When it comes to putting together your MBA application for business schools in Europe, one of the most crucial elements is the essay. The MBA essay serves as a way to tie together all your experiences, show the admissions committee who you are beyond your test scores and demonstrate how you are a good fit for their programme. MBA programmes in Europe ask questions that are directed at both your career and your personality. They want to know what your plans are for the future while also getting to know how you deal with adversities or setbacks. In addition to these long-form essays, some MBA programmes in Europe may also pose short-answer questions in the application form. You will only be able to access these once you create an account and start working on your application. This is why you need to start your applications early so that you have enough time to properly answer these questions.
Here are the essay prompts for some popular MBA programmes in Europe:
|BUSINESS SCHOOL||NUMBER OF ESSAYS/VIDEO ESSAYS||WORD LIMIT||ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS|
|Cambridge Judge Business School||Four||Essay 1: 500 words
Essay 2, 3 and 4: 200 words
|HEC Paris||Five||Essay 1: 500 words
Essay 2, 3, 4 & 5: 250 words
|An optional essay|
|IESE Business School||Two||Essay 1 and 2: 300 words||An optional essay|
|INSEAD||Three motivational essays and four video questions||Essay 1: 500 words
Essay 2: 400 words
Essay 3: 300 words
Video questions: 60 seconds
|Compulsory and optional job description questions and an optional motivation essay|
|London Business School||One||Essay 1: 500 words||An optional essay|
|Saïd Business School||One||Essay 1: 250 words||A compulsory reapplicant essay, an Oxford 1+1 MBA essay and an online assessment|
1) Cambridge Judge Business School:
Along with three essay questions, the Cambridge Judge Business School asks applicants to submit a personal statement. As they are looking for motivated and ambitious candidates who have progressed in their career, you should consider highlighting these traits with examples drawn from your experiences in the essays.
Essay 1: “Please provide details of your post-MBA career plans. It must address the following:
- What are your short and long term career objectives? How will the Cambridge MBA equip you to achieve these?
- Looking at your short-term career goal, describe the research you have done to understand how this industry/role/location recruits MBA talent and what they are looking for in a candidate?
- How do you meet the requirements of your short-term career goal? What preparation are you doing now?”
Essay 2: “Describe a difficult decision that you had to make. What did you learn from this and how have you changed as a result?”Essay 3: “Describe a time where you worked with a team on a project. What did you learn from the experience and how might you approach it differently today?”Essay 4: “If you could give one piece of advice to your 18-year-old self, what would it be?”
Essay 1 has a word limit of 500 words and allows you to talk about your career goals in depth. Make sure you include how an MBA from Cambridge Judge Business School will develop your skills and is integral to your future plans. Since the remaining three questions have a 200-word limit, be concise and to the point. While Essay 4 is the most personal of the three, you can use either personal or professional examples for all. Ensure that you balance both across the essays.
2) HEC Paris:
The MBA essay prompts for HEC Paris revolve around your career and personality to give the admissions committee a well-rounded view of you.
Essay 1: “Why are you applying to the HEC MBA Program now? What is the professional objective that will guide your career choice after your MBA, and how will the HEC MBA contribute to the achievement of this objective?”Essay 2: “What do you consider your most significant life achievement?”Essay 3: “Leadership and ethics are inevitably intertwined in the business world. Describe a situation in which you have dealt with these issues and how they have influenced you.”Essay 4: “Imagine a life entirely different from the one you now lead, what would it be?”Essay 5: “Please choose from one of the following essays:a) What monument or site would you advise a first-time visitor to your country or city to discover, and why?b) Certain books, movies or plays have had an international success that you believe to be undeserved. Choose an example and analyse it.c) What figure do you most admire and why? You may choose from any field (arts, literature, politics, business, etc)”
Except for Essay 1–which is 500 words–all the other essays have a 250-word limit. While the first three essays are quite straightforward, the last two prompts let you delve deep and get personal.
1. A 900-word optional essay: “Is there any additional information you would like to share with us?”
3) IESE Business School:
Through the two essay prompts, the IESE Business School wants to know your goals and assess your fit for the programme.
Essay 1: “Who do you admire the most and why? Help us to understand who has played a pivotal role in shaping you to be the person you are or the person you aspire to be. Please provide specific examples of how they have shaped or inspired you.”Essay 2: “What are your post-MBA career goals right after graduation and five years after? What kind of resources or opportunities offered by IESE will help you achieve them?”
Both essays have a 300-word limit, so ensure that you answer the prompt without wasting any words. Make sure that you include a couple of concise examples to illustrate your main points.
1. There is an optional question with a 300-word limit: “What would you like to highlight about yourself or your journey which may have not been captured in your application?”
The INSEAD MBA application form has short- and long-answer questions that relate to your job as well as motivational essays that aim to understand more about you as a person. They want you to go beyond your resume and showcase your personality in both motivational essays and job description questions.
Motivational Essays prompts:
Essay 1: “Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary.”Essay 2: “Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned.”Essay 3: “Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, etc). How are you enriched by these activities?”
Motivational Essay requirements:
Essay 1 is the longest, with a 500-word limit. Essay 2 has a 400-word limit, while for Essay 3 you can go up to 300 words. These essays allow you to be creative, personal and most importantly showcase your motivations to the admissions committee.
Video interview questions:
After you submit your online application, you will receive a link to complete four video questions. These questions vary per applicant so this is really a chance for you to show who you are.
Video interview requirements:
Before you start recording your answers, you will be given a few practice questions to familiarise yourself with the interview process. When you are ready, you will have 45 seconds to think before recording your 60-second answer.
Job description questions:
Question 1: “Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved.Question 2: “What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company instead of going to business school?”Question 3: “Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices.”Question 4: “Discuss your short and long term career aspirations with an MBA from INSEAD.”
Job description requirements:
Since these questions pertain to your job, your answer should be to the point. Questions 1 and 2 both have a 200-word limit, while Question 3 has a 300-word limit and Question 4 has a 100-word limit.
1. There is an optional 300-word Motivational Essay Prompt: “Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee?”2. There is also an optional Job Description Question without a word limit: “If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme.”
5) London Business School:
Aimed at people who have gained some work experience, however, are still at the early stages of their careers, the London Business School essay wants you to really think about your future.
Essay 1: “What are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business School programme contribute towards these?”
London Business School is looking for people who have the “ability to work in multicultural teams and demonstrate an international outlook.” If you have such experiences, highlight them in this 500-word essay.
1. London Business School also gives you 500 words to explain: “Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School?”
6) Saïd Business School:
The Saïd Business School looks for candidates who have strong professional experiences, a background in different international environments, demonstrated leadership, who can contribute to the class and who have a strong academic foundation. As such, when writing your essay, you should focus on some of these qualities.
Essay 1: “Tell us something that is not covered in your application which you would like the Admissions Committee to know about you.”
The Saïd Business School essay has a 250-word limit. When reviewing your essays, the admissions committee will look for evidence of “good communication skills, leadership potential, analytical skills, fit with the Oxford MBA community, among other characteristics.”
Once you have submitted your application, you will need to complete an online assessment within 24 hours after submitting your application. Questions 1 and 2: These will be motivation-based questions which all candidates will answer and will address why Saïd Business School is the best fit for you.Question 3: A randomised competency-based question for you to showcase your decision-making, problem-solving, influence, leadership and strong communication skills.Question 4: A randomised written response that will be light-hearted, enabling you to showcase your quick thinking skills.
Online assessment requirements:
Before you answer, you will have some preparation time and practice sessions before going live with your real responses. The whole online assessment should only take up to 30 minutes for you to complete. All you need is a desktop or laptop computer with a functioning webcam, microphone and internet connection.
1. Reapplicants will need to submit an additional 250-word essay: “What improvements have you made in your candidacy since you last applied to the Oxford MBA?”2. Applicants for the Oxford 1+1 MBA scheme will need to submit an additional 250-word essay: “Explain why you see this as particularly beneficial for you and how it fits with your career and personal development aims.”
While some of these questions are similar to each other, you should not recycle the same content. Each school is looking for different traits and characteristics, so it is important that you write a new essay, even if you are using the same example. Each year, The Red Pen’s applicants have been admitted to some of the best business schools, including the M7. Get in touch with us for an introductory session today!