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London Business School (LBS) jumps on the “less is more” trend with regard to its application essays this year, only at a lesser rate of decrease than many of its peers. LBS is still asking candidates to write three essays, but it has reduced the total maximum word count from 1,200 (enjoyed by its Class of 2016 applicants) to 1,100 for aspirants to its Class of 2017. This means you have 8% less space in which to market yourself this season, so you will need to use that space wisely. Our analysis of the London Business School essay questions for its Class of 2017 applicants follows…
What are your post-MBA plans and how will your past experience and the London Business School programme contribute? (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.
How will you add value to the London Business School community? (300 words)
What is the difference between answering this question well and flat-out bragging? Context! If you make claims about how you will add value without providing any context for your assertions, your statements will be perceived as boasting. However, by offering the appropriate context, you will effectively prove that you have something of merit to contribute. For example, if you were to simply say that you are a master trainer and that you would therefore facilitate others’ learning, your reader would likely be hesitant to believe you, because he/she would not have any information as to how you would do this or evidence that you are truly equipped to do so. However, if you were to detail instances when you have—for instance—developed training programs, led new hire training, and/or successfully taught and lead others, then the reader would be able to “buy” that you possess this skill and could accomplish what you claim.
In addition to proving yourself by offering relevant detail, you must also explain how and where you will add value to the LBS community. So, beyond showing the skills you have and declaring how you would apply them, you need to send a clear message to the reader that you understand what LBS is about and show that what you can contribute is appropriate for the LBS experience specifically. In effect, you need to communicate to the reader, “Here is proof that I have done my homework on LBS, know that I am a good fit with the program, and am ready to immerse myself in the community from day one.”
Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School? (300 words)
This “additional information” prompt is different from that of most schools, in that typically, this is where applicants would discuss any blemishes in their profiles (e.g., low GMAT scores, poor grades, employment gaps). However, LBS offers candidates other opportunities to address such issues in its application. So, we will refer you to our mbaMission Optional Statement Guide (available through our online store), which includes detailed advice on when and how to take advantage of the optional essay (with multiple sample essays as illustrations). Let us clarify, though, that we do not feel that this essay is the right place to explain any shortfalls in your candidacy, unless they truly fall outside the parameters of the other spaces the school gives you, and you feel that they absolutely must be more thoroughly explained!
Instead, you should use this essay to offer a more rounded, positive representation of yourself. So, be thoughtful about how you can use this space to do so. Do not just copy and paste an existing essay you wrote for a different school here and hope for the best. Take a step back and carefully consider what the admissions committee already knows about you from the other parts of your application, including, of course, your other essays. Then, do your utmost to develop and convey a narrative that is truly crucial to understanding your character. Because this question is so open-ended, your options are somewhat limitless. You will need to honestly check your instincts and ask yourself whether you are simply tacking something extra onto your application with this essay or whether you are presenting an authentic representation of who you are as an individual.