Scott Edinburgh
August 19, 2021

Short Answer Questions, Optional Essays and MBA Videos

Round 1 MBA deadlines are rapidly approaching! For many top schools including Harvard, Wharton and Stanford, applicants have just a few weeks left to finalize their applications:

round-1-mba-deadlines

While the MBA essays may get the bulk of your attention, other crucial application components require significant effort, including short answer questions, optional essays and MBA videos.

This means it is time to kick your efforts into high gear—especially since Personal MBA Coach never advises waiting until the last minute to hit submit.

Below, get Personal MBA Coach’s advice on how to tackle each.

Take your time filling out the short answer application questions.

Do not underestimate the importance of short-answer MBA application questions. Applicants should set aside adequate time to perfect these answers, particularly since many schools, including HBS, have lengthy short answer sections that will require significant time.

These questions serve a few important purposes. First, they allow you to share additional aspects of your candidacy. Naturally, you cannot cover all of your accomplishments and traits in your application essays; the short answer section is your chance to share these important successes.

The format of the short answer section also allows admissions committee members to easily compare you to your peers. Ensure you take the time to stand out by carefully selecting the accomplishments discussed. Wherever possible, these answers should be complementary and not repetitive.

Finally, short answer MBA application questions are a test of consistency and cohesion. The voice used here should match that shared throughout your essays and should paint a credible and concrete image of who you are as a candidate.

Consider whether you should complete any optional essays.

Most schools offer candidates the chance to complete an optional essay. However, DO NOT feel compelled to answer these questions. In most instances, Personal MBA Coach advises only candidates with extenuating circumstances to provide additional information here.

Such extenuating circumstances include low GPAs, gaps in employment and an unusual choice of recommenders (i.e., not asking a direct supervisor).

Keep in mind that you should be brief and to the point with these essays. Do not offer long-winded excuses or any more information than is needed.

Record MBA videos where applicable.

Increasingly, top programs use the MBA video essay to assess applicants. After all, you will have limited career success if you are unable to nail an interview, so this is the admissions committee’s way of evaluating your physical presence and delivery.

For some schools, such as MIT Sloan, the video question is provided in advance and applicants submit a pre-recorded video with their applications. For other schools, including Kellogg and Texas McCombs, the applicants receive some or all of the questions in advance but record the video on the spot. Finally, schools including Yale SOM and INSEAD do not share the video question in advance, requiring applicants to record videos on the spot within two days to one week after submitting their applications.

For these statements, be yourself. An MBA video essay gives admissions committee members the chance to learn more about you on a personal level. Potential topics include goals, passions, values and hobbies, among other more challenging questions.

While you do not want to sound overly rehearsed, it is important to practice for these MBA videos. If you have the question beforehand, write out a rough script in advance of filming. If you do not, practice sample questions.

As you practice, consider factors such as audio quality, demeanor, and fluency in addition to the content itself. Personal MBA Coach has proprietary software and a list of prior questions asked to help candidates prepare for these videos. We also include an analysis of sample videos in our comprehensive packages.

Do not forget to proofread.  

Of course, applicants should also set aside sufficient time to proofread their MBA applications. Personal MBA Coach encourages candidates to get someone who is unfamiliar with their applications to do a thorough review.

For those working with us, our expert proofreaders review clients’ applications at the final stage to ensure they are fully ready to submit.

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 14 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 year, our clients earned more than $6.5M in scholarships!

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