There’s no question that essays play an important part in b-school admissions – but some applicants have the wrong idea about why essays are important, or what admissions committees look for when they read them.

First off, application essays are not about fine writing or polished rhetoric. As former admissions officers, when we were looking at these essays, we were not looking for internal contradictions or smooth transitions. We were simply moving too fast. Many of us had quotas of reading 30-plus applications per day – and that was on top of our interviewing and other admissions duties.

What we wanted to know was – ‘What are the applicant’s goals?’ ‘How are they going to get there?’ ‘What will they contribute?’ ‘Would we want to have coffee with them?’, and so on. Once we found answers to those questions, we moved on. We weren’t focusing on parsing each sentence or paragraph.

The important thing about these MBA admissions essays is that they should clearly communicate the points you want to get across.

Your essays, while important, are only one part of the bigger picture. Your readers will think about them, but not nearly as much as you have. Our advice is, make your story themes and wow factors perfectly clear – and make sure you state them articulately.

This is where effective writing makes the difference. It helps the readers understand what you want them to. Our point here is, good writing makes for easy reading.

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