MBA applications: Top 5 ways to ace short answer questions

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MBA applications: Top 5 ways to ace short answer questions

With Round 1 deadlines just around the corner, we wanted to take a minute to talk about short answer questions.

Too often, business school applicants will spend hours refining and reviewing their longer essays but leave the short answers until the night before. But for most admissions committees, generic off-the-cuff answers aren’t going to cut it.

1) Brainstorm. Think about how you would answer the question if you had 600 words rather than 200 words. Find a theme. Just as with your longer essays, each of your short answers should have a theme or a main point.

2) Forget the word count. Don’t think you have to hit the maximum number of words on every question. Admissions committees won’t look unfavorably on you for being 20 words short of the maximum word count.

3) Minimize passive voice. Say “Company A gave me an award” rather than “I was given an award by Company A.”  The former is far more concise than the latter. Sentences with passive voice tend to be longer, thereby bloating your word count.

4) Balance your answers. Don’t be redundant. Your short essays should feel like parts of a whole. If you’ve already written a paragraph about your leadership skills, you don’t need to reiterate.

5) Fill the holes. Take advantage of the more open-ended questions to mention things that you want to emphasize but haven’t had much of a chance to discuss. This might be a chance to address a weakness in your application or mention a particular passion of yours.

Though some schools have already done away with long-form essays, short essays are still an excellent way to help the admissions committee understand why you are a unique applicant that will add value to their school.

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