The MBA Essay Writing Guide: #6 – Breaking Down Technical Jargon

by on September 15th, 2012

What works in one field doesn’t always work in another. And what works in your field of work probably won’t work in your MBA application essays. So while technical explanations are the norm in science and engineering, they can be the death of a good application essay if they get in the way of your storytelling. Take this long-winded example from our archives; the writer wrote this in an essay asking about his immediate and long-term career objectives…

The contract involved writing NFP transaction reports and negotiating with partners and associates to provide EXL support similar to that which they used to provide to EmpCo. It also meant obtaining NFB authorization from various entities such as financial advisors, industry regulators and most importantly from our company’s shareholders and CXO.

That’s a mouthful! And even with all that, we have no clue what he’s talking about! So what did we eliminate here? EVERYTHING.

We told our verbose friend to cut this entire chunk of text out of the essay for several reasons. First, this is a LOT of words that do NOTHING to answer the essay’s main question. While the side story this is taken from wasn’t bad per se, this description simply used too much space for its comparatively minimal value. Second, it was entirely too technical; without a context we had no idea what homeslice was talking about and if WE didn’t know, you can bet the admission’s committee wouldn’t either. Finally, this contributed NOTHING to the story he was telling, instead bogging it down with unknown acronyms and diluting this essay’s focus.

So how can you avoid this?

  1. Before writing as a sentence, ask yourself, “how does his help answer the essay question?” By ruthlessly focusing on the question at hand, you can avoid this kind of unnecessary tangent.
  2. Avoid technical descriptions. We don’t need to know the details of what the writer did here, we need to know its importance to the story. Save that space for details relating to the STORY: how you felt, what you learned and what the results were.
  3. Finally, use simple and direct language and avoid acronyms and business jargon. Write as if you’re explaining the situation to a random person on the street. Because, you really are. There’s no way the adcom is going to know everything about every job out there, and there’s a very good chance they know nothing about yours. You want the admission’s committee to understand and react to your story on his first read, because you may not get a second!

So remember…

  1. Ask yourself how each sentence contributes to answering the essay’s question.
  2. Avoid technical descriptions, save the space for storytelling.
  3. Use simple and direct language, not jargon and acronyms.

[Get more of the MBA Essay Writing Guide here.]

Check out the other articles in this series:

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

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