Do's and don'ts

MBA Essay Do’s and Don’ts

MBA application essays are your chance to demonstrate your unique qualifications for, and commitment to, a career in business management. It’s an opportunity to discuss relevant 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 them, you’ll just blend into the crowd.

The following 10 Do’s and 10 Don’ts for your MBA personal statement will help you write compelling, focused essays. You will transform from a collection of numbers and classes into an interesting human being.

10 DO’s and DON’Ts for an MBA Application Essay

The Do’s

  1. Unite your MBA essay and give it direction with a theme or thesis and core idea. 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 personal statement by reading it out loud or recording it and playing back.
  10. Write clearly and succinctly.

The Don’ts

  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 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.

Should you write an MBA essay with an eye towards the other questions on the application and aspects of the program, such as whether it is online? Absolutely!

Never think that you’re writing this essay in some kind of a vacuum. It is part of an overall picture made up of different pieces: your academic record, professional experience, extra-curricular activities, hobbies, personal background, and of course, other essays. Write an essay as one piece in a jigsaw puzzle representing you.

But wait. Before putting the pieces together, what if you are still not sure how to develop a unifying theme? Or perhaps you don’t know which experiences to focus on, or simply lack confidence in your writing skills, or have suddenly developed an acute case of blank-screen-it-is!?!

Remember, you can have one-on-one, personalized assistance every step of the way. has a complete service; designed to give you the guidance and direction necessary to draft a compelling story. Plus, you get the comprehensive editing needed to perfect it.