ISB Essay Analysis

Indian School of Business (ISB) essay analysis for ISB PGP

PGP & EEO Application Deadlines:

R1 – Sunday, September 10, 2023

Essay 1: Provide an honest portrayal of yourself, emphasizing your strengths and weaknesses. Highlight the key elements that have shaped your personal journey. Give relevant illustrations as needed. (400 words max)

What a broad canvas ISB has handed over to the applicants, through this essay!

Start the essay by introducing who you are as a person and professional. This is equivalent to ‘breaking the ice’ with the evaluator of your essay. Additionally, if you can narrate any significant influences that have shaped up your personality, it would be an icing on the cake. Note that the influences that you mention, should be direct and immediate. For instance, it would be far-fetched to mention a movie or a book as a source of significant influence on your personality; on the other hand, growing up amidst financial constraints, hailing from a family with defense background, belonging to a rural area, having been brought up in a family of entrepreneurs, or overcoming a personal adversity in childhood would all qualify as strong influencers.

Since the essay title has given the candidates the flexibility to choose the number of strengths & weaknesses, we suggest depicting two strengths and one weakness. Each of these strengths & weakness needs to be substantiated by well-developed real-life examples that corroborate the corresponding strength/weakness.

A note on weakness: Weakness is not a personality flaw that will diminish your chances of admission; in fact, accepting your weakness is a sign of self-awareness and taking corrective action to mitigate that weakness, a sign of maturity. Depict a genuine weakness of yours. Weaknesses such as hesitation to delegate work, inability to take criticism, struggle with multi-tasking, or reluctance to freely express your thoughts in a group-setting are all genuine weaknesses.

Do not try to to pass off a strength as a weakness. For instance, qualities such as always striving for too much perfection at work, consistently setting too high a bar for yourself, or expecting the same high standards from others as the standards you set for yourself, would just not qualify as genuine weaknesses. The Admissions committee will easily see through your ruse and dismiss it.

Essay Tip #1
You have already appeared in GMAT/GRE. Treat essays no differently from critical reasoning: There should be a logical flow of ideas and coherent cause and effects. Statements loosely "hanging in the air" disrupt the flow of the entire essay.
Essay Tip # 2
Even if you are not seeking professional editing services for your essays, make sure you send across your essays to at least two people, whose judgment and expedience you trust. Essentially it is important to get an Independent third-party view of your essays.
Essay Tip # 3
Applicants should be wary of mentioning philanthropic activities or stipulate ambitions of Entrepreneurship, just in the hope of winning favor with Admissions committee. Unless you have a strong case to make, such claims actually have a reverse effect, making your entire application weak.

Essay 2: Contemplate two distinct situations—one where you experienced success and another where you faced failure. Delve into the personal and interpersonal lessons you learned from these instances. (400 words max).

The essay title is very clear in terms of its expectations. What is required is significant contemplation and self-reflection. While relatively recent instances would be preferable, there should be no shying away from going as far back as your childhood, if the corresponding instance is impactful.

The two distinct instances that you highlight in this essay could span across your personal, academic, or professional experiences. Developing each instance is the key here: what was the background, what was your role, and what was the outcome.

As important as it is to narrate those instances, it is equally important to highlight the lessons learnt. These ‘lessons learnt’ obviously become more crucial in the instance of failure. As is aptly said:

“The only real failure is our inability or unwillingness to learn from our mistakes”.

Essay 3 (Optional): Given your previous experience and future aspirations, how do you plan to use the PGP at ISB to fulfil your professional goals? (250 words max).

This is the first time in ISB’s history that ISB has not asked the goals essay as a mandatory essay. Hence, we recommend that ISB aspirants utilize this optional essay to communicate their post-MBA goals and how ISB PGP would provide an apt platform to embark upon those goals. This essay is best addressed along 3 major points.

a) First what you have done in life so far (primarily on the professional/academic front)
b) Second what you want to do in future
c) Third how does ISB fit into the scheme of things

Clearly there are some experiences, attributes, and interests that you already have. This is your past. You have aspirations in life; you hope these aspirations to become your future. What is currently holding you back, from realizing your aspirations?

This is what this essay is all about. Based upon what you have done in the past, and what you want to do in future, there are certain gaps in terms of skill sets, in terms of network, or in terms of competencies, that you want the b-school to bridge. So, you need to build a case that equipping yourself with these skillsets, network, and competencies will help you embark upon your future goals.