MBA Application Do's and Don'ts

The MBA admission essays are your chance to demonstrate your unique qualifications for and commitment to a career in business by discussing those experiences, people, and events that influenced your decision to enter the field.

That's a lot to accomplish. The key to success lies in focusing in each essay on a few illustrative incidents as opposed to giving a superficial overview. Remember: Detail, specificity, and concrete examples will make your answers distinctive and interesting. Generalities and platitudes that could apply to every other business school applicant will bore. If you use the latter, you'll just blend into the crowd.

Following "Ten Do's and Don'ts for Your MBA Application Essay" will help you write compelling, focused essays that will transform you from a collection of numbers and classes into an interesting human being.

Ten Do's and Don'ts for Your MBA Application Essay

The Do's for Your MBA Essay

  1. Unite your essay and give it direction with a theme or thesis. The thesis is the main point you want to communicate. Make sure it answers the question.
  2. Before you begin writing, choose what you want to discuss and the order in which you want to discuss it.
  3. Use concrete examples from your life experience to support your thesis and distinguish yourself from other applicants.
  4. Write about what interests you, excites you. That's what the admissions staff wants to read.
  5. Start your essay with an attention-grabbing lead--an anecdote, quote, question, or engaging description of a scene.
  6. End your essay with a conclusion that refers back to the lead and restates your thesis.
  7. Revise your essay at least three times.
  8. In addition to your editing, ask someone else to critique your personal statement for you.
  9. Proofread your essays by reading them out loud or reading it into a tape recorder and playing back the tape.
  10. Write clearly, succinctly.


  1. Don't include information that doesn't support your thesis.
  2. Don't start your essay with "I was born in...," or "My parents came from..."
  3. Don't write an autobiography, itinerary, or résumé in prose.
  4. Don't try to be a clown (but gentle humor is OK).
  5. Don't be afraid to start over if the essay just isn't working or doesn't answer the essay question.
  6. Don't try to impress your reader with your vocabulary.
  7. Don't rely exclusively on your computer to check your spelling.
  8. Don't provide a collection of generic statements and platitudes.
  9. Don't give mealy-mouthed, weak excuses for your GPA or test scores.
  10. Don't make things up.
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Make sure you develop a theme and maintain a tone of the overall application. Research well, be organized and just write about yourself. I'm sure it'll be easy.


Ankit said...

What is a practical and feasible way to over come DONT'S #7?

The Teacher said...

Hello Neo,

Thanks for commenting. Most of us compose our essays using MS Word and that has auto spell correct too. So if you are typing in a hurry, and miss the 'n' in 'in' it will become a capital I and won't show up as a spell error.

That was just one example. There can be other errors too. Usually spell check works but you should proof read your essay thoroughly to ensure no spelling is played around with. 'Materialise' is correct in UK English but incorrect in US English, they only know 'Materialize'. So make sure you follow one standard and do not mix up the two.