MBA Essay Tips

Essential essay strategy & tips

Your MBA essay is the critical element in the admissions process that can convey your uniqueness and distinguish your profile in a sea of excellence. View essay strategies, tips and insights for each of the business schools on your list.

As each application opens, Fortuna’s expert coaches – industry experts and former MBA admissions gatekeepers at the world’s top MBA programs – offer insider advice on how to tackle each question. Beyond the MBA essay analysis below, view Fortuna's YouTube channel for our latest MBA Admissions Masterclasses and other video strategy sessions.

Best MBA Essay for HBS: 5 Tips on What Harvard Wants

Your essay is often the make-or-break factor for getting into HBS. Character doesn’t show up on a resume, in your test scores, or through your grades or transcripts. Harvard’s wide-open, 900-word essay is your opportunity to show HBS what you are made of and convince them you have what it takes to be part of this incredible community.
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Wharton MBA Essay Tips & Strategy

Wharton’s essays seek to understand your ‘origin story’ and how it informs the next steps of your leadership journey. They ask you to share what you envision doing while a graduate student in Philadelphia and then as an alumnus of the school as you continue to make an impact on your wider community.

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Stanford GSB Essays: Tips & Strategies on Writing What Matters Most

From its iconic “What matters most and why” question to its newer short-answer optional prompts, the GSB essays present a formidable exercise in self-awareness. Successful candidates demonstrate in these essays that they understand why they do the things they do, why they make certain choices in life, and the opportunities and challenges they face.

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INSEAD Essays: Strategy & Tips for Conquering All 7 Prompts

With seven essays weighing in at a collective 2,000 words, the INSEAD essays are among the longest of any top-tier MBA application. And that’s not including the two optional essays offered by this prestigious international institution. This can seem daunting when you’re first starting out and staring at a blank page, but we share a plan to shape a narrative across all this space.

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Chicago Booth Essays: Tips & Strategies

Chicago Booth aims to create a well-rounded, diverse, and unique class, and is looking for individuals who like to challenge conventional wisdom. The school’s two required essay questions and a pre-interview video prompt represent a valuable opportunity to distinguish yourself from other high achievers with similar profiles. Read on for tips and advice on how to tackle Chicago Booth’s MBA essay questions.

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London Business School Essays: Tips & Strategy

What are your post-MBA goals and how will a London Business School MBA help you achieve them? This required essay for LBS is designed to give the Admissions Committee insight into what motivates your goals. An optional essay lets you add any other information you wish to share.

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NYU Stern Essays: Strategy & Tips for Success

Who are you, what do you want to be, and how do you relate to change? Taken together, the sum of Stern’s required essays should convey a clear and inspiring picture of your professional aims, guided by your motivations, ambitions, ideals, and values. In addition to Stern's classic “pick six” pictorial essay, the MBA admissions committee ask you to script your personal version of Stern's brand tagline.

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Berkeley Haas Essays: Strategy & Tips

Haas is looking for candidates who demonstrate self– and situational awareness, which is an invitation to be both introspective and authentic across your essays — and certainty to do your research beyond a cursory website review.

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IMD Essay Tips & Strategy for Career Questions

IMD’s four required essays require you to be both succinct and self-reflective. The intense, fast-paced nature of the one-year MBA means that successful candidates must hit the ground running, and the additional career focused questions for IMD’s application reflect this awareness. Read on for advice from Fortuna’s Karen Ponte on what IMD is looking for and how to tackle each essay and career development question.

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UCLA Anderson Essay Strategy & Tips

Over the last few years, UCLA Anderson has amended its required essays with ever-slimmer word counts, challenging applicants to be as direct and incisive as possible. This year, the required essay focuses on a perseverance — one trait that defines the kind of transformative leaders Anderson seeks to admit. In the essay, you are asked to share an example from your personal or professional life where you demonstrated perseverance to accomplish a significant goal or milestone. Expert coach Jessica Chung explains how to craft a successful response.

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HEC Paris Essays & Interview Presentation

HEC Paris maintains an impressive five required essays and one optional question. They range from the practical “Why HEC Paris? Why now?” to the provocative: “Imagine a life entirely different from the one you now lead; what would it be?” Thankfully, most are short answer questions (250 words max), and taken together, they offer valuable storytelling opportunities.

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Kellogg MBA Essays Strategy & Tips

The key to delivering a series of standout essays to Kellogg is to embrace your genuine story and experience. Weaving an authentically crafted narrative that conveys your passions and clarity of purpose — in a way that elicits emotional impact. This is the secret sauce for creating a connection to an admission reader’s heart. View essential tips for each essay, decoding what Kellogg is looking for in its essays. 

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Kellogg Video Essay & How to Tackle the New Question

Kellogg invites applicants to record video essays after submitting applications. First, you are asked to introduce yourself and share some fresh information about yourself. The next two questions are randomly assigned and are most often behavioral-style questions. Our tips help you prepare for and perform well on video.

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Columbia Business School: How to Tackle the MBA Essays

Columbia continues to evolve its essay questions to require a deeper level of self-reflection. CBS now has three required questions that invite you to display who you are under the surface, beyond the ambitious achiever with a sparkling record of successes. Your responses should help build a coherent and powerful narrative for your candidacy.

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MIT Sloan School of Management MBA Strategy: How to Tackle the Application

MIT Sloan’s MBA application typifies the institution’s innovation ethos and forgoes the norms of its M7 peers. But just because it doesn’t have standard essays doesn’t mean it’s not about powerful storytelling. It’s a beast of an application, and tackling it successfully requires a different strategy than any other program.

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Duke Fuqua Essays:
Top Tips + ‘25 Random Things About YOU’ Example

The Fuqua essay questions are an opportunity for you to tell your story in a way that speaks to Fuqua’s core values and demonstrate fit with this incredibly collaborative and close-knit community culture. View essay analysis and tips for responding, including an example of a successful “25 Random Things” essay.

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Carnegie Mellon Tepper Essay Tips & Strategy

With a small class size of 200, Tepper MBA Admissions places a high value on creating an inclusive and tight-knit community that is committed to making a positive impact on each other, business, and the world. As such, Tepper perceives your self-reflection and ability to appreciate differences as profound assets to a culture of innovation. These values are woven into Tepper’s required written essay. A video essay focuses on your career goals.

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Yale SOM Essay Tips & Strategy

Believing that past behavior is the best predictor of future success, Yale SOM poses a straightforward behavioral question for its singular essay. Fortuna’s Zach White discusses what the Admissions Committee is looking for, along with top tips for crafting your response to the essay and the short-answer career goals questions.

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Cambridge Judge Essay Tips & Strategy

Cambridge Judge has evaded the B-school trend of fewer MBA essays, requiring your thoughtful response to no less than four required questions. Yet its brief word counts offer slim real estate to work with when you’re trying to be substantive as well as succinct. The full slate of Cambridge Judge essays comprises a puzzle that you must put together without being repetitive, and the trick is to ensure each standalone essay is artfully executed while keeping the overall narrative in mind.

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Dartmouth Tuck Essays: Strategy & Tips

It’s important to know from the outset that the Tuck Admissions Committee uses its four sets of admissions criteria as a framework to evaluate every piece of your application, and each of the three required essays maps to one of Tuck’s criterion. Read on for the Fortuna team’s best advice on how to build a narrative that's compelling and persuasive to Tuck Admissions.

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IESE Essays: Strategy & Tips

IESE has three essay questions: two required, one optional. Together, they require your introspection and creativity. IESE asks who you admire most and why; seeks depth and clarity on your post-MBA career goals; and offers an opportunity to share something illuminating and unique about yourself or your journey. View our insider tips and strategy for tackling all three MBA essay questions.

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Texas McCombs MBA Essays: Tips & Strategy

Texas McCombs now has a singular essay question, along with a new video essay component. Fortuna’s Sharon Joyce explains what McCombs is looking for along with key tips for distinguishing your uniqueness and making a powerful case for your candidacy.

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UVA Darden MBA Essays: Tips & Strategy

UVA Darden’s three MBA essays require you to be both introspective and succinct. The new, lower word counts require you to use the space wisely, ensuring that you deliver well-honed narratives that provide enough specificity to showcase your unique and memorable characteristics.

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Oxford Saïd MBA Essays: Tips & Strategy

Oxford Saïd’s Business School asks for a single essay in their MBA application: “Please provide a personal statement that outlines anything additional that you would like the Admissions Committee to consider." Learn about how to address this prompt, and use only the 250 words you are limited to.

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Michigan Ross MBA Essays: Tips & Strategy

The Michigan Ross MBA essay questions are among the shortest — both by word count and number of questions posed — among top business schools. But the tight word count is intentionally designed to force applicants to be laser-focused on their answers.

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How to Tackle the MBA Essay: Craft a Powerful Story

Your business school essays are about bringing your story to life and providing context to your application by connecting the dots for the MBA Admissions Committee. You’ll want to capture an admissions reviewer’s attention with your story and authenticity, persuading them to learn more by inviting you to interview.

To get there, your essays should convey a strong sense of who you are as a person and what makes you tick, up and beyond what the admissions team will glean from your academic record and work history.

The exercise of crafting your MBA essays is both extremely important and a significant challenge. Doing so in a way that’s authentic, poignant and clear requires considered introspection and self-awareness – precisely what the MBA admissions process looks to inspire and evoke.

The worst thing you can do is play it safe and write something you think admissions wants to hear (yawn). This is a medium to be courageous, although memorable cuts both ways – how well you walk the line between original (good!) and weird (lamentable) reflects your judgment.

The more you explore who you are and what makes you tick, the better prepared you are to determine – and deliver on – a compelling, compact story that will resonate with reviewers and interviewers.

If the prospect of distilling your essence into essay form makes your stomach seize (especially the quant-leaning among us), you’re not alone. At Fortuna Admissions, our coaches are seasoned at helping candidates to uncover unique strengths, hone their story, and shape their narrative to stand out in a sea of excellence.

Sign up for a free consultation or explore our MBA Packages to learn more.

Remember: It isn’t the facts and figures of your accomplishment-filled resume that will stand out to a bleary-eyed admissions reader in a marathon day of application-reviews – it’s an unforgettable story. Let’s talk about yours.

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