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MBA Application Essay Editing


Helping MBA applicants create memorable Essay forces consultants like me to differentiate the cliched from the original. It is not obvious to MBA Applicants. So, here you go:

Top 5 characteristics of a cliched MBA essay:

1. Attribution Error

You can’t write interesting narratives without reflecting and connecting two events. This essential skill can lead to misguided attribution and flawed causal relationship. The success of a project – timeline, exceeding quality guidelines and helping the company acquire a new asset or improving their stock value or reputation, depends on multiple factors.

In a hurry to quantify IMPACT, MBA applicants either overestimate their contribution or doesn’t cover the direct correlation of their contribution to the company’s quarterly/annual results.
Both stem from Attribution Error.

The sales-oriented applicant (working in Advertising/Marketing) has a natural inclination to exaggerate while applicants from Finance/Technology underestimate their contribution or pigeonhole themselves to a function without simplifying their function for IMPACT.

The brainstorming as part of...


The first deliverable in Basic/Detailed profile evaluation is the creation of an IMPACT table. The joint exercise between the MBA admissions consultant and the applicant lists all possible events – successes, failures, individual projects (hobbies, extra-curricular and volunteering) and team projects (professional projects, group sports, and volunteering) that marked the applicant’s growth in the company or made their skills attractive for Business Schools.

What I learned evaluating hundreds of applicants’ growth is that individual projects tend to have a clear IMPACT over team projects. This seems counter-intuitive as what you do professionally as a team should have defined you as a person.

Unfortunately – it doesn’t

Team Size – Magic Number

When the team size crosses 5, individuals put less effort to reach the goals. This is not a conscious decision. We tend to fall for what Social Psychologists call Social Loafing.

As an individual – most tasks allocated to us has a clear performance indicator and deliverables. With a team, the burden of the responsibility is shared and depending on the company culture – individual performers are revered or...


I have written two books this year. One on France with details of top MBA programs and funding options. Another one a similar book on MBA in the UK.

When May 5th hit, I faced what you are likely to face in the next 3-months - writer's block.

Hope you have read the first part of the series on creating a worry audit to write freely.

Another useful tip that has helped me write over 2000 articles in F1GMAT and over 10 books is the 'replace Blank Stare with questions'

In any form of writing, we pause to collect the thoughts, frame the sentence or add elements of storytelling.

Don't add questions when you are thinking. Let the thoughts rush to you or flow around until you convert them to meaningful or memorable phrases.

Depending on your writing style and the frequency with which you create, you might have become accustomed to a routine.

It is tough to articulate how long the words play around your head before changing its state to a format that is...


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...


Searching for a job function that you enjoy and get paid well requires a lot of trial and error. I started F1GMAT with the goal of helping applicants with GMAT preparation. Hence the name. Soon, I realized that although I am a good teacher, I didn’t enjoy the process.

What I really liked was writing. Teaching through Writing was appealing to me as I could have an impact on thousands of MBA Applicants from over 180+ countries. There is some element of ‘God Complex’ there. If you are planning to do anything worthwhile that will change people’s lives – expect to see the world through what you can do instead of what the world can do for you.

Schools don’t hesitate to ask about IMPACT. The word by definition is a little narcissistic. But would schools accept you if you cite an increase in salary by 120%, and 'Buying a Yacht' as motivations?

How customizing curriculum gives value in MBA

Professionals who are delusional write long-term goals with ‘IMPACT.' You work in a Fortune 500 company and with a few Global Experiential learning trips with an MBA; you are going to acquire the skills to change the world?

The truth is you just might.

How you customize the curriculum and what you believe is the only thing that matters when you are solving a complex problem. Don’t use your...


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...




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