Admission Essays Guide

Admission Essays – A guide to cracking foreign universities


When you apply to foreign universities for higher studies, they would like to judge your candidature. It is to ensure that you deserve admission in their university. The competition to secure admission is intense with people from various countries applying for these courses. There are limited seats, and the numbers of applicants with similar marks are more. Hence, the universities find it a challenging job to select the right candidates. There is a need for a tiebreaker to decide who fits in and who does not. The Admission essays serve as the tiebreakers. Let us discuss what these admission essays are and how to write one.

Admission essays

In simple terms, admission essays are documents sought by universities abroad to determine whether you have enough background knowledge of the subject you wish to pursue. There is no thumb rule or any specified format for the admission essays. Usually, the universities submit a questionnaire for the candidates to answer. Let us see how to tackle the admission essays.

Admission essays Vs. Statement of Purpose

Many people confuse the admission essays with the statement of purpose. It is natural because both these documents have many things in common.

  • Both these documents are in the form of essays.
  • They play a significant role in deciding your admission to the university
  • Both these documents serve as a channel of communication between the candidate and the university.

However, they differ a lot as well.

  • The SOP is a generic essay that speaks about various aspects about the candidates, their interests, the aims and goals, their understanding of the culture of the university, and reasons why the candidates selected the particular university over the others.
  • The admission essays are specific essays that talk about the subject the student proposes to pursue in the university. It is a tool that enables the universities to determine the grasping power of the candidate. For example, an MBA student should have leadership qualities. The University judges whether the candidates have them through these admission essays.
  • SOPs follow a standard format whereas the admission essays do not. The university can decide to break up the admission essays in the form of a question and answer session. It provides all candidates with a level playing field because the questions would be the same for all candidates applying for a particular course.

Different types of admission essays

Let us see the different types of essays that candidates have to write while applying for the foreign universities.

Usually, you classify the essays based on

1. Word Limit – Length of the compositions

  • Concise answers, maybe in a line or two – 30 to 50 words
  • Brief write-ups – around 150 to 200 words
  • Short answer to questions – about 200 to 300 words each
  • Long answers to questions – between 500 and 800 words
  • Full-length essays – More than 800 words

2. Content – What are the questions about

  • Your goals and ambitions
  • Leadership qualities
  • Career progression
  • Tackling ethical dilemmas
  • Your achievements
  • Your Failures
  • Response to specific situations

The questions for the MS courses differ from the MBA courses. The universities look for leadership qualities in an MBA student. They would like to know how a student would react under specific circumstances. It is not the case with the MS courses. Here, you have specific questions about the subject matter to understand the aptitude of the candidate.

Let us how to write a winning admission essay

Admission essays are essential for the MBA courses more than the MS courses. Some universities, especially in the US have a questionnaire form of admission essay as part of their admission form. You have to answer these questions and upload them to the website of the university along with your other documents.

The admission essay gives you the edge for the MBA courses. The universities require admission essays depending on the subject you wish to pursue. The questions can differ from university to university. The admission essays for the MBA courses usually concern leadership qualities. Let us now see how to write a leadership essay.

Leadership essay

An MBA student should display leadership qualities in abundance. The universities will not be able to judge these qualities from the student marksheets. Hence, the admission essays and personal interviews become essential for deciding whether the students have in them or not.

You can expect a couple of challenging questions as part of your admission essay. Some of them are as follows.

  • The university wants to admit one more student to the class this year. Make a compelling argument as to why you deserve to be that specific student. (maximum of 250 to 300 words)
  • Describe a situation you experienced in your office where you managed to deal with challenges posed by the diverse opinions of other members of the group. (about 400 to 500 words)

These are examples of questions that the university can put up. You never know what question might come your way. You have to be ready with your answer supported by examples and anecdotes.

Here are some points you should remember while writing leadership essays

  • The situation can be an imaginary one not necessarily connected with your work. It could be about managing a team. The incident might be a minor or a significant one. The severity of the episode is not an issue. The thing that matters the most is how you managed to handle the situation and come out of it without harming your reputation.
  • It is advisable to state your achievements as a leader, but without going overboard. The Admission Officers are smart enough to distinguish between a genuine situation and a made-up one. It is better to concentrate on your leadership role. They would like to know how you handled the situation. You can describe your way of handling the case. There is no such thing as a wrong answer to such questions. It is because the perception of the situation can differ from person to person. The university would like to know your style. It has to be unique.
  • Avoid using negative words in your essay. Bring in the element of positivity. Your essay should be an inspiring one.
  • There is no need to talk about your failures in a leadership essay. Sometimes, there are specific essays to discuss failures. The Admission Officers would love to see and hear your success stories. However, do not make up a story in such a way that it would seem unreal.
  • Do not try to bluff your way through. The Admission Officers are smart and experienced enough to see through any attempt to fool
  • Never fabricate a story trying to project as an excellent leader. It can have the opposite effect. The Admission Officers are testing your sincerity. After all, they have seen thousands of essays during their careers. They can smell insincerity almost instantaneously.
  • Refrain from making political and sensitive statements.

Vocabulary is vital in an admission essay

English is a simple language. You can express a particular word in different ways using synonyms. For example, the word strength has many synonyms depending on the context you use it. You can substitute it with power, potency, forte, talents, gifts, speciality, and so on. Using the same word repeatedly is a sign that you are not thorough with the English vocabulary. Use grammar correction tools available on the internet to search for suitable synonyms depending on the context. Use the right kind of English (US or UK).

Refrain from using jargon to impress the Admission Officers. You do not like them searching for dictionaries to find out the meaning of what you wish to say. Try to be as simple in your presentation as possible. Imagine yourself to be in their place. What type of words would you prefer to read? The same applies to them as well.

Use of correct grammar is essential

The advantage of computers today is that you can check your spellings and grammar before submitting the essays. The Admission officers look at your communication skills through these essays. A leader is one who can communicate with the followers properly.

  • Use the right tense and do not mix up the verbs
  • Be careful with your prepositions. Your grammar checking tools can help you in this regard
  • Do not use slang as it can have an adverse effect.
  • Punctuation and the use of articles are vital.

Respect the word limit

The Admission Officers have limited time within which they have to decide whether you fit in or not. It is why they have stipulated word limits. Do not transgress these limits by more than 10%. If you cannot make your point clear in 200 words, adding a hundred more is not going to work magic. Remember that short and crisp essays can do the job for you. Make your point forcefully by adhering to the word limits religiously.

The admission essays can help you communicate to the Admission officers that you have the necessary qualities to pursue higher education in the subject of your choice. A well-written essay can clinch the admission for you.


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