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Stanford GSB 2020-2021 Essay Analysis


Stanford GSB, as expected, did not change the essay questions this year. However, Stanford lowered the combined word limit from 1150 to 1050 words, suggesting clients allocate up to 650 words on Essay A and up to 400 words on Essay B. This will encourage applicants to remain focused and concise in their answers. Below, please find this year’s deadlines along with Personal MBA Coach’s advice on how to approach the two essay questions.


Essay A: “What matters most to you, and why? (650 words suggested)” This is arguably one of the hardest MBA application questions across all schools. This challenging first question requires candidates to speak from the heart. As Stanford advises, think more about your values here and WHY you made the choices you have made than WHAT you have done. I recommend you do some serious soul searching before starting. Think about what you are most passionate about. What drives you to get out of bed each morning? If you could spend your time as you wish, what would you do? Ideally, you have acted on this passion and it extends throughout multiple aspects of your life. Then, think carefully about why this matters to you. Did you have an experience as a child? Are you following a passion held by others in your family? Finally, once you have established the way, you should include some WHAT here. After all, a passion or cause that you have done nothing with will not be very believable. Remember though, this is only PART of this personal essay. Essay B: “Why Stanford? (400 words suggested )” In this short essay, candidates have a lot to cover. First, you should set up why you want an MBA. Naturally, this would include what your goals are and what skills you need to develop to achieve these goals. Then, establish how Stanford will help you to fill these skill gaps. Once again, be specific! Name classes, clubs, programs, etc. and how they will help. Finally, be sure to articulate what attracts you to Stanford’s culture. We realize this is a tall order with a suggested word count of only 400 words so be succinct. Unlike other schools, Stanford gives the candidate discretion on how to divide the 1150 words (1200 for dual degree candidates) across the two essays. The breakdown above is a suggestion and in general, this is an ideal breakdown for most candidates. Need help? Personal MBA Coach is willing to be your guide. Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, we regularly help applicants navigate their applications each year. We also conduct mock interviews with former M7 interviewers on our team. Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for 13 years with a 96% success rate. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email scott@personalmbacoach.com for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!

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