Monday Morning Essay Tip: Vary Your Sentence Length

Many business school applicants use medium-length sentences (like this one) in their essays. Few use short sentences (like this one). Likewise, few use long sentences in their essays, even though long sentences (like this one) can often play a useful role in an essay’s structure and story.

Confused? Consider the following example:

“At XYZ Inc., I was the manager in charge of leading a team of 12 staff members. Included in my team were four engineers, four marketing professionals, and four market analysts. Our goal was to develop a new thingamajig within six months. We worked really hard over the six months and succeeded. The new thingamajig is now on the market and is selling well. As a result of my efforts, I was promoted to vice president.”
All these sentences have approximately the same number of words and the same rhythm/cadence, making the paragraph fairly boring to read. Nothing changes—the structure just repeats itself over and over again, with one medium-length sentence following another medium-length sentence.

Now consider this example:*

“At XYZ Inc., I was the manager in charge of leading a thingamajig development team of 12 staff members, four of whom were engineers, four were marketing professionals, and four were market analysts. We had just six months to launch our new product. The team worked really hard and succeeded, and the new thingamajig is now on the market, where it is selling well. As a result of my efforts, I was promoted to vice president.”
The sentences in this paragraph are varied—the first is quite long, the second is very short, the third is medium-long, and the fourth is medium-short. Sentence variety makes for a much more interesting read, and one very short sentence in the middle of some longer ones can provide precisely the kind of contrast and drama that MBA application essays so often need.

*Please note that this is a simplified example for illustration purposes. If this were an actual essay, we would encourage the applicant to offer greater insight into his/her experience launching the product.

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