Ivey Business School does not demand too much from its candidates in the way of application essays, requiring just two submissions of 250 words each and a short video portion consisting of two one-minute recordings. For the first essay, candidates share their short-term professional plans and explain their interest in the Ivey program in particular. For the second, they must explore a challenge they have managed and present their takeaways from it. The videos should then round out these rather traditional essays by allowing applicants to share more of their personality with the admissions committee. For our full analysis of the school’s application essays for 2022–2023, read on.
Ivey Business School 2022–2023 Essay Tips
Question 1: Goals
What are your short-term career plans immediately post-MBA, and why is an Ivey MBA essential to those plans? (250 word limit)
With this straightforward query about your motivation to earn an MBA and expectations as to where you will go with it right after graduation, Ivey simply wants you to spell out what you have in mind as you approach this phase of your life and career. The school does not ask about your past professional experiences, but briefly providing some context for your goal could be good, especially if doing so strengthens or supports your stated aspirations in a clear way and helps the admissions committee better understand your trajectory and potential.
To address the “why Ivey?” element of this prompt, you will need to discuss which of the school’s resources and/or what aspect(s) of its program as a whole will be most helpful to you in your pursuits, and this requires more than a pandering summarization or a stark list of offerings. This means you must move beyond the school’s website, viewbook, and related marketing materials and make direct contact with students, alumni, and other school representatives. If possible, attend an in-person admissions event or visit the campus to familiarize yourself with Ivey’s environment and resources, and if not, check out online events and options that might allow you to do so.
Understanding what and who the school’s program truly entails, as well as how it works, is key in identifying and then articulating your need for an Ivey MBA in particular. By thoroughly doing your research on the school and drawing a clear picture for your admissions reader of how the particular offerings you have identified relate directly to your needs and how you intend to apply them, you increase your chances substantially of crafting a truly effective essay.
The core components of this essay are elements of a traditional personal statement, so we encourage you to download your free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which explains ways of approaching these topics and offers several illustrative sample essays. And to learn more about Ivey’s academic program, unique resources, and other key features, download your free copy of the mbaMission Ivey Business School Program Guide as well.
Question 2: Decision
Tell us about a challenge you have faced in your life, and what lessons you learned from it. (250 word limit)
A challenge or obstacle can be the catalyst for a powerful learning experience, whether you were able to completely overcome the impediment or not. So, for this essay, you can discuss a one-time occurrence or an ongoing issue that you deal with regularly. And because the school does not stipulate that the challenge you share be strictly professional or personal, you can (and should) consider every possible option you have from the various facets of your life—your workplace, academic background, family, personal life, community engagements, and so on.
The one you ultimately choose should be the one that has made the most significant impact on how you view and/or operate in the world today. Ivey wants to understand how and what you learn from situations in which things do not go as planned. Your goal is to convey that you are not easily discouraged by setbacks but that you instead use them as learning tools or stepping-stones on your path forward.
Note that although the core essay prompt does not ask you directly about a decision you made in relation to this challenge, the “title” (for lack of a better word) of the essay question is “Decision.” We would therefore encourage you to select a story in which you had to make an important choice or call of some kind. If your best story for this essay does not center on a key decision, make sure to highlight other decisions you made in navigating the situation, to offer some insight into your thought processes when faced with alternatives and how you weigh options.
Consider using a narrative approach to tell your story, rather than simply stating the facts outright. Including vivid anecdotal details will help you most effectively convey the nature of your challenge. You want to ensure that the admissions reader fully grasps your struggle. Then, your explanation of what you have gleaned from the experience—and of the way in which you dealt (or are dealing) with the obstacle—will reveal your character. Avoid clichéd lessons, such as “resilience.” In what practical way have you been able to subsequently apply what you learned or expect to be able to do so in the future? Although the task might seem daunting at first, with a clearly presented narrative, you can indeed achieve all this in 250 words.
One important note: do not be afraid to reveal a weakness or error on your part. Although this is not a “failure” essay, if your actions helped create the obstacle or you failed to see the obstacle right before you (and should have), you should not shy away from an honest discussion of your responsibility. Such incidents are usually very effective learning opportunities and could therefore make for a compelling essay. The key is conveying what your takeaways are from the experience and explaining how it has influenced you and your life since.
Optional Essay Question 1: In your opinion, do your post-secondary grades accurately reflect your abilities? If no, please explain. (500 word limit)
Optional Essay Question 2: What, if anything, hasn’t this application given you the opportunity to say about yourself or circumstances you think would be important in the evaluation of your application? (500 word limit)
In general, we believe the optional essay is a good place for applicants to explain confusing or problematic issues in their candidacy, and one such issue that candidates often need to address is having a lower GPA than their target school’s average—or even just one that is lower than they feel they deserved. Ivey’s first optional prompt specifically invites such applicants to share the story behind their less-than-ideal academic background, which we assume is a welcome opportunity for some. So, if you need to, use this essay to address any questions the admissions committee might have about something in your transcript. Consider downloading our free mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, in which we offer detailed advice (and multiple annotated examples) on how best to approach the optional essay to mitigate problem areas in your application.
Although the second optional essay prompt here technically leaves the door open for you to share any other information about your candidacy that you feel might be pivotal or particularly compelling, be judicious in deciding whether the admissions committee truly needs any more input to be able to evaluate you fully and effectively. The Ivey application introduces these optional essay prompts by saying, “Please answer the questions below ONLY if they apply to your situation,” so do not feel that you absolutely must submit a response to either of them. The admissions committee pretty clearly does not want any additional input unless it is indeed warranted in some way.
Do not fear that not submitting some kind of response to these prompts will somehow count against you (it will not). Because every additional essay demands that the admissions committee do extra work on your behalf, you must be absolutely sure that the added time will be worthwhile on their end. If you ultimately feel compelled to impart information that you believe would render your application incomplete if omitted, keep your statement(s) brief and on point.
Click on the link below to be taken to your KIRA video essay space. You will have an opportunity to complete practice questions before recording live. You may complete this practice ahead of time before returning to KIRA to complete your live questions. You must submit your video essay in KIRA in order to be able to submit your completed application. (Two video questions of one minute each.)
Video components like this are usually a result of the admissions committee’s desire to see and hear the candidates they are evaluating—to put a human “face” to the statistics and other inanimate elements of the MBA application. Keep this in mind as you approach this segment of Ivey’s application, and make being authentic and natural your primary goal. The admissions officers are not looking for the next viral TED Talk presenter or late-night TV host. They just want to get to know you as a unique individual who might one day join the school’s community.
So, start by taking a deep breath. We understand that videos might make you feel as though you are being put on the spot, but Ivey is really not trying to make you squirm. As we just noted, the admissions committee simply wants a more dynamic representation of your personality than a written essay can provide. You cannot answer any of the school’s video questions incorrectly, so do not worry about giving the “right” answer. Just respond to each query honestly, as smoothly as you can (despite any nervousness you might be feeling), and be yourself.
So take some time to imagine potential questions and practice responding calmly and naturally. To access one hundred common interview questions you can use to help prepare, download a free copy of the mbaMission Interview Guide, which of course also includes advice on preparing for and mastering the interview process. To practice responding to more random queries, you can Google “icebreaker questions” to find lists of examples. As you practice, strive to minimize your use of filler words and phrases (e.g., “um,” “uh,” “like,” “you know”) so that you are less likely to depend on or default to them when the time comes for your actual video submission.
Although you can prepare as much as you want, you get only one chance at the recording. If you stumble while answering or ultimately are unhappy with your answer, unfortunately, you cannot do anything about it. You will not be able to rerecord your responses or try again another time. This may make you nervous, but we encourage you to view the situation a little differently. Again, Ivey wants to get to know the authentic you through these video essays. If you fumble for words or lose your train of thought, just laugh or shrug and continue with your response. Accepting a mistake with a sense of humor and grace will give the admissions committee a more positive and natural impression of your personality than rigid scripting and overpreparation ever could.
Previous Applicant Essay Question:
Please highlight any significant changes/developments since your previous application to Ivey. (250 word limit)
Whether you have improved your academic record, received a promotion, begun a new and exciting project, increased your community involvement, or taken on some sort of personal challenge, you will want to present it here, and focus on conveying a very deliberate path of achievement. Ivey will be interested in hearing about any active efforts on your part to improve yourself and your profile, and whether you have seized on any advantageous opportunities in the interim. 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 since your previous application are presented in the best light possible.