MIT Sloan Class of 2018 Essay Question Analysis

MIT now has just one required essay, a second shorter essay to write if you have been invited to interview and an optional essay. MIT Sloan tends to like behavioral questions, and they should! They force you to reflect on your work experience and demonstrate strong performance.


Main Question: Tell us about a recent success you had: How did you accomplish this? Who else was involved? What hurdles did you encounter? What type of impact did this have? (500 words or fewer).

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How to answer the question

Just like you would answer a behavioral question in an interview, set up the situation so it is clear for the reader, describe in detail the actions you took that led to the success, and discuss the resulting impact. Among other things, MIT values leadership, an ability to inspire, collaborative spirit, intellectual curiosity, analytical strength, and creativity to generate new solutions. Keep these in mind as you answer this question because the best answers address at least a few of those characteristics.

What are some things you could discuss?

  • Leading a project outside of your normal responsibilities, which included managing divergent personalities and an aggressive timeline.
  • Convincing people in your organization to do something differently.
  • Completing a challenging research project where you had to interact with multiple divisions, overcome difficulties and present solutions to a client.
  • Creating a new fundraising strategy for a nonprofit organization. Finding new resources to accomplish a goal that was very important, yet neglected for a while. Note: while it is usually better for the example to be professional and from your current job, it doesn’t have to be. If you use an example outside of your full-time job, ensure it ties in with your overall story.

What should you keep in mind while writing?

  • MIT has always been interested in the process as much as the solution. It is important to make the reader feel like s/he is part of the process. Write about what you thought. Write about you felt.
  • While this may seem obvious, the question has four parts…make sure to address all parts! One of the biggest pitfalls I see if missing out on one of the parts or not spending enough time addressing each.
  • Consider what strengths you want to get across in your application, and where else these strengths are described. Since this is the one main required essay, if you haven’t gotten a chance to talk about something you are great at, figure out how to include it here.
  • Don’t forget about the impact on yourself. While it is important to discuss the organizational impact, ideally you were also impacted by this success. Whether you developed leadership skills, learned across industries or enhanced your analytical capabilities, discuss how you changed because of the experience.


2nd Question if invited to interview: The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. Please share with us something about your past that aligns with this mission. (250 words or fewer).


How to answer the question

Generating ideas that advance management practice can be doing something great for an organization outside of your main job, or it can be doing something innovative at work. Perhaps your company used to do something inefficiently and you created a new, streamlined process. If you did something innovative outside of work, even if it is minor, it may be relevant here. The key is to describe why you did it, your thought process, and the result.


Optional: The Admissions Committee invites you to share anything else you would like us to know about you, in any format. If you choose to use a multimedia format, please host the information on a website and provide us the URL.


How to answer the question

This is an optional question and if you feel you addressed all of the key parts of your profile in the application so far, it is not required. That said, this question is good to utilize if there are great things you have done that did not fit elsewhere in the application. In addition, if you feel you have not demonstrated some of the values that are important to Sloan, this is the place to do it. Lastly, if there are extenuating circumstances you want to discuss (a poor grade, gap in work experience, etc.) this is the place.

If you would like individual and personal support developing your story for the MIT Sloan application, or have questions about choosing the right topics to answer these questions, contact me to learn how I can help! Ask your queries here.

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