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Developing Engaging Stories for MBA Essays – Week # 3- Tip # 3

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In the past two weeks, I have discussed the first three important steps in the process of developing engaging stories for MBA essays:

1. comprehending the essay prompt,

2. brainstorming/gathering ideas for the essay prompt, and

3. putting down those ideas on paper.

Now let’s discuss one of the key components during this ‘writing’ stage:’

Address Each Part of the Essay Question

Often the essay questions consist of 2 or 3 parts, but sometimes, the candidates tend to ignore the second or third part of the essay question and delve into depth addressing only the first part of the question. There is a reason why a particular school is asking 3 questions in one essay prompt – they are seeking to evaluate certain attributes in their prospective candidates through their response to that part of the essay prompt. Hence your goal should be to pay equal attention to all those aspects.

In order to address the essay question holistically, you may break it down into multiple sub-segments and then build a structure around each sub segment.

Example # 1:

Let us look at INSEAD’s motivation essay #1:

Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (600 words max).

This essay prompt requires you to discuss two things:

1. your strengths and weaknesses, and

2. the factors (events, people, and your background) that have contributed to your personal development.

In order to make sure that you address both sections effectively, you may break it down into two parts, and then describe the first part (your strengths and weaknesses) in approximately 300 words and the second part (factors that have influenced your personality) in approximately 300 words. When discussing your strengths and weakness, do not forget to substantiate them by real life examples. Also, explain what you have learned from your mistakes and how you have applied those lessons in your personal/ professional life.

Example # 2:

Let us take a look at Ross’s question about frustration at work place:

Describe time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What advice would you give to a colleague who was dealing with a similar situation? (400 word maximum)


In addition  to providing all the details of the time when you faced disappointment or frustration in your professional life , (the reasons of frustration, your reaction, thought process etc.), you should also share what advice you would give to your colleague who was dealing with the same situation. For this, you should think carefully about the lessons you learned from that experience and how you are applying those learnings successfully in your professional life. I would give approximately 330-340 words to the first part of the question and 60-70 words to the second part of the essay question.

Stay tuned to tip# 3 of the story development process next week:)

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