How Mental Association determines the Winning MBA Essay

MBA Application Mental AssociationWhen we start the MBA Application Essay review process, our first request is to create a life audit – an experience list of the ten most life-changing experiences. For the not so serious applicants, this exercise is an additional pain that they are not ready to endure. Applicants who are  in a hurry tries to pack in the professional experiences right from the time they got fired to less dramatic – reaching a milestone and exceeding expectations with deadlines, productivity, and revenue goals. The applicants who understand the meaning behind the exercise often create a list that reflects turning points in their life. We had explained why including turning points in essays is important but while creating the list; think about all the activities that are associated with your personal traits.

Personal Brand = Activities

It took repeated exposure, targeted messaging, and millions of dollars to achieve brand association for some of the world’s best brands. Volvo is associated with Safety, Wal-Mart means Economical, and Red Bull sparks images of adventurism. For your personal brand, the association happens with the extra-curricular activities that you mention in the essays.

Marathons and Half-Marathons: Goal-setting, Ambitious, Persistence
Charity (Children): Responsible, Empathy, Vision (Bigger Picture)
Charity (Senior Citizens): Responsible, Empathy
Event Organizer: Collaboration, Goal Setting
Playing Musical Instruments (Solo): Discipline, Goal Setting, Excellence
Playing Musical Instruments (Group): Discipline, Goal Setting, Excellence, Collaboration
Tutoring: Responsible, Vision (Bigger Picture)
Community fund-raising: Empathy, Vision (Bigger Picture), Collaboration
Animal Rescue: Empathy
Team Sports (Baseball, Football, Cricket, Soccer): Discipline, Excellence, Goal Setting, Collaboration
Individual Sports (Skiing, Swimming): Goal Setting, Discipline, Excellence
Military (and Affiliated Organization): Community, Goal-setting, Responsible, Vision (Bigger Picture), Collaboration, Excellence, Ambitious, Persistence
Art(Photography, Writing/Blogging, Theater, Dance, Painting): Community, Excellence, Persistence

Now you know why applicants with a military background have a better chance to gain admission. The number of positive attributes associated with them is much higher than any other extra-curricular activities. We have rarely seen applicants only focusing on one extra-curricular. They have been sporadically or systematically involved with at least a couple of activities. Applicants tend to highlight activities that are dear to them. If the involvement has been continuous with an intensity that only the applicant can express, the approach is right but by distancing yourself from the extra-curricular activities and looking at it as an association with positive attributes; you will find activities that will have the most impact on the reviewer.

Connecting Experiences

No matter how you describe yourself, we are all social animal, under the multi layers of sophistication. Your personal brand should reveal a bias for connecting people. If you had worked in a start-up that created an app for monitoring heart rate, the reviewer is sub-consciously determining the value of the product you mentioned. Even though you are no longer involved with the start-up, the value of your association with the brand is determined by how the reviewers connect with the brand themselves. This might seem a little far-fetched in a mere essay review process, but the essays that do not leave any mark are the ones where the experiences do not connect with the reviewer’s experiences. If the reviewer feels that her father/mother, uncle or a close relative will find value out of the app, her association with your personal brand will be positive.

We have read several essays where the applicant tries hard to explain a technical solution that they developed for a corporate giant, like the one where an IT consultant developed a solution that migrated records from an old content management system to a much better organized system. There were no connecting experiences. After reviewing, we rephrased the solution to include the real benefits: improve the claim-processing time by one day, allowing accident victims to get cash within 24-hours of the accident. Now the experience would connect with the reviewer who might have seen her friend, acquaintance or a relative struggle to claim cash on time during an accident. When an essay reviewer is unable to process the experience fluently, she falsely associates difficulty to ‘empathize’ as ‘not impressive applicant’. Think about the people that you just can’t get along. Coherence of values or communication is missing between your conversations, and this ‘lack of fluency’ is translated to ‘I don’t get along with that person’.

Me Too vs. I want to

When I was reviewing about the best places to travel in the world, I came across Back Pack Me, a travel journal of an Indo-Portuguese couple. The narrative was different from the structured: good, bad, and the ugly reviews seen in Trip Advisor. The experiences were personal, and the couple captured information at a level only someone who is passionate about traveling could do. The information was trustworthy and inspired me to Back Pack and travel. Back Pack Me is a perfect example of an “I want to” inspirational brand.

When MBA Applicants capture personal experiences about the Community service, the travel experiences, and the strategies used to mitigate conflict in a team environment, most of them follow a template created by the MBA Admission consultant. It is a ME Too template without any individuality. What applicants are doing is capturing the events without any reflection of their biases, their weakness, and practical tips on what they did. The explanations are too vague. There is nothing new to learn. Worst of all, the narrative does not inspire the reviewer to get involved with your charity or travel the world like how you did.

Unless you can inspire the reviewer, you are at the mercy of numbers (GMAT, GPA and Experience), and competition (Round 1 vs. Round 2 Application volume). Let us transform your essays to an inspirational narrative.

Sample Essays + Essay Writing, Review & Editing Tips + 15 School-Specific Tips = Winning MBA Essay Guide

"Pressed against the deadline, I ordered F1GMAT's Winning MBA Essay Guide as their blogs always had something interesting to say. It was by far one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Going through the Essay Guide, I learned the art of storytelling, using various ploys mentioned in the book. Most important one being the “W pattern,” a strategy of information sharing that creates a sense of excitement in the mind of the reader." -
MIT Sloan MBA Candidate

Only 1 in 900 gains admission to Harvard MBA program. If you write your essay focused only on your achievements, post-MBA goals, and your pre-MBA experience, you will be among the 899 rejected applicants.

ATTENTION is the secret ingredient. How will you get the attention of the essay reviewer?

You know why parables shared 1000 years ago are still shared among us?


Yes, the art of storytelling has won presidency for Obama, transformed Apple from an unknown start-up to a brand synonymous with Quality, and gained admission for the average MBA Applicant.

F1GMAT's Winning MBA Essay guide will teach you how to transform your essay to an epic life journey with trials and tribulations that will move the admission team.

Who Should Buy The Winning MBA Essay Guide?

If your essay looks too bland, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you, with examples, on how to use the elements of Storytelling like Incorporating "The Struggle", Using Emotional connectors, narrating the Journey and the use of Chronology, Vividness and Active Verbs to transform your essays.

If you are stuck in the Writing process, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you how to silence the Analytic Mind and overcome mental blocks.

If you feel that the essays are not persuasive, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will teach you how to use the W-Pattern narrative, Contexts, Turning Points and "The Show Don't Tell Approach" to write a Winning MBA Essay.

If you don't have enough leadership experience, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you how to highlight non-obvious qualities like Trust, Focus, Listening Skills, Personal Responsibility, Humility, Self-Knowledge, and other secondary traits to prove your leadership.

If you don't know how to review your essays, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will demonstrate how to improve readability with the power of iteration, and maintain your original voice by removing review biases.

Pages: 678

Winning MBA Essay Guide Includes
+Harvard MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    Sample MBA Essay – Gratitude & Giving Back (319 Words)   
    Sample MBA Essay – Entrepreneurship (Influence of Childhood) (401 Words)   
    Sample Harvard MBA Essay - Volunteering (Mental Health Awareness)   (774 Words)   
MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Consulting)(399 words)  
    Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Tech Entrepreneur) (390 words)  

    Sample Why Stanford MBA: Career Switch(Finance to Green Energy Consulting)(394 Words)
    Sample Essay A: What matters most to you, and why? (740 Words)
+ Chicago Booth MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    Sample Booth MBA Essay #1: Oil & Gas to Consulting (475 Words)
     Sample Booth MBA Essay #1: Social IMPACT to Marketing (478 Words)   
     Sample Booth MBA Essay #2: Leadership experience (Father’s Restaurant Business)(493 Words)   
     Sample Booth MBA Essay #2: Leadership experience (Teach for America)(640 Words)

+ Columbia MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
   Sample Columbia MBA Essay 1: Enterprise to Consumer Marketing (495 Words)  

    Sample Columbia MBA Essay 2:  New York for Marketing Professionals (244 Words)  
    Sample Columbia MBA Essay #3 - Team Failure (Marketing Lead) (242 Words)  
    Sample Columbia MBA Essay #3 - Team Failure (Technology) (248 Words)  
    Sample Columbia MBA Essay #3 - Team Failure (Pharma) (244 Words)  

+ MIT Sloan MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
     Personality Type (Accepted MIT Sloan Students)   
     Cover Letter Checklist   

     Sample Cover Letter – Technology Consulting (286 Words)
     Sample Cover Letter – Healthcare Entrepreneurship (296 Words)
+ Kellogg MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    Sample Essay 1: Demonstrated Leadership (Marketing) (449 Words)
     Sample Essay 2: Demonstrated Leadership (Technology) (449 Words)   
     Sample Essay 3: MBA as a Catalyst for Growth (Technology) (438 Words)
     Sample Essay 4: MBA as a Catalyst for Growth (Non-Profit to Consulting) (442 Words)
+ Insead MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
   Sample Essay 1: Candid Description, Strengths & Weaknesses
    Sample Essay 2: Achievements and Failures

    Sample Essay 3: Extra-Curricular and How enriched you are
MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
     Sample MBA Essay: Non-Profit   
     Sample MBA Essay: Technology   
     Sample MBA Essay: Marketing   
     Sample MBA Essay: Getting Fired   
     Sample MBA Essay: Diverse and Inclusive Culture   
     Sample MBA Essay: Leadership   
     Sample MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goal & How Pre-MBA Experience will help  
+ Yale SOM MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Business Development (Mobile Start-Up)(486 Words)
     Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Investment Banking (IB)(404 Words)
     Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Consulting (442 Words)   
     Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Technology (452 Words)   
     Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Marketing (492 Words)
     Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Entrepreneurship (497 Words)
+ Ross MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
    Sample MBA Essay: Finance Professional who was a former member of a rock band   
    Sample MBA Essay: Technologist (Idea to Action)   
    Sample MBA Essay: Creative Marketing (Idea to Action)   
    Sample MBA Essay: Consulting (Made a Difference)   
    Sample MBA Essay: Losing a Client (Resilience)   
    Sample MBA Essay: Finance to Marketing (extra-curricular)   
    Sample MBA Essay: I am Aware that I am different   
    Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People   
    Sample MBA Essay: A valuable thing I have taught someone   
    Sample Essay – Part 2 (Short-term & Long-Term Goals)
+ London Business School MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
    London as the Financial Hub   
    London as the Technology Hub   
    London as the Consulting Hub   

    How to Cite the Curriculum (Example)
    Sample LBS MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goals (486  Words)
+ Duke Fuqua MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
    Framework for Answering the Duke Fuqua Short-Answer Essay Questions   
    Sample Short-term Goals Essay – Technology to Consulting (100 Words)   
    Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Consulting for Government (100 Words)   
    Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Plan B (89 Words)   
    Framework for Answering the Duke Fuqua 25 Random Things   
    Sample Duke Fuqua Essay: The Fuqua community and you (Max 2 Pages)  
+ NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
     Sample NYU Stern Essay 1: Goals (498 Words)    
     Essay 3:  Personal Expression (a.k.a. "Pick Six")    
     5 Examples with Images

+ Darden MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    Sample Darden MBA Essay – About yourself (100 Words) (Near Death Experience)
     Sample Darden MBA Essay – About yourself (100 Words) (Networking and Job Offer at an Unlikely place)   
     Sample Darden MBA Essay – About yourself (100 Words) (Mountaineering)
     Sample Darden MBA Essay – Where you want to go with Darden (47 Words)
     Sample Darden MBA Essay – Evolving Leadership Style (198 Words)
     Sample Darden MBA Essay – Meaningful IMPACT (200 Words)
     Sample Darden MBA Essay: Short-term Post-MBA career goal (149 words)
+ Wharton MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    7 Professional Gains
    Sample Wharton MBA Essay 1: Gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (473 words)   
    Sample Wharton MBA Essay #2: Math Tutoring and Experimental music’s value (388 Words)

+ Sample Essays

+ The Art of Storytelling 
+ Leadership Narratives
+ Review Tips
+ Persuasion Strategies
+ The Secret to "unleashing" your unique voice
+ How to write about your Strengths
+ How to write about your Weaknesses

Download Winning MBA Essay Guide (2019 Entering Class)

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