Step 1: Make a List of the Business School Questions
You should open up an excel worksheet and use it to list every single question from every school you’re applying to.
Find their application questions on their websites and write them down exactly as they appear on the website and enter each one into its own spreadsheet cell.
Step 2: Group Similar Questions Together
Now that you have all of the available questions in one Excel spreadsheet, you can look at the questions and see which ones match. Drag and drop the matching questions, so they’re all together.
Step 3: Identify the Main Essay Themes
After you’ve grouped similar questions together, you should see that there are a relatively small amount of general themes they follow. You should write a one sentence statement of the theme of a group of questions next to that group, as a way of focusing your essay thought process.
Step 4: Brainstorm Personal Story Ideas
Now that you’ve identified the major essay themes, you should sit down and think about your past experiences. I would avoid high school or college experiences if possible, because business schools are more interested in what you’ve done after college.
If, however, you’re applying to business school straight out of undergrad, which is something I’d generally not advise, you can write about leadership experiences from your activities in college.
Most people will want to focus on their professional, personal, and volunteer experiences in the years after college.
Write down any experience that seems relevant and then narrow your list of experiences to a small number of versatile and impressive personal stories, ones that show leadership, growth, and adaptability.
Step 5: Start Writing Your Essays
You should now be as prepared as possible for the actual essay writing.
Actually getting stuff down on paper can scare a lot of people because they’re worried that their writing skills aren’t good enough or that they might end up making a deadly mistake on their essays.
You have to get past that initial fear. The writing process really flows after you get a couple of pages down and lose that beginning anxiety.
Be as concise as possible and be specific in your examples. Let your best past experiences do a lot of the work for you.
You should be able to pick at least a few amazing things you’ve done over the past years, so now your task is just to make the admissions committee understand the greatness of your achievements.
Step 6: Get Outside Feedback
Nobody likes showing their essays to other people, but everybody benefits from outside opinions.
It’s hard for any person to honestly and accurately assess the quality of their own writing. Other people will be better at seeing your mistakes, and strengths, than you are.
So find some trusted friends who’ve applied to business school in the past and get them to look over your essay.
My experience is that the more people who look at your essay, the better it will be.
Step 7: Revise
When you finish your first draft, you’ll want to be done with it. But you won’t be. There will be major issues lingering around your writing, and fixing those issues might be what determines whether you get in.
Writing at least two or three essay drafts is one of the most important things you can do to improve your acceptance chances.