10 Writing Tips for your MBA Application Essays
An application to a top deferred MBA program generally consists of the following components: academic performance, GMAT/GRE test scores, letters of recommendation, resume/professional experience, and essays. With so much squeezed into the application, it’s easy to become focused on things like GPA and GMAT/GRE test scores. Additionally, it’s even easier to look at scores of other students and fall into the trap of comparison and self-doubt. But the one piece that really sets you apart, and the aspect we at Early Admit feel is most important, is the essay.
Your essays are critical! It’s your chance to explain your story and engage the audience, which in this case, is the committee who decides whether or not you get in. When writing your essays, there are two things to keep in mind. The first is the theme, values, and story you want to tell. What should you include? What should you not include? The answers to these questions can be found here in our article about Essay Tips.
The second piece, and the purpose for this article, is the writing style and grammar. This is a quick way to strengthen the flow and readability of your essays.
10 Writing Tips for a Stronger Essay
Sentence Length Variety
Creating sentence length variety helps keep the reader engaged. It’s also easier to read. Long sentences carry a message, while short sentences complete a thought and allow the reader to digest. This isn’t something to stress over. If you have three long sentences in a row, you don’t necessarily need to alter them, just make sure the next one is shorter.
Sentence Structure Variety
Sentences come in all forms. This is not your middle school English class, but having a mix of simple and compound sentences is important. You should also be sure to include dependent clauses throughout a variety of sentences.
Strong Sentence Openers
You can start a sentence in a number of ways. It can begin with a noun, verb, transitional words or phrases, or something else. Starting a sentence with a verb in the gerund form is another way to add variety. And finally, be sure that consecutive sentences don’t all start the same way. For example, don’t start multiple sentences in a sequence with the same word each time.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Your essay must be free of grammatical mistakes. This isn’t a value add; it’s a requirement. Run your essay through a service like Grammarly or have multiple people proofread it. Personally, I found that studying for the GMAT really helped me fix a lot of grammatical errors that I committed often. I have also found that reading an essay out loud helps me catch mistakes. Again, this is not English class, but be aware of dangling modifiers, improper antecedents, incorrect punctuation, and other common mistakes.
Avoid the Use of Slang or Jargon
Slang and jargon become a part of our vernacular. The words our friends and family say regularly become commonplace to us, but those words often don’t have the same meaning for others. In some cases, we use words that are either made up or have a different meaning entirely. Be sure to avoid any such words in your essays that could confuse the reader.
Use a Thesaurus
Adjectives and powerful verbs give color to your essays. Using strong language in your essays can help the reader imagine the story you are presenting. Avoid using words such as it, get, or getting with too much frequency. If you can avoid it entirely, that’s even better, although there are some cases in which you can’t. Consider the following sentence:
“Strong essays will help you get accepted into your dream school.”
This sentence would be much stronger said this way:
“Strong essays will help you achieve acceptance into your dream school.”
A thesaurus is an awesome tool that can help you strengthen your language and paint a more vivid story for your reader.
There is no real rule that states how long a paragraph should be. In school, teachers often would say that a paragraph should be between 5 and 7 sentences. This is a good general guideline, but I would tell you that flow is the most important part in terms of writing style. A break in paragraphs gives the reader a chance to digest what they just read. If your paragraph is too long, then it loses potency. Each paragraph should cover one main idea.
Use Active Voice
Using the active voice is generally stronger than the passive voice, though sometimes the passive voice is necessary. Active voice is something that is happening now and usually requires a strong action verb. Check out this article about active voice vs passive voice here.
Effective writing is clear and concise. Many universities do not have a required word count. For many, this is terrifying, but it ought not be. Tell your story clearly and concisely. If you have finished your story, then finish your writing. Repeating yourself or using tons of “fluff” words such as basically, very, or really is distracting and weakens your writing.
Think about Context
When telling a story, we often leave out important details because we lived through the experience. Ask yourself, does the story make sense to someone who wasn’t there? Sometimes an extra sentence offering details about the location or person you were with is vital. This is another time when having someone proofread your essays can save you a massive headache!
Now Start Writing!
Your Deferred MBA application essays are easily the most important part of your application. An incredible essay can even make up for low test scores. Hopefully these writing tips will help you and comment below with any other tips that have strengthened your writing. Schedule an appointment with a coach to begin essay strategy and leverage our 50+ Successful Essay Booklet to review prior admit’s successful essays.