Tuesday, August 21, 2012

MBA Admissions A-Z: D is for Distinctive Writing

We’ve touched upon ways in which to highlight your uniqueness in “Be Yourself” (B in our MBA Admissions A-Z series). There we talked about the importance of expressing what you’re truly passionate about rather than simply enumerating those things that you think the adcom want to hear. Writing about your passions, as well as your dreams and aspirations (see “A is for Aspiration“), are good ways to showcase your individuality in your MBA application, but if your writing style falls short, then your message will get lost.
So how do you ensure that your application essay doesn’t just contain the right distinctive content, but that the language and style are distinctive as well?
The following 3 MBA essay writing tips will help you accomplish your goal of highlighting your distinctive self through the lens of distinctive writing techniques:
  1. Be strong. Instead of relying on weak, empty verbs, use muscular, impactful language. Don’t say “I like to travel,” but “My passion for exploration landed me in 24 countries on 5 continents, in the span of 4 years.” Also, steer clear of “to be” verbs. “I plan on revamping the clothing manufacturing industry” is much more powerful  than “I want to be a textile importer.”
  2. Be specific. Instead of presenting boring, drab statements about your accomplishments, be specific, using numbers to quantify and qualify the impact of your achievements. The more detailed you are, the more your writing will stand out. Don’t write “I led a team of interns last summer,” but “Last summer, when I was only a Jr. Accounts Manager, I led a team of 16 interns in a nation-wide marketing competition. The publicity gained from our first-place win brought 24 new accounts to our young company.” (The above example about traveling around the world also demonstrates this point.)
  3. Be personable. The adcom readers are people. That’s right – living, breathing human beings. Try and infuse your writing with your personality so that when the readers review your essay, they enter an engaging conversational reading experience. Read your essay aloud. Now, does it sound like a robot reeling off critical data, or does it sound like YOU, speaking human-to-human about those important things, large and small, that make you tick? Obviously the latter will gain the attention of the adcoms and will do a better job of introducing them to the person behind the essay.
Funny how distinct, extraordinary writing can be very similar to your everyday, ordinary speaking!
(P.S. Notice how I didn’t say “Be personal.” You are mistaken if you think that offering personal information is the ticket to distinction. No one wants to know about your messy divorce or your life-long goal to lose those last nagging 6 pounds.)
Looking for more advice on how to make your application essays stand out? View our on-demand webinar, The Roadmap to Bold and Brilliant Essays, now!
By Linda Abraham, founder and president of and author of MBA Admission for SmartiesThis article originally appeared on the Accepted Admissions Consulting Blog, the official blog of

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