M = Motivation

MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great TipsA good application essay is comprised of both anecdote and analysis, the what and the why of your personal experiences. Telling a straight story (anecdote without analysis) will leave your essay flat, with no depth or insight into your character or motivations; on the other hand, an essay that rattles on about the why but omits the what will be boring and overly theoretical, lacking substance and voice.

Your goal: To create an essay that balances these two components, that’s full of descriptive details about what happened (your experience) AND why such things occurred (or how you reacted or responded).

Essay Component #1: Anecdote
The first component of a compelling essay is the retelling of what happened to you. This is the story
element of your MBA essay. Most applicants launch their essays with an anecdote to draw in your
readers. Good idea. (For important storytelling tips, please see our free special report, From Example to Exemplary, or the on-demand webinar, Essays that Stick.)

Essay Component #2: Analysis
For this second component, you’ll want to talk about your motivations for pursuing the experience
in question or the lessons learned as a result of it.

The questions below will help you shape the analysis component of your essay. After thinking of a
good anecdote, a key experience that you’d like to share, make sure your essay also addresses the

  1. Why is this experience one that you wanted to bring to the adcom’s attention?
  2. What makes you tick? Why did you make the decisions you made?
  3. How did a particular experience motivate action in the future?
  4. What did you learn from this experience?

You’re applying to b-school, so your quant skills are probably pretty good – so let’s put this in solid
math terms:
Anecdote + Analysis = Your Awesome Application Essay

For more essay writing tips, please see MBA Application Essays 101, a resource guide containing
special reports, webinars, and blog posts on every aspect of the MBA essay writing process.

“M = Motivation” is excerpted from the Accepted.com special report, MBA Admissions
A – Z:26 Great Tips.  To download the entire free special report, click here.

Accepted.com Accepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Stay safe, warm and dry

To all our readers in the eastern half of the United States, please stay safe, warm, and dry.  Hang in there until tomorrow.

5 Days $5 off MBA Admission for Smarties

You can get the Kindle version of MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools at $5 off it’s regular price for the next 5 days. Normally $9.99, today, July 5,  through July 10, it is only $4.99.

It provides strategy and tactics that will guide you through the MBA application process. Short and succinct, it makes a great read on a plane or train trip, while sitting by the pool or on the sand, or when relaxing after a satisfying run, hike or ride. And it will help you get accepted.

Buy MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools before July 10. Get great MBA admissions advice and save $5.00.

MIT Sloan 2013 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips


MIT Sloan

The 2014 MIT Sloan tips are now available. Click here to check them out!

Cover Letter

Please prepare a cover letter (up to 500 words) seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA program. Your letter should describe your accomplishments, address any extenuating circumstances that may apply to your application, and conform to standard business correspondence. Your letter should be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions.

Like all cover letters, this is a marketing document. Make your case for admission using your accomplishments, specifically those where you had impact, showed leadership, and above-average progression and responsibility. How do the talents revealed in these examples demonstrate fit with the MIT Sloan program, its tight-knit community, and its innovative culture?


Please prepare a business resume that includes your employment history in reverse chronological order, with titles, dates, and whether you worked part-time or full-time. Your educational record should also be in reverse chronological order and should indicate dates of attendance and degree(s) earned. Other information appropriate to a business resume is welcomed and encouraged. The resume should not be more than one page in length (up to 50 lines).

Go beyond mere job description to highlight achievement. If your title is “consultant.” Saying that you “consulted on projects” is redundant and uninformative at best. Writing that you “Led a 6-member team working on a biotech outsourcing project to Singapore with a budget of $X; it came in on time and under budget.” conveys infinitely more.


We are interested in learning more about how you work, think, and act. For each essay, please provide a brief overview of the situation followed by a detailed description of your response. Please limit the experiences you discuss to those which have occurred in the past three years.

In each of the essays, please describe in detail what you thought, felt, said, and did.

The devil is in the details, and Sloan wants them for each of these stories. Look for moments that stand out in your mind. You don’t have room for anything but those stand-outs.

Also, if Sloan is asking for events that occurred in the last three years, that’s what you should write about. “But!!!” No but’s. Stick to the last three years.

Essay 1: Please describe a time when you had to convince a person or a group of your idea. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)

This question really reflects two ideas at the very heart of the Sloan MBA: leadership and innovation. Persuasion is one element in leadership and “your idea” should showcase your problem-solving and innovative thinking.

Focus on one event. Make room for analysis. Tell a story. You can use a professional or a non-professional experience for this essay. Work, sports, community service, or the arts can provide the context, but for most of you Essay 1 or Essay 2 should reflect your behavior on the job.

Essay 2: Please describe a time when you overcame a personal setback. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)

This question is about resilience and your ability to bounce back after a mistake or a setback. Note that MIT is asking here for  a “personal setback” They aren’t interested in a team or company or group setback. This had to have been a reversal or defeat for you. Also realize that a setback is a temporary impediment to progress. 

Again, focus on one event; I’m sure you don’t want to go into more than one. Briefly relate the setback and spend most of your five hundred words on overcoming the experience. What did you do, feel and learn from the experience. Rather than say you learned you “can overcome anything,” which sometimes is more than a little overused, focus on key strategies and tactics you used to overcome your setback.

For more on my thoughts on answering setback questions, please watch this video. I created it in response to last year’s HBS question about setback, but the message is relevant here too. (Sorry. I am uncharacteristically somber and serious in this video.)

Supplemental Information (Optional)

The Admissions Committee invites you to share anything else you would like us or your future classmates to know about you. This may be in written or multimedia format. Please do not use Flash Media Player, and include a URL where it can be accessed online. Written essays should be 300 words or fewer.   

I discussed this question with someone in MIT Sloan’s admissions office last week. First of all realize that you can choose an essay or multi-media presentation. The media option is there so you can express yourself in the way you find easiest and most revealing. MIT does not want a recycled essay from another school. The person I spoke to was explicit about that. If you choose the multi-media format, realize it should be something viewable in about a minute — no 20-minute videos or 100-slide expositions or lengthy orations. Keep it short. It’s also fine to link to something you have created for a club, event, or cause that’s important to you.

What’s behind the option? A deep and sincere desire to meet you as a human being. A genuine, animated, real live human being. So don’t regurgitate your resume or spew stuff found in the required elements of your application. Have the confidence to share a special interest or deep commitment. I’m not suggesting Mommy Dearest or True Confessions; use judgment. I am suggesting that you allow the reader to see a good side of you not revealed elsewhere in the application.  Let them see what makes you smile, motivates you to jump out of bed with joy, and gives you a feeling of satisfaction when you turn out the light at the end of the day.

If you would like help with your MIT Sloan MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MIT Sloan School Package which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the MIT Sloan MBA application.

MIT Sloan 2013 Application Deadlines                                     

Round I               Round II

Application Due:              Oct 24, 2012*      Dec 27, 2012*

Decisions Released:        Jan 29, 2013       Apr 2, 2013

*Applications must be received by 3:00 p.m. ET

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.

MBA Admissions News Roundup

  • School Visits are Like Online Dating- The MBA Blog, “Por Qué….MBA?” One girl’s MBA application journey!, looks at the importance of visiting MBA programs before making any decisions about where to apply. MBA blogger Mango, visited both Columbia and Kellogg’s programs and learned about her “type” of program.  She explained that the same way you understand a lot about a person from a blind date (even though you can’t understand everything), you learn a lot about your chemistry with a school from an initial visit.  Bottom line: schools are very different on paper than they are in person. To hear more about Mango’s MBA application process check out her interview with Accepted.
  • How to Utilize GMAC Data- GMAC talks about what it has learned after giving 258,192 tests worldwide in 2011. The testing year, which ended June 30,2011, showed that GMAT test taking is down 2.2% from 2010 and 3% from 2009.
  • Plagiarism Has Got to Stop- BusinessWeek reports that Turnitin.com is cutting down on cheating in business schools. Turnitin, a program that scans admissions essays and then compares them to a large database of essays, said there are 10-20 business schools currently using its service. Turnitin reported that a study of 453,000 personal statements from over 300 colleges and universities found that 36% were cases of possible plagiarism. While this number sounds high, since more MBA programs will likely start using Turnitin, MBA applicants should be extra careful and not “borrow” from sample essays online.
  • GMAT is Used By Over 5,300 Programs- GMAC reports that there has been an increase in different types of programs involving business management. The growth in programs is highlighted by the fact that GMAC has had to add or update 23 program code categories this year. In fact, over 5,300 different programs worldwide use the GMAT exam. To help find what kind of program is right for you, check out the different programs—filtered by GMAT program code types—at mba.com.

Accepted.comAccepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best


Why Help Kids Kicking Cancer?

We are two days away from the end of Accepted’s Kids Kicking Cancer Holiday campaign. (Accepted will donate $1 for every Like we get on our FB wall through Sunday Dec. 18)

We thank each and every one of you who has either liked our Facebook page or told your friend about our efforts on behalf of Kids Kicking Cancer. We have received over 200 likes since the campaign began (as I’m writing), but there is room for more. Much more room, and profound need.

How do I know? Our youngest son developed leukemia when he was six. I’m sure you realize that a diagnosis like that is devastating, and the treatment incredibly harsh, especially if the disease progresses. However, few can fathom the psychological and emotional impact on a child.

Tragically, I know what it is, and I know how hard it is to handle that stress and to empower a sick child in a healthy way. Kids Kicking Cancer addresses those issues. It “helps children with cancer manage the stress and pain of their disease and treatments through personalized coaching instructed by black belt martial artists.”

So why don’t I simply write a check? Been there. Done that. We actually have supported KKC for years. This campaign introduces this worthy organization to many who don’t know of its existence. A non-sectarian organization, KKC works in hospitals throughout the U.S. and is starting to branch out abroad.

With your help during this holiday season, we can help KKC expand further. As one recommendation on Facebook said, “This is the easiest uplifting thing you can do this December.

Please lend a hand:

  1. If you haven’t liked Accepted on Facebook, click here and then click on the thumbs up “Like” button at the top of the page.
  2. Please email your friends or use your social media of choice and ask those you know to “like” Accepted’s Facebook page.
  3. Encourage them to spread the word.

There are only two days left…

Thank you.

Happy Holidays!

Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, founder and president of Accepted.com, co-author of MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have been remiss. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but this year I spent the day helping my elderly mother pack up in preparation for an upcoming move to a retirement community. I am appreciative of the opportunity to help her at this time, but didn’t have a chance to send my usual Thanksgiving greetings.

One of my all my all time favorite posts is my Thanksgiving 2007 post. I like it because in addition to reflecting my thoughts on Thanksgiving, the holiday and the attitude, it also illustrates many of the techniques I teach you to use in your personals statements, MBA essays, and statements of purpose. If you have a minute, check it out.

Whether you take a look at that post or not and whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, take a minute or two to count your blessings. That’s what this holiday is about, and that exercise is universally beneficial. An attitude of appreciation is something worth cultivating.  Closely related to humility, it is a quality that can even help you get accepted.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Accepted.com--Present Yourself at Your Best  By , founder of Accepted.com .


Y iPad Contest Ends Tomorrow

Would you like to tool around school with a cool, shiny iPad? What would you do with it? How would you use it?

Tell us in a 2-minute video, and you can win an iPad 2. BUT, the Y iPad contest ends tomorrow, Thursday Nov. 24, Thanksgiving in the U.S.

For details, visit our Y iPad contest page. Submit your video, and you could have an iPad to be thankful for.

Accepted.com --Present Yourself at Your Best!Accepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best

4 Great MBA Admission Interview Resources

It’s that time of year.  MBA interview invitations are going out.  I just want to highlight my favorite free MBA interview resources for you:

  1. MBA Interview Feedback Database Review feedback from your interviewing school. Know what to expect. Then pay it forward by sharing your interview experience.
  2. MBA Interview Prep: How to Ace Your Interviews Download this free special report.
  3. Business School Interview Prep 101 Explore all our MBA interview resources from this page. New this year.
  4. MBA Interview Video Watch this video to ready yourself for qualitative and behavioral questions.

Download Video from YouTube | Convert YouTube to MP3


Linda Abraham By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of Accepted.com.



Steve Jobs: 4 Lessons for MBA Applicants

Steve Jobs at Stanford

Steve Jobs never finished college, not to mention graduate business school, but he became a legendary business leader. As the world stops to consider the enormous contribution of this visionary, I also was thinking about his legacy, and after fifteen years as an MBA admissions consultant, I couldn’t help but think about lessons for MBA applicants. These lessons are not just about his showmanship, or the laundry list of products he helped to create, or the organizations he founded and grew, or his lengthy battle with cancer and untimely death. I want to look beyond the headlines and the tributes for actionable lessons that you can use in your MBA applications.

  1. Impact. No one expects an applicant to have had Jobs-ian impact, but a successful application to a top business school has to show that his or her involvement made a difference. What have you created? Innovated? Grown? It could be a church group. A band. A club. Wherever it was, show how you contributed.
  2. Creativity and initiative. As CNN observed “Time after time, he sold people on a product they didn’t know they needed until he invented it.” He had the creativity to invent it — and the initiative to move forward on his plans whether it was the Apple I, the Apple II, the Mac, the iPod, the iPad, or myriad other products. When have you taken the initiative to solve a problem, design a new system, or create a new event? I’m not talking about tons of technical details involved in the process; the tributes to Jobs also aren’t. The creativity and initiative are evidenced by his results–and there’s that word again — impact.
  3. Passion. He had high standards and incredible enthusiasm for his work. His zeal for user-friendly technology knew no limits – and I’m neither a techie nor a Mac-head (although I could be undergoing a conversion). In his words, “Our goal is to make the best personal computers in the world and to make products we are proud to sell and would recommend to our family and friends. And we want to do that at the lowest prices we can.” In MBA admissions “passion” means dedication plus action. If you are asked what you are passionate about, think of Steve Jobs’ zeal, and then think of times when you combined enthusiasm with action.
  4. Leadership. He led his company. He led his industry. In many respects he led all of us towards a more technological and entertaining world. It’s that influence on others that you want to reveal in any MBA essay on leadership. Again, you don’t have to have led the world or a multi-billion dollar company. If you persuaded your team, your club, your class, you would have exhibited a little bit of what made Steve Jobs the brilliant leader he was.

For the next few days, there will be an outpouring of tribute and praise, a recounting of Steve Jobs’ genius and achievements. And then it will die down. I don’t think Steve Jobs will be forgotten, just as I don’t think Henry Ford or JP Morgan will soon be forgotten. But in a few days Apple’s home page will go back to selling its products. His family will do their best to pick up the pieces of their lives. And we will go back to using our Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iPods. And soon, perhaps immediately, you will resume your MBA application process. When you do, apply these four lessons from Steve Job’s super-sized and all-too-short life.

By , president and founder of Accepted.comLinda Abraham

This article first appeared on Technorati.

Steve Jobs photo credit: Keng Susumpow