University of London (London Business School) Essay Analysis, 2012–2013

Question 1 (500 words): In what role or sector do you see yourself working immediately after graduation?  Why?  How will your past and present experiences help you achieve this?  How will the London Business School MBA Programme contribute to this goal?

This multipart essay question largely amounts to a request for a personal statement essay, and because personal statements are similar from one application to the next, we have produced the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which helps applicants write this style of essay for any school. We offer this guide to candidates free of charge. Please feel free to download your copy today.

Question 2 (200 words): Where do you see your career progressing five years after graduation and what is your longer term career vision?

This is a rather common business school essay question and is typically included in a program’s personal statement prompt, but London Business School’s (LBS’s) version has a few small “twists.” In addition to splitting its personal statement request into two separate questions, LBS is more exacting in its goal-related language—specifying “immediately after graduation” in Question 1 and “five years after graduation” here in Question 2. Clearly, LBS wants to be certain that you have given careful thought to your career plans. The admissions office is managing a scarce resource—the places available in its next class—and wants to know that the candidates the school is attracting have clear motivations and direction. So, your goal is to unequivocally convey that. Our free mbaMission Personal Statement Guide includes valuable advice on how to accomplish this. Again, we encourage you to download your copy today.

Question 3 (300 words): Give a specific example of when you have had to test your leadership and/or team working skills either professionally, or outside of work. What role will you play in your first year study group?

Although the school’s 300-word limit for this question may give you pause, you can indeed tell a complete story, with a clear beginning, middle and end, in an essay of this length. The first thing to note is that the admissions committee is definitely requesting a story by asking for a “specific example” from your past, not just about leadership attributes you possess. You are expected to show how you conduct yourself.

The second key element of this essay prompt is the word “test.” The school is not requesting an account of a time when you simply applied your leadership/teamwork skills and continued on an unobstructed path to glory. You must write about a time when you faced resistance on the way to achieving (or possibly even failing to achieve) your goal(s). In the end, the admissions committee needs to get a sense of who you are, as illustrated by your actions. Third, be careful not to forget or gloss over an explanation of the “role will you play in your first year study group.” By showing that you have navigated a challenging team-related situation in the past, you will demonstrate that you possess the skills to successfully collaborate with your learning team and classmates, but you must go one step further and outline for the admissions committee how you see yourself within this dynamic. The committee can draw its own conclusions, but it wants to know that you yourself have considered and truly understand what you have to offer.

Question 4  (300 words): Student involvement is an extremely important part of the London MBA experience and this is reflected in the character of students on campus. What type of student club or campus community events will you be involved with and why? How will you contribute?

The opportunities in this essay are twofold. First, you can provide insight into your interests and passions—whether academic, professional or personal—and thereby reveal your personality. Second, you can show that you have done your homework on the school by describing how your stated interests tie in to specific LBS’s extracurricular offerings. However, you will need to go beyond simply stating that your love of finance, for example, will lead you to be involved in the finance club. Be careful to not be so obvious, and instead capitalize on this invitation to show a new side of yourself to the admissions committee. Regardless of the club/event you pick, you must clearly demonstrate that you have not just taken a cursory glance at the school’s Web site, but have really been researching the program’s resources in some depth.

Question 5 (150 words): London Business School offers a truly global and diverse experience. Describe any significant experiences outside of your home country or culture. What did you gain and how will your experience contribute to the School?

In this short of an essay, resist the urge to offer a long list of countries you have visited, concluding with a sentence declaring how much fun you had on your travels. Despite the 150-word limit, you can still tell a brief story of the best/most powerful of your experiences and incorporate some reflection on your adventures. And do not forget to address your takeaways from the experience and share how these will manifest while you are at LBS. As with Question 4, you have a perfect opportunity to reveal that you have done your homework on the school and to emphasize your mutual fit.

Question 6 (300 words): Give an example of a person who, in your opinion, has made a profound impact on the way the world does business. How will this person influence your contribution to your MBA Programme at London Business School?

Please do not pick Steve Jobs! Keep your cliché sensor on as you consider which individual you will discuss. Keep in mind that the person you choose does not need to be household name or even a business person (scientists and philosophers affect business, too, for example!), as long as you can clearly articulate why you view the individual as having had such a powerful influence. Refrain from writing a biography of your chosen person and instead focus on revealing what you find interesting about him/her and how the individual has affected you already and will continue to do so going forward. In addition, this essay provides yet another opportunity for you to relate your perspective to the LBS experience and show that you really understand the environment at the school—and again, you will need to strive to show mutual fit.

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