When clients seek my help in writing essays, the first thing I observe after evaluating their strengths and weaknesses is the jargon-filled language they use to communicate what they do.
I always start with, "I am a beginner trying to learn about your industry".
Teach me what you do.
The questions I ask are frustrating. Some might think that I am playing Kubrick, prodding the applicant to quit, but we are so immersed in our world that we forget that there is a general public that doesn't understand a word we say.
You might argue that an MBA Admissions team is not the general public. I agree, but simplicity in language has higher recall and potential for persuasion.
Without recall and ability to touch the eight markers of persuasive writing, it is tough to differentiate from the military applicant or the hedge-fund guy who built homes in Haiti.
Stop using one-liners like these:
"Sold highly-leveraged financial products."
"Developed the messaging architecture for a Global Fashion Giant."
"Designed and developed a communication solution for one of the Fortune 500 companies"
The unlearning is tough.
One way to...
In January, you might have shortlisted top 10 Business Schools. Many have contacted me and sought the chances of getting into each school. If you not done it yet, use our Basic Profile Evaluation service.
GMAT, which many have yet to take, will be a crucial differentiator. I have seen brilliant applicants procrastinate till August to take the test.
650-690 becomes the borderline score that jeopardizes your chances.
1) Prepare for the GMAT
If you are not yet in a study schedule, read our GMAT study plan.
GMAT 730+ has become the safe score for most top MBA programs in the US.
If you want to see which score is safe for European and other international schools, read Top MBA - GMAT and GPA (Average and Median).
Most GMAT preparation for those who are working full-time requires routines and smart-study. For instance, in GMAT Sentence correction, you don't have to know all the rules in English grammar, focus only on these.
For those who are traveling as part of work (sales and consulting), set...
I have a deadline before 8 pm.
I have to guide over 10,000 readers on how to write freely.
Would I be able to transfer at least one valuable advice to my readers?
Am I wasting my reader's time?
Would I be just another MBA Admissions Consultant polluting the inbox with clichéd advice?
********* End of Worry Audit *************************
See - these are my thoughts and worries when I began writing the post.
An extreme technique to avoid procrastination and write freely is to do a 'worry audit' and write it down before your draft essay.
The emotional outburst is in the paper.
Now, what is the excuse?
Keep adding the worries above the 'End of Worry Audit' space if you can't address the question in the essay.
Don't stare at a blank screen.
Stare at the worry Audit.
Keep adding questions until you have nothing to worry.
MBA Application Essay Question: What is your greatest weakness?
The applicant began the story of how his father would require the brothers to fill the to-do list - right to a 30-minute interval, every night before sleep. He didn't address the essay on weakness. The story seemed interesting and was the anchor for evaluating his personality....
The opening line for Franklin D Roosevelt's Dec 1941 speech that led the United States to World War II, didn’t start in the form that we know now.
Roosevelt began his draft in a formal written format, "Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in world history, the United States of America was simultaneously and deliberately attacked by Naval and Air forces of the Empire of Japan without warning."
First drafts of essays are littered with phrases that look good on paper but don’t capture emotions to get attention or motivate the admission team to act.
The fear that most applicants have is that the opener will be clichéd or too fancy or wouldn’t get the attention of the admission team.
The fear is so strong that they stop writing or creating variations.
I encourage my clients to exaggerate the opening - in expression or the use of ‘fancy words’ or adjectives. Facing the fear of exaggeration by writing the exaggerated version of the openers helps them understand the worst versions they can create.
So how can we go crazy and exaggerate Roosevelt’s speech?
"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live
in world history <forever in history>, the United...
“The man - shirtless, grease all over his body with a facemask jumped on to the window, barely holding onto the bars. He scanned the room from right to left. I sat at the left corner, two feet away from the Window. We looked at each other with shock and surprise waiting to see who will start the conversation.
5 seconds passed.
Who are you?
“I heard a burglar was in the neighborhood. We were just checking.”
After completing the reasoning, he disappeared. Shocked at what had happened, I slowly opened my door and shared the bizarre conversation with my housemates.
“I think I had a chat with a burglar.”
They rushed outside our villa, to start the pursuit, but it was too late.
Do you think this really happened to me?
Believability in an essay narrative depends on the description, the movement, and the epiphany. In novels, the author has the freedom in indulging in every minute details starting from the facial expressions, the fears and insecurities of the protagonist, the events leading up to the event, and depending on the location, even the weather.
In MBA Essays, the lesser the description, the more believable it would be. The moment you use up words to describe the scene, more than what you had allocated for your worries, hope, and insecurities, the...
Storytelling is an outline of your relationship with time, world, future, and yourself. The inner conflict between your ego and the challenge put forward by the outside world is similar to the turmoil that the reviewers go through on a daily basis while reviewing your essays or pondering over their future.
Two things are common in master storytelling: interesting characters and believable life events.
Since the story is about your life journey, the essay should demonstrate why you are interesting.
Here is how you do it:
1. Differentiate Just Enough
The background information that you capture should strip out the clichés and break away from the expectation of your profile. But don’t veer too far away from what reviewers expect from an applicant from your nationality and profession.
Take the example of the cult-classic track “Hey Ya!.” The 2003 song was unlike what early 2000s pop/hip hop/rap or rock songs were. Radio stations hesitated to play the song. The André 3000 song was tough to categorize in a Genre or even interpret. But once an obscure Radio jockey gave the green signal, the song caught on and remained in Billboard Top 100 for 32 weeks.
You might not be as lucky as Outkast.
Processing fluency -- the ease with which...
Writing is not your full-time gig. It is mine. I create books, blogs, analysis, articles, newsletters, sales pitch, advertising, and rants to my wife and close friends through email in what I call, “Atul’s Weekly rants.”
You are multitasking through projects, worrying about choosing the wrong school, keeping a low profile on your MBA plan, managing the politics in your team, coordinating with recommenders, preparing for the GMAT, collecting your transcripts, developing a plan to address your profile weakness, arranging funds and writing and rewriting essays.
I know – it is tough for, you.
You can’t suddenly develop the skills to create engaging prose, but there were even greater multitaskers – Doctors, Engineers, Politicians, Administrators, and Scientists, who went on to create some of the best collection of letters, books, and journals.
All you have to do – is write freely.
I had clients, who in their first draft didn’t convey their grasp of writing ‘hooks’ and ‘page-turners.' At best, their version was average.
A little nudge and guidance on ‘storytelling’ tips can do wonders for the applicant’s writing style.
Clients who went on to create memorable 2nd drafts absorbed everything I said. There is a point in the Essay Review and Consulting service where I and...