How to Write Essays for ISB PGP Applications 2019-2020

On this page, you shall find resources that will help you understand how to write essays for ISB PGP applications for 2019-20 admissions (class of 2021). Watch this 10 minutes video carefully to have a fine approach for ISB application essays. If you feel that you can better understand this topic, through text, we also have an article on the subject.

How to Write Essays for ISB PGP Applications 2019-2020


In this article, we will be covering the essay topics for this year and their broad scope. We will also discuss some sturdy approaches to both the essays and useful tips that have worked for hundreds of our students.

Essay Topics

Let us begin by going over this year's essay topics:

  1. There will be 900 students in the class of 2021. Why should you be one of them? (400 words maximum)

  2. What will you be doing in 2025 and 2030? How will the ISB PGP program help you to achieve these goals? (400 words maximum)
The first topic is about your value proposition, why ISB should select you. The second topic asks you to describe your mid-tern and long-term career goals as well as how the ISB PGP will help you achieve them.

Broad Scope

Let us now go over the broad scope of these topics, beginning with the second one.

As mentioned above, in this essay, you must talk about mid-term and long-term career goals. To write an impactful essay, it is vital that you connect your goals with your experiences, skills, and passions. You must also connect your mid-term goals to your long-term goals. The second major part of this essay is explaining exactly why you want to pursue an MBA, and why you want to pursue it from ISB.

The first essay must cover all of the interesting or noteworthy aspects of your candidature. This essay should be used to talk about your accomplishments and unique experiences and attributes, both personal and professional. Most importantly, take care to link these elements to ISB.

At some point in these essays, you also need to provide a summary of both your academic and professional careers. The scope of this year's topics is such that you can include this summary in either one. Before writing the essays, choose whichever one you think is more appropriate.

Disclaimer Regarding Writing Essays

Before we get into the approaches for writing these essays, here is an informal disclaimer. There is no single "correct" way to write these essays. Here, we are trying to suggest a broad approach, more like guidelines than strict rules. You may have your own, very different, style for approaching these essays, which may do wonders for your case. The uniqueness and rawness in one's original style is a benefit, more often than not.

Now, let us take a look at the approach for the first essay.

Approach for Essay 1

Before you go about writing this essay, you need to ask yourself what exactly the nature of your candidature is. Is there one broad and unique aspect of your candidature that makes you a valuable addition to ISB. One such aspect could be a distinctive professional background; perhaps you are a soldier, a fashion designer, or a doctor. Such distinct backgrounds will set you apart from the rest of the candidates. A unique cultural background, such as a different nationality, can also make you a valuable candidate. Remember, only 1.5 percent of ISB candidates are international passport holders.

Frankly, only 20 percent of candidates will fall into the first category, where one broad element will make them a valuable addition to the class. Let us define this category as the "Soldier" category. Most candidates fall in the second category, wherein multiple, smaller elements will make them a valuable candidate for ISB. For example, let us say that you are a software engineer, who has worked in small towns, large cities, and internationally. Let us also say that you carry rich extracurricular experience, having played a sport at the state level and started a rock band in college. Other important aspects may include leadership roles that you have undertaken, social sector experience, an advisory role within a start-up, or a brilliant academic record. None of these elements, on their own, are enough to claim value addition to ISB but taken together, they would make you a very valuable candidate, indeed. So, first things first, as yourself whether yours is a unique, solider like candidature, or a conventional, software engineer, like candidature.

Virtues that B-Schools Value

Below, you will find a list of virtues that b-schools value. Please go through it closely to see which ones apply to your candidature, and accordingly decide which category you fall in.

Professional Accomplishments | Academic Bent | Versatile Persona | Diverse Background | Leadership Potential | Global Perspective | Achievements Early for One's Age | Vision to Make an Impact | People Management Skills | Communication Skills | Subject Matter Expertise | Analytical and Quantitative Skills | Perseverance | Honesty, and Work Ethics | Initiative | Crisis Management Skills | Delegation | Training and Mentoring Skills | Strong Sense of Commitment | Ability to Overcome Adversity | Cross-Functional Expertise | Project Management | Eye for Details | Coordinating and Liaoning | Multitasking and Time Management Skills | Training and Adaptability | ...

If you determine that you belong to the first category, then your essay must focus on how this unique aspect will contribute to ISB's academics, classroom discussions, team projects, student activities, and the bonhomie among the student body. When speaking about the student activities, and clubs, be sure to mention a few that you are interested in.

Now let us go over the structure of this essay. Start the essay with an impactful opening paragraph that summarizes your unique value proposition. Be sure to use this paragraph to make a strong first impression. Then, follow this paragraph with a few on how your uniqueness will contribute to the aspects we talked about earlier. You can have, maybe, three paragraphs. One on your contributions to academics and class discussions, on one your contributions to team projects, and one on your contributions to student activities and camaraderie. Finally, close out your essay with a strong ending.

If you belong to the second category, the conventional category, marked by a software engineer, the core of the approach is still to explain how you will contribute to the aspects of ISB, discussed earlier. There are two different essay structures that we would suggest to build your case.

The first structure begins with an impactful opening paragraph, clearly summarizing the combination of achievements and virtues that makes you unique. Thereafter, have multiple paragraphs describing how this uniqueness will contribute to ISB. Once again, have a paragraph on academics and classroom discussions, a paragraph on team projects, and one on student activities and camaraderie. Then, have a strong ending.

The second structure involves beginning with a generic powerful opening and then describing one set of your accomplishments and how it will contribute to ISB. Write three such paragraphs, each one clubbing together similar accomplishments and describing how they will contribute to ISB. Once again, end the essay with a powerful ending.

Approach for Essay 2

Now that we have gone over the approaches for Essay 1, we will cover the approach for Essay 2. In the case of Essay 2, the approach remains the same, regardless of which category you belong to. You must first talk about your career goals after four years, mentioning a clear role and industry, and link your background with your skills and passions. Then, you must do the same for your career goals after nine years, while mentioning the impact that you intend to make on your industry or functional area. After covering your career goals, you must provide three-four points explaining why you wish to pursue an MBA and then three-four points explaining why you wish to do so from ISB. This order can easily serve as the structure four your essay.

Alternate Structure for Essay 2

However, there is another structure that you can utilize. If you have not provided an academic and professional summary in Essay 1, you can start Essay 2 by doing the same. Describe all of your key accomplishments and then have a paragraph explaining your career goals after four years, with the specific role and industry. In this structure, the connection between your background and your skills/passions need to be made because it will have been covered in the first paragraph. The next paragraph should explain your career goals nine years after graduation, in the same way, and mention the impact that you intend to leave on your industry/functional area. After explaining the career goals, provide three-four points on why MBA and three-four points on why ISB. Finally, provide a strong ending paragraph.

To help you explain why you want to pursue an MBA and why you want to attend ISB, to do so, we have prepared two lists. The first encapsulates the main reasons takeaways from an MBA and the second covers the main reasons why a candidate may be interested in a particular school. Go through these lists carefully, and see which ones apply to you.


Management Perspective | Deeper Insight into the Discipline of your Career Choice | Opportunity for Career Enhancement or Career Shift | Global Perspective | Leadership Development | Networking Opportunities | Access to a Vast Alumni Base | Communication Skills | Presentation Skills | Interpersonal Skills | Cultural Exposure | Credibility of a Strong Brand | Opportunity to Create and Vet a Business Plan | Incubation/Funding Opportunities | Career Services | Internship Opportunities | Mentors | Versatile Peer Learning | Time Management and Personal Management | ...

Why this Particular School

Sync with the Desired Career Goals | Program Structure | Teaching Style | Relevant Concentration(s) | Experiential Approach | Collaborative Environment | Brand Value | Commendable Placement Record for the Desired Post MBA Role | Faculty and Intellectual Property | Location | Duration | Flexibility in Customizing the Curriculum | Myriad Student Activities | Relevant Student Clubs/Organizations | Centers of Excellence | Student Exchange Opportunities | Rich Campus Life | Career Services | Networking Events | Simulations | Inter-College Competitions | Class Profile Represented Nationalities/Industries/Functional Areas | Vast Choice of Electives | Incubation Support | Emphasis on Leadership Development | Experiential Learning Opportunities | ...

Useful Tips that Worked...

Let us now elaborate upon a few useful tips that have worked for hundreds of our students, when writing the ISB essays.

First of all, try to make your ISB essays feel personal and emotional, rather than professional or academic. The tone that you need to go for is not necessarily "formal" it is "sincere". In general, your writing style must come across as positive and passionate. Remember, the ISB cohort is a young one, with an average age of around 25 years. Don't just answer the question and try to kill the word limit, either; tell a story! Essays that have a narrative weight to them make a much greater impact.

When talking about your career goals, don't just mention career profiles. Anybody can talk about designations; you must convey that you have a deeper understanding. So, do not say that you plan to become the CEO of some company, rather talk about the impact you plan to make in that capacity. Also, make sure to suggest feasible career goals that are neither too specific, nor too vague.

This next tip is about making the most of the limited word counts of the ISB essays. Don't waste words in fancy introductions or conclusions. Many candidates commit this mistake, but you must remember that you only have 800 words to make an impact and must focus on the takeaways.

Finally, please ensure that your paragraph on why you wish to attend ISB is very rich. All b-schools, including ISB, love to hear why a candidate has chosen them, out of the many options available. Another crucial tip is to personalize your response. Don't just praise ISB, randomly, explain how the strengths of the school fit your professional and learning needs.

With this, we bring this article to a close. We hope this was helpful; all the best for your ISB applications.

Covered by…