ISB essay for 2024-2025 intake: How to write, Analysis, tips, and a winning framework

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The Indian School of Business (ISB) is one of the premier business schools in India, attracting top talent from around the world. The ISB admission process is highly competitive, and essays play a crucial role in the evaluation of applicants.

In this article, we will provide an in-depth analysis of the ISB essay questions for 2024 admissions, along with tips and strategies to help you craft a winning submission. With insights from ISB alumni and admissions experts, we will guide you through the essay-writing process and help you stand out from the crowd.

Whether you are a reapplicant or just starting your ISB PGP journey, this article will provide valuable insights to help you successfully navigate the ISB application process and help craft an impeccable ISB essay.

ISB essay tips and analysis

What does ISB typically ask in its essays?

Based on our analysis of previous years’ ISB Essay questions, we know that ISB typically asks four types of questions:

  1. Why should ISB choose you?
  2. What are the leadership qualities you possess which will help you become a future leader?
  3. What are your career plans after ISB?
  4. Why ISB? (based on your career goals)

For 2024 admissions, ISB has changed the essay topics. There are 3 essays and 2 of them are compulsory. You must answer those two essay prompts for the ISB PGP admissions for the 2024 intake (PGP). Both essays have a word restriction of 400 words. You must submit an additional reapplicant essay if you did not receive an admit in the ISB PGP 2023 intake or any previous admission cycle.

ISB PGP questions for the 2024-2025 admissions

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)

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)

Essay 3 (optional) Given your previous experience and future aspirations, how do you plan to use the PGP at ISB to fulfill your professional goals? Note: It is not necessary for you to write this essay. Please use this space only if there is something really significant that you would like us to know. (250 words)

ISB PGP Essay 1 analysis

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)

ISB PGP Essay 1 framework

Follow this 5-step framework to write a winning ISB PGP Essay 1:

  1. Identify and list down what you think are your core strengths and unique qualities.
  2. Identify and list down what you think are your major weaknesses or areas of improvement. This could come from feedback your received at work.
  3. Identify and list down what you think have been significant influences/milestones in your life. This can be from personal, professional, extracurricular or social space.
  4. Now go through the lists and pick those qualities or instances that stand out and you have an anecdote to share as a proof for those qualities.
  5. Determine how you will use these strengths to enhance the ISB experience for everyone and how you will continue to work on your weaknesses at ISB.

Other ISB related articles you may find useful

ISB comprehensive guide

Want to know everything about ISB? Take a look at this comprehensive guide on ISB Hyderabad and Mohali

Indian School of Business
ISB Interview tips

Take a look at this article for ISB interview tips

ISB Interview tips

ISB PGP Essay 1 analysis

The purpose of this essay is to get an idea of who you are as an individual. The admission committee wants to go beyond your academics and work experience and dive deeper into the person behind the application. They want to understand what has made you who you are today and contributed to your strongest values.

It is important to approach the essay prompt honestly and with self-awareness. This essay is a great opportunity to showcase your strengths and weaknesses and talk about key milestones/turning points in your life.

Here are 3 tips to write this essay effectively:

Reflect on your strengths

Identify and list down what you think are your core strengths and unique qualities that might set you apart from other applicants. Examples of such strengths could be perseverance, determination, leadership ability, analytical skills, team skills etc.

When listing down these skills, remember to try and align these for an MBA program. Ask yourself whether the quality you have will be of use in an MBA classroom.

To shortlist the best qualities from this list, pick those for which you have specific stories and examples to highlight the particular quality. Given that ISB has had an essay dedicated to leadership in the past, leadership is definitely a top quality that the admissions committee is looking for.

Some qualities that ISB looks for are: Clarity of thought, Leadership, Effective communication, Team orientation, Learning orientation, Industry knowledge, Problem-solving skills and Interpersonal skills.

Acknowledge your weaknesses

It is necessary to acknowledge your weaknesses honestly. That is why this essay prompt is there in the first place. Talking honestly about your weaknesses shows self-awareness and a willingness to grow.

You need to understand that it is okay to show that you have vulnerabilities and are not a perfect person. Again, try to choose weaknesses that are relevant to your MBA and explain how you are actively working to overcome them.

More importantly, the weaknesses you pick need to be logical. They must be something you can realistically overcome in the timeframe you mention. They must also preferably be related to your professional or academic experience.

For example, if you struggled with public speaking, you can mention how you have joined a Toastmasters club to improve your communication skills or how you take the effort to connect with diverse people to improve your communication skills.

As much as possible, in the weaknesses part of the essay, try to steer away from discussing a personality trait that ISB or MBA programs in general value. This could end up showing you in a negative light.

Share key elements that shaped your journey

For this, brainstorm the experiences, challenges or people that have significantly influenced your life in some way. These experiences can come from personal, professional or extracurricular life.

You need to dive deep into what impact the experience/person has had on you and how it has changed you. Emphasize how you have changed part.

Examples to address this part of the essay are business family background, economically backward background, working with an NGO, leadership experience in a non-professional setting, a startup venture, mentorship received from someone etc.

Lastly, once you’ve identified what to write to address the different parts of the essay prompt, it is important to tie everything together in a nice structure that is interesting to read for the admission committee.

They read hundreds of essays and therefore, you want to ensure that your essay has a high remembrance factor. Start with an engaging opening and try to identify a common thread to connect the strengths, weaknesses and learnings.

Make sure that your essay does not read as separate paragraphs. Use transitions between paragraphs to maintain a smooth flow. Finally, conclude by summarizing your main points and reiterating your commitment to growth at ISB.

Do you want to impress the ISB Adcom?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

ISB PGP Essay 2 analysis

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)

ISB PGP Essay 2 framework

Follow this 5-step framework to write a winning ISB PGP Essay 2:

  1. Identify and list down life experiences, both professional and personal, and identify situations that align with success and failure
  2. Now go through the lists and pick those instances that stand out and those that have a strong back story/example to cite
  3. Review your reflections and observations from both success and failure situations. Organize them into logical sections, such as an introduction, success section, failure section and conclusion
  4. Create the essay outline and organize the points to keep the narrative engaging
  5. Determine how you will use your success to enhance the ISB experience for everyone and how you will continue to overcome setbacks and failures, if any, at ISB and beyond

Essay 2 analysis

The primary reason ISB has come up with such essay prompts this year according to us is the increasing similarity among applications and the resulting monotony in reading the essays. The admissions committee is attempting to make the essays more interesting and engaging through these prompts. This essay again is a great way to showcase your unique qualities and experiences and as a result, how you stand apart from other applicants. 

You can approach this essay prompt by highlighting two significant experiences one where you achieved success and another where you faced failure.

You can choose a mix from your personal and professional life. Remember that ISB is still looking for the same qualities through this essay – Clarity of thought, Leadership, Effective communication, Team orientation, Learning orientation, Industry knowledge, Problem-solving skills and Interpersonal skills. 

Here’s a potential structure for your essay:

Define Success and Failure

You can start with how you view success and failure or an interesting introductory statement that gives insight into what to expect in the essay.

Present situation or situations where you achieved success

Next, describe a situation in which you achieved success. This could be a professional accomplishment, an academic achievement or a personal milestone. Put this in STAR format, explaining the situation and context, the tasks you undertook, the challenges you faced, how you overcame them, what were the outcomes (quantify wherever possible) and most importantly, what did you take away from the situation.

Personal Lessons Learned

Reflect on the personal lessons you gained from this success in terms of skills, attributes or qualities that contributed to your achievement.

For example, you might have learned the importance of perseverance, adaptability or effective communication through a particular situation. Go on to explain how you improved and how you will continue to use your lessons going forward.

Interpersonal Lessons Learned

Reflect on the interpersonal lessons you gained from this success in terms of relationships, teamwork or leadership experiences that contributed to your achievement.

For example, you might have learned the importance of collaboration, trust-building, empathy or conflict resolution through a particular situation. Go on to explain how you improved and how you will continue to use your lessons at ISB and beyond to cultivate strong and meaningful relationships and maintain a positive environment.

Present situation or situations where you faced failure

Next, describe a situation in which you faced failure. Examples of this could be a project that did not meet expectations, a personal setback or an academic failure if it had a significant impact on you. Explain what led to the failure while acknowledging your role in the failure. Do not put the blame on others. Remember that the focus is on how you handle failure and emerge stronger. So emphasize that.

Personal Lessons Learned

Reflect on the personal lessons you gained from this failure in terms of what went wrong, if in a similar situation now, what would you have done, the skills you lacked at that point etc. Now go on to show a growth mindset by stating what you learned from the failure and how you have been applying it in your life since.

Interpersonal Lessons Learned

Reflect on the personal lessons you gained from this failure in terms of conflicts, collaboration issues or team issues that you could have potentially avoided. Again, show a growth mindset by stating what you learned from the failure and how you have been developing your interpersonal skills since and how you believe that can add value at ISB.

For both personal and interpersonal learning, you can choose to give an example of recent situations in which you have applied your learning and emerged successful. Finally, summarize everything with a conclusion. Personalize the essay through your stories and examples and help the adcom remember you vividly through these.

Do you want to impress the ISB Adcom?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

Essay 3 (Optional)

Given your previous experience and future aspirations, how do you plan to use the PGP at ISB to fulfill your professional goals? Note: It is not necessary for you to write this essay. Please use this space only if there is something really significant that you would like us to know. (250 words max)

This is the first time that ISB has made the goals essay optional. Most likely because this is something that’s discussed in detail during the interviews anyway. However, you need to treat this as a mandatory essay and give it equal importance as the other 2 essays. 

This essay is your opportunity to show how important ISB is to you and where ISB fits into your overall plan. Showcase your genuine enthusiasm for and alignment with the ISB PGP program in this essay. To craft a compelling narrative, we suggest following this framework:

Reflect on your previous experience: The skills, knowledge and accomplishments you have so far through your work experience

Define your future aspirations: What specific role or industry do you wish to work in? What impact do you want to make in the future? Be very specific about your short term goals at the very least

Identify gaps: Based on the above 2 points, identify your weak areas or areas you need to work on to reach your goals

Research the ISB PGP program: Curriculum, faculty, clubs, extracurricular activities, industry connections, network, experiential learning etc. Identify the key features and strengths of the program that align with your goals

Link program features to your goals: For example, if you wish to work in consulting, highlight how the program’s case study methodology, consulting clubs and access to industry experts will enhance your consulting skills and network

Highlight the fit: Emphasize why it is the ideal program to help you achieve your goals

To make the most of this limited space, it is imperative that you convey your sincere interest in joining ISB. Avoid formulating goals solely based on their popularity or appeal. Instead, focus on showcasing your authenticity. Discuss goals and career paths that genuinely resonate with you, allowing you to substantiate it during the interview.

Reapplicant essay

You do not need to write the reapplicant essay if you applied through the Young Leaders Programme (YLP).

Candidates who applied to ISB in past years must produce an essay describing how their profile has improved during this time. 

If you applied in R1 last year and are applying in R1 this year, you have almost a year to plan anew. Recapitulate all of your efforts to improve your profile.

If you applied in R2 last year and are now applying in R1, you have only had about 8 months, which may or may not reflect significant changes in your profile.

This is your best chance to show the school that you did some introspection to get a new viewpoint and that you improved your eligibility by upskilling or working on new projects.

Discuss new projects, new learnings from these projects, things you got to do for the first time, and interactions that impacted you and your career plans. Don’t forget to include experiences that helped you improve your core and soft skills.

If you presented a career goal last year that you were unable to justify in the interview, or if you have decided to pursue an alternative plan that you can validate, do not be afraid to make a statement.

Through this essay, you get a chance to prove to the ISB admissions committee that you were able to understand what went wrong the last time and that you made significant improvements in your profile based on those gaps in your profile.

We, at Admit Expert, have ISB admissions experts who can help you with your essay and overall application. Write to us at contactus@admitexpert.com to know more.

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