When is the “right” time to write MBA essays?

applicant writes in her notebook

The old saying that “timing is everything” is somewhat of an overstatement when it comes to applying to business school. However, timing is a very important consideration for serious candidates regarding their admissions essays. There are two common mistakes that can harm a business school applicant’s chances.

Mistake #1: Starting to write MBA essays too late.
If the application deadline is still several months away, you might find it tempting to procrastinate. Predicting that it won’t take you more than a few days to write your essays, you postpone the start of your entire admissions campaign. However, by doing so, you’re missing the opportunity to optimize your candidacy – by exploring your career goals in depth, strategically positioning your candidacy and confirming your fit with your target school for example. These are important, time-consuming tasks that should be completed before you start to craft your essays.

Mistake #2: Starting to write MBA essays too soon.
Once you see the published questions, you might find it nearly impossible to get them off your mind. Almost immediately, you find yourself writing essays based on the first ideas that race through your head. While such enthusiasm is notable, initiating an admissions campaign by writing essays is not the way to maximize your chance for success. The most effective essays are those that complement your resume, recommendations, and short-answer responses. For most applicants, this means writing essays last instead of first. It also means starting with skeletal outlines, patiently crafting narrative drafts, and getting expert feedback along the way.

Based on our experience advising more than 5,000 b-school applicants over the past three decades, The MBA Exchange knows when candidates should start working on their admissions essays. If you’re uncertain about the best approach for your candidacy, we can help. Start with a free evaluation of your background and goals. Depending on this analysis, you can then make an informed decision about the right timing for your admissions campaign.