How to improve Readability in MBA Application Essays

MBA Application Essay Structuring and ReadabilityWhen an MBA Admission Committee member is reading hundreds of essays, one factor that allows applicants to stand out is the readability of their essay. The focus on readability began in early 1940s with Dr. Rudolf Flesch, who introduced the ‘The Flesch Formulas’ that factors in average sentence length and average word length in syllables. Subsequently, word processing softwares began integrating many readability formulas. Let us look at the factors that influence readability the most.

1) Average Sentence Length

Misplaced modifiers, run-on sentences, and pronoun reference errors arise in complex and long sentences. Keep the sentences short, but not too short that it loses its impact. If you have read early 19th century novels, you will realize what we mean. The sentences are too long, complex, and often require greater mental energy to comprehend even the simplest ideas conveyed by the author. It was considered a virtue to write in a complex or a seemingly intelligent manner. We don’t have the time to read complex sentence structures when we are used to instant entertainment, information, and food. The 30 something AdCom member has also lived in such an era. Moreover, they have a job to do – read hundreds of essays.

2) One Idea per Paragraph

This mantra has worked miracles for MBA applicants. By conveying an argument, idea, or opinion in one paragraph, you set the expectation for the AdCom. They are aware that the next paragraph would be about a new experience, or lessons learned, and not the same idea that you have already explained. AdCom will lose interest if you break the pattern. Therefore, be careful before you follow this rule. The pattern should continue throughout the essay. If you don’t want to follow this convention, split the essays into paragraphs based on average sentences per paragraph. 5-6 sentences per paragraph have worked out best for applicants. Be consistent, no matter which rule you follow.

Related: Winning MBA Essay Guide

3) Connectivity

Another challenge that MBA applicants face is how to use words and phrases that are required to maintain continuity in the essay. “However,” “In Addition to,” “Therefore” often works as a connecting word or phrase, but you can do away with these words if the essay is more conversational and less formal. A conversational tone works best in MBA application essays. The challenge arises when paragraphs demands continuity. The point-based division works out for an ebook like this, but in an essay, this might not work. You don’t have to worry too much if you have developed a habit of outlining your essay.

4) How to Outline

To outline an essay, you have to understand the purpose of the essay - the paragraph that answers the question, the paragraph that support your answer & the paragraph that reveal your motivation.
Once an applicant understands what is required, it becomes easier to outline the essay. For example, for the question “What is your greatest weakness and what are the necessary steps that you have taken to overcome it,” the applicant should outline the essay in the following paragraph structure:

Paragraph 1: Write about real weakness

Paragraph 2: How you realized about the weakness

Paragraph 3:  Steps, people, and influences that allowed you to overcome the weakness

Paragraph 4: What you learned about overcoming weakness, and why an MBA is necessary to overcome your functional weaknesses.

There are no set rules on whether you should maintain the same number of sentences in each paragraph. Some paragraphs, like paragraph 3 in the above example, require greater length as it considers several factors. 

By outlining, you have already taken into consideration the readability of the essay. This would go a long way in creating a winnable essay. Several other factors contribute towards creating an effective essay. We have covered over 100 Essay writing tips in our essay guide. Don’t forget to download it here.

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: 618

Winning MBA Essay Guide Includes
+Harvard MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
    Sample MBA Essay – Gratitude & Giving Back   
    Sample MBA Essay – Entrepreneurship (Influence of Childhood)   

MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
    Sample Essay A
+ Chicago Booth MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
    #1. Modern Art = Make you Think   
    #2. Teamwork and Individual Ambition   
    #3. Adventure   
    #4. Diversity = Creativity   
    #5. Classroom Experience   
    #6. Harper Center   

+ Columbia MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
     Sample MBA Essay – Most Passionate About   
     Sample MBA Essay – Free Day   

+ MIT Sloan MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
     Sample Cover Letter
+ Kellogg MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
     Sample Essay - Leadership and Challenges   
     Sample Essay - How you have grown and intend to grow   

+ Insead MBA Essay Tips (2018 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 (2018 Entering Class)
     Sample MBA Essay – Investment Banker
     Sample MBA Essay - Consultant  
     Sample MBA Essay - Technologist  
     Sample MBA Essay - Marketer  
     Sample MBA Essay - Entrepreneur  
+ 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, skills relevant to your career goals and how Ross  
    prepares you for the goals)   
+ Wharton MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
    8 Professional Gains

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 - How Prior Experience & LBS MBA will contribute (486   
+ Darden MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
    Case Study Method   
    What is valued at Darden?
    Framework for Answering the Darden Essay Question   
    Sample Darden Essay: When your opinion evolved through discussions (499 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

+ 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 (2018 Entering Class)

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