Articles published in Essay Analysis

MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: The Admissions Committee’s Glass is 99% Empty

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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: The Admissions Committee's Glass is 99% Empty by mbaMission

What have you been told about applying to business school? With the advent of chat rooms, blogs, and forums, armchair “experts” often unintentionally propagate MBA admissions myths, which can linger and undermine an applicant’s confidence. Some applicants are led to believe that schools want a specific “type” of candidate and expect certain GMAT scores and GPAs, for example. Others are led to believe that they need to know alumni from their target schools and/or get a letter of reference from the CEO of their firm in order to get in. In this series, mbaMission debunks these and other myths and strives to take the anxiety out of the admissions process.


“I was the first in my class to be promoted at McKinsey. I have a 710 GMAT score and completed Level 1 of the CFA exam, but I had a B- in calculus during my freshman year. Will that grade ruin my chances for admission?”

“My company has been under a hiring and promotion freeze for the past three years, but during that time, I have earned pay increases and survived successive rounds of layoffs. Will the admissions committee accept someone who has not been promoted?”

“I have been promoted, but my company changed names. Will the admissions committee think I am going somewhere at a sketchy company?” Read more

Berkeley Haas Essay Analysis, 2017-2018

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Berkeley Haas Essay Analysis, 2017-2018 by mbaMission

How can you write essays that grab the attention of MBA admissions committees? With this thorough Berkeley Haas essay analysis, our friends at mbaMission help you conceptualize your essay ideas and understand how to execute, so that your experiences truly stand out.


One look at the first application essay question for the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley this year may make applicants think the program has finally embraced the less-is-more movement in essays that so many other top schools have been joining lately. And to be fair, the total number of words allowed for Berkeley Haas’s essays this season has gone down, but not by all that much—dropping from 1,000 to 806—so candidates still have a comparatively good amount of space in which to present a well-rounded impression of themselves to the school. Although the prompts have changed in wording, the kind of information the school wants to elicit seems largely the same. As always, you want your essays as a whole to encompass a range of stories and qualities that complement each other so as to provide an accurate representation of who you are today, the student you expect to be in business school, and the professional you will be for the rest of your career. What follows is our full Berkeley Haas essay analysis, featuring their updated essay questions… Read more

Chicago Booth Essay Analysis, 2017-2018

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Chicago Booth Essay Analysis, 2017-2018 by mbaMission

How can you write essays that grab the attention of MBA admissions committees? With this thorough Chicago Booth essay analysis, our friends at mbaMission help you conceptualize your essay ideas and understand how to execute, so that your experiences truly stand out.


For the third year in a row, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business is maintaining its rather unique “essay” question in which it asks applicants to select from a group of images depicting key moments in the Chicago Booth MBA experience and explain why the chosen image “best resonates” with them. When this prompt was first introduced in 2015–2016, the school offered a collection of 16 photos from which candidates could choose; last year, the group was reduced to ten. This season, Chicago Booth is presenting just six image options. We are unaware of the exact reasons behind this continued minimizing, but we theorize that certain types of photos were rarely chosen or did not elicit the kind of response the admissions committee ultimately felt was helpful in evaluating candidates. Another possibility is that multiple photos may have inspired very similar essays, so only one such picture was needed. Or Chicago Booth may have wanted to focus applicants on specific aspects of its program and therefore eliminated any images not related to those elements. This year’s photos again come with captions describing the depicted scene—an important factor in this equation in that an individual might be strongly drawn to a particular image, but the associated caption might influence his or her initial interpretation of it in some way. The bottom line is that with this nontraditional prompt, the school puts a significant amount of power in candidates’ hands in letting them select from a group of options, which thereby lets them better control the impression of themselves they want to present. We hope that you will find the essay question exciting and inspiring, rather than intimidating, and offer the following Chicago Booth essay analysis to help you plan your response. Read more

Stanford Graduate School of Business Essay Analysis, 2017-2018

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Stanford Graduate School of Business Essay Analysis, 2017-2018 by mbaMission

How can you write essays that grab the attention of MBA admissions committees? With this thorough analysis, our friends at mbaMission help you conceptualize your essay ideas and understand how to execute, so that your experiences truly stand out.


Like several of the other top MBA programs that have released their essay questions for this year, the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) has remained faithful to the prompts it presented last season. But with a total maximum word count allowance of 1,150, the school gives its applicants a little more room in which to express themselves. Although the Stanford GSB is an institution well known for generating and encouraging  innovators, the school uses its application essays not to ask candidates to share their imaginative new ideas but rather to look inward and examine their motivations and values. These are your opportunities to demonstrate the parts of your personality and profile that are not readily conveyed through transcripts, scores, and lists of professional accomplishments. In our Stanford Graduate School of Business essay analysis that follows, we present advice on how you might do so effectively… Read more

NYU Stern Essay Analysis, 2017-2018

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - NYU Stern Essay Analysis, 2017-2018 by mbaMission

How can you write essays that grab the attention of MBA admissions committees? With this thorough analysis, our friends at mbaMission help you conceptualize your essay ideas and understand how to execute, so that your experiences truly stand out.


After making no changes to its application essay questions last year from the year before, New York University’s (NYU’s) Stern School of Business has this season made a rather drastic overhaul to its prompts. Some candidates may be pleased to see the school’s longstanding “personal expression” creative essay go away, but they will still need to rely on their imaginative side to give the admissions committee what it wants for its new “Pick 6”prompt. One big application change has also precipitated the addition of a totally new—though not overly intimidating, we hope—essay: applicants may use a single application to apply to multiple MBA programs at the school (Full-time, Tech, Fashion and Luxury, Part-time), so NYU Stern asks candidates to specify their top choice(s) and explain the reasoning behind their selection. Read more

Ross School of Business Essay Analysis, 2017-2018

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Ross School of Business Essay Analysis, 2017-2018 by mbaMission

How can you write essays that grab the attention of MBA admissions committees? With this thorough analysis, our friends at mbaMission help you conceptualize your essay ideas and understand how to execute, so that your experiences truly stand out.


Last year, one of our observations about the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan’s main essay question was that the 400-word limit did not offer a lot of room to expound on the topic. Thankfully, applicants also had a second essay (albeit also quite short, at just 250 words) in which to address their professional aspirations. This season, Michigan Ross has tightened the reins even more, asking applicants to provide 100-word responses (or shorter) to three “complete the sentence” prompts and to write a 300-word-maximum essay answering three career-related questions that actually encompass four topics. The scope of the main essay prompt has also been drastically narrowed, from a discussion of a personal event or attribute of which the applicant was proud to a rather prescribed rundown of the candidate’s career goals and plans to attain them. Read more

Avoiding MBA Essay Pitfalls

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Avoiding MBA Essay Pitfalls by mbaMission

Each week, we are featuring a series of MBA admission tips from our exclusive admissions consulting partner, mbaMission.


Understandably, b-school candidates have an almost endless number of questions about how to master their MBA essay. Here, we present our advice on several facets of this challenging portion of the MBA application, in hopes of helping you craft compelling submissions that will stand out to the admissions readers. Read more

Yale School of Management Essay Analysis, 2017-2018

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Yale School of Management Essay Analysis, 2017-2018 by mbaMission

How can you write essays that grab the attention of MBA admissions committees? With this thorough analysis, our friends at mbaMission help you conceptualize your essay ideas and understand how to execute, so that your experiences truly stand out.


The Yale School of Management (SOM) is staying the course this year with its single application essay, joining both Harvard Business School and Columbia Business School in using the same essay queries as last season. The school has made no modifications to its one prompt, whose 500-word limit does not offer a lot of room to make an impression on the admissions committee. Having commented last year in a Yale SOM blog post that the “seemingly simple and straightforward question” was composed with assistance from one of the school’s organizational behavior professors, Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions Bruce DelMonico added in a more recent post that the admissions committee “is interested not just in the commitment itself but also in how you [applicants] approach the commitment and the behaviors that support it.” Clearly, the Yale SOM has invested some truly purposeful effort into constructing a query that will reveal something specific from and about the individuals targeting its MBA program. In our Yale School of Management essay analysis, we explore how you can maximize your opportunity to shine with this forthright prompt… Read more

Harvard Business School Essay Analysis, 2017-2018

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Harvard Business School Essay Analysis, 2017-2018 by mbaMission

How can you write essays that grab the attention of MBA admissions committees? With this thorough analysis, our friends at mbaMission help you conceptualize your essay ideas and understand how to execute, so that your experiences truly stand out.


Last year (after just one season), Harvard Business School (HBS) did away with its incredibly broad “introduce yourself” essay prompt in favor of one that at first glance seemed to have almost no parameters at all—and, interestingly, was more or less the same as the one from 2013–2014, when Dee Leopold was running the show. Now with a full year under his belt as HBS’s director of admissions, Chad Losee must feel that the essay question was effective in eliciting the kind of information the admissions committee finds valuable in evaluating the program’s potential students, because it remains exactly the same this year. Read on for our Harvard Business School essay analysis for the program’s 2017-2018 prompt and advice on the best way to approach it… Read more

Columbia Business School Essay Analysis, 2017-2018

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columbia-business-school-essay-analysis-2017-2018-mbamissionHow can you write essays that grab the attention of MBA admissions committees? With this thorough analysis, our friends at mbaMission help you conceptualize your essay ideas and understand how to execute, so that your experiences truly stand out.


For years, Columbia Business School (CBS) has been at the front of the pack of MBA programs that have been gradually shortening their application essays and requiring candidates to be direct and concise in their submissions. It was even the first school to incorporate a micro essay into its application. Last season, CBS gave applicants a bit more wiggle room with the essays, increasing the word count for each by a pretty significant margin (up to 100% in one case), but it has tightened the reins back down for this year’s applicants. Still, with a goal statement, three required essays, and an optional essay, you should have plenty of opportunities to convey a well-rounded impression of yourself for the admissions committee. Read on for our Columbia Business School essay analysis for the program’s 2017–2018 prompts… Read more