Posted on November 15, 2017

Indian School of Business (ISB) Essay Questions Tips– 2017-18


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:

  • Academic Credentials
  • Leadership Potential
  • 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 the 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 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 accomplishments 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 for 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 on 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 the 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.

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)
  •  The 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.

MER has helped many people get accepted into ISB. One of them shared his ISB experience with us.

An Indian Engineer Shares his ISB Experience

Good luck on your Round 2 applications J

You may be interested in the 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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