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HBS Essay tips

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HBS Essay tips

by Michelle@ARINGO » Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:28 pm
Last month, Harvard Business School published their essay question for the 2018 application. This year's question is possibly the vaguest one yet, leaving many candidates confused regarding the best way to go about answering. Therefore, we have some tips to share regarding how to answer this particular essay question.

But first, let's take a look at the question itself. It is:
"As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program?"

What is the hardest part about answering this question?
We would say it is remaining disciplined at sticking to the topic at hand. It is easy to get carried away and write too much, as well as about unrelated issues, when you have unlimited space, which is the case here. That is rarely a good idea, however, as HBS also value qualities such as prioritization skills, maturity and clarity. Therefore, you need to be careful not to go overboard lengthwise.

Additionally, HBS themselves advise candidates to avoid overthinking, over crafting and overwriting. They also request that applicants answer the question in a clear language that "those of us who don't know your world can understand."

While using complicated words and sayings might be tempting in order to show off your skills, this goes against what HBS themselves say that they want, so that is another thing to definitely avoid when working on this essay. Keep in mind that some professional consultants also tend to complicate matters if you work with them, so make sure you keep an eye out for that when taking their advice as well!

As HBS does not specify or limit the amount of words you can and should use for this essay, the ideal length would also vary. Anything between 500 and 800 words is likely okay, depending on the level of the writing of course, but should you see that you are reaching 1000 words or more, you'd probably want to take another look at what you have written in order to try to figure out if you could cut down somewhere. Likewise, should you essay be shorter than 500 words, you may want to ask yourself if there is more value that might interest the adcom.

What you do want to do before you start writing this essay is to evaluate the other aspects of your candidacy, as that is what the admissions committee will be looking at as well. You should focus on aspects that do not show as well or at all in your resume, in your transcripts etc., rather than mention things that the admissions committee will already know about you or see elsewhere again. Do not waste their time - make sure there is something new and surprising in the essay, that they can't read about elsewhere.
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