Perspectives from ISB

Essays are an important component of your ISB PGP application. They are a powerful tool to present your story, career goals and plan of action in a convincing and compelling way, and enhance your chance of getting an interview call.

Writing essays is referred to as ‘Putting life on the page’. You need to bring alive your application so it speaks for you. Here are some generic tips to keep in mind for writing great essays:

  1. Give yourself time to reflect on your experiences.
  2. Let your thoughts flow, and edit the answers later.
  3. The language and tone doesn’t have to be very professional but it shouldn’t be very casual either.
  4. Answer all parts of the question and do not exceed the word limit.
  5. Ask a friend or a colleague to review your essays.

This year, you are required to submit three compulsory essays and one optional essay that would help us know you better and to analyze your candidature. Below are some specific tips to write your essays well.

Essay 1: If we were to admit just one more student, make a compelling argument as to why that student should be you by describing an (only one) achievement in your personal / professional life that you are most proud of. What did you do that sets you apart from others? What did you learn? [400 words max.]

Purpose:  This essay in an attempt to assess what it is that makes you stand out from the crowd, your USP, and the value you will bring to the class.

Tips to write Essay 1:

  1. Think about one achievement – professional or personal, that you take pride in – which has positively impacted your life and which highlights your uniqueness.
  2. Give a brief background/ context of the incident.
  3. Identify what about you sets you apart from others.
  4. Highlight your approach to the situation and what did you achieve.
  5. Elaborate and conclude with what this experience has taught you.

Essay 2a: Describe a (only one) defining moment in your personal/ professional life when you had to make a risky decision, and explain what you did, why and the outcome? [300 words max.]

Purpose:  This question assesses your risk taking ability and tries to understand your thought process when you are in a challenging situation.

Tips to write Essay 2a:

  1. Give the context of the situation: What was the challenge you faced?
  2. Elaborate on what options did you have and the implications of each option.
  3. Describe how you narrowed down to the option you chose to go ahead with, and what were the consequences.
  4. If the situation did not turn out well, mention the steps you undertook to fix it and/or what you learnt from the experience


Essay 2b: Describe a (only one) situation in your personal/ professional life when you had to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. How did it affect you and what did you learn? [300 words max.]

Purpose:  This question tries to assess your adaptability and comfort level of working with people from diverse backgrounds. Diversity could be in terms of culture, work function, occupation, geography,  ethnicity, or any other.

Tips to write Essay 2b:

  1. Give a brief description on the situation – what?, when? & where?
  2. Describe the challenges you were facing . Give examples if possible.
  3. Talk about how you went about addressing those challenges.
  4. Conclude with what you learnt from the experience.

Essay 3: What are your post ISB career plans and how will your past experiences and the Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) contribute to taking you there? [300 words max.]

Purpose:  The purpose of this question is to understand if you have done your homework. It’s also to understand your clarity of thought, your expectations from the PGP and your career focus.

Tips to write Essay 3:

  1. This is your make or break chance of getting an interview call. Your answer needs to emphasis on – why you think you are a fit with the school?
  2. Learn about what the programme offers and understand what is relevant for you.
  3. Introspect on your reasons for pursuing the programme.
  4. Describe your career progression till date and your career goals. If you are looking for an industry switch, explain why?
  5. Talk about how the PGP course will help you to achieve your career goals.

Essay 4: [Optional essay for first time applicants] – Please use this space to explain any career breaks/ provide any other information not covered elsewhere in the application that could significantly impact your candidature at ISB. Note: It is not necessary to write this essay. Please use this space only if there is something really significant that you would like us to know. [200 words max.]

Purpose: This is a profile highlighter. If you had a career break or have a significant achievement you want to talk about use it to your advantage. This is your elevator pitch.

Tips to write Essay 4:

  1. If you had any career breaks – justify the hiatus. Describe why you took the break and what you did during the time. Conclude with what the experience taught you.
  2. Add your co-curricular activities that you are proud of to emphasize the contributions you can make to School and the recruiting firms in the future.
  3. Do not answer this question if there are no solid accomplishments. That might work against you.

Essay 4: [Compulsory essay for re-applicants] – How has your profile changed from the time you last applied to the ISB? [300 words max.]

Purpose: This is to understand how you have refined your candidature based on our previous feedback.

Tips to write Essay4:

  1. Do a comparative analysis of your application this year v/s last year.
  2. Highlight the significant positive changes in your overall profile.
  3. Describe the efforts  you have put in to bring about these changes.

And finally keep in mind that you have limited words to make a lasting impression. Choose them well.


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