Write Descriptively in Your MBA Application Essays

Many writers have trouble differentiating between adjectives/adverbs and details. When adjectives and adverbs are used to emphasize an emotion or an emotional state, they can actually end up adding very little to the description of an experience and could even undermine it. However, when an emotion or emotional state is described properly, this can add real life to a story.

Consider the following example:

“With my award in hand, I felt extremely proud of my accomplishment.”

In this example, the word “extremely” does not help create or enhance the reader’s mental picture; it merely states the obvious. After all, the difference between being “extremely proud” and being “proud” is negligible, considering that pride is naturally an “extreme” emotion. This just does not effectively convey how the writer actually felt. Now consider this second example:

“Approaching the podium to receive my award, I felt faint. Even though my hands were shaking, I managed to give our company president a firm handshake when she passed me the award. As I began speaking to a crowd of my colleagues, I finally understood what being proud of myself really means.”

In this second example, the details of the story (“felt faint,” “my hands were shaking”) create an image in the reader’s mind. The reader is not relating to the simple adjectives that reinforce existing impressions but is experiencing details that bring color to the story. In the first example, the story does not change if the word “extremely” is removed, but in the second, real emotion is conveyed.

We encourage you to avoid adjectives that simply reinforce an expressed emotion and to write descriptively to capture the true spirit of the experience you are sharing.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Deadlines

  • Dartmouth Tuck (Round 2)
  • Michigan Ross (Round 2)
  • Virginia Darden (Round 2)
  • Cornell Johnson (Round 2)
  • Harvard (Round 2)
  • London Business School (Round 2)
  • Penn Wharton (Round 2)
  • Texas McCombs (Round 2)
  • UNC Kenan-Flagler (Round 2)
  • USC Marshall (Round 2)

Click here to see the complete deadlines

2020–2021 MBA Essay Analysis

Click here for the 2019–2020 MBA Essay Analysis

MBA Program Updates