Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Great application essays for business school" Book review

Its been a while since I've been reading various books on Bschool applications and been attending various application editor led webinars. In the gamut of so many of them, I thought it was easy for any applicant to be lost in the need for precise direction and ideas when writing essays. I was as lost when I wanted to understand how to communicate leadership in the essays and the highlights of my career and personality that I'd like my recommenders to remember.

I picked up a book a few months ago called "Great Application Essays for Business School" by Paul Bodine from I've really gained from this book and although I'm still in the process of writing my essays with no applications submitted yet, I believe a lot of people are now looking for urgent direction and thought this resource could be an option to consider.

I thought I'd breeze through the book just like I had read other books like Richard Montauk. The more I read it, the more I realised that the content was very concise and illustrated with specific examples. They broadened my ideas, explained what Adcoms really want to know and demonstrated the "show not tell" writing strategy that every Bschool essay editor blogs about. As I had not still given my GMAT retake then and didn't plan to start my essays until R2, I stopped reading it until I was really ready to tackle the essays.

What does this book not talk about ?
It is not aimed at someone researching their goals or schools. So if you need advise on how an MBA would help you, what are your career options and possible future MBA career track, this book is not going to help. If you are trying to understand how the entire application process works right from understanding 'why MBA' to researching schools and finding recommenders for your target schools to dealing with application rejection, then I would suggest the comprehensive book by Richard Montauk.

Who is this book for?
You have a list of your target schools and done a reasonable amount of research into your fit with them?
You have a application deadline you are working against?
You really dont have the time to trawl through lists of blogs and webinars to understand what and how to write?
You don't really know what specific answers the admissions committee are trying to provoke through their essay questions?

What does it tell you?
- The method to 'show not tell' by giving illustrative essay examples (Surprisingly the essays in this book are not as some other books publish i.e., extreme high achievers like doctors delivering babies mid-air, grandsons of holocaust victims leading non-profits, etc that threw me off the idea of applying for Bschools itself!)
- Data mine your life by answering specific writing prompt questions
- Structure your essays with suggestions for opening lines, developing the story, concluding the essays, etc.
- Advice on what not to do when answering specific essay questions
- Specific advise on non-goal essays like failure essays, leadership essays, passion and extracurricular essays,  and other unusual topics like the ethics essay
- How to use the optional essay and what not to use it for

Lastly, there is a short chapter on Letters of recommendations with dos and donts. There is also a sample recommendation letter to understand yet again 'show not tell'.

I keep going back to sections in the book when I'm having a second go at my essay drafts. Many times I remember I've not really put in a differentiating factor that I could have used. So if you need specific advise on different essay topics and have not already bought any books nor registered for application editing services, I would highly recommend getting a book and would rate this one highly. Ofcourse, the book is not the solution to the enormous personal effort that is required, it just is an useful aid to find a direction and a lot of inspiration to writing Bschool essays.

Hope this was useful!

PS : Kaneisha's webinar on word count weight loss program was a great show yesterday. And just at the right time when I was struggling to learn some techniques. Hope you were there!

Disclaimer : All thoughts are my own and I have no affiliations with any Bschool advisory organisation whatsoever. 


  1. I have read your review.. That is for great information you have shared..

  2. Nice Information is furnished above. Books are always helpful but we should take expert help to crack the exams like GMAT.

    Best Regards
    GMAT Sentence Correction

  3. Thanks again for providing such wonderful information about business school essay.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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