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Isb Essays 2013

This is the analysis of ISB’s 2013 Essays. For an in-depth analysis of ISB’s 2014 Essays, please go to this link: ISB Essay Analysis


ISB has come out with their application essays for 2013 and there are a few changes from last year. The video essay has been dropped and an ‘additional information’ essay that was compulsory last year has now been made optional.


But ISB applicants should be happier with the new essay questions as these are more specific and state the expectations of the Admission Committee more clearly.


Essay 1: Attitude, skills and knowledge differentiate people. Elaborate with two examples on how you would differentiate yourself. (300 words max)




This is a variant of last year’s essay and indicates that ISB’s focus is still on understanding what makes a candidate stand apart from others.


Reflect on what defines you and sets you apart. Your attitude could be defined by a personal quality, a belief or a life philosophy.  Knowledge and skills could be an outcome of the perspective or experience you have gained.  If you hit a roadblock here, you can talk to people who know you well in different spheres of life, to identify what makes you different. For instance:

I come from a family of self-made businessmen, none of whom have studied beyond the 10th grade. As the first engineer in such a family, I have 2 unique qualities – the risk appetite and drive of an entrepreneur, and the discipline and focus that comes with higher education.
Having worked in operations, delivery and sales roles in 2 different industries (aviation and manufacturing) over the past 4 years, I bring extensive domain knowledge and cross-functional perspective to the table.

The second, and perhaps trickier, part is citing 2 examples to substantiate your answer. A good way to tackle this is to straddle the past and the future. You can cite a previous situation in which you effectively demonstrated the attitude/skills/knowledge you’re talking about, and also explain how you’re going to do this in future – at ISB.


What NOT to do:


Do not focus ONLY on your achievements in this essay – there is another question that asks you to do this. This question requires you to talk about the qualities/traits that you bring to the table.


Do not write what you think the AdCom wants to hear, unless this is what truly differentiates you.  Often, candidates tend to talk about the same old traits as everyone else. For instance, ‘analytical skills’ or ‘teamwork’. Instead, try to say something different and memorable about yourself.

Essay 2: How does the ISB PGP tie-in with your career goals? (300 words max)



Now this is a standard ‘hygiene’ B-school application essay if ever there was one! Instead of asking you to describe your career goals according to a timeline (3 years, 5 years etc), the AdCom wants to know the more important aspect – how do you think the ISB PGP will help you achieve your career goals?
Begin by stating your career goals, both immediately after graduating from ISB, and 5 years from then.
Talk about what you need to achieve these goals – what is the competency gap you are facing currently?
Specify how ISB’s PGP can help you. Mention courses, programs and clubs at ISB that you want to be part of. What else can ISB give you – career services? Strong alumni network? Brand name?

What NOT to do:

Do not give a generic answer like this: “With its eminent faculty, global reputation and world-class infrastructure, ISB is the best choice for me” Remember, the question is about the ISB PGP.
Do not be vague about your goals. For instance,  I am looking at a career in general management.
Avoid goals on either end of the spectrum: either ridiculously unachievable or painfully low-hanging! For instance,  ‘CEO of Apple in 5 years’ to ‘Project Manager in an IT company’ 🙂

Essay 3: Pick the most significant achievement (professional or personal) you have had and elaborate on the key learning you took away from it. (300 words max)



Read this question carefully once again – it is NOT asking you to SIMPLY DESCRIBE your biggest achievement.
Use the Situation-Action-Result (SAR) framework: Begin by describing the problem/challenge itself, then talk about what action you took and finally, close with what the outcome was. In the last section, your focus should be on your learning/takeaway from the incident. How did your perspective change? Did you realize something new? How did you change after the event?

What NOT to do:

Do not merely list the rewards and accolades you won for whatever steps you took – that is not the focus of this essay. This can be mentioned elsewhere in the application.
Do not shy away from citing a personal achievement: Unfortunately, many Indians tend to favor professional achievements over personal ones. Do remember that your objective is to craft an application that creates an impact on the AdCom and makes them want to meet you and learn more about you. Often, personal stories can be more inspiring and remarkable than professional ones – a colleague or a person in a similar company may have a similar professional achievement, but nobody else can share your personal success story! 🙂

Essay 4 (Optional): Please provide additional information, if any that will significantly affect the consideration of your application to the ISB. (300 words max)



This was a compulsory essay until last year, but has now become optional.
Use this essay to explain any part of your profile that you think may raise questions. For example, a gap in your studies or work experience, poor academics etc.
My resume shows a gap of 1 year between my graduation and my first job. I graduated in June 2008, right during the global financial crisis. Most companies had put a freeze on hiring, and despite being academically proficient, I was unable to find a job. But I did not want to waste this time and enrolled in an Oracle certification course at NIIT. By the time I joined Wipro in July 2009, I had completed this, as well as a beginner’s course in conversational French.

What NOT to do:

Do not repeat information you have already mentioned elsewhere in your application – in your resume, essays etc. This is not only boring, but also tiresome for the reader. 🙂
Apart from these, ISB has 2 separate essays for re-applicants and scholarship aspirants. As you may have realized by now, the first step in crafting your essays is always thinking and reflecting. And contrary to what many candidates think, preparing for the GMAT and planning their MBA application are not necessarily sequential events. So go ahead, take an occasional break from your GMAT prep and put on your thinking cap! 🙂
Wondering if you can get into ISB? Let us help you!
Get your Profile Evaluated!

The Indian School of Business PGP program is the best choice for MBA applicants who want to build or advance their careers in India.

Each applicant to the Post Graduate Programme in Management at the Indian School of Business is holistically evaluated on the following parameters: :

  • Ø Academic Credentials
  • Ø Leadership Potential
  • Ø Personal Attributes

ISB Application Deadlines:

Cycle 1
Application Deadline: October 15, 2017
Final Offer Decision: December 05, 2017

Cycle 2
Application Deadline: January 15, 2018
Final Offer Decision: March 5, 2018

Acceptance Date: 10 days from the date of offer.

The essay questions of the PGP program of The Indian School of Business remain unchanged for the admission cycle of 2017-18.  Like last year, this year’s applicants will write the two required questions to showcase their candidacy to the Ad Com. The good news is  that the word limit of essay 1 has been increased from 400 words to 500 words. But the   optional  essay has been eliminated  this year. However, applicants have space on the Education page of the application to explain any gaps during their education.

With careful planning, and considerable soul searching, you can present an impressive and convincing picture of your candidacy as well  as your fit with the school.

Let’s take a look at the essay questions:

Essay 1:  If we were to admit just one more candidate to the Postgraduate Programme (PGP) at the ISB, why should it be you? (500 words max)

Instead of specifically asking about an accomplishment (personal or professional) that distinguishes the applicants from others this  question offers the applicants liberty to list more than one accomplishment/ leadership story that would distinguish them from the applicant pool and earn them that coveted one seat at the ISB. With  the 500 words limit, you can cover  3-4 differentiators. So your best bet would be to pick your three biggest  accomplishments from three different areas – professional, community, and personal life so you can present your well-rounded personality. However, if you cannot boast of any leadership role in community service, you may discuss more than one professional accomplishment where you made an impact.

At ISB, you will be competing with the traditional IT applicant pool, so you may not want to select an accomplishment that demonstrates your role as a team leader in an IT project. Try to distinguish yourself by showcasing your ability to face challenges in other roles e.g. your adaptability to changes in the global world, your talent to convince others of executing your innovative ideas, your courage to take calculated risks that yielded results, and so on.

The ‘how’ part of your accomplishment is as important as the ‘what’ part. So you don’t want to tell the climax of the story in the first sentence itself. Also, make sure that each of your accomplishment stories has these four components: the challenge, the achievement, the outcome/result, the significance. It is important to explain why this accomplishment is meaningful to you in terms of the challenges you overcame, the results you produced, and the lessons you learned.

Please do not begin your story with. “My first accomplishment is” or “my second accomplishment is …” This reads like a laundry list of achievements. In order to  paint a cohesive and strong picture of you as a candidate, try to string together your stories/ experiences .

Lastly, and most importantly, be as precise as you can in presenting your stories. With 500 words maximum words allowed, you can use approximately 125-150 words in sharing details of each of your most significant accomplishments.

Essay 2:  Describe your short and long term career plans. How does the PGP fit in with those? (300 words max)

This is a straightforward goals essay about long term and short term goals. Even though the question doesn’t specifically ask you about your career history, I suggest you should discuss it briefly in order to make a logical connection between your past, present, and future. This means your story should connect your past (work-experience, skills), present (your need of an MBA from ISB to achieve your goals), and your future (goals and objectives).

How to organize this essay? Begin your essay with a brief career history and provide details about how you have pursued your career, acquired new skills and progressed along your career path all these years (2-3 sentences). Then go on to describe why you believe that an MBA is the next logical step in your career path NOW? What are those skills that you still lack which you hope to acquire by an MBA? How an MBA will fill the gaps in your career?

Then explain your post MBA and long term goals. Please make sure to demonstrate a logical connection between your short term and long term goals. In other words, explain how you will move from step 1 to step 2 and so on. Make sure that your goals are realistic as well as ambitious. That is, if you aim for a technology or a consulting role, you’ll need to demonstrate that you already possess some skills/experience in that area and are now aiming to enhance those skills. Likewise, if you are a career changer, you should provide evidence as to how your current skill set would facilitate this transition.

Once you have elaborated your goals, explain how an MBA from ISB is your best bet at this time?  How it will help you achieve your goals? Please make sure to have a thorough knowledge of PGP program of ISB so you can demonstrate how its resources (curriculum, faculty, clubs, student communities etc.)  perfectly match your goals and will bring you closer to your dreams. Finally, you may wrap your essay by adding a sentence about the value you will bring to their program.

Since you have only 300 words to discuss your career history, your career goals and their link to the PGP program of ISB, you need to be extremely precise in presenting your case and make every word count . 

Please note that ISB’s online application will not accept even one word over the limit of its essays.

You may organize your essay in the following way:

  • Brief career history (approximately 60-70 words)
  •  Short term Long term goals (approximately 90-100 words)
  •  Connection between ISB’s resources and your goals (approximately 100-140 words)

When choosing your stories, make sure you maintain a balance between your professional and personal stories that showcases your well rounded candidacy.

Good luck on your Round 2 applications J

This post first appeared in myessayreview blog.

You may be interested in analysis  of  previous years' PGP essay questions  :

ISB Essay Questions Analysis -2016-17

ISB Essay Questions Analysis -2015-16

ISB Essay Questions Analysis -2014-15

ISB Essay Questions Analysis -2013-14

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