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The Spanish b-schools have released their applications, and with them, their essay prompts. Forster Thomas gives them the once over.

By Ben Feuer, photo by Yaniv Yaakubovich

IESE -- University of Navarra

1. "Tweet" your post MBA goals (280 characters)

In an attempt to be 'hip', a few business schools have recently reframed their short answers as 'tweet' essays.  Don't take the bait.  Seeing as IESE apparently doesn't know that a tweet is only 140 characters, they surely don't want your hashtags and abbreviations either.  Answer this as you would any other short term goal short answer question, focusing on practicality and immediate-post-MBA aims, given your past work history.

2. Describe a recent professional situation (1-2 years ago maximum) that demonstrates your fit with IESE's mission and values(300 words).

Developing leaders, strengthening organizations, improving society.  These are three primary facets of IESE's mission statement.   To answer this prompt, tell a short-form leadership story, ideally one that shows you transforming or improving an organization through communal effort.

3. I wish that the application had asked me... (200 word limit)

This is an open-ended prompt with a tiny word count.  As such, it might make sense to approach this as one might a "getting to know you" or "one thing to know about you" prompt, focusing on one intriguing, memorable aspect of your history or personality that is not covered anywhere else in the application, then finding a question that solicits that answer.

ESADE -- Ramon Llull University

Personal essays (each question is limited to 2000 characters including spaces, 30 lines approximately)
What makes you YOU?

Today there is a growing need for outstanding business leaders who excel in their field and adapt quickly to the changing needs of the market.

Companies look to us for future leaders - people whose expertise and entrepreneurial abilities are flexible and suit a variety of leadership roles. Your drive and motivation and the individual qualities that you bring to the table are your best selling points and are what will enrich your team members most.

It is this individuality, together with the diversity at ESADE and our commitment to leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship that make us what we are: a talent pool for the business leaders of tomorrow.

The following questions are designed to help us get a more complete picture of who you are and the impact that you will have both here at ESADE and on society after completing your MBA.

Please respond openly, explaining what makes you the person that you are and who you will become.

1. Which aspects have you improved on during your academic and professional career so far? Which tools or values have helped you achieve this?

This unusually worded prompt focuses on growth and learning, emphasizing the lesson as heavily as the story you intend to tell.  Begin by telling an important academic or professional story (including an extracurricular leadership story) and then take time to explain what important lessons you learned, and where you were able to apply them later on.

2. How will your background, values and non work-related activities enhance the experience of other ESADE MBA students and add to the diverse culture we strive for at ESADE? (Note: The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have accomplished)

This is a background/diversity essay.  Successful responses to these types of prompts highlight important moments in your personal development (note that they ask that you avoid accomplishments and work activities), like a key relationship with a family member or a personal struggle of some kind.  It is also reasonable to discuss background, beliefs and upbringing in an essay of this kind, particularly if they show you to be a uniting influence of some kind.

3. What are your motivations in pursuing a full-time MBA at this point in your life? Describe your mid-term and long-term visions for your post-MBA career path. What is it about ESADE you think will help you reach your goals?

A standard "goals" essay -- see any of our previous posts on goals, or our book, for more of a sense on how to approach this.

4. Complete two of the following four questions or statements (1000 characters per response)
   a) I am most proud of...
   b) People may be surprised to learn that I...
   c) What has your biggest challenge been and what did it help you learn about yourself?

   d) Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?

Note that the limit here is 1000 characters, not 1000 words.  These are short responses.  A is natural fodder for a leadership story, B is another open-ended 'getting to know you' prompt (see above), C is a different approach to leadership, either through a setback or a failure, and exploring how you grew as a result of that setback or failure -- as with all stories of this kind, it is important to authentically 'own' and take responsibility for the setback/failure, and the potential impact on the organization, but it is also important to show how you have grown as a result of it.  Answers to D should use the historical figure as a jumping off point to discuss ways you seek to emulate that person, using concrete examples from your life, rather than focusing on the figure him/herself. ----

5. Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include gaps in employment, your undergraduate record, plans to retake the GMAT or any other relevant information.

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