Posted on August 27, 2020

ISB (PGP) Essay Tips and Deadlines: 2020-2021


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 you on a transformational journey."

Selection Criteria:

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:

So far, ISB has announced the deadline for only Round 1:

Round 1:

Application Deadline: September 20, 2020

Interview Timeline:    October 1 to November 10, 2020

Decision Released:      Mid November 2020

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."


Like last year, this year's applicants will also write two required essays for the PGP program. ISB has changed the first essay question. The second essay question about career goals remains unchanged. The word limit remains the same as last year- 400 words for each essay. So, the applicants will have 800 words to showcase their candidacy to the admission committee. 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.

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

Let us take a closer look at the essay questions:

Essay 1: Describe with examples the most important personal quality that you possess that significantly enhances your prospects of being successful as a leader? (400 words max)

After having asked the applicants for five years in a row why they should be selected as part of the PGP program, ISB now requires them to think about 'a single most important personal quality' that would make them a great leader. This is a challenging question that requires you to do a significant amount of self-reflection before you sit down to pen your first draft.

To begin with, think of all those times when you had demonstrated leadership and jot them down. Your stories may not necessarily be from your professional realm; you can select leadership experiences from any area: personal life, community involvement, or entrepreneurial venture. Then focus on the unique attributes that enabled you to demonstrate leadership and achieve results. Ask yourself questions about your personal qualities that led to your success as a leader. Was it your perseverance and never- say- die attitude, talent to convince others of your innovative ideas, ability to resolve conflicts, willingness to take initiatives, or courage to take calculated risks, and so on? Please note that ISB is asking you to share only one quality, so you need to finally zero in on one dominant quality that was responsible for your success as a leader.

Now illustrate that quality by sharing your 2-3 most powerful leadership anecdotes. Please remember the 'how' part of your story/ accomplishment is as important as the 'what' part. Wrap up your essay explaining how you envision that this personal quality will ensure your success as a future leader that will make a meaningful in the world.

Essay 2: What are your short-term and long-term career goals? How will Post Graduate Program at ISB assist you in achieving your goals? (400 words max)

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 by detailing out your short term and long-term career objectives. Be as specific as you can in articulating the industry, function, and the companies that interest you (give 2-3 names). 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. Explain what you will do/ learn in your target company. How will this role prepare you for your long-term goal? What will you be doing in 10 years from now, and what impact do you see yourself taking on the world? Make sure that your goals are realistic as well as ambitious. That is, if you aim for a technology or a consulting role, you will need to demonstrate that you already possess some skills/ experience in that area and are now seeking 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.

Though the question does not ask you to discuss your career history, I would still encourage you to provide a brief account of the knowledge and experience you have gained in your professional career so far. Then summarize the skills and areas of knowledge that you need to fulfill your professional goals and how management education can help bridge the gap between your skills and future goals.

Once you have elaborated on the need for management education, explain how ISB's PGP program is your best bet at this time? How is it in line with your goals? 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 may also reach out to alumni and current students to get additional insights into the school's resources and culture. Also, attend webinars to gain additional knowledge of the program. Your familiarity with the program is crucial to explain how the PGP program at ISB will bring you closer to your dreams.

Since you have only 400 words to explain your professional objectives 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/ skills you lack (approximately 80 words)
  • Short-term/ Long-term goals (approximately 100-125 words)
  • The connection between ISB's resources and your goals (approximately 200 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.

MER has assisted many applicants in gaining admission to ISB's PGP program. Some of them (Arjun, Nithish, and Sathish, and Tribhuvan) shared their application experience with us.

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 (PGP) Essay Tips and Deadlines- 2019-20
ISB Essay Questions Analysis- 2018-19
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

Free Resources:

10 Key Essay Tips with Examples
Essay Analysis of Other Top Programs-2020-21
MER Students Share their success Stories
Case Studies

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

For further guidance and writing that resonates well with ISB, you may email Poonam at with questions about your ISB application.