Tuck Essay Questions & Tips

by Vantage Point MBA, Sep 16, 2022

VPstanfordtips

With just over a week until the Round 1 deadline, many MBA hopefuls are likely hard at work on their Tuck essay questions. The Tuck essay questions are not ones to rush through – demonstrating a nuanced understanding of the Tuck program is key to successfully selling yourself to the school.

In fact, Tuck devotes an entire page on its website to ‘admissions criteria’ – the four characteristics it seeks in successful applicants: smart, accomplished, aware and encouraging. ‘Smart’ and ‘accomplished’ are basically givens for any highly regarded MBA program. However, ‘aware’ and ‘encouraging’ are a bit more specific. After you have solid drafts of your essays, be sure to revisit these criteria and ask yourself (or a trusted friend) whether they come to the forefront. Make sure your letters of recommendation showcase these characteristics as well.

Tuck Essay Questions

  1. Tuck students can articulate how the distinctive Tuck MBA will advance their aspirations. Why are you pursuing an MBA and why Tuck? (300 words)
  2. Tuck students recognize how their individuality adds to the fabric of Tuck. Tell us who you are. (300 words)
  3. Tuck students are encouraging, collaborative, and empathetic, even when it is not convenient or easy. Describe a meaningful experience in which you exemplified one or more of these attributes. (300 words)
  4. Optional Essay: Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere (e.g., atypical choice of evaluators, factors affecting academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application. (300 words)

Note: There is a fourth required essay for reapplicants – How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally. (300 words)

Tuck Essay Tips

Thorough Research About Tuck Should Be the Backbone of Each Essay, Especially Essay One

Even more than other schools, Tuck really cares that you’ve taken the time to understand what makes its program unique and why its specific resources fit your goals. This is one school we highly, highly encourage our clients to visit for exactly this reason. If a visit isn’t feasible (on-campus events are still limited in summer / fall 2022), attend enough in-person or virtual events and do enough networking to replicate the knowledge you would have gleaned from the full-scale campus experience (class visit, lunch with students, campus tour, etc.)

Also, take the time to thoroughly reflect on why what you’ve learned matters for your specific circumstances – the way you learn, the skills you are looking to build in school, the connections you need to form. Then, thoughtfully communicate these insights in your essays. Essay one is the obvious place for this, but essay two is another good place to highlight the parts of your personality that will make you a great ‘Tuckie’.

One thing to note for this essay is that it doesn’t ask about your career goals specifically. This is likely because imbedded in the Tuck application are two short-answer questions (each with a 50-word limit) that ask you to share your short-term and long-term career goals. Since the word count is limited in essay one, we don’t recommend restating your career goals here. Instead, pick up where your short answers left off by providing more insight into the “why” behind your goals. That “why” can then shape your specific motivations for pursuing an MBA and be the foundation for your fit with Tuck.

Use Stories to Highlight a Few Distinct Characteristics in Essay Two

While essay three specifically asks you to tell a story, using stories to ‘show not tell’ who you are in essay two is also an optimal strategy. You can claim all day long that you are curious, team-oriented, adventurous, or whatever the case may be, but it’s hard to make this believable if it’s not backed up with an example that demonstrates it.

Given the scant word count, selectivity is key. What are the two or three things (personality traits, elements of your background, values, etc.) that really define who you are? Filter these through Tuck’s four criteria and select the two (or even one, if robust enough) that you don’t highlight elsewhere in the application and align with your personal brand.

After using a brief story or two to demonstrate your selected quality(ies), spend a short paragraph extrapolating how these traits will play out at Tuck and why they will allow you to better the experience of your classmates.

Be Inspired by a Prior Version of Essay Three

A prior version of this essay prompt asked for a time you helped someone succeed and that’s still a good way to frame up this question in your head as you brainstorm potential stories. Once you have some options, filter them (once again) through Tuck’s criteria and, more specifically, the three attributes they’ve listed in the prompt to settle on the ideal one to use.

As you write, be sure to spend the bulk of the content describing your actions in detail. Frame up the context as briefly and simply as you can so that you can maximize the space devoted to the nuances of your approach – beyond the actions you took, drill into your thoughts, words, etc. The word count is limiting, so it will take some trial and error to get this right.

If you’d like assistance with your Tuck essays or your broader MBA application strategy, click here to schedule an initial consultation!