Posted on July 17, 2012

UCLA Anderson Essay Questions Analysis- 2012-2013

Round 1: Deadline: October 24, 2012   Notification: January 23, 2013

Round 2:  Deadline: January 9, 2013   Notification: April 3, 2013

Round 3:  Deadline: April 17, 2013  Notification: June 5, 2013

Essay Question #1: What is your proudest achievement outside the workplace, and how has it impacted you? (700 words)

This question replaces last year’s question that asked, “What events or people have had the greatest influence in shaping your character and why?” One thing is common between the two questions – that is, the emphasis is on your personal attributes.

 The purpose of this essay is to do two things:

  1. To showcase the unique values  that motivated you to accomplish something that makes you proud of yourself
  2.  To demonstrate the impact, your achievement has made on your personality and on the people around  you

To choose content for this essay, you need to do self-introspection for instances when you had accomplished things that not only benefited other people but also helped you grow as a human being. To begin your story, you may also want to briefly discuss the factors that contributed to your personal values and beliefs, eventually leading you on to your achievement. For example, you may have learned it from your parents to voluntarily tutor your domestic help’s kids, and your proudest achievement might be to see those kids graduate high school or college.

Then, after detailing out your accomplishment story, you need to explain what impact this accomplishment had on you? How did you grow as a result? How did the experience impact you? Did it change your perspective of life in some way? Did it motivate you to continue with your volunteering endeavors in other areas? The key here is that your achievement story should reflect your beliefs or interests resulting in your personal growth. Also, it should demonstrate an impact on other people around you.

Essay Question #2: What are your short-term and long-term career goals, and how will an MBA from UCLA Anderson specifically help you achieve these goals? (750 words maximum)

This is a typical ‘goals’ question in two parts. The first part expects you to clearly define your short-term and long-term goals/objectives, while the second part requires you to articulate why you need UCLA to fulfill your goals? Since you are allowed to use 750 words, I would recommend devoting roughly 400 words to the "goals/Why MBA?” part and about 350 words to the “Why UCLA” part.

A Goals essay requires you to make a realistic connection between your past (past experience and skills), present (your need for an MBA), and future (your future plans leading to your goals). In other words, you need to demonstrate how your professional accomplishments have enabled you to set your goals and how an MBA is the logical next step towards the realization of those goals/ objectives. Please do not go into details of your professional accomplishments; just provide a general reference to them to show why you need an MBA to attain your goals. Remember, earning an MBA is just one piece of your career puzzle, and you want to prove to the admissions committee that you understand where it fits in the grand scheme of things. Be specific about why you feel now is the right time for you to learn the required skills with an MBA to move ahead on your career path. Also, make sure there is a convincing connection between your short-term and long-term goals.

2. The second part of the question focuses on the ways  UCLA’s MBA program will help you achieve your objectives. In order to tailor your response to Anderson’s offerings, you will need to identify certain programs and courses that match your goals and interests.  For this, you should take time to do some research so you can identify ties between the school’s curriculum, special programs, and extracurricular activities, and your goals and study style. If possible, make a visit to the campus, talk to students, professors, and alumni and attend a class.


“Beyond Anderson’s broad academic offerings, Management Consulting Association, Strategic and Management Operations Association, and High Tech Business Association will help me strengthen my network and align me with the professionals with similar career interests. Thus with its academic resources, emphasis on team-work, and practical approach to learning, UCLA Anderson will provide me the critical tools and network that I need to realize my career aspirations.”

Lastly, even though they have not asked, it is always advisable to throw in one last sentence about your contribution to UCLA.


“I am confident that with my academic potential, team-working abilities, innovative spirit, and leadership skills, I will add significant value to the UCLA community.”


The two required essays reflect two aspects of your personality- personal and professional. Therefore, you need to ensure that they should complement each other in such a way that your personality that comes through in your first essay should correspond to your’ goals’ essay.

Optional Essay: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware of? (250 words maximum)

Since most B-schools ask their candidates to write an optional essay, you may be tempted to copy-paste the optional essay you had composed for another school. Please DO NOT do that because all schools word their optional essays differently, so you need to approach them differently. Most schools ask their candidates to provide information that they could not give in other essays or other parts of the application. Therefore, in addition to addressing a weakness in their profile, this also gives them an opportunity to shine a spotlight on experience or side of their personality that they could not reveal in the other parts of the application: essays, recommendation letters, and resume.

Since UCLA is specifically asking you to share “any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware," you should use this essay to address a weakness in your profile, like low GPA or GMAT, a gap in your job history, or your inability to get a recommendation from your current supervisor. Instead of making excuses, clearly explain the situation, and provide evidence of how it has brought about a positive change in you.


“The private tutoring job required me to spend 30 hours/ week.  Continuing this strenuous routine for four years, I ended up pulling down my grades to 70%. The tutoring experience, however,   reinforced my passion for teaching, and I still find  10 hours/ week to teach my home maid’s children.”

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