All other factors being similar or equal, your MBA essays become the deciding factor for your application and a bad batch of essays could set your application back for a year, or more. To put it bluntly, your MBA essays can make or break your application. When you’re competing against thousands of applicants, odds are that your scores match the scores of hundreds of other applicants, so the MBA essays are your best opportunity to distinguish yourself.
Like any other difficult task you’ve faced, familiarizing yourself with the task at hand before you attempt it will greatly increase your chances for success. Most MBA applications feature similar essay prompts, so take a moment to learn exactly which essays you’ll be facing, and how to face them with confidence.
MBA essay prompt #1 – “What have you learned from a mistake?”
The best responses to this perennial MBA essay prompt shows an MBA admissions committee how you handle the emotional trauma associated with being wrong. The emphasis here is on the emotions you experienced, and how you eventually overcame those emotions to grow as an individual. The mistake you write about can be minor or major, and the most persuasive angle to approach this prompt is to demonstrate your feelings associated with a mistake, and how you were able to control them with professionalism and mental clarity. Be very specific in laying out the circumstances surrounding the error, why you thought you were correct in the assumption and how you handled the outcome.
And as a word of caution that applies to all MBA essay prompts: Don’t try to mask a success as a failure to make yourself look better. For example, avoid: “My biggest mistake was how diligent and prepared I was compared to my woefully unprepared, lazy team members.” Those kinds of boastful responses are arrogant and immature, and they don’t show the kind of emotional growth and maturity you’ll need to thrive in the MBA school environment.