Posted on July 3, 2012

MIT Sloan Admissions Essay Questions Analysis – 2012-2013

 Round 1

Deadline: October 24, 2012

Notification: January 29, 2013

Round 2

Deadline: December 27, 2012

Notification: April 2, 2013

MIT Sloan Admissions Essays-2012-2013

From three questions last year, MIT has come down to two questions. The word limit for the two questions remains the same.

From MIT Website: We are interested in learning more about how you work, think, and act. For each essay, please provide a brief overview of the situation, followed by a detailed description of your response. Please limit the experiences you discuss to those which have occurred in the past three years. In each of the essays, please describe in detail what you thought, felt, said, and did.

To sum up, they want you to do two things: first, recount experiences that are only three years old, and second, describe your response to a particular situation in detail, that is,  what you thought, felt, said, and did.

Let’s look at the two essay questions one by one.

1. Please describe a time when you had to convince a person or a group to accept your idea. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)

This question remains unchanged from last year except for a minor twist in words that is- instead of ‘convinced’ from last year; it is ‘had to convince' which makes the challenge more intense for the applicants.

That Sloan is looking for real leaders in its applicant pool is evidenced by the fact that their first question is meant to evaluate one of their leadership qualities - their ability to influence others. So you need to look for examples when you dealt with resistance or opposition to an idea and succeeded in persuading a person or a group to accept your ideas. Make sure your story should not only highlight your ability to convince others in a non-aggressive manner but should also reflect your sensitivity and receptiveness to other peoples' suggestions and ideas. Thus, your story will tell the Ad Com that you possess the abilities to succeed through challenges at MIT Sloan and in your future career.

Your answer should have the following four components:

1. The Challenge

2. The Action

3. The Outcome of the action or initiative

4. The Significance/ Impact

Let’s take a look at the examples of the four components

1. The Challenge

Example: You cannot rewrite the Bible! It is fated to fail,” exclaimed all my seniors and colleagues after I showed them the new model I had designed.

2. The Action:

Example: One month after the initial rejection of my proposal, I again requested my manager for a meeting to which he reluctantly agreed. After walking through the case-studies to him, I explained how the new model could help us to cut down 20% of the effort (and thus cost!) per promotion, simplify the super-complex analysis process, and even some seemingly-independent defects in the mainframe system. Also, I addressed his concerns about the safety of the model Impressed with the analysis; he agreed to present the new model to our client and convinced them to adopt it.

3. The outcome:

Example: In the next one-and-half years, this model was established as a standard for building credit card promotions in most of the business units of my company. The following year,  I received one of the most prestigious awards in X company for devising this methodology.

4. The Significance:

Example: Instead of getting dejected at the refusal I faced, I acted decisively to remove all the doubts my manager had. In the end, my effort and persistence matched my passion, allowing me to implement the idea successfully.

Essay 2: Please describe a time when you overcame a personal setback. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)

This is a new question for MIT this year. Now MIT wants you to share with them your personal setback story. The term ‘personal’ makes it mandatory for you to choose your story/ experience from your personal life only, and not from your professional life. So you need to dig deeper and reflect on times when you faced a failure/setback/adversity in your personal life. Remember, your setback may be due to reasons beyond your control or it may have been caused because of your own inability to handle things. In either case, the key here is how you were impacted by the situation, how you navigated through it, and how you eventually learned your lessons and emerged as a more mature and intelligent individual.

The Structure of Failure/ Setback essay: Your setback/ failure essay should have the following four components:

1. The challenge: (explain the challenge/ the situation)

Example: I was taken to a hospital, where an MRI revealed that I was suffering from Discoid meniscus- a rare congenital abnormality of the knee-cartilage".

2. The action: (explain how you handled it?)

Example: “Two years later, I reluctantly joined the project volleyball team, as a replacement of an injured player. Though we crashed out in the first round, the experience reignited the passion for sports in me. Filled with a desire to resume sports, I joined a gym and resumed physiotherapies for my knees.”

3. The outcome/result: (explain what happened in the end ?)

Example: Next year, I coached the team and pulled our first-round-exit team to the quarter-final. Thus, turning the first-round-exit team to a strong contender for the trophy, and making a comeback to the sports makes me feel great about my personal courage.”

4. The significance/ effect: (explain how that setback taught you important lessons that you later used for self-improvement).

Example: “Since then, I have not looked back and have been regular with my sports activities. The experience taught me that a person can accomplish anything with his resilience, drive, and courage.”

Note: For more details on the Setback essay, click here.

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