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The Oxford University Said Business School essay requirements are truly “old school,” with three essays totaling 1,500 words. Relative to some other programs’ applications, Said’s just might exhaust you! Moreover, the questions themselves are quirky. Our analysis follows…
What should Oxford expect from you? (Maximum 500 words)
Your first instinct may be to use the 500 words this program (or “programme”—this is a British school, after all) provides to discuss your career, but before you go down that path, take a moment to look at the school’s next essay prompt, which asks about your career development over the next five years. You may be better off, therefore, saving your career discussion for that essay instead. In some ways, your options for this essay are wide open, with the exception of that particular five-year time period. Instead, you could explore, for example, what you will contribute as a student at Oxford, what your longer-term professional plans are, or what your values are and how they will manifest throughout your studies and life. This essay prompt is only slightly more confining than the school asking the simple one word question “why?”
The key here—no matter which approach you ultimately take—is to get personal. Strive to send a message that the school should expect something of note from you, that you have considered your future impact and are on a mission to reach that point. In revealing that future impact, do not dwell on the past, but do provide your reader with some context. For example, if you claim that you expect to build a socially beneficial firm at some point in your life, you can really only expect Said to give credence to your assertion if you also explain that you are socially productive currently.
How do you hope to see your career developing over the next five years? How will the MBA and Oxford assist you in the development of these ambitions? (Maximum 500 words)
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.
Plus your preferred essay from the following options:
Option 1: Sport is pure competition. What does it teach us about companies, individuals, and markets? (Maximum 500 words)
We hope for your sake that you played a sport at some point growing up, because if you did, you will have a much easier time writing this essay. Sure, you can craft an effective essay without having personally felt the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat, but if you have spent time on the field/court yourself or at least been an emotionally involved fan, the task will be notably less challenging. This is an incredibly broad essay prompt, allowing you to discuss a topic as comprehensive as strategy or teamwork or one as narrow as a single “assist” you experienced in ice hockey or basketball.
Although sport is your starting point for this essay, you must be sure to focus your essay on its application in/to business. In other words, do not get carried away with discussing your chosen sport or expressing your passion for a particular team. Instead, think carefully about the core concept of competition and its impact on others.
Make no mistake, this is a challenging essay to write. Our guess is that most applicants will select the second essay option instead…
Option 2: The business of business is business. Is this true? (Maximum 500 words)
Puzzling through this tautology may take you a minute. Read it a few times. You can interpret the question in a number of different ways. You may wish to start your essay by defining your interpretation of the question so that the admissions reader clearly understands from the beginning whether you are asserting or negating the premise that “the role of a business is to sustain itself,” for example, or that “the role of a firm is to serve all its stakeholders.” Once you have plainly outlined the question you will be analyzing, you will be better positioned to assert whether or not it is true.
Thereafter, you can stick with an entirely theoretical discussion, introduce and analyze external examples, or even share your own experiences in business and how they relate to your definition. This essay prompt is designed to reveal the way you reason. You do not need to worry so much about whether your response is true or false, but instead about how well you express and support your point of view.
If you are applying under the 1+1 scheme you also need to submit the following essay:
1. Explain why you see this as particularly beneficial for you and how it fits with your careers and personal development aims (Maximum 250 words)
For this essay, Said kindly provides a straightforward prompt! Oxford has created an innovative two-year program through which you can earn two master’s degrees. But the school has a simple request first—explain why you want/need that non-MBA master’s degree. If you hope to participate in this program, you will need to help Oxford understand exactly why and how it will affect your career. So, you have a mere 250 words in which to detail precisely how this particular program will contribute to your management education and where you will apply that learning. You have no room in this essay to be vague; you must clearly demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship. Your underlying message needs to be readily comprehensible: “I will complete X degree, and it will be of benefit to me by manifesting in Y part of my career.”
Re-applicants will need to complete the essays mentioned above and another essay on the topic:
1. What improvements have you made in your candidacy since you last applied to the Oxford MBA? (Maximum 250 words)
Whether you have improved your academic record, received a promotion, begun a new and exciting project, increased your community involvement, or accepted some sort of personal challenge, the key to success with this essay is conveying a very deliberate path of achievement. Said wants to know that you have been actively striving to improve yourself and your profile, and that you have seized opportunities during the previous year to do so, because a Said MBA is vital to you. The responses to this essay question will vary greatly from one candidate to the next, because each person’s needs and experiences differ. We are more than happy to provide one-on-one assistance with this highly personal essay to ensure that your efforts over the past year are presented in the best light possible.