The ISB essays 2016 have been announced. This year, ISB has changed the essay set yet again (after last year’s change over the previous year), and actually shortened it. The ISB essays for 2016 have only two required essays, and one optional essay. This significantly reduces the essay set, but it also reduces the opportunities for applicants to talk about various dimensions of their profiles. In this article, we present a brief analysis of the ISB essays 2016.
ISB essays 2016 – essay questions
ISB essay 1: If we were to admit just one more candidate to the Postgraduate Programme (PGP) at the ISB, why should it be you? (400 words max)
ISB essay 2: Describe your your short and long term career plans. How does the PGP fit in with those? (300 words max)
ISB essay 3: Please use this space to provide any other information not covered elsewhere in the application that could significantly impact your candidature at ISB. Note: It is not necessary for you to write this essay. Please use this space only if there is something really significant that you would like us to know.
(200 words max)
ISB essays 2016 analysis
Essay 1: If we were to admit just one more candidate to the Postgraduate Programme (PGP) at the ISB, why should it be you? (400 words max)
Analysis: The clear differentiation essay is back. Last year, this had been (slightly) disguised by asking for an achievement to highlight this differentiation. This year, the canvas is left blank for the applicant. Achievements, awards, honors, skills, and attitudes can all flow into this essay. However, the final content must be decided carefully. You should know the school (the parameters, values, achievements, and skills that the school values) and you should know yourself (which parameters in your own profile can help you differentiate yourself). For example, you may be an excellent coder or an IT manager par excellence, but are those the skills that ISB is looking for? Similarly, you may have contributed to an NGO, but unless that has had outstanding impact, is that again something that ISB would value? No.
Showcasing your achievements here (tactfully) will certainly be important, but so will be demonstrating your potential. Similarly, you should be able to showcase your potential value to the school – why will the school be better off if you are admitted? The right approach to ISB essay 1 will not involve simply listing out your most coveted accomplishments, but rather carefully choosing between them, introspecting, and then moving to essay creation.
Essay 2: Describe your your short and long term career plans. How does the PGP fit in with those? (300 words max)
Analysis: This year, ISB is back to asking not just for short term goals but also for long term plans. We feel that, frankly, this is a step back, as most applicants aren’t really in a position to discuss long term goals, or even realistically state them. However, ISB is now asking for them so they have to be provided. A caveat here – do not just state any long term goals assuming that ISB will not take notice or that they are unimportant. They are now a part of the essay, and you might well get asked some tough questions around them in the interview.
That said, the first objective is getting to the interview, and for that to happen, you must have clear, relevant, and well-stated goals. Do not make the mistake of filling in this essay with your work history and expect the admissions reviewer to extrapolate your goals from that. Similarly, provide a context for your goals. In most cases, just stating them will not be enough. Next, focus on fit with the school, which depends on your profile AND on your research into ISB too. Do not simply hope to get away by saying that you are applying because it is a top-ranked 1-year program. Show your research and your insight into the school and into your future role.
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Essay 3: Please use this space to provide any other information not covered elsewhere in the application that could significantly impact your candidature at ISB. Note: It is not necessary for you to write this essay. Please use this space only if there is something really significant that you would like us to know. (200 words max)
Analysis: This is a continuation from last year. ISB now explicitly specifies that you should not use the goals essay unless necessary. Do not use it to continue a discussion on career goals (from essay 2) or make some more points on why you are the right candidate (from essay 1). Use it to address weaknesses, or highlight something not otherwise apparent in your application. Also do not use it for excuses (e.g. GMAT score too low though you are capable of more) but only for valid explanations.