Like many top MBA programs this year, London Business School (LBS) has elected to make no changes to its application essay prompts. Except for some slight variations in phrasing and allowed word count, the school has been posing these same questions since 2015, so we presume they have proved effective in providing the additional information about the school’s candidates that the admissions committee seeks. Although LBS strictly requires only one essay—one that largely constitutes a traditional personal statement—you may want to seriously consider submitting the optional essay as well if you feel that doing so will facilitate a fairer or more thorough evaluation of your candidacy. In our analysis, we offer our advice on crafting your approach, whether you ultimately decide to craft just one submission for LBS or two.
Question 1: What are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business School programme contribute towards these? (500 words)
As we have noted, LBS’s required essay covers several basic elements of a traditional personal statement. You will need to show that you have a long-term vision for yourself and your career and that you have a clear plan for how to get there via the LBS MBA program. The basic assumptions, of course, are that business school is the next logical and necessary step in your progress and that you need to pursue your degree at LBS in particular, because the school provides specific experiences, knowledge, skills, exposure, and/or other elements that are necessary for you to attain your aspirations and thrive in your chosen career. Ideally, you have already researched the program thoroughly to discover these important resources and areas of fit, but if not, do not skip this important step and/or refer only to basic offerings most business schools have. Your essay must be LBS specific. Demonstrating your authentic interest in the program by giving concrete examples and drawing clear connections between what the school 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. Given this essay’s significant overlap with a standard personal statement, we encourage you to download your free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide. In this complimentary guide, we present a much more detailed discussion of how to approach and craft this kind of essay, along with multiple illustrative examples.
Question 2 (Optional): Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School? (500 words)
Applicants typically use the optional essay 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 can certainly be used this way. If you feel you need to clarify an aspect of your profile, first check the other parts of 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 elsewhere instead, do so, and avoid using 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, we suggest downloading a copy of the mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, which is also available for free, and in which we offer detailed advice on deciding whether to take advantage of the optional essay and, if so, how to do so to effectively mitigate any concerning elements of your application.
If you do not feel that your candidacy includes any elements that need further clarification, however, you might use this essay to instead offer a more rounded, positive representation of yourself—but be thoughtful about this opportunity. 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 required 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 offering something that is truly additive and would be helpful for the school to know to fully and fairly evaluate you. Be mindful and respectful of the admissions committee’s time, and remember that each additional file you submit requires more resources on behalf of the admissions office, so whatever you write must be truly worthwhile and clearly reveal that you made good use of this opportunity to provide further insight into your candidacy.
Business schools outside the United States are increasingly popular among MBA hopefuls, and we at mbaMission are proud to offer our latest publications: International Program Guides. In these snapshots we discuss core curriculums, elective courses, locations, school facilities, rankings, and more. Click here to download your free copy of the London Business School Program Guide.
The Next Step—Mastering Your LBS Interview: Many MBA candidates find admissions interviews stressful and intimidating, but mastering this important element of the application process is definitely possible—the key is informed preparation. And, on your way to this high level of preparation, we offer our free Interview Guides to spur you along! Download your free copy of the London Business School Interview Guide today.