Applications are a tiring business. In addition to costly fees and varying requirements, each school tries its best to ensure that its essay questions are as unique as possible to stop applicants from using material written for other schools. Unfortunately, the temptation to reuse and recycle material is strong: by an applicant’s third essay, fatigue often sets in and schools start to blend together. That’s when mistakes happen…
Yes, sometimes you’ll recycle material – the key is to do so sparingly. Instead of cutting corners by reusing entire essays, be smart about it and follow these five tips. By treating each essay as its own entity, you’re far more likely to a deliver an outstanding application to each school instead of a great one for your first submission… followed by increasingly disjointed ones later on.
- Don’t “fix up” an essay for a different question. If School #1 asks you for a 500-word essay on your long-term goals and School #2 asks you for 250 words on why you want to join THEIR school, avoid the urge to “squeeze” your first essay to fit the second question. You’ll spend just as much time editing it to fit the new requirements as you would writing a new one. Furthermore, since the questions asked are different, you won’t deliver YOUR BEST work with unrelated material.
- Never “fill in the blanks.” Likewise, if you DO have to answer two similar questions, never “fill in the blanks” by changing a school’s name. It’s a surefire road to embarrassing mistakes – you don’t want to accidentally tell Harvard that Yale is your dream school.
- Rewrite stories. Instead, your best bet is to rewrite your story a second time – keep in mind all of the lessons you’ve learned during your previous application but start fresh. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can tackle a topic the second, third, or fourth time—and most of the time, you’ll write an even better essay.
- Reuse sentences. Ok, so you don’t wanna reuse entire essays, but if you’ve written a particularly brilliant turn of phrase, there’s no reason NOT to reuse it. Just stick to individual sentences instead of entire paragraphs.
- Tired? Try something new. If you’re truly stuck, however, it may be time to find a new topic. While your short-term and long-term goals will stay the same, some essay questions are more open-ended. You don’t NEED to use the same failure story each time; if you’re suffering from writer’s block, your best bet is sometimes to try a new approach and a different story.
- Don’t “fix up” an essay for a different question.
- Never “fill in the blanks.”
- Rewrite stories
- Reuse sentences, not entire paragraphs.
- Tired? Try something new.
Check out the other articles in this series:
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #12: Writing On A Deadline
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #11: Researching Your Dream School
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #10: Sentence Breakdown: Career Transition
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #9: A Guide to Fantastic Essay Conclusions
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #8: Simplify Your Writing By Avoiding Buzzwords
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #7: “Your School Is Ideal Because…”
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #6: Breaking Down Technical Jargon
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #5: Getting Specific With Goals
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #4: Writing About Sensitive Topics
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #3: Quantifying Success
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #2: Making Your Personal Qualities POP!
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #1: Building a Catchy Intro