College Essay Writing Topics – How to score high in Essay Writing section of the MBA Application?

MBA college essays
What kind of essays will I be asked to write in essays?
The college essay format
Best College Essays Writing Rules
What are the most common mistakes that students commit while writing essay questions?
Essay Writing styles- What to avoid for writing one of the best college essays?

Let’s get straight to the business.

It is widely accepted that writing essays can be challenging. The admission officers go through thousands of profiles, and read thousands of essays.

It is obvious that, most essay writing topics will have a great deal of similarity. So, you must strive hard, to make your essays sound different, and use more compelling college essay formats

How do I make my essay look different and better than others?

To make your essays look different, you have to brainstorm continuously, and focus on your all round aspects.

Focusing on your personal aspects, will greatly help in composing good essays.

As mentioned before, you cannot afford to take your essays lightly, as they are mandatory and carry a specific weight to your application. Good college essays are the key to your selection.Try to refer to some good college essay examples.

A lot of students have a similar GPA and GMAT SCORES – A question might be at the back of your mind

So what makes the difference?

Essay Difference

Your essays can be a medium through which, you can highlight your key skills, your attributes, personal qualities, and unique traits. The admission officers need a specific set of skills, and a specific kind of candidate, to fill in their class.

Remember, it is your responsibility to convince them, that you are the one they are looking for. We at COLLMISSION have experts who can help you put the pieces together for an impressive Essay.

What kind of essays will I be asked to write in essays?

write in essays

You will be asked to write an essay on your real life experiences.

Let us consider an example.

Suppose, you have coached an under-14 soccer team.

Now, you want to share your experiences, by writing a compelling essay, based on the above situation.

The College Essay Format

It is more about HOW you write rather than WHAT you write in essay writing.

While writing an essay, you must ensure that it should be written in a college essay format. You can summarize your essay, by breaking it into parts or paragraphs. You must jot down the key points, before writing down the entire story.

In the first paragraph of essay writing

You should give a convincing introduction to the challenges faced by the team.

For example- you can say, initially, the parents did not allow their children to play soccer, as the kids were not disciplined. The kids did not arrive in time and lacked the team spirit.

In the second paragraph of essay writing

You can mention, the preventive actions taken by you.

For example, like-  explaining the parents about the importance of sports, encouraging the students to work as a team, or conducting ice breaking sessions, that allowed free mixing, and promoted friendship between the kids.

In the third paragraph of essay writing

You can talk about the motivational actions taken to resolve these problems.

For example, Like- encouraging children to arrive in time by rewarding them for their discipline.

You can also say- team work was a problem, so I encouraged my students to pass the ball frequently, and after the session was over, I used to reward those kids, who frequently passed the ball. This improved the teamwork skills.

In the fourth paragraph of essay writing

You can talk about the results- whether they were fruitful or they backfired.

You can say, after I took the preventive measures and motivational actions, the team was more disciplined, and started winning more matches. So mention things like we competed with great spirits, and finally won the all-important trophy.

In the fifth paragraph of essay writing

You can mention the “takeaways”, or the outcome of your efforts.

You can say, after the team won, the team spirit was at its peak. The parents congratulated, and thanked me for my efforts.

The kids were thrilled, and I got immense respect. We managed to pull off something, which seemed impossible a few months back. That gave me immense joy and satisfaction, as my hard work paid off.

Now from the above example, it is evident that, the college essay formats should be structured, and written in a proper sequence. You have to back your points with relevant examples.

An essay which is narrated with the help of real life examples, adds authenticity to your application, and plays a big role in differentiating your profile from other applicants.

Why do a lot of essays get rejected?

Because there are certain guidelines as per college essay formats which one needs to follow while writing the essay. Unfortunately, lot of students don’t follow them. Refer to some college essay examples to know better

Read on to know how to write the most compelling essays for top US B-Schools.

Now, that you are aware about the ways to write an essay, let us discuss the various rules you have to follow, while writing an essay as per college essay format.

Best College Essays Writing Rules

Essay Writing Rules

How to compose the Best College Essays?

Writing Narratively

It is important for you to understand that you are required to narrate your experiences.

Therefore, you must prefer a narrative style of essay writing. You are not asked to prove a theory, by writing an essay. Rather, you are trying to present your own story. Hence, giving a descriptive presentation adds authenticity to your application.

 Use of the First Person

The business schools ask to write an essay, because they are interested to know about you. So, your essay must focus on your own story. Therefore, you must use pronouns like “I”, “me”, “my”. You should strictly avoid words like “one”,” he”, and, “his”.

Use of 2nd person, or 3rd person is not only irrelevant, but also wastes the valuable word count.

Keep It Simple

Your college essay format and writing should be simple, and easy to understand. Through your essays, the admission authorities want to evaluate your profile. Simplicity is one of the highlights of the best college essays.

Moreover, you are applying to a business school, for an MBA-  not for an English literature program. Nobody is interested to know about your writing skills, or your vocabulary. The reader has to go through hundreds of essays. Therefore, you don’t want to complicate things.

Embrace The Conflict

Real life conflict is not a good thing to welcome. However, conflicts in your application essays are very important. They keep the reader interested.

Let us consider two different cases, for our better understanding.

CANDIDATE A– named John, is a brilliant scholar, and has continuously topped in all his examinations. He has managed to score brilliantly in the GMAT, and is confident of making it to the top 10 business schools in the united states.

CANDIDATE B– named Scarlet, is not a brilliant scholar, but is an active community worker. She has come across numerous hurdles, suffered bumps, and bruises, and is fighting for a place in the top U.S universities.

If, we consider both the above situations, John enjoys a smooth ride, whereas scarlet is a fighter. So, she can add more conflict to her essays, because she has faced a lot more challenging circumstances than John. Therefore, the essays written by scarlet will be more compelling and influencing.

What are the most common mistakes that students commit while writing essay questions?

Common Mistakes

Answer the Essay Questions

The sole motive of writing an essay, is to answer the essay questions asked by the business school and in the process compose one of the best college essays that the evaluators would read. They don’t really care about the vocabulary, or your knowledge of literature. However, most candidates, work and re-work on their essays, in order to make it better, and ultimately change the entire meaning of an essay.

We recommend you, to focus on answering the essay questions, and ensure that- you don’t deviate from the original topic.

Respect the Word Count

While attempting to write the best college essays, respecting the word count, and sticking to the word limit is a must. You should not cross the word count, because it will carry a negative impression. Similarly, if you stay way under the word limit, it can work against you.

You must follow the instructions carefully, and make the best use of the word limit. Writing irrelevant stuffs, wastes words, and you will not be able to finish within the word limits. So, preparing a super summary of your essay, by jotting down the key points, will help you make best use of the word limit.

Strategize First – Write Later for Essay Questions

Essay Strategize

NOW, that you know the rules and the college essay format, you need to strategize, or plan about the ways through which you can write a perfect essay.

You need to think about the key points in your background, Like-

  • Your career highlights, professional achievements, awards, recognitions, etc.
  • You need to jot down each and every aspect, that you feel, will play an important role in strengthening your candidacy.

You must understand, that writing an essay can be a complex task, and it requires time and a certain college essay format. You will be asked to write, two to six essays per school. Most students spend weeks, and months for writing an essay. Crafting a perfect essay will require, in-depth brainstorming, and reviewing. So, you need to have ample time in hand.

You need to avoid taking help from your family members, as your family members won’t be able to draw a better picture of you, because their opinion may be biased.

Even though, it is always advisable to apply to 3 to 5 schools at a time, as it increases your chances of getting selected. You must remember that, you should work on one school at a time.

If you write essays in a hurry, or focus on different schools at a time, then it might end up confusing you.

Hence, you must focus on one particular essay at a time, for one particular school. Importantly, if you want to apply for 3 to 5 different schools, you need to start early, as it might take a lot of time.

Coming to the word count for best college essays- the reader of your essay has to go through thousands of other essays. So, you need to avoid giving him extra work. Exceeding the limit, by a long way will frustrate the reader, and your essay may get rejected without being read.

What happens when you don’t follow the rule of essay questions?

essay writing rules

Suppose If you end up 20% beyond the word limit. In case, you are 20 percent beyond the word limit, the admission officers feel that, you are arrogant and overconfident.

If, you are 50 percent under the limit, it will suggest, either you didn’t read the instructions, or you are not as interested. Most candidates edit and rework continuously, and it changes the entire meaning of their essay. So, they deviate from the original topic.

What will happen, if one deviates from the topic, what impressions will the admission authorities have?

You should speak to the point, and it should be a direct response to your essay questions, or else the reader might feel, the story is not relevant, or he might think, you have written the story for another school, and you have used it for this school.

Deviating from the topic will exhibit your lack of focus, as well as interest. Therefore, one must be careful while summarizing, or re- editing, because while doing so, if you divert from the original concept, then it will surely lead to a negative impression.

Essay Writing Styles – Types of Essay Writing

 Essay Writing Tips for Students

In order to write the best essays, we recommend that your essay writings need to be direct and straightforward, because you are not applying for a master’s degree in creative writing, where your English literature skills will be tested. Rather, you are applying to a business school, where the reader has to go through hundreds of essays. Therefore, keep it plain and simple.

However, this does not mean that you can submit poorly written essays. Your essay needs to be structured as per college essay format, to the point, and must answer the essay question. Similarly, you need to avoid dramatic essays, hyper creative essays, because, it might get the attention of the reader, but it will complicate things for him or her, and he or she will not be able to get the answer to the essay question.

You don’t really want the admissions officer to sit down with a dictionary, and find out the meanings of the complex words.

As mentioned before, don’t just write, but explain with relevant examples of real life situations.

For Example-

If you write “I was one of the most productive employees.”

Here the answer is haphazard, because it will create doubts in the mind of the reader or admissions officer.

The reader might think –

1.Was he or she productive?

2.What responsibilities did he or she take?

3.What was the result?

Therefore, you need give a complete answer to the essay question, and justify your accomplishments with real life examples. This will stop creating doubts in the mind of the reader.

Essay Writing Styles What to avoid while writing one of the Best College Essays?

Essay Writing styles

Avoid using Quotes while writing as per Essay Format

Using quotes written by others, to make your point is not advisable, as the admission officers have already come across these quotes. So, you end up wasting your valuable word limit, without creating much of an impact.

Most importantly, the admission officers are interested in knowing your point of view. So, using someone else’s quote does not reflect well in answering essay questions.


In different types of essay writing, it is very hard to craft an effective dialogue, So, you must strictly avoid them, as they use up your word limit.

Avoid repetition

You will be asked to write 2 to 6 essays per school. Hence, you need to avoid repetition or overlapping, because repeating the same points, will not only waste your precious word limit, but also create a negative impression. The reader might also feel, that you are not sincere.

Passive voice

Do not make the mistake of using passive voice, because the essay is all about you, where you are the main subject. So, the focus needs to be on your own attributes. Using the passive voice, does not reflect well.

Let us consider an example, for our better understanding. Consider the following sentence.

Sentence 1 – John ate the food.

Sentence 2 – The food was eaten by John.

Sentence 1 is active, Here, John is the main subject, because It defines the ownership of John.

Sentence 2 is passive. Here, food is the main subject.

Therefore, use the style of sentence 1 in essay writing. Using active voice in your essays, will add credibility to your essay writing.

Essays need to be simple.

The admission officers are not interested to test your literature. Therefore, excessive literature can be suspicious. The reader might feel that, the candidate has taken help from an external source, for writing the cessays. However, you must avoid writing on sensitive topics, like religion, money, politics, etc.

The perception varies from one person to another. So, you must have a diplomatic approach while writing essays.

Some Essay Topics

As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program? (No word limit)

                                                                   Harvard B-School 2016-2017

Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? (450 words maximum)

                                                                      Kellogg B-School 2016-2017

We believe that the best results are achieved when you share success, think fearlessly and drive change. With this in mind, what are your goals at UCLA Anderson and in your short-term and long-term career? (750 words maximum)                                                                                                        UCLA Anderson 2016-2017

Motivation Essay: Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (approximately 300 words)

                                                                      INSEAD September 2017

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)

                                                                                   Indian School of Business 2016-17, MBA