Common MBA Essay Topics - Tips to Answer


Cyril Zachariah
Updated on Jun 20, 2022 08:43 PM IST

Almost all MBA colleges abroad require applicants to submit their responses to different essay prompts for the admission process. Listed in this article, you will find the various commonly seen essay prompts for MBA courses abroad along with the tips on how to write MBA essays.

Common MBA Essay Topics - Tips to Answer

Among the many tasks that need to be completed when applying for MBA courses abroad, writing an effective and remarkable essay is one of the most crucial steps. While your applications, statement of purpose and letters of recommendation are a good indication of you as a prospective student, essays help broaden that image.

When applying for an MBA degree abroad, you will often encounter the need to submit an essay on any one of the given topics. The business school will outline the instructions needed to be followed while attempting the essay, which include the number of minimum words or maximum words needed, and the prompts are usually in question formats.

While your essay should include your thoughts and ideologies to make it better, there are certain things you need to keep in mind while answering these essay questions. Listed in this article, we have given you some of the common essay prompts that applicants have faced during MBA admissions, however, it should be noted that the admissions panel may provide unique prompts as well.

Types of Essay Prompts for MBA Admissions Abroad

As stated above, there are different types of essay prompts for MBA admissions abroad, some of which have been listed below:

  • Leadership Essays

  • Goals Essays

  • Career Progression Essays

  • Why this Business School/University Essays

  • Failure Essays

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How Do I Attempt MBA Essays for Admissions Abroad?

Attempting the MBA essays incorrect or correctly can make or break your stand in the admission process. Therefore, having an understanding of how to best tackle essay prompts for MBA admissions abroad can only be beneficial for those aspiring to earn an international MBA degree.

You can find out the ways to best attempt MBA essays for admissions abroad:

1) Leadership Essays

Leadership essays are usually those that require you to outline, define or share an experience where you have had to display some sort of leadership. While you may be tempted to share the biggest leadership experience you have had, however, the most effective story would be to share the most effective leadership experience.

In other words, when attempting these leadership essays for MBA admission abroad, you can share experiences where you and your team had faced a challenge and how you led your team to tackle the challenge.

To keep it simple, lets look at the things you need to keep in mind when attempting leadership essays for MBA admissions abroad.

  • The topic is leadership, so make sure your essay focuses on your skills and qualities of being an excellent leader.

  • Keep in mind that the panel is looking at how you were able to handle a situation, no matter whether it was big or small.

  • When writing about you as a leader, emphasise the type of leader you are. For instance, if you lead by example, or by doing or follow any other type of leadership, then lay emphasise the same.

  • While failures make some of the best leaders, leadership essays are not where those failures should be highlighted. It is important to remember that the motive behind leadership essays is to highlight your stance on it along with the successes you have achieved as well as the leadership skills you possess.

  • Emphasising the type of leader you are is not the only aspect of the essay. You need to provide examples and instances where your leadership skills were displayed or tested.

Note: This essay focuses on we and team, therefore, keep your ego in check, as a bloating candidate is something no MBA school wishes to enrol. However, try to emphasise how you were able to include the collaborative efforts of the team to tackle the challenge.

2) Goals Essays

Goals Essay, as the name suggests, requires you to outline the what, the why and the how of your motives to pursue a particular programme offered by the B-school in question.

When attempting the goals or career progression essay prompts for MBA admission abroad, it is important to be definitive about your goals, which include what you wish to do, why you wish to do what you wish to do, and how you plan to achieve what you wish to do.

Here are some things you need to keep in mind when writing Goals Essays for MBA admissions abroad:

  • Present a deadline by which you aim to achieve your goals: An important aspect of keeping goals is assigning a deadline to them, otherwise it is just a dream you wish to achieve. While it is possible to be unable in quantifying your goals, it is still way more beneficial if you do so, as it adds significant value to your essay in the end.

  • Keep it Short and Simple: While you can continue to speak on your goals endlessly, it is important to keep your essays to the point. Answer what has been asked in the question. Keep in mind that most essay prompts have a word limit, therefore, stick to it and outline the what, the why and the how within that word limit.

  • Choose One Goal and speak on it: While it is great to have more than one goal, however, explaining all your goals may make you seem indecisive. When writing your essay, focus on only one goal and answer the question accordingly. Unless asked, avoid shedding light on multiple different goals.

Note: As highlighted above, the importance of this essay lies in how you tackle the what, the why and the how.Learn about the10 mistakes toavoid in your MBA application abroadand save yourself from the disappointment of rejection.

3) Career Progression Essays

As the name suggests, career progression prompts requires candidates to highlight their professional journey such as their career roles, how they reached those career roles and the lessons that they learned during the journey.

It should be noted that career progression essays may not always be directed at what you have achieved to date, but may also include the reasons behind how your current academic decisions will lead to better opportunities, or why MBA is crucial to your career.

Here are some of the things you need to keep in mind while answering the career progression essays.

  • Share your experiences but keep it short: Again, when attempting these questions, it is important to note that there probably will be a word limit. Try to keep your answers within the word limit only. Thus;

  • Share only crucial stages that have helped progress your career: In other words, steps in your career where you learnt something valuable that could better help you tackle situations in the professional world.

  • Highlight what you learnt rather than explain everything: In a bid to keep it short, it is better to highlight your lessons rather than everything that led up to learning the crucial information.

  • Highlight stages that led you to take the next step in your career: Here, it is better to include circumstances or instances that led you to work on certain aspects of your career. It could be professional or personal aspects, which directly or indirectly affect your career.

  • Highlight your personality growth as well as your career: In other words, highlight all those aspects that you learned when tackling different challenges in the professional world.

Note: Similar to Goals Essays, Career Progression Essays will often lead candidates to share more than they need to, therefore, always be wary of what should be included in your essay.

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4) Why this XYZ Course or Institute?

Another one of the commonly asked essay questions is why you choose a particular business course or institution for your master's studies. This can also be an interview question during your MBA questions, therefore, preparing for this question should be one of the more important things.

Here, not only is your knowledge of what the institute or the course offers its student is important, but the motive behind the question also includes the students ability to understand what the course/institute can do for their goals and aspirations.

These are the things you need to keep in mind when attempting the Why this Business Course/Institute essay prompt for MBA admissions abroad:

  • Be Informed: There is nothing worse than being uninformed about what a course or institute offers its students. Commonly, this information is readily available on the internet, however, you can connect with the institute and extract the necessary information as well. Being in the know of such information shows the admission panel that you are serious about progressing your professional career and are looking for the best.

  • Keep Your Goals and Aspirations in Check: Unlike the Goals essay, in this question type, you will not have to explain your goals in detail. However, you will be required to explain how your goals are aligned with the offerings of the XYZ course or institute.

  • Only Highlight the Important Aspects: Similar to the other essay prompts, keeping your answers short and simple is the answer here as well. You should highlight those course offerings or outcomes that align with your goals and aspirations and not every other information. However, you can add one or two sentences on how certain other offerings and outcomes outlined by the course or institute can be a positive addition to your skillset or career progression goals.

5) Failures Essay

While the topic may not seem that difficult, it is rather a tricky question to attempt when writing MBA essays for admissions abroad. Many students who have attempted the questions either end up describing a failure that was not a failure or end up skipping the question over fears of the impacts of admission of guilt.

We as humans are prone to making mistakes, some of that can lead to failures of different extents. Therefore, students attempting the question must highlight genuine mistakes or failures that lead to high costs to themselves, the team or the project, etc.

Here are some things you should keep in mind when attempting the 'failures essays'for MBA admissions abroad:

  • Highlight Genuine Mistakes/Failures: When highlighting your mistakes or failures, try to avoid those that either lead to little to no impact on the overall result of the task, challenge or project at hand. In other words, highlight those mistakes/failures where you had to face actual repercussions.

  • Accountability and Responsibility: The motive behind such failure essays is to see the accountability and responsibility personality traits of the candidate. Therefore, highlighting mistakes and failures that led to little or no repercussions would just seem like you covering up your mistakes or failures.

  • Dealing with Failures: Another key component or motive behind such essays is to see how a prospective student handles failures and mistakes. As the saying goes Learn from your mistakes, it is important that the candidate highlights what they learnt from the mistakes or failures they mentioned in the essay.

Note: Failures and mistakes are inevitable, however, it is important to see you deal with those situations and make the best use of a bad situation.

While the essays that have been mentioned above are some of the commonly asked-essay prompts seen by most MBA aspirants, it should be noted that the universities and B-schools can design unique essay prompts, which would need to be answered in their manner.

Things to Keep in Mind When Answering MBA Essay Prompts

If you are faced with MBA Essay prompts that you find difficult to answer, it is important to keep the following points in mind before structuring your essay:

  • Segregate the questions: Commonly, universities and B-schools would require you to cover one or two different aspects within one question itself. To ensure what you are required to cover in the essay, segregate the questions into different sections and see what is being answered. Answer in the same order that the questions have been formed.

    • For instance, the university can ask you Describe why wish to pursue an MBA currently and why the MBA you have chosen is the best fit for your career. Here first answer why you wish to pursue an MBA and then answer why the MBA you have chosen is the best fit.

  • Maintain the Word Limit: One thing that is extremely easy to forget is the word limit. Usually, the word limit spans between 250-500 words, however, this will vary between different universities and institutions. Try to structure your essays within these word limits to not talk too much about certain aspects of questions.

  • Structure your Essay: Regardless of what the essay topic might be, it is always important to structure your essay, much like a story. In other words, keep an introduction, body and conclusion, and mention the different aspects of your essay correctly or in a manner that makes sense.

    • One good rule of thumb is to create a list of the things that you wish to highlight in your essay. In this process, you will be able to shortlist the different points, rank them or exclude them according to their importance and then be able to properly structure your essay.

Note: When writing an essay for MBA admissions abroad, it is important to note that essays are an extension of your personality to the admissions panel. The essays provide a deeper view of your capabilities, knowledge, maturity and much more, thus allowing the panel to see whether you are fit for their programme.Check out everything you need to know aboutEMBA: Top B-Schools, FT Rankings & Benefitsand be well-prepared for your application in your dream country.

However, if you wish to better equip yourself with the needed skills and knowledge to crack the toughest of exams and admission processes, we recommend that you register with us and let our trained and experienced faculty along with study abroad counsellors help you train for your future.

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