1. Don't Use Company Jargon:
As a prospective business student, you have probably spent the past few years in a corporate environment with its own in-house terminology. Remember that you are writing for a reader who hasn't attended your company's meetings or contributed to its products. You should certainly describe various aspects of your professional life--your leadership skills, your career trajectory, your triumph in the face of obstacles, and so on--but do so in language that is as accessible to your reader as it is to you. Imagine that you are composing a document for a customer who must decide whether to buy a particular product: you. Write clearly and personably.
And if you are a fresher, go for the common language you have been using in your school days rather than the jargons you came across while a conversation with your friend who is corporate now or any of your relative.
2. Don't Bore the Reader. Be Interesting.
Admissions officers have to read hundreds of essays, and they must often skim. Abstract rumination has no place in an admission process essay. Admissions officers aren't looking for a new way to view the world; they're looking for a new way to view you, the prospective student.
The best way to grip your reader is to begin the essay with a captivating snapshot. Notice how the blunt, jarring "after" sentence creates intrigue and keeps the reader's interest.
Before: I am a compilation of many years of experiences gained from overcoming the relentless struggles of life.
After: I was six years old, the eldest of six children in the Bronx, when my father was murdered.
3. Do Use Personal Detail. Show, Don't Tell!
Good essays are concrete and grounded in personal detail. They do not merely assert "I learned my lesson" or that "these lessons are useful both on and off the field." They show it through personal detail. "Show, don't tell" means that if you want to relate a personal quality, do so through your experiences without merely asserting it.
Before: If it were not for a strong support system which instilled into me strong family values and morals, I would not be where I am today.
After: Although my grandmother and I didn't have a car or running water, we still lived far more comfortably than did the other families I knew. I learned an important lesson: My grandmother made the most of what little she had, and she was known and respected for her generosity. Even at that age, I recognized the value she placed on maximizing her resources and helping those around her.
The first example is vague and could have been written by anybody. But the second sentence evokes a vivid image of something that actually happened, placing the reader in the experience of the student.
4. Be Concise. Don't Be Wordy.
Wordiness not only takes up valuable space, but also confuses the important ideas you're trying to convey. Short sentences are more forceful because they are direct and to the point. Certain phrases, such as "the fact that," are usually unnecessary. Notice how the revised version focuses on active verbs rather than forms of "to be" and adverbs and adjectives.
Before: My recognition of the fact that the project was finally over was a deeply satisfying moment that will forever linger in my memory.
After: Completing the project at last gave me an enduring sense of fulfillment.
5. Do Address Your Weaknesses. Don't Dwell on Them.
At some point while writing the essay on personal topic, you will have an opportunity to explain deficiencies in your record, and you should take advantage of it. Be sure to explain them adequately: "I partied too much to do well on tests" will not help your reputation. The best tactic is to spin the negatives into positives by stressing your attempts to improve; for example, mention your poor first-quarter grades briefly, and then describe what you did to bring them up.
Before: My grade point average provides an incomplete evaluation of my potential and of the person I am today, since it fails to reveal my passion and determined spirit which make me unique and an asset to the _______ School of Business.
After: Though my overall grade point average was disappointing, I am confident that the upward trend in my academic transcript will continue in business school. Furthermore, my success on the CAT/XAT/etc and in the corporate world since graduation reinforces my conviction that I have a keen business sense--one that I hope to develop at the _______ School of Business.
6. Do Vary Your Sentences and Use Transitions.
The best essays contain a variety of sentence lengths mixed within any given paragraph. Also, remember that transition is not limited to words like nevertheless, furthermore or consequently. Good transition flows from the natural thought progression of your argument.
Before: I started playing piano when I was eight years old. I worked hard to learn difficult pieces. I began to love music.
After: I started playing the piano at the age of eight. As I learned to play more difficult pieces, my appreciation for music deepened.
7. Do Use Active Voice Verbs.
Passive-voice expressions are verb phrases in which the subject receives the action expressed in the verb. Passive voice employs a form of the word to be, such as was or were. Overuse of the passive voice makes prose seem flat and uninteresting.
Before: The lessons that have prepared me for my career as an executive were taught to me by my mother.
After: My mother taught me lessons that will prove invaluable in my career as an executive.
8. Do Seek Multiple Opinions.
Ask your friends and family to keep these questions in mind:
- Does my essay have one central theme?
- Does my introduction engage the reader? Does my conclusion provide closure?
- Do my introduction and conclusion avoid summary?
- Do I use concrete experiences as supporting details?
- Have I used active-voice verbs wherever possible?
- Is my sentence structure varied, or do I use all long or short sentences?
- Are there any clichés, such as "cutting-edge" or "learned my lesson"?
- Do I use transitions appropriately?
- What about the essay is memorable?
- What's the worst part of the essay?
- What parts of the essay need elaboration or are unclear?
- What parts of the essay do not support my main argument?
- Is every single sentence crucial to the essay? This must be the case.
- What does the essay reveal about my personality?
9. Don't Wander. Do Stay Focused.
Many students try to turn the personal essay into a complete autobiography. Not surprisingly, they find it difficult to pack so much information into such a short essay, and their essays end up sounding more like a list of experiences than a coherent, well-organized thought. Make sure that every sentence in your essay exists solely to support one central theme.
10. Do Revise, Revise and Revise.
The first step in an improving any essay is to cut, cut, and cut some more.
Some important sample essays are as follows, although they are only indicative and not to be considered as the only way of writing on those topics. One should exercise his or her own thoughts as well. To help you understand and co-relate, the ending of some topics are not what it should be. We hope you can identify and complete them in your words.