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London Business School Essay Topic Analysis 2011-2012

Although three of London Business School’s essay topics are unchanged from the prompts on last year’s application, the school has reintroduced two new essay topics regarding an applicant’s career to date and career vision that are variations of the 2009-2010 essay questions.  These revised career-focused essay questions  indicate the school’s emphasis an applicant’s broader long-term vision and the timing of the MBA.  In addition, more than most programs, LBS asks applicants to share specific details of their future involvement on campus and contribution to the community.  From this, one can extrapolate and assume that LBS is interested in candidates who’ve spoken to students and learned a good deal about the program to better understand how and where they might fit.

Question 1 (500 words)
Please discuss your career progress to date and explain why now is the right time to undertake an MBA at London Business School?

Question 2 (300 words)
Where do you see your career progressing five years after graduation and what is your longer term career vision?

LBS has reverted back to the approach that it used during  the 2009-2010 admissions season and has broken down the typical career goals essay into two discrete inquiries. This format clearly underlines the importance of having both a short- and long-term career plan in the MBA admissions process. Though the compartmentalization of an applicant’s work experience to date and long term discussion might make it a bit more difficult to adapt content written for applications to other schools, it does signal the extent to which the adcom wants to hear about each of the topics raised. Developing one’s long-term vision discussion over 300 words could be a great opportunity for applicants who often cover this topic in a single sentence to meet the word limit in their essays for other schools. The first question also incorporates a “why now?” query, prompting candidates to explicitly justify the timing of their applications given the current stage of their careers.

Question 3 (250 words)
Give a specific example of when you have had to test your leadership and team working skills. Given this experience what role will you play in a first year study group?

Based on this recycled prompt from last year, applicants should discuss an experience in which they faced challenges to their leadership and teamwork skills, such as a time when a team member refused to get on board with a group plan.  After clearly outlining the situation, it’s crucial that applicants explain how they persevered through the challenge, as doing so shows one’s maturity and ability to overcome obstacles.  It would therefore make sense to end this essay by explaining the strategies you’ve subsequently developed to navigate difficult situations, and explain how you can apply these processes to future work at LBS.  Note that the question about LBS study groups offers applicants a great chance to showcase their familiarity with the program and prove that they’ve done their homework, as well as demonstrate that they’ve thought through the contribution they would make and the strengths they could bring to the program.  With only 250 words allotted for this essay, applicants will need to be highly efficient with their writing to ensure that they can respond to each component of the prompt.

Question 4 (300 words)
Student involvement is an extremely important part of the London Business School MBA experience and this is reflected in the character of students on campus. Please describe how you will contribute to student clubs and the community and why?

This question, which appeared as the third essay topic on the 2010-2011 application, asks candidates to broadly discuss the clubs and events in which they would like to participate. This framing gives candidates a wide berth to discuss how their interests and experiences to date would translate to contributions on several fronts. As with any essay of this sort, it would be ideal to link the clubs and events you cite to established interests or elements of your career goals, as these will help the admissions committee readily see how you are poised to make a contribution. Taking the time to learn about the school’s special programs and extracurricular activities – whether through a visit to campus, conversation with alumni or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to London Business School – will pay dividends here.

Question 5 (250 words)
London Business School offers a truly global and diverse experience. Describe any significant experiences outside of your home country or culture. What did you gain and how will your experience contribute to London Business School?
Previously the fourth prompt on last year’s application, this question allows applicants the opportunity to showcase their international experience, both professionally and personally, and is designed to gauge the applicant’s ability to navigate unfamiliar terrain and resolve cross-cultural issues.  In order to answer both components of this question, we suggest that applications quickly outline important experience abroad, and then focus on providing detail about the lessons and skills gained from these situations, as well as how the experiences would help the applicant benefit from and contribute to LBS.  Based on the first sentence of this prompt, it will be important for applicants to show that not only can they contribute to the diversity at LBS, but also that they will thrive as a member of the diverse student body.

Question 6 (250 words)
Considering what you have already included in the application, what else would you like to tell us about yourself?  You can approach this question however you like.
This question leaves the door open for a wide range of examples.  One’s choice of topic here will likely depend on what has been covered elsewhere in the application up to this point.  No matter what topic one chooses to write about, applicants should keep the discussion focused on their actions and impact in the situation.  This is an ideal opportunity to add color and personality to an  application.

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