Indian School Of Business 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Check out ISB's bshool zone pageThe Indian School of Business is an excellent program for those interested in advancing to management roles in a broad spectrum of industries and those seeking positions in the consulting industry (20% of graduates earn consulting placements) and technology field (28% of graduates choose this industry upon graduation). Interestingly, while median salaries for graduates of a top US program like Stanford and Harvard only exceed the US national average by 240%, graduates of ISB can expect to earn 522% of the Indian national average wage upon graduation*.

ISB has overhauled its essay questions this year, only maintaining their standard of 3 required essays and one optional while changing the phrasing of all of the essay prompts and increasing the total word limit by 200 words (ISB is one of the few schools that actually require the strict adherence to its word limits). My comments are in blue.

Essay 1 (400 words maximum)

If we were to admit just one more student, make a compelling argument as to why that student should be you by describing an (only one) achievement in your personal / professional life that you are most proud of. What did you do that sets you apart from others? What did you learn?

This is a great question because it allows you to shine the spotlight on whatever aspect of your candidacy you feel makes you exceptional. Look at your career and extracurricular activities and identify the area in which you have achieved the greatest impact, ideally reaching a level that few other applicants can match. This is not just about a title or award you earned; the essay needs to highlight the obstacles you navigated and the challenges you overcame to reach that pinnacle. Don’t forget to discuss some of what you learned about yourself, leadership, and management.  

Essay 2 (300 words maximum). Choose one of the following 2 options:

Describe a (only one) defining moment in your personal / professional life when you had to make a risky decision, and explain what you did, why and the outcome.

A risky decision means there was a lot to lose and there was no clear path forward. This essay offers applicants an opportunity to demonstrate their appetite for risk and their decision making process – was it based on data, market research, networking with experienced mentors in the field, gut instinct, or some other technique? A good essay will be able to point to significant results and impact from the risk.


Describe a (only one) situation in your personal / professional life when you had to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. How did it affect you and what did you learn?

Similar to option 1 above, this potential topic includes an element of the unknown: when faced with a diverse team, a leader must analyze how the cultural and/or professional backgrounds of the people involved may affect the project and take action to smooth the interactions. This is a great opportunity for applicants with international work experience to share the cultural insight they have gained.

Essay 3 (300 words maximum)

What are your post ISB career plans and how will your past experiences and the Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) contribute to taking you there?

This question is similar to last year’s essay prompt about career goals but is much more focused on what you have done (compared with last year’s emphasis on why you chose those paths). This essay demands a clear definition of what field and role you hope to enter upon graduation, the business skills and insight you have gained that will be essential to succeeding in that role, and how ISB will complement that knowledge.

Essay 4 (Optional) (200 words maximum)

Please use this space to explain any career breaks / provide any other information not covered elsewhere in the application that could significantly impact your candidature at ISB.
Note: It is not necessary to write this essay. Please use this space only if there is something really significant that you would like us to know.

Use this space to explain any gaps in your career but also take advantage of this opportunity to grant deeper insight into any leadership role or impact you have gained, emphasizing how this experience has prepared you for ISB and your future career.  

ISB Application Deadlines:

Check out our other school-specific MBA Essay Tips


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Jennifer Bloom As a consultant with Accepted for nearly 17 years and a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), Jennifer Bloom has gained great experience in crafting application materials that truly differentiate you from the rest of the driven applicant pool. If you would like help with your ISB application, there are a variety of options for working with her on any budget.

Related Resources:

Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One
Writing About Overcoming Obstacles in Your Application Essays
• 4 Ways to Show How You’ll Contribute in the Future

INSEAD Essay 3: Writing About Cultural Diversity

Click here for INSEAD Essay Questions and Tips

Ready to answer the diversity essay question?

For those of you struggling with INSEAD’s cultural diversity question [Essay 3. Tell us about an experience where you were significantly impacted by cultural diversity, in a positive or negative way. (300 words max.) and the INSEAD EMBA choice of questions for Essay 5. Have you ever experienced culture shock? What insights did you gain? OR Describe the ways in which a foreigner in your country might experience culture shock. (500 words max.)], Pamela Druckerman has provided an interesting starting point in her New York Times Op Ed piece “Decoding the Rules of Conversation”.

Druckerman is an American expatriate in France and typically writes about the cultural differences she notices in French child rearing. On the other hand, “Decoding” explores not only how her de facto French children speak and interact, but also how French adults do, with added insight into UK culture thanks to her husband’s British background.

While Druckerman’s mention of British self-deprecation is well known, her description of the French emphasis on one-upping and even humiliating others will certainly come as a culture shock to many. Non-French INSEAD applicants exposed to these behaviors could discuss their own experiences navigating the team environment in France where, according to Druckerman, it is de rigueur to emphasize one’s intelligence at the expense of his or her peers’. Conversely, a French professional working in a global environment could share his experience adapting to a culture that places more emphasis on teamwork and gaining support from others – where he could no longer employ the French strategy of putting everyone else down.

Druckerman demonstrates the cultural astuteness that INSEAD is seeking in its students. Sharing an example of your own cultural insight and response to cultural challenges is essential to any applicant to this renowned international business school.

Applying to INSEAD? Check out our application essay tips!

Jennifer Bloom By Jennifer Bloom who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 15 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!

Related Resources:

Best MBA Program: A Guide to Selecting the Right One
• An Inside Look at INSEAD
• Tips for Applying to European B-Schools

IE MBA 2016 Essay Tips

Learn more about IE Business School here!IE is a top-ranked international MBA program in Madrid, Spain. The Financial Times ranks the program 12th in the world and Bloomberg Business Week ranks it 2nd among non-US programs. Graduates enjoy job placement around the world – with the help of IE’s 50,000 global alumni and 27 representative offices building relationships with companies on every continent: 35% of the class accepted positions in Europe, 28% in Latin America, 12% in Asia, 12% in North America, and 8% in the Middle East and North Africa after graduation. Graduates enter diverse industries as well: the four largest fields are consulting (19% of graduates), financial services (19% of graduates), consumer products (14% of graduates), and technology (13% of graduates).

IE has three intakes (start dates) each year, so it truly has a rolling application review calendar. At any time of year, you can apply to IE! When applying, applicants must choose which session they are applying to (April, September, or January) and are accepted for the program date they chose AND the one thereafter, a big advantage in case of an unexpected hurdle in the way of attendance. (I’ve had many clients who have had to reapply after receiving acceptances to other programs when unexpected professional or personal changes have occurred because in most cases, top MBA programs will not offer deferred admissions.)

IE’s application offers a lot of choice, allowing applicants to shine the spotlight on what makes them special in truly unique ways. For example, there are 12 prompts, and applicants must respond to any three of them; however, only one of the applicant’s three responses must be answered with an essay of 400-600 words. The other two responses may be either essays OR photographs, drawings, videos, animations, or presentations a la Prezi or Slideshare hosted online.

Here are the 12 prompts to choose from, with my guidance in blue beneath each:

1. If you had the opportunity, what actions would you demand of the United Nations Secretary General and why?

IE’s International MBA program aims to develop leaders who understand other perspectives and challenge the status quo. This is a great question to answer if you have been politically active or involved in a global issue that is important to you since it will provide you a platform to discuss the issue, the efforts that you have made to shape it, and how the UN could play a role in addressing it further.

2. Describe the situation with the greatest ethical complexity that you have faced in your professional or academic life, and how your input helped resolve it.

I like the phrasing of this question because it is clear where other programs sometimes obfuscate: ethical complexity means that it was not simple to determine the right thing to do; there was no one ideal path to follow. This is your chance to demonstrate the level of decision-making you have enjoyed in your career and how you have creatively navigated complicated ethical waters.

3. Describe a time when you took a great risk. What was the outcome?

IE places a great emphasis on entrepreneurship and is seeking risk takers who think unconventionally: people who are willing to leave a steady, low return behind to instead pursue an uncertain but potentially high reward. A good essay or presentation here will show the admissions office your analysis of the potential gain and what actions you took to improve your chances of success.

4. Cite at least one example of when your leadership had an impact on or changed a certain situation, and justify how an IE Master’s Degree program would help you to strengthen or improve this competence.

Leadership can turn situations around. A good answer to this question will explain or show what the situation was and why you felt it needed to be changed. Then, it will demonstrate your leadership – how you wooed, cajoled, and earned the support of others above, parallel, and below you in the organization to accept your ideas and how those ideas improved the situation. Strong essays will end with insight into IE’s Behavioral Fitness leadership training program and the areas in which IE will help you further improve your leadership skills.

5. Describe the most outstanding leader you have worked with. Indicate some aspects of the way you work that are similar to the way this leader works and others that are different.

A description of a role model’s leadership requires some insight into how he or she leads, makes use of his/her talents to gather internal and external support to make an impact. If you have enjoyed a front row seat to excellent management, then this essay will allow you to highlight what you’ve learned and how you’ve borrowed from that example in your own leadership experiences.

6. You have just participated in an important meeting with your superior. How will you ensure that every part of the instructions you received will properly reach all subordinates, suppliers and clients, located in different parts of the world?

IE’s International MBA program is comprised of students from 70 countries and myriad industries. The answer to this question is not just about an email that you cc to everyone , but rather must demonstrate that you understand the challenge and opportunity of connecting with global teams. Good answers to this prompt will not remain in the theoretical but will instead draw upon similar global experiences from the applicant’s past to prove their international leadership ability and cultural understanding.  

7. Do you think that the lifestyle of the inhabitants of your town or city reflects behavior that is in line with the concept of sustainable development? In your opinion, what should be improved?

If you have been involved in municipal or local community service, this is the ideal essay to shine the spotlight on the issues in its sustainable development that matter to you most. IE seeks strong critical thinking skills in its students: the ability to assess strengths and weaknesses in the status quo, so good responses to this prompt will make use of that ability to discuss the ways in which denizens are living sustainably (ethically, responsibly, amid diversity, and with consideration to the environment) and could improve in doing so.  

8. What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing the sector or industry you would like to specialize in at IE? What role do you hope to be able to play in this sector or industry in the medium term?

This essay or presentation offers you the opportunity to discuss the exciting advancements and challenging obstacles that lie on the horizon for your target industry. Good answers to this question will show your excitement for your chosen industry and your readiness for it.

9. Show us an activity you enjoy doing. Tell us how you think it contributes to your personal and professional development.

Oh well, they couldn’t all be phrased in interesting ways to make the applicant think, could they? This is an opportunity to share some of your experiences from outside of work and how they have helped you grow in the qualities and skills that IE is seeking: risk taking, innovation, cultural awareness, and leadership are among the most important.  

10. How do you imagine social interaction within 10 years, taking into consideration the impact of technology on human relations?

Here’s an opportunity to think creatively and use a bit of a crystal ball to predict how communication and interaction will change by the year 2025. If you consider yourself particularly creative or prescient, this essay will offer you a perfect canvas to paint your prediction for the not-so-distant future.

11. If all of the world’s cultural heritage (sports, music, fashion, architecture, literature, painting, etc..) was contained in a time capsule, what would you include to demonstrate the legacy of your country?

IE’s student body is diverse for a reason: IE aims to expose its students to the sundry cultural mindsets around the world. This prompt offers you the opportunity to demonstrate how you will contribute to that discussion. What unique elements of your country’s culture do you feel embody its nature and uniqueness? Personal essays that inspire an emotional or visceral connection to that culture in the reader will be the most memorable.

12. How do you envision the city of the future?

Like option 10 above, this question allows you to share your vision of the future, albeit not limited to just a small 10-year jump through time. What changes do you anticipate in transportation, energy, industry, safety needs, education, population and/or family structure and how will they affect the structure and motion of future cities?

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

Jennifer Bloom By Jennifer Bloom who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 15 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!

Related Resources:

Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One
• An IE Grad Reflects on Spain, School, and Career Searching
School-Specific MBA Application Essay Tips

2016 IMD Essay Tips

Click here to read other school specific essay tips.IMD, the International Institute for Management Development, in Lausanne, Switzerland, offers a 1-year MBA program focused on general management and leadership. While there are only 90 students in each class, the diversity among that class is wide: students hail from 45 countries: 43% from throughout Europe, 26% from Asia, 11% from the Middle East and Africa, 9% from North America, 8% from South America, and 3% from Oceania (Australia/New Zealand and the surrounding islands). Unlike programs in the US, which tend to build the bulk of their classes from students aged 26-28, IMD’s average student age is 31.

Graduates of IMD tend do very well in their careers after the program: the 3-year average graduate salary is $131,800. 75% of the class join industry (including Consumer Products, Industrial Products, Technology, Healthcare, and Energy) when they graduate, 20% enter Consulting, and 5% pursue Financial Services careers. IMD enjoys a global reputation that affords its graduates some flexibility in their career destinations: while 63% of the class remains in Europe after graduating, 22% find employment in Asia, 6% in the Africa or the Middle East, and 9% in North or South America. IMD is consistently ranked among the top programs in the world: BusinessWeek ranks it #9 among international programs, the Financial Times ranks it #12, and Forbes named it the best 1-year international MBA program.

IMD scaled way back this year, trimming their application from 7 essays to just 3, but there are other areas in the application form that will require additional short answers as well.

IMD was recently buffeted by major changes in administrative personnel and direction. For details, please see “5 Key IMD Officials Resign.” Now, to the IMD essay tips for 2016:

Essay 1:

Describe yourself in two hundred words or less [200 words]

I recommend covering just one or two major attributes in this short essay, sharing two separate anecdotes or one example that demonstrates both traits. Some of the qualities that IMD values in its students are an international outlook, desire to make a difference, commitment to learning from others, a broad understanding and appreciation of moral issues, and effective leadership. While you do not need to use these terms specifically, essays that reveal these qualities will appeal to the admissions committee.

Essay 2:

Give an example of a time when you were confronted with an unrecoverable event. How did it affect you and what were your greatest learnings? [300 words]

“Unrecoverable event” is a euphemism for failure. You need to choose an event in which you could have done better. I often see applicants implicitly or explicitly blame others in their essays for what went wrong. Unfortunately, not accepting responsibility for the failure will indicate to the admissions committee that you are emotionally immature and incapable of owning your role in the failure. Focus instead on what personal and professional insights would have been helpful to you and how you have worked to gain and apply those since this event.

Essay 3:

On your 75th birthday someone close to you presents your laudatio (tribute). It can be a friend, colleague, family member etc. Please describe in detail what this person would say about you and your life. [300 words]

This is your chance to share some of the accomplishments you have achieved in your life so far and others that you aspire to achieve before you turn 75. Instead of dreaming of enormous accomplishments in the future that have no grounding in what you have been doing so far, go ahead and talk about some of your achievements to date and how they set you on the path to the accomplishments you intend to talk about on your 75th birthday. Applicants may also use this essay to describe their long-term career and life goals – describing those goals as if they have come to fruition.

Short answer questions from throughout the application:

What is your career goal post IMD? [200 characters]

200 characters is typically just a bit more than 2 lines of text, so you don’t have much room here to explain the role you would like to secure after graduating from IMD. While one-third of the class changes their function, industry, and geography after graduating from IMD, 93% change only one of these areas and 74% change only two: your short-term goal needs to connect in some way to what you’ve been doing until now to be a credible transition. It should include the function you want to perform, the industry in which you want to perform it, and geographic location if relevant.

What are the skills you need to develop in order to achieve your goal? [200 characters]

Again, this allows only a short response. Successful applicants will research their intended short-term goal to understand the business skills and knowledge they need to succeed and discuss those that the IMD MBA education focuses on.

Is there any additional information that is critical for the Admissions Committee to know which has not been covered elsewhere in this application? If you would like to comment on career gaps, education, GMAT/GRE, a disability or illness, please use this space. (Optional) [300 words]

Now that the IMD application is so short, it seems inevitable that critical experiences have been left out. Even if you have to write about a career/education gap or test score issue, I recommend doing so briefly to allow you to cover another success story in this essay. The goal of using this space is to share another facet of your background and convince the admissions team that you have a wealth of interesting experiences to share with the class.   

Administrative questions:

Your responses to these questions will not be taken into consideration in the admissions process. 

1.  How do you intend to finance your MBA at IMD? What would your budget be?  [300 words]

Funding the MBA is expensive, and IMD wants to know that you have considered this before you embark. 300 words is ample space to elaborate on your financial resources.

2.  Why are you applying to IMD? What other programs have you considered / are you considering? [300 words]

While the header for this section informs applicants that their responses will not be taken into consideration in the admissions process, I highly recommend going into detail about what makes IMD an ideal program for you. Go ahead and share the insight that you have gained from current students and alumni about what makes IMD special. The second element of the question is useful for IMD to know who their peers are, which helps them tweak their own marketing and recruiting efforts.

Application deadlines are at 23:59 pm CET (Switzerland) time in the following order:

Within a maximum of 6 weeks, you will be informed whether you have been selected to be interviewed for further evaluation or if your application has been unsuccessful.

Check out our other school specific tips!

If you would like professional guidance with your IMD MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and consulting  or our application package which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the IMD MBA application. 
Click here for Must-Know info & Advice for Students Abroad

Jennifer Bloom By Jennifer Bloom who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 15 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!

Related Resources:

The Quick Guide to Admissions Resumes
Maximizing Your MBA Application: 5 Tips for Succinct Essays
• Business and Science Meet: Insights of an IMD Grad and Former Medical Doctor 

NUS MBA 2015 Essay Tips

See other school specific b-school essay tips! National University of Singapore (NUS) hosts approximately 100 students each year in its full-time MBA program – 91% of those students come from outside of Singapore, representing 18 countries. The curriculum concentrates on global business with a focus on Asia in particular, and the program successfully places graduates in a variety of functions: 22% of the class enters consulting, 24% finance/accounting, 14% general management, 22% sales/marketing (with the remainder entering HR, Operations, and other functions).

Contrary to the global trend, NUS has not reduced the number of essay questions it asks of applicants this year. My tips are below in blue.

NUS has some short answer questions that you need to address, including:

Why is it important for you to embark on your MBA now?  [500 characters]

This is a very brief (500 characters is about 5 lines of typical text) opportunity for you to explain what is happening in your professional and personal life that make now the right time to pursue this education and what business skills and knowledge you need to reach the goals you have set before you.


1.  We would like you to tell us about your post-MBA immediate career goals and how your professional experiences have prepared you to achieve these goals. You may do so by a 300 words written essay or a two-minute video.

If you feel comfortable in front of a camera or know how to create fun graphic videos, the two-minute video offers you an opportunity to say a lot more than the 300-word essay can (in a practice session, I was able to read 430+ words with a calm, storytelling demeanor in the 2 minutes).  Once you’ve decided on the delivery medium, the content of this essay will be straightforward: NUS wants to hear what job you will aiming for when you graduate and what skills and network you have already gained that have prepared you for that path.

2.  The mission of NUS Business School is to advance knowledge and develop leaders so as to serve business and society. Discuss how you will contribute toward advancing the mission based on examples of past work and activities.  [300 words]

The phrasing of this question can be confusing, but what they are really asking for here are examples from your past when you advanced the mission of a business, organization, or society at large. Ideally, your examples of advancing a business will also have some benefit to society – minimizing waste, improving relationships with the surrounding community, for example – but that isn’t a requirement.  

Given the word limit, you probably could provide 2-3 examples.

3.   (Only applicable to re-applicants) Please provide an update on any new aspects of your professional, international, academic or personal profile that would not have been included in your previous application. Please do also explain your motivation for re-applying to NUS. [300 words]

This is a gift to re-applicants: you’re being granted 300 extra words to make the case that you are ready for the NUS education. Briefly comment on any improvement in your GMAT score and/or GPA, then shine the spotlight on the ways in which you have developed your leadership skills and made a greater impact on your company or community since you last applied. How has this year helped you see ever more clearly how the NUS MBA will help you reach your goals more quickly and effectively?

4.  Tell us something interesting or unique about yourself which you think would be helpful for the Admission Committee to better evaluate your candidacy. [300 words]

I have a love-hate relationship with open-ended questions like this: on the one hand they are great for people with something truly unique in their background that doesn’t fit into any of the traditional MBA application essays; on the other hand, they strike intense fear in the hearts of most applicants in need of a more direct question!

As you analyze your profile, identify the one aspect that best distinguishes you from your peers: are you a great leader, community activist, analyst, athlete, or team builder? You may wish to ask your boss, peers, and friends what they think is really special about you, but you should only write the essay about a quality that is beneficial to the NUS program. Talking about something superfluous like your cooking skills or antique collection isn’t useful unless you use that skill to build community or make an impact in some way.

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

Full-Time NUS MBA Application Dates

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Jennifer Bloom By Jennifer Bloom who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 15 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!

Related Resources:

Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right
NUS: A Small But Mighty Academic Powerhouse in Asia
An NUS MBA Shares Her Story