Dartmouth Tuck 2015 MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines

Want to learn more about Tuck? Check out our Dartmouth Tuck MBA Zone!The Dartmouth Tuck adcom is interested in learning about what you as an individual, a businessperson, and a leader can contribute to Tuck’s small, close-knit program. Use your essays as a platform for expressing your earnest desire to enter the world of management and to make a difference. 

Following the shrinking app trend, this year Tuck reduced its required questions from three to two and tweaked slightly the second required essay prompt. 

I strongly recommend Tuck applicants read The MBA Gatekeeper To Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business,” Poets and Quants interview with Dawna Clarke, Director of Admissions at Tuck.


Please respond fully but concisely to the following essay questions. There are no right or wrong answers. We encourage applicants to limit the length of their responses to 500 words for each essay. Please double-space your responses.

1. Why is an MBA a critical next step toward your short- and long-term career goals? Why is Tuck the best MBA fit for you and your goals and why are you the best fit for Tuck?

The MBA is a means to an end; it is a “step” towards a goal. That means you have to briefly discuss the most influential stops on your journey to date and then your reasons for wanting a Tuck MBA to continue on that journey.

You have to know a lot about Tuck as well as your goals to respond effectively to this question. Why do you want a small, tight-knit program in rural New Hampshire? Why do you want a program that stresses the integration of business functions?  Which of Tuck’s strengths appeal to you? How will they help you achieve your goals? 

To respond to the fit  part of the question, review Tuck’s six evaluation criteria for admission. You won’t have much room to address fit. Perhaps in your conclusion succinctly make the case for your fit with Tuck’s criteria. Point to elements of your application that show you meet the criteria without repeating them. You want the reader to see a match made in heaven.

2. Tell us about your most meaningful leadership experience and what role you played. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience?

This question reflects the importance Tuck, like many MBA programs, places on leadership. Last year, Tuck asked about “collaborative leadership.” This year it dropped “collaborative” from the question. Perhaps some applicants confused collaborative leadership with teamwork, and Tuck really wants to see you as a leader. Perhaps, and more likely given Tuck’s collaborative culture, Tuck wants to know what leadership example you will use and whether your definition of leadership is a fit for Tuck. Your example should reflect a collaborative and enlightened approach to leadership. 

Have you co-chaired  a fundraiser that raised a record amount of money? Have you been a board member for a not-for-profit organization? Have you captained a sports team that led your company league while having an excellent relationship with the coach or manager of the team? Have you been a team lead on a project that came in early and under budget while cooperating closely with other team leads or members of your team? Are you the head of a sales team who empowered other members of your team in a way that greatly contributed to the success of that initiative? These could all be examples of leadership. How did you motivate your teammates? What did you learn about yourself through the experience? In answering the last question, don’t be generic and don’t wonder “What do they want to hear?” What did you actually learn from this most meaningful experience?

The question asks you to reveal strengths and weaknesses. The first is fun and should be relatively easy. However we all cringe at the idea of revealing weaknesses, especially in a situation where you want to impress — like now. Nonetheless, resist that nasty impulse to write something fluffy and meaningless. Don’t even think about a phony weakness. The adcom will see right through it. Reveal a weakness that hopefully you can show yourself addressing in this leadership experience or through another later experience. Don’t dwell on the weakness, but do include it. 

3. Optional question: Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application.

It is almost impossible for two or three 500-word essays plus a bunch of boxes, a transcript, and a GMAT score to represent fully the uniqueness and talents of a truly impressive candidate. That comment has nothing to do with writing style and everything to do with the complexity of accomplished human beings. In my opinion this “optional essay”  is optional in name only.

At the same time, don’t waste the reader’s time by writing a meaningless, superficial “grand finale” or summary. Don’t repeat what can be found elsewhere.

4Reapplicant question: How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally.

Straightforward MBA reapplication question. What has changed that would compel Tuck to admit you this year?

If you would like professional guidance with your Dartmouth Tuck MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our  MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Dartmouth Tuck application. 

Dartmouth Tuck 2015 Application Deadlines:

Round Due Date Decisions Released
Early Action October 8, 2014 December 18, 2014
November Round November 5, 2014 February 13, 2015
January Round January 6, 2015 March 13, 2015
April Round April 1, 2015 May 15, 2015

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

  • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

    If any readers would like a profile evaluation for Dartmouth Tuck, please provide the following info:

    1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
    2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
    3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.
    4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
    5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
    6) Your post-MBA goal.

    Or if you just have a question about MBA admissions, I’ll do my best to answer it.

    • NH

      Hi Linda,

      I would appreciate your thoughts. I am applying first round to Tuck, Stanford, Kellogg and HBS:

      1) I will have 5.5 years of experience working as an business analyst for two finance companies (one large, one small). I’ve been promoted once and recently started indirectly managing two junior analysts.

      2) 730 (96%). Q 76%/V 96%. AWA 5.0 60%. Integrated Reasoning 8 92%.

      3) College of William & Mary, 3.53/4, BA in Economics and Government, graduated May 2009.

      4) Was an opinion and online editor for a school paper in college as well as a chartering chairman in my fraternity. Have done overseas trips to India twice (once for work, once for study abroad) as well as service/learning trips to Israel and the Dominican Republic.

      5) None

      6) My goal is to work in a top consulting firm to gain experience before founding my own consulting company, focusing in providing analytics to small businesses and startups.

      • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham


        Unless you have a lot of achievements at work, I would say these are stretch schools for you. Check out Ross, Darden, Cornell, and Yale.


    • Bethany

      Hello Linda,

      Thanks in advance for your thoughts! I am planning to apply next year and am considering the following schools for first round: Kellogg, Stanford, Tuck, Haas, Anderson (still trying to narrow the range).

      1) I will have 4 years of work experience in consulting – 2 years in technology consulting and 2 years in human capital consulting with a top 5 consulting firm
      2) 710 GMAT (92%)
      3) UC San Diego, 3.5, Management Science, 2012
      4) (a) Co-led by company’s national volunteer day in my local office, with ~700 volunteers and ~60 project leads that we trained; (b) pro-bono consulting project in Central America; (c) MBA fellows program sponsored by UCLA
      5) N/A
      6) Considering returning to consulting


      • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham


        You have a competitive profile for your target schools, with Stanford being a stretch. Also consider Ross and Darden.

        And by the time be apply, be a more certain about what you want to do with your MBA.


        • bethany


  • KTW

    Hi Linda, would love to hear your thoughts on my chances as well. I am applying first round to Tuck, Darden, Tepper, and Yale. I been given offers to interview at all four (Tuck interview initiated by me).

    1.) I will have four years of work experience as an analyst at a large R.I.A. (wealth management firm). I have made significant leadership contributions throughout my tenure but am looking to make a career change.
    2.) GMAT – 730 (96%) Integrated Reasoning (92%)
    3.) Trinity College, 3.56/4. BA in Economics, graduated in May 2011
    4.) Varsity golf team All-Academic All American. Fraternity treasurer and fundraising leader. The First Tee. Other extracurricular activities as well.
    5.) Series 65
    6.) Join a restructuring group at a boutique investment bank

    First choice is Tuck but am excited about all opportunities.


    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham


      You have a competitive profile for your target programs including Tuck.


  • Peter

    Linda, I am applying regular decision to Columbia, 2nd round at Haas, and 2nd round at a third program yet to be determined.

    1) I am currently an underwriter for a real estate financing company assessing several million dollars in loan applications per month. I was promoted to this position internally after just several months of employment. I also have prior experience as a telemarketer, a life insurance salesman, and an actuarial intern.
    2) GMAT results (1 attempt):

    Quantitative: 49 (79%)
    Verbal: 40 (91%)
    Total: 730 (96%)
    IR: 6 (67%)
    AWA: 6.0 (92%)

    3) Double major in mathematics and statistics from the University of Florida. I have a 3.18 GPA, but was diagnosed with a learning disorder after my freshman year and worked during my junior year of college. In my final year, I obtained a 3.8 GPA and made Dean’s List in my final semester.

    4) I am a member of the United States Chess Federation with a rating of about 1600 ELO. I also lift heavy weights in my spare time and tutor my co-workers in mathematics.

    5) I have a life & health insurance sales license.

    6) My post-MBA goal is to work at a financial firm or a mortgage banker.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Hi Peter,

      You don’t say how long you have been working. I’m going to assume that it is somewhere between 3-6 years.
      I am concerned about that GPA at your target programs. Have you passed any actuarial exams? They might help if you have, even if you haven’t gotten your ASA.
      Given your GMAT and circumstances in college, you still have a chance at your target programs, but you’re going to have to make a very strong case for fit to overcome the GPA.
      Also consider UNC, Georgetown, UT, Yale, and Cornell Johnson.


  • Rohit

    Hi Linda,

    Could you provide me with a profile evaluation for Tuck ?

    1.) 3.5 years experience in Continuous Improvement and Industrial Engineering roles ( Lead a variety of projects at both) in VA ( 2 yrs at mid sized manufacturing firm and 1 yr at a Fortune 150 corp.) , 1 year experience as Business Development Manager in India
    2.)740,97% (92%,89%V)
    3.) 3.3 ( 3.0 for last 60 credits) ,Purdue University,Industrial Engineering ( Worked 12+ hours a week throughout,graduated in 3.5 yrs)
    4.) Board member for 2 Student Organizations and actively involved in other student organizations at Purdue (IIE,Alpha Pi Mu-IE Honors Society)
    5.) Certified Supply Chain Professional (APICS)
    Six Sigma Green Belt
    6.) Post-MBA Goal, Work as a Corporate Sustainability Manager ( Manage sustainability initiatives for a large corporation , only relevant sustainability knowledge and experience comes from leading Sustainability projects at Job 1 with positive results and my interest in the topic

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham


      Your GPA is a little low, but you were working and the rest of your profile is competitive at Tuck.

      If you’d like help with your application, please let me know.


      • Rohit

        Thank you Linda !! If possible, could you advise on my chances for Kenan-Flagler as well ? I like KF in terms of size and for its great offerings in sustainability as well as access to top consulting firms.

        Would you say KF would be a strech/on par/safety school for me ?

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          You would be much more competitive at K-F. Maybe even a safety and more likely to get financial aid.


  • NI17

    Hi Linda,

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts! I am applying to Judge, Oxford, Kellogg, and Tuck in January but am nervous my application is not strong enough since I am not the typical B-school applicant and my test scores are low. I am considering delaying my application a year but would love to hear what you think:

    1) I have 3.5 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and made relatively significant contributions at each of my places of employment (also promoted once). I am also the co-owner of a small family business and recently founded a nonprofit aimed at coordinating humanitarian aid abroad – both these projects are relatively new and in the development stage.
    2) GRE – Q157 68%, V156 71%
    3) The George Washington University, GPA = 3.89/4, BA in International Relations, graduated in May 2011
    4) In college, I was a contributing writer for the school newspaper and the Director of Recruitment for my professional sorority. I was also on the board of two other student clubs and a volunteer ESL teacher. I am currently a member of a modern dance ensemble and on the board of a small public interest organization.
    5) N/A
    6) I plan to work at an impactful global nonprofit and help grow both my family’s business and my own nonprofit.

    I’m not sure if this makes much of a difference but I am also female and of a minority.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham


      Which minority are you a member of?


      • Nadia Jibran

        Hi Linda, I’m half Hispanic half Middle Eastern. I just retook the GRE and scored slightly better- 161 verbal and 158 quant. I might try one last time next month. Thanks again for your help!

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          You’re welcome. Good luck!