How to tackle the IESE MBA application, tips from our Admissions Director

Dear applicants to the Class of 2022,

I am thrilled to announce that the incoming Class of 2021 will be IESE’s largest MBA class yet of 370+ students. It is very exciting to see our vibrant student community growing – one that some of you may very well be joining next year. As you embark on your MBA application journey, I wanted to share some pointers on how to approach the IESE application. Hopefully this will ease some stress, provide you with some added clarity and even some inspiration on how to tackle the essay questions.

General Tips:

Here are the important dates to keep track of during the application process:

Early Round Deadline: September 3, 2019

Round 1 Deadline: October 10, 2019

Round 2 Deadline: January 8, 2020        

Round 3 Deadline: March 3, 2020

Round 4 Deadline: May 5, 2020

We want to get to know you and the application is your story to tell. This is your chance to explain motivations, and exhibit your commitment and enthusiasm to the admissions team. This is also the perfect opportunity for some self-reflection. Make sure you are presenting a consistent picture of who you are, what you have done and what you want to achieve. Be concise on why you want to go to business school and how you think the IESE MBA specifically will help you in achieving your goals. Some people may feel that they are not able to fully express themselves given the essay word limit, but take it as an opportunity to focus on what is truly important and relevant to the question asked of you.

This year, we have two mandatory essay questions and one optional essay.

Be a part of IESE MBA Class of 2022!

Mandatory Questions

Essay 1 (300 words): What do you want to be remembered for?

We encourage you to think deeply about the values, interests and experiences that best represent you. Use this space to highlight what makes you unique and draw attention to things that matter most to you. Reflect on your personal and professional experiences to identify decisive moments in your life that that have impacted or shaped who you are today. What was a standout experience that inculcated certain beliefs in you? What are some of the tough choices you have made? When did you demonstrate leadership qualities or entrepreneurial spirit? What is your biggest personal accomplishment to date? Is there any aspect of your heritage that you are proud of? How you have made a difference in your community? Think about interesting work or extracurricular activities that have stimulated learning and growth or shaped your perspective.

Keep in mind that the admissions team already has some information about you from the other sections of your application. The essays should provide us with a more holistic and well-rounded picture of you. So don’t tell us what you think we want to hear or repeat what is already in your CV. Be genuine and passionate in your writing, because that is what leaves a deep and lasting impression.

Essay 2 (300 words): Describe your short and medium term post-MBA goals

For this essay, applicants should express their personal objectives and illustrate how an IESE MBA would support and be a good next step in their career trajectory.

Try to be clear and concise about your plans. What are your specific career goals, do you have any target roles or companies? How do these goals fit with your values and what impact do you hope to bring to potential organization or sectors, in the short to medium term?

For those pursuing a career change, what skill sets do you possess and how does the IESE MBA bridge the gaps to achieving your stated goals? We would recommend establishing some action plans, for instance, identifying program offerings of relevance that would be beneficial for gaining new skills or knowledge. Are there clubs, classes, career treks that reaffirm why you are choosing to apply to IESE? Have you met or spoken to alumni who have similar backgrounds or are working in fields you are interested in?

We do understand that some applicants want to use the MBA as a chance to explore different career options. If that is the case, you can keep the perspective broad in your essay, but still define your priorities and areas of interest. Underline how the IESE MBA can help put you in a better position in your future career. What type of learning or growth do you expect to gain?

What are your career goals and how can IESE help you achieve them?

Optional Questions (300 words)

Essay 3: I wish the Admissions Committee had asked me…

This open-ended question is for applicants to share aspects of your candidacy not mentioned in the rest of your application. This essay could potentially help you to stand out from the crowd by showing an additional side of your personalities such as a special hobby or passion, further potential in contributing to the IESE community, examples of how you embody IESE values, addressing weaknesses or gaps in your application that you feel would benefit from context. However, please keep in mind this question is truly optional. It might be better for you to skip this question if you do not have anything of value to add beyond what has already been mentioned.

Essay 4: How do you plan to finance your MBA and why do you think you deserve a scholarship?

Pursuing your MBA is a big investment and it is essential to have a solid financial plan with contingencies. In fact, we often advise our applicants that the best time to start planning your finances is before applying to any business school. Our applicants typically combine various sources of financing options including personal or family savings, public or private loans and scholarships. It is important to consider the feasibility of your financial plan and provide us with good reasoning to support your scholarship application.

At IESE, our scholarships tend to be merit-based. Outstanding academic records, strong GMAT score, professional achievements as well as fit with the school are important factors in the selection process. While scholarships can be highly competitive, consider highlighting your motivation and commitment in joining the school and emphasize how you can further contribute to the IESE community as a student and an alumni.

I wish you all the best in your application process and look forward to getting to know you!


Pascal Michels, MBA Admissions Director

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