Posted on September 11, 2018

ISB Essay Questions Analysis- 2018-19


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

Whether you are looking for a career switch or a career progression, or to start an entrepreneurial venture, the Post Graduate Programme (PGP) in Management will help you achieve your career goals. The one-year global management program will embark on a transformational journey.”

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:              September 15, 2018
Final Offer Decision:                November 2018

Cycle 2
Application Deadline:              December 15, 2018
Final Offer Decision:                February 2019

Acceptance Date: 10 days from the date of the offer.

Advantages of applying in Cycle 1:

  • Full tuition fee waivers will be offered only to Cycle 1 applicants
  • 50% of all merit and need-based waivers will be offered to Cycle 1 applicants

Non-Indian Origin Applicants

To enable non-Indian origin applicants to complete their Visa formalities in time, we follow a rolling evaluation process for them. Their application is evaluated, and their admission decision is communicated within six weeks of receiving the completed application.

The essay questions of the PGP program of The Indian School of Business have been changed for the admission cycle of 2018-19. Like last year, this year’s applicants will write the two required questions. However, the word limit of essay 1 has been reduced from 500 words to 400 words. Hence instead of 800 words, this year’s ISB applicants will have only 700 words to showcase their candidacy to the Ad Com.  ISB no longer provides an option to write an optional essay. However, applicants have space on the Education page of the application to explain any gaps during their education.

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

With significant self- reflection, careful planning, and preparation, you can present an impressive and convincing picture of your candidacy as well as your 'fit' with the school.

Let’s take a closer look at the essay questions:

Essay 1: At ISB we value diversity as it enhances both the in-class and out of class learning experience. Tell us how would you contribute to the same? (400 words max)

This question is a little different from last year’s question. Instead of asking what distinguishes the applicants from others (personally and professionally), this question specifically asks them what they will contribute to the learning experience of their classmates in and outside the classroom, and how they will add to the diversity of the classroom. The topic is similar to last year’s essay topic in essence as you have to showcase your best self, your well- rounded personality in order for the ISB admission committee to admit you.

Showcase your uniqueness in Different Areas: To paint a cohesive and strong picture of you as a candidate, focus on your unique attributes (personal and professional), provide examples of how you have demonstrated them in the past, and what you would bring to the ISB. The ‘how’ part of your story/accomplishment is as important as the ‘what’ part.

At ISB, you will be competing with the traditional IT applicant pool, so in the professional realm, you can showcase 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. If you are from a different industry, you will bring to the table your deep knowledge and experience of your industry. After explaining your unique professional attribute/skill, illustrate it by an example explaining how you have demonstrated it at work, and then explain how you will add value to the ISB through your contribution in classroom discussions or your participation in student-led clubs or organizations.

When discussing personal attributes, think of your special talents. Pick one extracurricular activity i.e. sports, music, dance, painting, writing, or any interest/ hobby that you are passionate about and have enjoyed pursuing. Share your achievements in that area and explain how you will enrich the experience of your class mates by getting involved in a club or student-led organization at the ISB, leaving it a better place. Please note that it is important to support your claims about your potential contribution to specific clubs and organizations by specific examples from your past experiences, personal or professional, in the given area. To demonstrate your ‘fit’ with the program, you must showcase what you have done in the past and how you are going to be a strong contributor to ISB.

To craft an effective response, you should have a thorough understanding of the school’s resources (curriculum, faculty, clubs, organizations, and student-led activities). You should also reach out to alumni and current students to get additional insights into the school’s resources and culture.

Lastly, and most importantly, be as precise as you can in presenting your stories. With 400 maximum words allowed, you can allot approximately 150-200 words to detailing your unique attributes illustrated by your accomplishments (mainly leadership stories) and approximately 200-250 words to explain what value you will add to the ISB.

Essay 2: Enrolling in a Business School is an important career decision. Critically look at your career to date, the choices you have made, the key influences behind those choices, your goals for the future, and how do you think ISB's PGP can help you in achieving your goals? (300 words max)

There is a slight change in this year’s goals essay question. That is, in addition to asking career goals and how ISB will help you achieve your goals, it also asks about applicants’ career history and the choices they have made in their career.

This is a straightforward goals essay that requires you to make a logical connection between your past, present, and future. This means your story should connect your past (work-experience and skills), present (your need for an MBA from ISB to achieve your goals), and your future (goals and objectives).

Begin your essay with 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). Provide your rationale behind the career choices you have made. 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.) are aligned with your goals and will bring you closer to your dreams.

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.  Again, 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 80-90 words)
  • Short term Long term goals (approximately 90-100 words)
  • The connection between ISB’s resources and your goals (approximately100-120 words)

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

To further help you in developing your application essays, you may review the general Essay Tips.

For Essay Analysis of Other Schools by MER, click here.

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) is committed to helping applicants get accepted into top 20 MBA, programs, including ISB.

Interviews of ISB Admits:

  1. Arjun- ISB Admit (2018)
  2. Nithish- ISB Admit (2018)
  3. Sathish- ISB Admit (2017)
  4. Tribhuvan ISB Admit (2016)

Previous years’ ISB essay questions analysis:

ISB Essay Questions Analysis 2017-18

ISB Essay Questions Analysis -2016-17

ISB Essay Questions Analysis -2015-16

ISB Essay Questions Analysis -2014-15

ISB Essay Questions Analysis -2013-14

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs. (Poonam is one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

Do you have questions about your application? E-mail Poonam at or sign up here for a free consultation.

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