Category Archives: INSEAD Advice

INSEAD’s Alternative Admissions Exam

For applicants contemplating an executive MBA from INSEAD, know that the school introduced its own specially designed EMBA admissions test in February of this year that seems to be garnering a very positive response from …

For applicants contemplating an executive MBA from INSEAD, know that the school introduced its own specially designed EMBA admissions test in February of this year that seems to be garnering a very positive response from test-takers.

If you’re still wondering whether to do the GMAT or the INSEAD test, take a look at these points of comparison INSEAD has shared with us, which may inform your decision.

INSEAD EMBA Admissions Test GMAT
Designed for senior level, busy, international applicants Designed for 20-something MBA applicants
Used only for INSEAD EMBA programmes – Global ExecutiveMBA (GEMBA) and Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA (TIEMBA) Can be used for applications to other leading EMBA programmes
Preparation required: none, this is a test of raw talent.  But practice tests are available Preparation required: most people start preparing and practising 3 to 6 months before the taking the test; 3rd party preparation available around the world
Content: data analysis, data interpretation, communication analysis, critical thinking, plus business-scenario presentation (no non-applied mathematics or English grammar) Content: verbal, mathematical and integrated reasoning, plus analytical writing skills (includes some rule-based mathematics and English grammar correction)
INSEAD Interview:  Jury Panel which occurs on the same day as the test INSEAD Interview:  Alumnus in your home country, subject to availability
Timing: after applying to INSEAD, having passed a first pre-screening round Timing: before applying to INSEAD
Venue:  Any of the three INSEAD campuses (Fontainebleau, France; Singapore; Abu Dhabi, UAE).  Can be combined with a campus tour ”“ a good opportunity to get a feel for the school culture! Venue: Delivered in a GMAT testing center;  550 in more than 110 countries
 Frequency: approximately once a month Frequency: regularly offered
 Retakes: Not Applicable. One shot only Retakes: test can be repeated after 31 days have elapsed and can be taken up to 5 times in a 12-month period
 Cost: €185 Cost: €200 plus preparation costs, if needed

 

The final decision is yours, and INSEAD assures applicants that your choice won’t affect how the school views your candidacy. Keep in mind that testing is ultimately to your benefit, as it guarantees all of your classmates will have strong analytical and linguistic abilities.

To learn more about INSEAD’s alternative admissions exam, take at look at these FAQs, which offer insight on preparing for the test and lay out the five components that make up the test.


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Tuesday Tips: INSEAD MBA Essay Tips

Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors. INSEAD has released the essay questions for this year’s application, right before the deadlines for the January intake. …

Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors. INSEAD has released the essay questions for this year’s application, right before the deadlines for the January intake. When you approach this set of essays, make sure you are ready to explain your career plans in detail, and highlight any International experiences in your background.

INSEAD focuses separately on the job and personal portion of your MBA application essays, seeking to understand candidate’s current career position in detail before delving into the personal aspect. While most MBA programs combine all aspects of your career goals trajectory into one essay, INSEAD provides three separate opportunities to discuss your current job, past experiences and future goals. Though career is covered in three essays rather than one, you should make sure that all of the essays work coherently together. As INSEAD states on the website: “We evaluate each applicant against four central criteria: leadership potential and work experience; academic capacity; international motivation; and ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience.”

Job Description Essays
1. Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/ products and results achieved. (250 words maximum)

This question should focus entirely on your current (or most recent) work situation. Though you will want to provide relevant context for your current role, make sure you are devoting most of the essay to describing the details of your day-to-day responsibilities and oversight. If you are lighter on supervising others or managing a budget, you have the opportunity to highlight some key responsibilities and results.

When you are composing this essay make sure you focus on what you uniquely have contributed to the role, rather than reciting the job description. What have you done that is above and beyond?

2. Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words maximum)

This is essentially a walk-through of your resume using the essay format to allow you to provide a unifying thread through the narrative. INSEAD is seeking to understand your career trajectory and how you have grown and progressed through your career. Think about the choices you have made in your career, and how your past experiences have combined to provide you with your current skill set. If you have a fairly straightforward career path you can take the opportunity to comment on some of the learnings from each position. The second part of the question also needs to be answered. Think about the next step at your job, and where you might land if you did not leave to pursue an MBA. While this is a straightforward question, you may need to demonstrate that you can’t get where you want to go from here ”“ and that you will need an MBA to achieve your goals.

3. If you are currently not working, what are you doing and what do you plan to do until you start the MBA programme if applicable? (250 words maximum)

If you are not employed at the moment, you will want to answer this question to show how you are utilizing your time without full time employment. Ideally you are currently involved in an activity that is going to further your career or personal goals at this time. The best answer is one that shows you are self-motivated and do not need paid work to continue developing yourself. Perhaps you are volunteering in a non-profit that is related to your career goals. Maybe you are working with a friend on a start-up. Or you are consulting and building contacts in your industry. If you are out of work only briefly, it’s also perfectly reasonable to be pursuing travel or other activities that develop your international awareness and perspective. However, make sure that your activities can tie back to your long-term goals or other key aspects of your application strategy.

Essays
1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (600 words maximum)

Strengths and weaknesses are a common topic for MBA applications. This is a great opportunity to highlight some of your skills and attributes that demonstrate leadership, teamwork or other qualities that will drive your future career success. Demonstrating self-awareness and the ability to assess your own performance will be impressive. While examples aren’t required, consider that adcomm is reading a vast number of essays and that concrete examples are both easy to understand, and may help you stand out from the crowd.

When describing weaknesses you will want to focus on those weaknesses that you have taken concrete steps to address, or that have been a route to learning more about yourself. Often strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin, in which case you can even tie your key weaknesses to your key strengths. Because it is often difficult to write about one’s weaknesses this is an especially important essay to share with others to seek feedback on tone and impact.

2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date (if possible specify one personal and one professional), explaining why you view them as such. (400 words maximum)

Similar to the HBS question, this is an opportunity to describe two of your most important accomplishments. While impressive accomplishments are great and will certainly enhance your overall application, you should pay equal attention to explaining why these accomplishments are valuable to you. If you concisely explain the accomplishment and how you were able to bring it to fruition, you will have room to provide the context for your personal pride in the accomplishment.

Note that INSEAD prefers to see both the personal and professional in this essay. This is your first opportunity in this essay set to bring in a new angle on your profile through describing one of your most substantial accomplishments outside of work.

3. Describe a situation taken from your personal or professional life where you failed. Discuss what you learned. (400 words maximum)

The classic mistake essay seeks to understand how you handle failure and learn from challenging situations. The most important aspect of this essay is to demonstrate that you are able to learn and grow as a result of your failure. Everyone fails; it’s how you react that determines your effectiveness in an organization and in achieving your own personal goals.

A strong essay will include a clear and concise description of the situation. Describe your failure quickly and avoid any lengthy backstory. Your failure should have stakes for you ”“ was it embarrassing? Did it set your career or school pursuits back? Establish why you considered the situation a failure in your life. Once you have defined the failure you can devote most of the essay to discussing your reaction and what you learned. Demonstrating that you learned something from the situation is crucial to demonstrating self-awareness and emotional intelligence. If you have the room, either applying your lesson learned to a current situation or a subsequent experience would be an excellent way to wrap up the essay.

You are provided the freedom to pull examples from multiple areas, and this is an opportunity to demonstrate another side of you that has not been explored in the previous personal or career essays.

4. a) Discuss your short and long term career goals. (300 words maximum) and b) How will studying at INSEAD help you achieve your vision? (250 words maximum)

This essay is a continuation of the first two essay questions. Here you should make a case for why an MBA is the appropriate next step in your career and life, and why INSEAD is the right place to do it. You already laid the groundwork on where you have been in essay 2, and where you are right now in essay 1, and this essay is a continuation of your overall career trajectory. Consider what you said about your next position in career essay 2, and how INSEAD will enhance your future career.

INSEAD seeks MBA candidates with a range of experiences and the school wants to clearly know why you are seeking an MBA. Your future career goals should flow logically from where you have been in your career and your education at INSEAD. If you are confident about where you are going the admissions committee will be confident about your ability to take advantage of the unique MBA experience.

5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics:
a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What insights did you gain? (250 words maximum)
b) Describe the ways in which a foreigner in your country might experience culture shock. (250 words maximum)

Both of these essay choices seek a response that will demonstrate your awareness of the world outside your home country. INSEAD is a highly international program and seeks candidates that both demonstrate and value diversity. Either one of these essays offers an opportunity to highlight any international or cross culture exposure you have had, whether while traveling outside your home country, or when experiencing foreigners within your home country. You will want to demonstrate cultural sensitivity, but also an awareness of the real cultural differences between people and nationalities.

Culture shock can be a result of visiting or living in a new country, an unfamiliar group of people, or even a novel situation. Because INSEAD is such an international community it would be best to use this opportunity to discuss your awareness of other cultures and people. Choose an example that is easy to understand, and then spend some time explaining why you felt the culture shock and what it signified to you.

Option b allows you to act as host in your own country, describing the customs and challenges that may await a foreign visitor. This essay can demonstrate your skills of observation and empathy as you step into a stranger’s shoes and evaluate your own culture and values.

Whether you choose option a or b, it will be important to make sure you are highlighting your ability to conduct business across cultures. A highly international program like INSEAD will want to see demonstrated international savvy in any successful candidate.

6. Is there anything that you have not mentioned in your application that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? (350 words maximum) This section is optional.

This essay is 350 words you can use for anything you would like to showcase and that you were unable to work into the rest of your application. Because INSEAD’s questions are quite thorough you may have covered all aspects of your candidacy and personal qualities in the other five essay questions, in which case you can feel comfortable skipping this question (it IS optional). If you did not have a place for an interesting hobby, new aspect of your background to describe, or key accomplishment, it may be appropriate to use this space to tell that story.

It is far better to fully explain any issues in your application than to leave the admissions committee to guess what happened. If you have any challenging aspects to your candidacy like a low GPA or a failing grade in college, this is the correct place to address those concerns. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the essay demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since rather than focusing on the negative. Avoid blaming anyone else for your issue, and relentlessly show why this one incident is in your past and will stay there.

7. In case of reapplication, please provide an update on any new aspects of your professional, international, academic or personal profile that would not have been included in your previous application. Please also explain your motivation for re-applying to INSEAD. (400 words maximum)

For your reapplication to INSEAD, you should outline the changes in your profile that support your renewed candidacy. The most successful applicants will provide tangible evidence of improvement. Aspects like GMAT score or new quantitative classes as especially tangible, but a promotion, increase in responsibility at work, a job change or even a change of goals and mission can apply.

A rejection or waitlist last year is a form of feedback, and may have led to soul searching for you. When you describe your changes make sure to reflect your ability to take feedback and improve. Describe how you approached the reapplication process after assessing your own strengths and weaknesses as a candidate and making the appropriate efforts to improve.

Struggling with your INSEAD application? You can still make the upcoming deadlines ”“ contact us to start the process of partnering with Stacy Blackman Consulting.

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Tuesday Tips: INSEAD MBA Essay Tips

INSEAD has released the key dates, deadlines and essay topics for the 2011-2012 admissions cycle. Fit with INSEAD’s unique program is important to this rather large set of essays. INSEAD’s focus on international experiences is …

INSEAD has released the key dates, deadlines and essay topics for the 2011-2012 admissions cycle.

Fit with INSEAD’s unique program is important to this rather large set of essays. INSEAD’s focus on international experiences is clear through the final essay in the set. Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors.

INSEAD focuses separately on the job and personal portion of your MBA application essays, seeking to understand candidate’s current career position in detail before delving into the personal aspect. While most MBA programs combine all aspects of your career goals trajectory into one essay, INSEAD provides three separate opportunities to discuss your current job, past experiences and future goals. Though career is covered in three essays rather than one, you should make sure that all of the essays work coherently together. As INSEAD states on the website: “We evaluate each applicant against four central criteria: leadership potential and work experience; academic capacity; international motivation; and ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience.”

Job-Related Essays
1. Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/ products and results achieved. (250 words maximum)
This question should focus entirely on your current (or most recent) work situation. Though you will want to provide relevant context for your current role, make sure you are devoting most of the essay to describing the details of your day-to-day responsibilities and oversight. If you are lighter on supervising others or managing a budget, you have the opportunity to highlight some key responsibilities and results.

When you are composing this essay make sure you focus on what you uniquely have contributed to the role, rather than reciting the job description. What have you done that is above and beyond?

2. Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words maximum)
This is essentially a walk-through of your resume using the essay format to allow you to provide a unifying thread through the narrative. INSEAD is seeking to understand your career trajectory and how you have grown and progressed through your career. Think about the choices you have made in your career, and how your past experiences have combined to provide you with your current skill set. If you have a fairly straightforward career path you can take the opportunity to comment on some of the learnings from each position. The second part of the question also needs to be answered. Think about the next step at your job, and where you might land if you did not leave to pursue an MBA. While this is a straightforward question, you may need to demonstrate that you can’t get where you want to go from here ”“ and that you will need an MBA to achieve your goals.

3. If you are currently not working, what are you doing and what do you plan to do until you start the MBA programme? (250 words maximum)
This essay is the only completely new question for INSEAD this season. Perhaps in a nod to the ongoing anemia in the global economy, INSEAD has allowed space for all applicants who are not currently employed to explain what they are doing with their time. Ideally you are currently involved in an activity that is going to further your career or personal goals at this time. The best answer is one that shows you are self-motivated and do not need paid work to continue developing yourself. Perhaps you are volunteering in a non-profit that is related to your career goals. Maybe you are working with a friend on a start-up. Or you are consulting and building contacts in your industry. If you are out of work only briefly, it’s also perfectly reasonable to be pursuing travel or other activities that develop your international awareness and perspective. However, make sure that your activities can tie back to your long-term goals or other key aspects of your application strategy.

Essays
1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (600 words maximum)
Strengths and weaknesses are a common topic for MBA applications. This is a great opportunity to highlight some of your skills and attributes that demonstrate leadership, teamwork or other qualities that will drive your future career success. Demonstrating self-awareness and the ability to assess your own performance will be impressive. While examples aren’t required, consider that adcomm is reading a vast number of essays and that concrete examples are both easy to understand, and may help you stand out from the crowd.

When describing weaknesses you will want to focus on those weaknesses that you have taken concrete steps to address, or that have been a route to learning more about yourself. Often strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin, in which case you can even tie your key weaknesses to your key strengths. Because it is often difficult to write about one’s weaknesses this is an especially important essay to share with others to seek feedback on tone and impact.

2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date (if possible specify one personal and one professional), explaining why you view them as such. (400 words maximum)
Similar to the HBS question, this is an opportunity to describe two of your most important accomplishments. While impressive accomplishments are great and will certainly enhance your overall application, you should pay equal attention to explaining why these accomplishments are valuable to you. If you concisely explain the accomplishment and how you were able to bring it to fruition, you will have room to provide the context for your personal pride in the accomplishment.

Consider using personal or extracurricular examples in this essay, as most of your previous essays will be career focused.

3. Describe a situation taken from your personal or professional life where you failed. Discuss what you learned. (400 words maximum)
The classic mistake essay seeks to understand how you handle failure and learn from challenging situations. The most important aspect of this essay is to demonstrate that you are able to learn and grow as a result of your failure. Everyone fails; it’s how you react that determines your effectiveness in an organization and in achieving your own personal goals.

A strong essay will include a clear and concise description of the situation. Describe your failure quickly and avoid any lengthy back story. Your failure should have stakes for you ”“ was it embarrassing? Did it set your career or school pursuits back? Establish why you considered the situation a failure in your life. Once you have defined the failure you can devote most of the essay to discussing your reaction and what you learned. Demonstrating that you learned something from the situation is crucial to demonstrating self-awareness and emotional intelligence. If you have the room, either applying your lesson learned to a current situation or a subsequent experience would be an excellent way to wrap up the essay.

You are provided the freedom to pull examples from multiple areas, and this is an opportunity to demonstrate another side of you that has not been explored in the previous personal or career essays.

4. a) Discuss your short and long term career goals. (300 words maximum) and b) How will studying at INSEAD help you achieve your vision? (250 words maximum)
This essay is a continuation of the first two essay questions. Here you should make a case for why an MBA is the appropriate next step in your career and life, and why INSEAD is the right place to do it. You already laid the groundwork on where you have been in essay 2, and where you are right now in essay 1, and this essay should be part of the overall career trajectory. Consider what you said about your next position in the job related essay 2, and how INSEAD will enhance your future career.

INSEAD seeks MBA candidates with a range of experiences and the school wants to clearly know why you are seeking an MBA. Your future career goals should flow logically from where you have been in your career and your education at INSEAD. If you are confident about where you are going the admissions committee will be confident about your ability to take advantage of the unique MBA experience.

5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics: a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What insights did you gain? (250 words maximum) or b) Describe the ways in which a foreigner in your country might experience culture shock. (250 words maximum)
Both of these essay choices seek a response that will demonstrate your awareness of the world outside your home country. INSEAD is a highly international program and seeks candidates that both demonstrate and value diversity. Either one of these essay offers an opportunity to highlight any international or cross culture exposure you have had, whether while traveling outside your home country, or when experiencing foreigners within your home country. You will want to demonstrate cultural sensitivity, but also an awareness of the real cultural differences between people and nationalities.

Culture shock can be a result of visiting or living in a new country, an unfamiliar group of people, or even a novel situation. Because INSEAD is such an international community it would be best to use this opportunity to discuss your awareness of other cultures and people. Choose an example that is easy to understand, and then spend some time explaining why you felt the culture shock and what it signified to you.
Option b allows you to act as host in your own country, describing the customs and challenges that may await a foreign visitor. This essay can demonstrate your skills of observation and empathy as you step into a strangers shoes and evaluate your own culture and values.

Whether you choose option a or b, it will be important to make sure you are highlighting your ability to conduct business across cultures. A highly international program like INSEAD will want to see demonstrated international savvy in any successful candidate.

6. Is there anything that you have not mentioned in your application that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? (350 words maximum) This section is optional.
This essay is 350 words you can use for anything you would like to showcase and that you were unable to work into the rest of your application. Because INSEAD’s questions are quite thorough you may have covered all aspects of your candidacy and personal qualities in the other five essay questions, in which case you can feel comfortable skipping this question (it IS optional). If you did not have a place for an interesting hobby, part of your background, or key accomplishment, it may be appropriate to use this space to tell that story.

If you have any negative aspects to your candidacy like a low GPA or a failing grade in college, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the essay demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since rather than focusing on the negative. Avoid blaming anyone else for your issue, and relentlessly show why this one incident is in your past and will stay there.

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Tuesday Tips – INSEAD MBA Essay Tips

INSEAD’s essay questions offer unique challenges addressed in this week’s Tuesday Tips. Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors. INSEAD focuses separately on the job and personal portion of your MBA application essays, and we will guide you to address both questions thoroughly.

INSEAD has released the key dates, deadlines and essay topics for the 2011/2012 Fall and January intake.

INSEAD’s range of essays seeks to understand both your career path and your personal motivations. Fit with INSEAD’s unique program will be important, and the focus on international experiences is clear through the final essay in the set. Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors. In addition, you have the option to enter INSEAD either in the traditional Fall intake or in a January intake option.

INSEAD focuses separately on the job and personal portion of your MBA application essays, seeking to understand candidate’s roles in detail and career progress before delving into the personal aspect. While most MBA programs combine all aspects of your career goals trajectory into one essay, INSEAD provides three separate opportunities to discuss your current job, past experiences and future goals. Though career is covered in three essays rather than one, you should make sure that all of the essays work coherently together. As INSEAD states on the website: “We evaluate each applicant against four central criteria: leadership potential and work experience; academic capacity; international motivation; and ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience.”

Job-Related Essays
1. Please give a detailed description of your job, including nature of work, major responsibilities; and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, number of clients/products and results achieved. (250 words)

This question should focus entirely on your current work situation. Though you will want to provide relevant context for your current role, make sure you are devoting most of the essay to describing the details of your day-to-day responsibilities and oversight. If you are lighter on supervising others or managing a budget, you have the opportunity to highlight some key responsibilities and results.

When you are composing this essay make sure you focus on what you uniquely have contributed to the role, rather than reciting the job description. What have you done that is above and beyond?

2. Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words)

This is essentially a walk through of your resume using the essay format to allow you to provide a unifying thread through the narrative. INSEAD is seeking to understand your career trajectory and how you have grown and progressed through your career. Think about the choices you have made in your career, and how your past experiences have combined to provide you with your current skill set. If you have a fairly straightforward career path you can take the opportunity to comment on some of the learnings from each position. The second part of the question also needs to be answered. Think about the next step at your job, and where you might land if you did not leave to pursue an MBA. While this is a straightforward question, you may need to demonstrate that you can’t get where you want to go from here ”“ and that you will need an MBA to achieve your goals.

Essays
1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (400 words approx.)

Strengths and weaknesses are a common topic for MBA applications. This is a great opportunity to highlight some of your skills and attributes that demonstrate leadership, teamwork or other qualities of a future business leader. Demonstrating self-awareness and the ability to assess your own performance will be impressive. While examples aren’t required, consider that adcomm is reading a vast number of essays and that solid examples to prove your points will help you stand out.
When describing weaknesses you will want to focus on those weaknesses that you have taken concrete steps to address, or that have been a route to learning more about yourself. Often strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin, in which case you can even tie your key weaknesses to your key strengths. Because it is often difficult to write about one’s weaknesses this is an especially important essay to share with others to seek feedback on tone and impact.

2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (400 words approx.)

Similar to the HBS question, this is an opportunity to describe two of your most important accomplishments. While impressive accomplishments are great and will certainly enhance your overall application, you should pay equal attention to explaining why these accomplishments are valuable to you. If you concisely explain the accomplishment and how you were able to bring it to fruition, you will have room to provide the context for your personal pride in the accomplishment.

Consider using personal or extracurricular examples in this essay, as most of your previous essays will be career focused.

3. Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life, where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss briefly the effect. (250 words approx.)

Modeled after the failure or mistake essay, this essay asks you to discuss a situation that was disappointing to you. The most important aspect of this essay is to demonstrate that you are able to learn and grow as a result of a mistake. Everyone faces disappointment; it’s how you react that determines your effectiveness in an organization.

A strong essay will include a clear and concise description of the situation; describe your objectives, and how you did not meet them. Then you can devote significant space to discussing what your reaction was and how you moved forward. Demonstrating that you learned something from the situation is crucial to demonstrating self-awareness and emotional intelligence. If you have the room, either applying your lesson learned to a current situation or a subsequent experience would be an excellent way to wrap up the essay.

You are provided the freedom to pull examples from multiple areas, and this is an opportunity to demonstrate another side of you that has not been explored in the previous personal or career essays.

4. Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career. (500 words approx.)

This essay is a continuation of the first two essay questions. Here you should make a case for why an MBA is the appropriate next step in your career and life, and why INSEAD is the right place to do it. You already laid the groundwork on where you have been in essay 2, and where you are right now in essay 1, and this essay should be part of the overall career trajectory. Consider what you said about your next position in the job related essay 2, and how an MBA will change your future career for the better.

INSEAD seeks MBA candidates with a range of experiences and the school wants to clearly know why you are seeking an MBA. Your future career goals should flow logically from where you have been in your career and your education at INSEAD. If you are confident about where you are going the admissions committee will be more confident about your ability to take advantage of the unique MBA experience.

5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics:
a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you? (250 words approx.), or
b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country? (250 words approx.)

Both of these essay choices seek a response that will demonstrate your awareness of the world outside your home country. INSEAD is a highly international program and seeks candidates that both demonstrate and value diversity. Either one of these essay offers an opportunity to highlight any international or cross culture exposure you have had, whether while traveling outside your home country, or when experiencing foreigners within your home country. You will want to demonstrate cultural sensitivity, but also an awareness of the real differences between people and nationalities.

Culture shock can be a result of visiting or living in a new country, an unfamiliar group of people, or even a novel situation. Because INSEAD is such an international community it would be best to use this opportunity to discuss your awareness of other cultures and people. Choose an example that is easy to understand, and then spend some time explaining why you felt the culture shock and what it signified to you.

Option b allows you to act as host in your own country, describing the customs and challenges that may await a foreign visitor. This essay can demonstrate your skills of observation and empathy as you step into a strangers shoes and evaluate your own culture and values.

Whether you choose option a or b, it will be important to make sure you are highlighting your ability to conduct business across cultures. As a highly international program INSEAD will want to see demonstrated international savvy.

*

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Tuesday Tips – INSEAD Essay Tips

Through five essays that span both career and personal attributes INSEAD seeks to understand who you are as a person, and what you have demonstrated in your career. Two campuses, multiple degree options and a …

Through five essays that span both career and personal attributes INSEAD seeks to understand who you are as a person, and what you have demonstrated in your career. Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors. INSEAD is an international MBA that has a compelling reputation within the US, offering excellent recruiting opportunities throughout the world.

INSEAD focuses separately on the job and personal portion of your MBA application essays, seeking to understand candidate’s roles in detail and career progress before delving into the personal aspect. Most MBA programs combine all aspects of your career goals trajectory into one essay. INSEAD provides three separate opportunities to discuss your current job, past experiences and future goals. Though career is covered in three essays rather than one, you should make sure that the set works coherently together. As INSEAD states on the website: “We evaluate each applicant against four central criteria: leadership potential and work experience; academic capacity; international motivation; and ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience.”

Job Essays
1. Please give a detailed description of your job, including nature of work, major responsibilities; and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, number of clients/products and results achieved. (250 words)

This question should focus entirely on your current work situation. Though you will want to provide relevant context for your current role, make sure you are devoting most of the essay to describing the details of your day-to-day responsibilities and oversight. If you are lighter on supervising others or managing a budget, you have the opportunity highlight some key responsibilities and results.

2. Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words)

This is essentially a walk through of your resume using the essay format to allow you to provide a unifying thread through the narrative. If your past experiences require explanation, this is an opportunity to demonstrate the reasons for any unusual choices you have made, and how your past experiences have combined to provide you with your current skill set. If you have a fairly straightforward career path you can take the opportunity to comment on some of the learnings from each position and where you would go next should you stay with your job.

Personal Essays
1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (400 words approx.)

Strengths and weaknesses are a common topic for MBA applications. This is a great opportunity to highlight some of your skills and attributes that demonstrate leadership, teamwork or other qualities of a future business leader. Demonstrating self-awareness and the ability to assess your own performance will be impressive. Providing an example for each strength or weakness you describe will be most helpful to provide solid evidence.

When describing weaknesses you will want to focus on those weaknesses that you have taken solid steps to address, or that have been a route to learning more about yourself. Often strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin, in which case you can even tie your key weaknesses to your key strengths. Because it is often difficult to write about one’s weaknesses this is an especially important essay to share with others to seek feedback on tone and impact.

2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (400 words approx.)

Similar to the HBS question, this is an opportunity to describe two of your most important accomplishments. While impressive accomplishments are great and will certainly enhance your overall application, you should pay equal attention to explaining why these accomplishments are valuable to you. If you concisely explain the accomplishment and how you were able to bring it to fruition, you will have room to provide the context for your personal pride in the accomplishment.

3. Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life, where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss briefly the effect. (250 words approx.)

Modeled after the failure or mistake essay, this prompt requires you to discuss a situation that was disappointing to you. The most important aspect of this essay is to demonstrate that you are able to learn and grow as a result of a mistake. Everyone faces disappointment; it’s how you react that determines your effectiveness in an organization.

A strong essay will include a clear and concise description of the situation; describe your objectives, and how you did not meet them. Then you should devote some space to discussing what your reaction was and how you moved forward. Demonstrating that you learned something from the situation will be important, and either applying that lesson to the current situation or a subsequent experience would be an excellent way to wrap up the essay.

4. Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career. (500 words approx.)

In some ways this is a continuation of the first two essay questions. Here you should make a case for why an MBA is the appropriate next step in your career and life, and why INSEAD is the right place to do it. You already laid the groundwork on where you have been in essay 2, and where you are right now in essay 1, and this essay should be part of the overall career trajectory.

INSEAD is not rigid about the experience level of MBA candidates, but does ask that you know why you are seeking an MBA. Your future career goals should flow logically from where you have been in your career and your education at INSEAD. If you are confident about where you are going the admissions committee will be more confident about your ability to take advantage of the unique MBA experience.

5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics:
a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you? (250 words approx.), or
b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country? (250 words approx.)

Both of these essay choices seek a response that will demonstrate your awareness of the world outside your home country. Either essay offers an opportunity to highlight any international or cross culture exposure you have had. You will want to demonstrate cultural sensitivity, but also an awareness of the real differences between people and nationalities.

Culture shock can be a result of a new country, an unfamiliar group of people, or even a novel situation. Because INSEAD is such an international community it would be best to use this opportunity to discuss your awareness of other cultures and people. Choose an example that is easy to understand, and then spend some time explaining why you felt the culture shock and what it signified to you.

Option b allows you to act as host in your own country, describing the customs and challenges that may await a foreign visitor. This essay can demonstrate your skills of observation and empathy as you step into a strangers shoes and evaluate your own culture and values.

Whether you choose option a or b, it will be important to make sure you are highlighting your ability to conduct business across cultures. As a highly international program INSEAD will want to see demonstrated international savvy.
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Tuesday Tips – INSEAD Essay Tips

INSEAD is a highly regarded international program located in both France and Singapore that has the added benefit of opportunities to study at some of the top US MBA programs as an exchange student. While …

INSEAD is a highly regarded international program located in both France and Singapore that has the added benefit of opportunities to study at some of the top US MBA programs as an exchange student.

While INSEAD has a diverse, international focus it also has the name recognition in the US to translate to interesting career opportunities. If you are an international student interested in the shorter length of an international program, yet interested in recruiting at US firms, INSEAD may be the ideal program for you.

To learn more about INSEAD, there are opportunities to attend one of the many admissions events.

Each essay topic listed below and in the subsequent pages must be answered.

Essay 1: Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (400 words approx.)

This essay asks for a self-aware and candid exploration of your strengths and weaknesses. Ideally you can use one concise example that will highlight both a few strengths and at least one weakness. Think about an example where you were able to interact with others and exhibit leadership and teamwork. When you discuss your weakness, make sure that your weakness is genuine and that you are able to provide evidence that you were self-aware enough to both recognize the weakness and work on it to improve your effectiveness.

While you can use non-work examples in this essay if they exhibit the key characteristics you would like to explore, it is probably most effective to focus on a great professional example to start the set of essays in the right tone.

Essay 2: Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (400 words approx.)

This is a fairly similar essay to the HBS three accomplishments essay. Similarly, you will want to choose two examples that highlight different sides of yourself. If you chose a professional example for Essay 1, you may want to choose extracurricular and personal examples for Essay 2, and if you choose another professional example make sure it is materially different from the example in Essay 1.

Because you only have about 200 words per accomplishment you will need to focus on providing a concise and specific situation, a clear result that demonstrates the significance of the example, and a bit of space for self-reflection upon the accomplishment.

Essay 3: Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life, where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss briefly the effect. (250 words approx.)

This is a classic mistake essay. While some questions ask you to focus specifically on a mistake, this one allows the room for a situation that may have been objectively successful, yet did not meet your personal objectives.

You will want to demonstrate the pivotal nature of this event in your life, and due the leeway in topic areas, you will have the ability to delve into areas of your life that you may not have previously discussed and that may be fairly far in the past. Think about the moments in your life where you have changed direction, defined your goals more clearly, or had an epiphany about yourself or your purpose. Most importantly, you want to demonstrate that you have the ability to reflect upon the imperfect nature of your past and retain lessons that continue to serve your future.

Essay 4: Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career. (500 words approx.)

This is a classic careers goals essay, yet similarly to HBS asks only the future oriented question of your career goals. You will certainly need to discuss your past a little in order to demonstrate how you have arrived at your goals, but you want to devote most of the space to explaining what your goals are, and how you expect the INSEAD MBA program to assist you in reaching them.

Essay 5: Please choose one of the following two essay topics:

a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you? (250 words approx.), or

b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country? (250 words approx.)

You can choose either question, and should pick a) if you have a clear and vivid example of culture shock. If you are struggling to recognize and communicate such an example, you will want to choose essay b) which is more oriented towards those who may not have a clear international background.

When answering either question you will want to demonstrate your interest in and sensitivity towards different cultures, and discuss some of the international or multicultural experiences in your own life.

Due to the very short word count, choose a vivid and concise example and reflect upon its meaning in the context of your life and goals thus far.

Essay 6: Is there anything that you have not mentioned in the above essays that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? (200 words approx.) This essay is optional.

This optional essay is the ideal place to write about any aspect that was not covered in the previous five essays, and/or explain any weaknesses in your application. In either case, keep the essay brief, to the point, and make sure you are describing a new aspect of yourself that fits in with your overall application strategy and assists your case for admission.

Re-application

Essay 7: In case of reapplication, please use this page. Your essay should state any new aspects of professional, international, academic, or personal development since your last application. We would also like you to explain your motivation for re-applying to INSEAD. This essay should not exceed 400 words.

Reapplication essays should focus entirely on why you are a better candidate this year than you were last year. Describe any promotions, new extracurricular activities, awards or academic achievements. Keep the descriptions brief and topical, and use the rest of the essay to reiterate your interest in the INSEAD program and your desire to attend if admitted.

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