I fall into the much coveted (lol) Indian Engineer pool. After passing my Standard 12th, I took an year long break to prepare for Engineering Entrance exams. This, I am pretty sure, is the story with more than half the Indian Engineer crowd.
So, firstly, is there a need to explain this gap? And if there is, then do I use up my optional essay for this? I mean, this means writing the optional essay for each of the schools I apply to...
In the data entry section, a lot of schools ask about any gaps, so that's where you would put this info. If they don't ask, it probably bears a mention. Don't think optional essay means "essay." You could simply write "I took a break between X and Y to do Z." No need to make this into a story. More of an FYI.