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:

Round 1: October 15, 2015 (11:59 pm India Standard time)

Round 2: January 5, 2016 (11:59 pm India Standard time)

Download your free guide: Navigating the MBA Maze

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

Indian School of Business MBA Admissions Q&A

Discover the benefits of attending India’s top-ranked business school, the Indian School of Business (ISB), when you attend our upcoming admissions Q&A with Mr. Rupesh Bisht, Associate Director – Admissions & Financial Aid at ISB.

Join our live Indian School of Business (ISB) Admissions Q&A!

In addition to answering your questions, Mr. Bisht will discuss various topics including:

  • The admissions process and application requirements.
  • ISB’s advanced curriculum and goals.
  • Financing and scholarship options.
  • Career opportunities for ISB students.

Register now to reserve your spot for the live ISB MBA Admissions Q&A [Wednesday, November 5, 2014, at 9 AM PT / 12 PM ET / 5 PM GMT / 10:30 PM IST].

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Indian School of Business 2014 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Indian School of Business campus in Hyderabad

Indian School of Business campus in Hyderabad

The Indian School of Business has become one of the strongest graduate business programs in Asia. While it dropped from 20th to 34th in this year’s Financial Times’ Global MBA rankings – making it only the fifth best MBA program in Asia – 100% of its graduates secure job offers within 3 months of graduating and salary increases for graduates are still 152% over their pre-MBA pay! Competition for seats in this esteemed 1-year program is intense and the admissions process is highly competitive for native Indians. Here are ISB’s essay questions and my advice for how to answer them (in blue).


1. Attitude, skills and knowledge differentiate people. Elaborate with two examples on how you would differentiate yourself from other applicants to the PGP. (300 words max)

To answer this well, you need to know what makes you special. Think about who you are and perhaps even ask your friends and mentors for input to gain some perspective. ISB recently revealed in a summary of Myth Busters that it is looking for applicants with a “thirst for knowledge, involvement in professional and personal pursuits, willingness to learn and eagerness to contribute, well balanced personality with thought-provoking ideas and ability to challenge status quo,” so think about examples of these in your own background.

Once you have selected the two qualities you wish to highlight, make them come alive by sharing examples  and/or evidence of them. While you certainly can split this essay into two 150-word sections of each quality, you do not have to be so even-handed: if one differentiating factor needs more space or just is more interesting, it’s worth giving it more room.

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

ISB’s Admissions Director has listed “Clarity of thought in terms of career aspirations and goals” as one of the three most important qualities sought in the ISB application essays. This goals essay is your opportunity to show that you possess that clarity. You must begin by explaining your goals. Keep in mind that these goals must “make sense” and stem in some way from your past. If entrepreneurship is in your future, it should really appear in your past as well. If you aim for a technology or consulting role, you’ll need to demonstrate that you know what qualities you will need to succeed in these and bring some proof as to your readiness for this career. You do not need an exact map of your future, but you do need to reveal a thought process, reasoning, and evidence of your ability to reach your goals through the ISB program. Highlight in this essay what makes ISB the perfect stepping stone to those goals. 

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)

ISB is looking for leadership potential in its applicants, the ability to take responsibility then collaborate with, motivate and drive others to produce results. This essay is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that you have these skills. An ideal achievement essay will show the obstacles that were in your way and how you used creativity, interpersonal skills, and intellect to surpass them and make an impact.

Optional Essay:

Please provide additional information, if any, that will significantly affect the consideration of your application to the ISB. (300 words max)

The open-ended nature of this question causes infinite hand-wringing, but it should really be viewed as a gift: here is your opportunity to share whatever makes you special. This could be from your work, community service, education, or travels. Don’t make the mistake of just listing an experience or award that is mentioned elsewhere in the application form. Instead, use this space to share why the experience was meaningful, what you gained from it, how you grew, and why you are better prepared for ISB and your future career or leadership as a result.

If you would like professional guidance with your Indian School of Business 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 ISB application.

ISB 2014 MBA Application Deadlines:

International applicants (Non Indian Passport Holders) to the Indian School of Business (ISB) have a rolling application process. If you are shortlisted, you are likely to be interviewed within one month of submission of a complete application. However, in exceptional situations it might take more than a month. You will be informed about the decision within three weeks from the date of the interview.

As an international candidate, you might need additional time to arrange for visas, housing and financial aid, and to work on their English Language proficiency if necessary. Hence, you are encouraged to apply early.

Application for PGP 2014-15 is now open. It will close on January 15, 2014.

Application Deadline for Early Entry Option candidates is January 15, 2014. Offers will be made on March 31, 2014.

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 14 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!

2014 ISB Adcom Interview on Career Switching Available!



Are you considering applying to the Indian School of Business AND switching careers post-MBA? Then you’ll want to read the following excerpt from our recent Q&A with Mr. V. K. Menon, Senior Director of Placements at ISB, as he discusses important information for career switchers at the ISB.

Question: I have often read about ISB students making career shifts after years of being in one position. How does the one-year program help students to make such dramatic career shifts? How does the school assist students in considering different choices?

VK Menon: As we said at the start, around 70% of the guys shift their careers in some way. Either they shift their function or they shift their industry or their geography or they might shift two of them or they might shift all three…

The important thing is look at it from the eye of the recruiter…The recruiter says fine, you’ve got three, four years of experience in whichever domain you’ve been working in. We will give you credit that you have got to a premium MBA program. We will give you credit that you have done well in your undergrad…But now you should tell me why we should take you over somebody else we can get from the market who is coming from a similar experience background?

Now this is the question you have to answer when it comes to the interview. How ISB prepares you for that is again going back to the question which was asked some time back. Right from the time you join, you will be connected with learning – as we call learning and development experts. These are all people with vertical experience across verticals. That is sales and marketing, technology, finance, etc. and these people will handle and guide you through the process. They will tell you what you need to do to be able to answer that question which we discussed. They will connect you will alumni. They will connect you with industry leaders and experts. There are programs which are specifically designed for industry people to come and give you guidance. So this whole process is orchestrated by the career advancement services group.

Question: What if I want to change industry being from a family business background?

VK Menon: This is also another very interesting question because hidden in the question is another question….Will the companies think that I may not stay with them? There are all kinds of fears which are there in the minds of people who are coming from that background. But what I have seen is, as far as the company is concerned, the company is looking for certain skill sets. That’s number one. Number two is by and large, most companies these days promote an entrepreneurial culture. They want people who are risk takers, who can think differently, who can come up with solutions, who can take responsibility and move forward quickly in a flexible way. So all these are requirements.

Now what I have seen is, unless you are coming in from a family industry which is directly competing or something, which I haven’t had many cases like that, but if you’re coming from an industry, a family – a background where you have your own industry or your family has an industry, these recruiters are quite comfortable taking you because their assumption is that since you have your own industry or participated strongly in it, you will have this in-built characteristics, risk taking, responsible, flexible, move ahead fast, all these entrepreneurial characteristics which become very favorable. So I have seen a lot of people from family backgrounds get very nice roles.

For more questions and answers on switching careers at the ISB, check out the 2014 ISB Career Shifts Q&A transcript or audio file. You can also view Accepted’s Career Changers 101 page for more information.

To automatically receive notices about these MBA admissions chats and other MBA admissions events, please subscribe to our MBA events list. To listen to the Q&A recordings on-the-go, please subscribe to the Accepted Admissions Podcast.

2014 ISB Adcom Interview Available!

Indian School of Business


Thinking about applying to the Indian School of Business?

Then check out our recent Q&A with Mr. V. K. Menon, Senior Director of Placements at ISB for valuable information on career prospects for ISB grads post-MBA. Read on for an excerpt:

Question: Can you explain how well ISB graduates are placed in terms of being work ready on the first day? Do ISB and companies that hire consider that the PGP is robust enough to deliver work-ready managers with minimal training?

VK Menon: Let’s look at how we operate. The ISB Program is a one-year program. So right when we were setting up the school the question arose, should we go in for a one-year program or should we do a normal two-year program like many other business schools? The research we conducted showed that if people had more than three years of experience they were in a very advantageous position if they went in for a one-year program, and so we chose the one-year model.

The tradeoff of the model is that in a typical two-year model, you get about 720 contact hours. These are hours which you spend in class with the professors, 720. In a one-year program, that is the one that is done by ISB, you have around 680 contact hours.

So there is a tradeoff of about 40 contact hours, but the advantage is that you get back to work one year earlier.  
So that’s how we formulated the design. Having formulated the design, the other thing which we had to do was that we had to do away with all the breaks….This one year is split up into eight terms and each term is one and a half months. In each term, you will do about four to five subjects which means that it’s a very tight program and the program rolls on term after term for one complete year.

Now, the interesting fact here is that close to around 70% of the students who join the PGP Program of the ISB change their careers. They either change their function or they change their industry or they change their location or they change all the three. So the question which was asked becomes very important. How is it that we make these people ready to be operative from day one, how is that we prepare them not just on that curriculum but also on the get-ready-to-industry concept? Now for that we have a complete — under the Career Advancement Services, we have a Learning and Development Department. The Learning and Development Department is headed by vertical specialists….So it is their role…to ensure that you take the right subjects, you go to the projects which you need to do. You may have to choose certain projects which are specifically designed for you. You may have to kind of go out and work with certain industries. You may have to do special sessions from industry experts who are brought in for getting you ready to go to market. So there’s a whole set of activities which are done by the Learning and Development Department.

This department is not in any way associated with the academics that go on. The academics is a stream by itself. The Learning and Development Department just ensures that the student is job ready, job fit for both the interview and for the job, if and when the job is given to you. So that’s the way in which we train students to be ready on day one. Going by feedback of companies which have been recruiting, and we’re very sensitive about feedback, we get back to the companies and we are in close touch with more than about 1,000 companies worldwide. So the feedback suggests that the graduates of ISB have performed exceptionally well when it came to really handling assignments post graduation.

For the complete conversation, please check out the 2014 ISB Career Opportunities Post-MBA Q&A or listen to the audio file. You can also view our ISB B-School Zone for more information.

To automatically receive notices about these MBA admissions chats and other MBA admissions events, please subscribe to our MBA events list. To listen to the Q&A recordings on-the-go, please subscribe to the Accepted Admissions Podcast.