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ISB Essay Topic Analysis 2013-2014

Welcome to Clear Admit’s first essay topic analysis of the 2013-2014 admissions season!  Today we’re reviewing the essay questions recently posted by the Indian School of Business.  Each of ISB’s three required essay topics changed since the previous application season, although the application remains focused on candidates’ achievements and professional goals.  Also, still in place is the 300-word limit for each essay, meaning that applicants must draft their responses with an eye to creating brief yet content-rich essays.  Selecting strong anecdotes for all three essays will be important as applicants seek to get the most mileage out of ISB’s 900-word application set.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the school’s essays:

Essay 1: Attitude, skills and knowledge differentiate people. Elaborate with two examples on how you would differentiate yourself. (300 words max)

New to this year’s application, this topic is relatively straightforward, yet it represents a subtle shift from the school’s prompt on differentiation in the 2012-2013 season.  Given that achievements are now covered in a separate essay question, candidates must draw from their talents, demonstrated mindsets and knowledge base in order to showcase the strengths of their candidacy and explain how they would bring them to the ISB campus.  In addition to identifying the most unique characteristics or abilities applicants feel they possess, and explaining how they would contribute to the ISB community, applicants should also brainstorm appropriate anecdotes from their past that will further illustrate these qualities in action – the rule of “show, not tell” remains important in the application process.  The 300-word limit further suggests that candidates should select ideas that do not require extremely lengthy explanations.  As the question does not specify whether applicants should discuss examples with an especially professional or personal focus, you may want to choose one of each in order to round out the committee’s understanding of your preparation for joining ISB.  Finally, the language of “would differentiate” implies that candidates would do well to tie these anecdotes back to their potential for success at ISB.

Essay 2: How does the ISB PGP tie-in with your career goals? (300 words max)

This new variation on the standard career goals/why MBA essay replaces the related essay prompt ISB gave for the previous two admissions seasons.  One of the most notable changes is ISB’s shift from asking applicants to focus on their goals within a three-year window to assessing their broader careers after graduation, implying that the school is placing a new emphasis on candidates’ holistic view of their careers.  While most other b-schools provide students much more space to answer this question, candidates should nonetheless be prepared to sketch out their short- and long-term career goals in this essay.  Be sure to leave space, however, to directly connect these to your reasons for pursuing the ISB PGP.  Candidates should consider how the program would provide the academic and extracurricular resources to meet their professional goals, and highlighting a handful of the school’s most relevant offerings will also serve to demonstrate your depth of research into ISB’s program.

For more guidance on how best to present yourself to ISB, please reference the Clear Admit School Guide: Indian School of Business.

Essay 3: Pick the most significant achievement (professional or personal) you have had and elaborate on the key learning you took away from it. (300 words max)

Although ISB has queried candidates on their accomplishments in past admissions seasons, this year’s focus on a single accomplishment carries new challenges and opportunities for applicants.  Choosing from all of one’s achievements can understandably be difficult, and as always, we advise you to choose an accomplishment for which you can provide details of both the actions you took and what you achieved in order to best explain the importance of this success to the admissions committee.  Applicants might also consider an achievement that complements their response to Essay 1 in order to ensure that both their professional and personal successes are adequately addressed in their essay set.  This holds true for the key lesson you gained from the experience as well – providing the adcom with new insights into how your accomplishment has changed you as a person or professional will enable the reader to better understand how you might contribute to the PGP class.

(optional) Essay 4: Please provide additional information, if any, that will significantly affect the consideration of your application to the ISB. (300 words maximum)

This question is the only topic repeated from the previous year’s application, although now in optional essay form.  Applicants should think carefully before utilizing a school’s optional essay prompt.  Candidates with extenuating circumstances, such as a gap in work experience or lower than average GPA or GMAT scores, would do well to address those here.  However, applicants with atypical aspects to their candidacy might take this chance to explore important elements of their profile not mentioned in their data forms, résumé, or other responses.  The fact that this prompt is such a broad one allows candidates a high degree of freedom in wrapping up their essays with information that cannot be conveyed elsewhere in their applications.

 

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