Guide to Crafting a Winning MBA Essay

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Posted on:
February 22, 2024
Updated on:
May 10, 2024
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How to write an MBA essay

What is an MBA essay?

The MBA essay. 

Just hearing those words can make most MBA candidates want to run away. Writing is already tough, but writing about why you want an MBA? Your short-term goals and career dreams? What matters to you most, and why? It sounds difficult.

But you still have to write these essays.

The MBA admission essay is probably the most important part of the business school application.(It’s becoming even more crucial as some business schools are moving away from traditional measures like the GMAT and the GRE.) Everything else in the application — your grades, your test scores, your recommendation letters — are numbers or out of your control. The essay is your chance to show who you are as a complete MBA candidate, with hopes, dreams, and even vulnerabilities. Admissions committees aren’t just evaluating your potential as a future leader — they want to admit real people. That’s where the MBA applicant essays become important.

Your essay helps the admission team get to know you better, see how you view yourself and learn about your future goals.

Instead of feeling scared, see the MBA essay as a chance to showcase your unique self. It’s the only time (before the interview) when you can talk directly to the admissions officers and truly reveal who you are. Writing MBA essay is not easy. But with the help of MBA essay tips discussed in this blog and assistance from expert writers at Do Write My Essay, we believe you can do it. Take the time to focus on the essay, give it the attention it needs, and you’ll be on your way to getting into your dream school.

Now, let’s get started!

Types of MBA Essay

There are three main types of MBA essays that you’ll come across.

Personal Statement

These MBA essay questions want you to share something genuine about yourself. They might ask about your values and character. When answering, be real and true to yourself, but also highlight qualities like leadership, intellectual vitality, and teamwork, which are important to business schools.

Here are a couple of examples of personal statement questions:

  • As we look at your application, what else should we know while considering you for the Harvard Business School MBA program? (HBS)
  • What matters most to you, and why? (Stanford GSB)

Why an MBA/Why This School

Why do you want an MBA and why do you want to go to this school? These are the questions in the ‘Why an MBA/Why This School’ category.

For these essays, schools are interested in hearing how an MBA fits into your short term and long term career goals. They want candidates who will not only get a good job after graduation but also have a successful career that reflects well on the school and encourages others to apply. They also hope these successful graduates will become generous donors. So, they’re curious about your career path and how an MBA plays into it.

Pro tip: Be ambitious and inspiring about your future career but also realistic. Aim high, but don’t sound too dreamy or uninformed.

These questions also ask why you want to attend a particular school. Schools want to know you’re serious about choosing them—yield, the percentage of admitted candidates who accept offers of admission, matters to them. But, they’re also curious about how you’ll contribute to their incoming class. What unique things will you bring? Imagine you’re invited to a world-class dinner party—former deans have compared choosing a class to curating such a dinner party. Each person invited needs to bring something different. What will you bring to this ‘dinner party’?

Pro tip: Show that you’ve done your homework and help the admissions committee see you in their program. Mention which classes you might want to take during your MBA and explain why, talk about the professors you’d like to study with, and mention any clubs you might join.


Here are a few examples of ‘why MBA / why this school’ questions:

  • How will a Columbia MBA benefit you? (Columbia)
  • What do you want to achieve professionally with a Wharton MBA? (Wharton)
  • Why Stanford? Share your goals and how your experience at Stanford GSB will help you reach them. (Stanford GSB)

Behavioral/Other

Lastly, there are other essays that may ask about your behaviors, experiences, qualities, strengths, weaknesses, and achievements. The topics vary, but the guidelines mentioned earlier still apply. Always be genuine (as mentioned in the Personal Statement section) and highlight your leadership skills because business schools are looking for future leaders.

Here are a few examples of behavioral/other essay questions:

  • Describe the most significant commitment you’ve made. (Yale SOM)
  • Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it means a lot to you. (British Columbia)

How to Write MBA Essay?

Writing the best MBA essay can be challenging. There are many things to consider for it to be successful. But, the strategies for MBA essay writing we’ve given below can help you write an MBA application essay that really stands out.

Wondering how to start an MBA essay? Before you start writing your MBA essay, take a moment to look inside yourself.

  • Why do you want an MBA? 
  • How will it help you grow professionally? 
  • How do you think it will impact your life?
  • What do you want from your career? 
  • What matters most to you?

These are big questions, but you need to address them in your essay. So, before you start writing, take some time to think about them. Go for a run, swim, or do something you enjoy to get into a good mindset. Disconnect from work and your phone, and let your mind explore those usually avoided thoughts. That’s a good starting point. That’s where you’ll find your answers.

Pro tip: The first sentence is the toughest. It can be intimidating when you start, causing anxiety. The trick is to write anything—don’t look back. Keep putting one sentence after another. You can edit later. If self-critique is a struggle, dim your computer screen so you can’t see the words. Just keep going.

How to write an mba essay

How to write an mba essay

Make your MBA Essay Outline

Do you know how to format MBA essay? Blair Mannix, Wharton’s Admissions Director, found that successful essays all followed a similar structure: the setup, the pivot point, and the future.

  • The setup is where you introduce yourself, share what you do, and talk about what you’ve learned so far.
  • The pivot point is when you transition from discussing your current knowledge and experiences to what you want to learn and how it will help you succeed. It’s like a lightbulb moment.
  • The final part is the MBA essay conclusion gives you the chance to explain how gaining knowledge in the areas you identified in the pivot point will benefit your career, and why the specific MBA program is the key.

For essays about contributing to the MBA community, Mannix suggests making your essay personal, setting it up as a story, and showing how your experiences connect with the community.

Stick to the Question

It might seem obvious, but many applicants start their story, get carried away, and forget to answer the question. Follow the prompt and make sure you’re addressing the question the admissions committee asked. The MBA essay prompts can be helpful — it’s much tougher to write when you have no guidance. With MBA essays, you have a specific question to answer. So, answer it!

Be Specific

Some MBA applicants make the mistake of staying too general in their essays, keeping their writing vague and making it hard for the admissions committee to connect with them. If an admissions officer could replace your name with another applicant’s, your essay isn’t going deep enough. Simply stating you faced challenges in high school or really want a Wharton MBA isn’t sufficient. You need to dive into the specifics of the challenges you encountered and provide concrete, unique reasons why Wharton is the ideal program for you. The strongest essays include super-specific examples and anecdotes, with details and stories that set you apart from other candidates.

To gather interesting stories, use the STAR template:

Situation

Describe the situation you were in. Where were you? How old were you? If it was a work story, what was your role, and how long had you been in it? If it was a volunteering experience, which organization, and how long were you involved? Explain why you started, giving all the necessary details for the admissions readers to understand your story.

Task

What was the task or challenge you faced? In your work role, what problem did you encounter? In your volunteering experience, what obstacles did you have to overcome? Every good story needs conflict or tension, so after setting up the anecdote, explain the specific conflict or tension.

Action

What actions did you take to solve the problem? How did you address the work issue? How did you overcome the hurdles in your volunteering experience? Be specific about how you navigated through that conflict or tension, highlighting your leadership skills! Remember, top MBA programs seek future leaders who can assess a situation and take decisive action.

Result

What were the outcomes of your actions? If you faced a growth challenge at work, did you increase sales? By how much? If you advocated for diversity at a charity, what new programs did you introduce, and what was the enrollment like? Provide specific details about what happened in your story, and use numbers whenever possible!

Be Open and Honest

MBA essay prompts aim to learn as much about you as possible in a limited word count. To achieve this, you need to share real aspects of your life—be personal, intimate, and vulnerable. Don’t shy away from it. If you start feeling emotional during reflection and writing, that’s a good sign. Keep going.

Pro tip: If it makes you emotional, it will likely have the same effect on the admissions committee.


Another rule is to present something real and true. Admissions officers go through numerous applications from qualified individuals, some with similar roles and impressive recommendations. To stand out, share something genuine.

Doing this might feel risky. At some point, you’ll wonder, ‘Can I say that?’ The answer is ‘Yes.’ Of course, there’s a line—avoid being crass or offensive—but lean towards being open and authentic.

The worst thing is to be overly cautious and write something just to please the admissions committee. They read thousands of essays. If yours is like everyone else’s, it won’t stand out. Keep them engaged by putting your true, vibrant, quirky self on the page.

Choose Your Tone Wisely in Your Essay

When writing your essay, be real. Admissions committees want to know who you are and can tell whether you’re lying or just saying what they want to hear.

You can express yourself and discuss something relevant and distinctive in your essay. Do not waste this chance by writing about something you believe would impress. 

Write about what truly matters to you. Being genuine is crucial. Let your personality shine through in your essay. Whether it’s your creativity, humor, or any other qualities, show them who you really are. This helps admission committees get a deeper understanding of you.

Don’t Exaggerate

Lastly, be truthful and avoid exaggeration or lying. Admissions committees want genuine candidates. Lying about anything is the quickest way to rejection. Business schools conduct background checks, so any dishonesty will be discovered. Don’t risk having your offer rescinded by exaggerating in your essays.

Best MBA Essay Writing Tips

Let’s have a look at some essay writing tips for MBA compiled by our expert writers at Do Write My Essay.

Best MBA Essay Writing Tips

Best MBA Essay Writing Tips

Begin Writing Early

Even though you don’t need to write a lot for your MBA admission essay, it still takes a lot of thinking, reflecting, and creativity. Start early to avoid writer’s block and make sure your essay truly reflects what you can bring to an MBA program.

Show Your Qualities

Don’t just list your skills; share stories that illustrate why you have the qualities needed to thrive in an MBA program. Include examples of how your experience or dedication benefited an employer or how you overcame challenges to succeed on a project.

Clearly State Your Goals

In every MBA essay, clearly share your goals. Explain what you want to achieve in the MBA program and how the knowledge you gain will help you reach your career goals. Describe why you’re interested in the specific area of business you want to pursue.

Be Clear and Stick to the Topic

Learn the basics of good business writing and persuasion. Write clearly and avoid unnecessary words. Additionally, answer the specific prompt or question directly and early in your MBA application essay. Admissions departments prefer applicants who show strong writing skills.

Give Yourself Breaks

When you feel stuck — and it happens to everyone — take a break. It’s your brain telling you it needs a change. Walk your dog, move around, or have a snack. Just like your body needs sleep, your mind needs breaks. The next burst of inspiration often comes when you least expect it.

Read it Aloud

Once you have a draft, print it and read it aloud. Your ears can catch things your eyes might miss. Reading aloud helps spot spelling mistake on MBA essay, awkward transitions, and paragraphs that need polishing. It also lets you imagine how the admissions committee will experience your essay.

Share

Don’t hold back with your essay. Share it with anyone willing to read it. Get as much feedback as possible. You don’t have to incorporate every suggestion, but having an unbiased third party provide notes on what they see, think, and feel is essential. (You’re too close to see it all yourself.) This is where a Leland coach can be really helpful!

Proofread  Your Essay

You might need to revise your MBA admission essay several times. Check for clarity, word choice, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Have someone you trust edit and proofread your essay before you submit it.

Mistakes to Avoid in Writing an MBA Essay

Now that you know how to write an MBA essay, you must also be aware of what to avoid while writing an MBA essay.

Mistakes to Avoid in Writing an MBA Essay

Mistakes to Avoid in Writing an MBA Essay

Avoid Just Talking About Your Achievements

Your MBA application essay should be more than just a list of what you’ve achieved. Dig deeper by sharing your values, perspectives, and what you’ve learned from your experiences. This will show the admissions team how your accomplishments shaped you into a well-rounded person focused on success.

Don’t Copy MBA Essay Samples

Make your MBA admission essay unique to you. While you can use online examples for inspiration, avoid copying them too closely. Your essay should be distinctive and showcase who you are and what you can contribute to an MBA program.

Not Having a Clear Structure or Story

Good MBA essays tell a story. Your essay should have a main theme and use stories from your experiences to support that theme. If you’re unsure about what makes an effective story structure, look for examples online. Admissions committee like essays that tell a story.

Avoid Making Too Many General Statements

Having lots of general statements in your MBA admission essay can make it less interesting. Instead, use real examples and specific reasons for what you say in your essay. Clearly explain why you think you’ll do well in your MBA program.

Exceeding the Word Limit

Some students think going over the word limit makes them seem impressive. But, actually, writing too much might suggest to admissions teams that you can’t express yourself clearly. You can stick to the MBA essay’s word count by carefully proofreading and editing.

Write a Successful MBA Essay With Do Write My Essay

Writing a standout MBA essay can be a bit tricky when applying to business school. However, it becomes much easier if you know where to begin, create an MBA essay structure, and seek expert help. By following these steps, you’ll be able to write an impressive MBA essay that stands out.

Struggling to express your story in different types of essays? Do Write My Essay is here to assist you in writing your top-notch MBA application essays! Hire our MBA essay writing service now to secure admission to your dream university!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long should my MBA essay be?

Your MBA admission essay should typically be between 750 to 1,200 words, depending on the program. Surprisingly, it’s better to be a bit under the word limit than to exceed it. Using fewer words to express yourself shows that you can write clearly and concisely, an important skill in the business world.

Is the MBA Essay Less Important Than My GPA and GMAT Score?

No, your MBA essay is just as crucial as your GPA and GMAT score, if not more. While your academic scores show your ability to excel in studies, the MBA essay is the first chance for the admission committee to understand you on a personal level.

It’s your initial introduction to the committee, so writing a powerful and engaging essay is essential. Many business schools consider applications as a whole, and your essay response plays a key role in deciding if you’re a suitable candidate for their program. You can also get MBA essay help from professionals.

How Do I Edit My MBA Essay Draft to Make It Better?

Start by checking for spelling, grammar, and language mistakes. Business schools want students who communicate well, and having errors in your MBA essay doesn’t show strong communication skills.

Next, review the common mistakes mentioned earlier and fix any you find in your essay. Get a second opinion from a friend, mentor, colleague, or MBA essay editing expert to catch any errors or areas where you can improve. Getting feedback from others can make your essay stronger.

Picture of Lara Ramos
Lara Ramos
I'm Lara Ramos, a seasoned Blog Author. I've found immense joy in guiding students through the complexities of their thesis and dissertations.

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