ISB essays 2015 (2016 intake; Class of 2017) analysis

ISB essays 2015 | ISB PGP | ISB application 2015

Please note: This is an analysis of the ISB essays for the 2015 application (2016 intake). If you are looking for ISB essays 2016 (2017 intake) please click here.

 

The ISB essays 2015 have been released by ISB on May 2, 2015, a little ahead of the usual time each year. For the third year running, ISB has played around with the essay set, changing some of the essays, while retaining the core ones. The ISB essays 2015 might seem like a significant change, but they are really more of the same. GyanOne looks at the essays and provides a brief analysis of each. ISB essays 2015-16 analysis

ISB essays 2015-16 – some changes, but much remains the same

The actual essay topics and the deadlines are listed below for easy reference for applicants. The analysis follows.

ISB essays 2015-2016

Essay 1: If we were to admit just one more student, make a compelling argument as to why that student should be you by describing an (only one) achievement in your personal / professional life that you are most proud of. What did you do that sets you apart from others? What did you learn? (400 words max)

Essay 2: Describe a (only one) defining moment in your personal / professional life when you had to make a risky decision, and explain what you did, why and the outcome?

OR

Describe a (only one) situation in your personal / professional life when you had to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. How did it affect you and what did you learn? (300 words max)

Essay 3: What are your post ISB career plans and how will your past experiences and the Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) contribute to taking you there? (300 words max)

Essay 4 (Optional): Please use this space to explain any career breaks / provide any other information not covered elsewhere in the application that could significantly impact your candidature at ISB. Note: It is not necessary 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)

The application deadlines are as follows:

 CYCLE 1CYCLE 2
DEADLINEOctober 15, 2015 (time: midnight IST)January 15, 2016 (time: midnight IST)
OFFER DATEOn or before December 15, 2015On or before March 5, 2016

ISB essays 2015 analysis

ISB Essay 1:: If we were to admit just one more student, make a compelling argument as to why that student should be you by describing an (only one) achievement in your personal / professional life that you are most proud of. What did you do that sets you apart from others? What did you learn? (400 words max)

GyanOne analysis:: This year, the length of the first essay has been increased from 300 words (the maximum that ISB essays went ever in the past) to 400 words, which provides more space for applicants to express themselves. That is fair enough – this question too is actually composed of three different questions, and each will need to be done justice to. The essay clearly asks for one specific achievement, and applicants should ensure they stick to just that – long stories trying to disguise and club multiple achievements to pass them off as one will not get much credit. Applicants should also ensure that they choose a story that is worthwhile as well as recent [E.g.Winning a pan-India science competition in Grade 8 is fantastic, but it’s just too old to represent the person you are today]. Similarly, focusing on how you set yourself apart from others is important – essentially, you are being asked to show how you are better than others in your approach/process/attitude. Finally, the learning part must be addressed. Don’t take this lightly by washing over the learning in one line at the end. Express yourself fully in terms of what the learning was and how it mattered to you.

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ISB Essay 2:: Describe a (only one) defining moment in your personal / professional life when you had to make a risky decision, and explain what you did, and why the outcome?
OR
Describe a (only one) situation in your personal / professional life when you had to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. How did it affect you and what did you learn? 
(300 words max)

GyanOne analysis:: For the second year running, ISB includes a choice question in its essay pack. As you approach this, you need to first analyze and determine which essay prompt you will be able to answer better. We said this to dozens of ISB applicants last year, and we will say it again here this year – the topic you choose does NOT matter. What matters is how you address that topic. A choice is best done by deep introspection (and through seeking advice and coaching as needed), not by picking up the first thing that comes to mind. Depending on the topic you choose, here is our analysis:

Topic 1 (defining moment): The first thing to keep in mind is that the situation you choose to describe here should be different from the one you describe in the first essay. Yes, we know – plenty of people (including some ISB application buddies) will say that it does not matter – but we feel you are doing less than your best if you take such a path. Another key point to note here is that your actions, or the final outcome, need NOT necessarily be positive. Already, we are getting questions from some of our clients on whether they should only use instances wherein the outcome was positive. The answer is a firm NO – go with what helps the essay reader to understand your actions and how you managed the process. Explain what you learnt – that is the important part.

Topic 2 (interacting with people from diverse backgrounds): To begin – avoid the obvious here. Far too many people will try to address this essay by saying that their key learning was that different people are different and need to be managed differently. If you are one of them, think about it – that lesson is obvious to the point of not even needing to be learnt. Another key question that many are struggling with is how to think of diversity. If you choose a sample from your colleagues, chances are you will end up with people from different backgrounds. However – at least in our definition – that is not diverse enough. The diversity factor must be eminent here. Again, remember to address how this affected you and, importantly, what you learnt. Working with people from different backgrounds and excelling is a core part of the ISB experience, so showing an ability to work with others is important here.

ISB Essay 3:: What are your post ISB career plans and how will your past experiences and the Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) contribute to taking you there? (300 words max)

GyanOne analysis:: A subtle variation on last year’s career goals essay that continues to be (and rightly so) a perennial part of the ISB essay pack. The rewording of this essay from that of essay 2 last year also vindicates our stand and analysis (and the huge number of discussions we had with ISB applicants last year) on what this essay really wants. It is not asking you to explain each twist and turn in your career in detail. Instead, it needs a summary of what you have done so far, and how that + the ISB PGP is relevant to your future goals. A quick note for career switchers – please remember that expressing a desire to switch is absolutely ok, but that does not mean that you should not write about your past. Like all applicants, you must address your past too. For all applicants – make this essay a lot more than just a formal description of your professional experience. Research ISB. Have clear goals. These are all absolutely essential to making this essay a success for you.

ISB optional essay: Please use this space to explain any career breaks / provide any other information not covered elsewhere in the application that could significantly impact your candidature at ISB. Note: It is not necessary 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)

GyanOne analysis:: This year, ISB addresses one of the most-oft asked question on its essays – should you write the ISB optional essay? The words ‘not covered elsewhere in the application’ make it explicit that you should not repeat your accomplishments from elsewhere in the application. As there is no standard content for this essay, we will not go into recommending what you should put in here, as that will vary from applicant to applicant. We can, however, recommend things you should not put in. Do not put in excuses for a low GMAT or a low GPA (unless medical or serious in nature – not focusing enough is not a good enough reason) and do not use this essay as an extension of a different essay. If you are not sure on how you can use this best, contact us.

This, then, is our brief analysis on these essays. Please do not hesitate to contact us if anything is unclear or if you need specific insights on how you can use these essays to do your very best and win that much-vaunted ISB admit!  You can also request a FREE profile evaluation through the links on this page.

 

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