously considering as an alternative to INSEAD? (40 lines)
  • Is there anything that you have not mentioned in the above essays that you would like the admissions committee to know? (15 lines) (This question is in fact optional)

Northwestern Kellogg

  • Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at Kellogg.
  • Each of our applicants is unique. Describe how your background, values, and non-work related activities will enhance the experiences of other Kellogg students.
  • You have been selected as a member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Please provide a brief evaluative assessment of your file.
  • 4A. Through the course of your life, what would you identify as your most valued accomplishment?
  • 4B. Outside of work, I enjoy…
  • 4C. Describe a situation that forced you to re-evaluate a personal belief.
  • 4D. Describe your most significant contribution to an organization or individual.

London Business School

  • Is your academic performance to date an accurate predictor of your potential success at LBS? If so, why? If not, why not? (100 words)
  • Describe any significant experiences outside of your home country. What did you gain from them? (200 words)
  • Please explain if you have been involved in community, extra-curricular and professional activities, giving examples of your involvement, the amount of time you gave to each activity and why you chose to get involved. (200 words)
  • With the increasing globalization of business, explain how the LBS MBA will equip you for your future international career? Why is now the right time for you to do an MBA as opposed to another qualification and what alternative plans do you have if you are not offered a place on any MBA program? (500 words)
  • If we asked three of your closest associates to describe you, what would they say your strengths and weaknesses were? Which adjectives would they use and why?
  • Describe a situation, either personal or professional, where you faced a particular frustration or difficulty. What was the outcome, what did you learn from the experience and what would you do differently if faced with a similar situation again?
  • It is the year 2010 and you have been invited to give a keynote speech, showcasing your professional achievements since graduating from LBS. Who have you been invited by, what is the occasion and what are the key points in your speech?
  • If you could choose any three people who have ever lived to join you for dinner, whom would you invite and why?

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