Over the years, we have seen London Business School (LBS) progressively streamline its application essay requirements. In 2012–2013, the program asked candidates to submit six essays totaling 1,750 words. That dropped to three essays and 1,200 words the following year, then again to two essays and 800 words the two seasons after that. For 2016–2017 applicants, LBS is stipulating just one required essay with a 500-word limit. We can imagine that individuals who applied to the school several years ago might feel a little miffed at how much less today’s candidates are tasked with writing, though we assume they are all too busy with much more important things to actually notice. For applicants who feel that one short essay is not enough space with which to fully promote their candidacy, LBS will also accept a brief optional essay. In our analysis, we suggest ways of making the most of these two opportunities.
Essays are a vital part of your application and we recommend that you spend a significant amount of time in their preparation.
Essay 1: What are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business School programme contribute towards these? (500 words)
For the most part, this essay prompt is requesting a fairly traditional personal statement. You will need to show that you have developed a long-term vision for yourself and your career and that you have a clear plan as to how you expect to get there with help from LBS. The assumption, of course, is that you need an MBA to make your next step and that you need one from the LBS program in particular, because it offers something specific (preferably, multiple somethings) that would provide the experience, knowledge, skills, exposure, and/or other element you feel you need for your long-term aspirations and chosen career. We would like to assume that you have already researched the school thoroughly to discover these important resources and areas of fit, but if you have not, do not skip this important step and/or refer only to basic offerings most business schools have. Your essay needs to be LBS specific. Demonstrating your authentic interest in the program by offering concrete examples and drawing clear connections between what it offers, what you need, and who you are is key to crafting a compelling essay response here.
Because 500 words is not a lot, avoid going into excessive detail about your past, though you will need to offer enough information to provide context and support for your stated goals. We encourage you to download your free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide for a more detailed discussion (including examples) of how to approach and craft this kind of essay.
Optional Essay: Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School? (500 words)
The optional essay typically allows applicants to explain confusing or problematic elements of their candidacy—a poor grade or GPA, a low GMAT or GRE score, a gap in work experience, etc.—and LBS’s is no exception. If you feel you need to clarify an aspect of your profile, first check the school’s application, which already includes several opportunities to address certain issues (such as academic performance and disciplinary instances). If you can discuss your concern there instead, take care to not use this essay to simply repeat any information provided via that avenue. If you have a problem to address that is not mentioned in the LBS application, consider downloading our mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, in which we offer detailed advice on how best to approach the optional essay, with multiple examples, to help you mitigate any concerning elements of your application.
If you do not feel your candidacy includes any elements in need of further clarification, use this essay instead to offer a more rounded, positive representation of yourself. 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 essay. 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.