Provided by AdvantageMBA

Below are some essay questions currently being asked of applicants wishing to enroll in business school. Most schools ask variations of these questions. It helps to understand the “questions behind the question” before you begin to draft your essay.

Wharton – 1,000 words
Q. Describe how your experiences, both professional and personal, have led to your decision to pursue an MBA at the Wharton School this year. How does this decision relate to your career goals for the future?

A. There are four key components to this question: MBA, this year, Wharton, and future. Craft each of them into the central themes of your essay. Explain specifically why an MBA is critical to your career and what opportunities it will make available to you. Describe why now is the time, i.e., you’ve reached a plateau or a natural break in your career. Demonstrate your understanding of how Wharton’s program will benefit you. (Don’t linger on with compliments of how highly regarded the program is. They know that.) Instead, show how specific coursework will be valuable to you. And finally, discuss your future career goals in detail, not with generalities.

Harvard – 300 words
Q. While recognizing that no day is typical, describe a representative day.

A. This is your chance to highlight the management, leadership, or team responsibilities you have at work. It’s best to describe specific activities you’re involved in, rather than generalities. Include any tasks that show budgetary responsibilities. This is also a good place to mention any interesting after-hours hobbies you may have.

MIT Sloan – 500 words
Q. Sloan is a very diverse place with over 60 countries represented. What will you bring to this diverse community? What do you expect to gain from the environment?

A. This question calls for a three-part response: 1) I’ll bring something unique to this student body, like the fact that I’m a certified skydiving instructor; 2) but I ll fit in with the rest of my classmates because I work well on teams; and 3) MIT is the place for me because….

Kellogg – 3 paragraphs
Q. What personal qualities would you like to develop to become a more effective leader?

A. This is a variation of the question that asks you to identify your weaknesses. Don’t try to avoid the issue by saying, “To be a more effective leader, I need to learn not to expect my employees to work as hard as I do.” In other words, don’t try to disguise strengths as weaknesses. Instead, pick a quality or weakness that is readily remedied by an MBA program – in particular, their MBA program.

Columbia – 250 words
Q. The Admissions Committee recognizes that our students have multiple interests. Please tell us about what you feel most passionate.

A. This is your chance to become elevator conversation. Imagine one admissions office worker saying to another in the elevator on the way to lunch: “I just read the essay of a guy who is an accountant and runs a match-making business for other accountants on the side. Isn’t that interesting?”