Scott Edinburgh
May 19, 2022

4 Tips to Write a Compelling and Concise MBA Application Essay

Computer and Desk

Top business schools are just beginning to release their essay questions for the 2022-2023 application cycle, Harvard Business School being the first to do so again this year. Each year, Personal MBA Coach devotes considerable time to tracking all MBA essay questions and looking for trends, themes, and MBA essay format changes.

In recent years, shortening essays has been a common trend!

While many applicants may be excited by smaller word counts, writing less is actually HARDER than writing more. It can be a challenge to summarize your life’s accomplishments into one or two short essays.

Personal MBA Coach spends the greatest amount of time with our clients on the actual editing process, helping clients maximize each available word. Even with MBA essays that have no word limits, it is crucial to be succinct if you want to develop the best business school essays possible.

Here are our top four tips for writing more with fewer words.

1) Resist the urge to include unrelated details

Business applicants are accomplished. Naturally, it can be tempting to try to include as many of these accomplishments as possible in your application essays. However, it is crucial that you avoid this urge.

For each application essay, think about what the question asks and why the admissions committee is asking this question. Do not include any detail that does not cover this what or why. For example, a question asking how an MBA will help does not require hundreds of words on your past professional success, however impressive it may be.

Similarly, a question on career goals does not require you to explain the industry dynamics in detail or the reasons behind your perspective on the industry. With each sentence you add to your essays, consider the question you are actually answering. If it is not related to the question asked, cut it!

2) Avoid repetition

With limited words available to sell yourself, there is rarely a need to say anything twice. Regardless of how successful you might have been in your role, admissions committee members do not need to read about it multiple times.

Whether you founded a non-profit, were the first in your class to be promoted, or were a Division I athlete, tell each story one time. While naturally you can (and should) touch on a broad theme or aspect of your personal story from multiple angles, this is not the same as repeating the same story. Avoiding repetition will help you stick to a strong MBA essay format.

3) Leverage all aspects of the application

As a natural extension of point 3, use all aspects of your application to your advantage. Even for schools requiring very short essays, there are countless other aspects of the application to pay attention to. The best business school essays ensure that every piece counts!

Take the time to carefully craft answers to your short-answer questions. Prepare your recommenders to ensure their stories complement (but do not reiterate) yours. Use every line in your resume as efficiently as possible to show your leadership and success. In addition, video essays and pre/post interview essays provide other ways to sell yourself.

In fact, Personal MBA Coach advises our round 1 clients to finish their essays by the end of July (and round 2 clients to finish by late November) whenever possible to allocate adequate time to other crucial MBA application components. Check out our MBA application timeline to learn more.

4) Look for every opportunity to trim words

As we have said countless times, edit, edit, edit. Ensure every word counts. If there is a way to say it more succinctly, do! Cutting excess words will lead to stronger writing while giving you extra space to cover details that really set you apart. You’d be surprised how a trained eye can cut 50-100+ words from a 400-word essay without deleting a single piece of true content.

Need help? Personal MBA Coach is willing to be your guide. Take a look at our comprehensive packages to find out how we can help you create winning essays and maximize your chances of success!

About Personal MBA Coach:

Founded by a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan graduate who sits on the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants Board of Directors, Personal MBA Coach has been guiding clients for 15 years and is consistently ranked #1 or #2 by leading sources including Poets & Quants.

We help clients with all aspects of the MBA application process including early planning, GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring, application strategy, school selection, essay editing, and mock interviews. Our team includes former M7 admissions directors and former M7 admissions interviewers.

Last cycle, our clients earned more than $6.5M in scholarships!