Decoding the New ISB PGP Essays for 2023-24 : From Self-Reflection to Self-Presentation

Different essays from those of past years

In an interesting shift from previous years, the Indian School of Business (ISB) has introduced a new application format for its Post Graduate Program (PGP) for the current year (2023-24), featuring two mandatory essays and one optional essay. This is a noticeable change from last year, where the application only required two mandatory essays.

Not only does the increased essay count provide applicants with a broader canvas to express themselves, but the nature of the essay prompts themselves also marks a significant shift. These newer essay topics, rather than focusing solely on professional accomplishments or aspirations, invite candidates to engage in deeper introspection, shedding light on their inherent strengths, weaknesses, and the life experiences that have shaped them.

New ISB PGP Essays for 2023-24

Why the change?

This evolution in the essay requirements resonates with the approach of top global MBA programs, such as INSEAD, emphasizing a more holistic understanding of the applicant. It is a clear signal from ISB encouraging applicants to retrospect on their values, beliefs, and personal journeys, thus aligning with the growing emphasis on individuality and diversity in global business education. This shift affords applicants the opportunity to present a more rounded and authentic version of themselves, going beyond mere professional achievements to demonstrate their personal growth trajectory and how it intertwines with their career path.”

The key here is to convey a sense of excitement about the opportunity for deeper self-expression that these new essay topics offer. This will set a positive and eager tone for the rest of the essays.

Below is an analysis of the new ISB Essays after a brainstorming session we conducted with multiple ISB alums and ex-admission committee members who are part of CrackAdmission’s expert panel.

Take of ISB Alums & Ex-Adcom members

Essay 1: Honest portrayal, emphasizing strengths and weaknesses

Instead of a simple chronology, applicants could frame this essay as a journey, a path winding between peaks (strengths) and valleys (weaknesses). They might start with an engaging anecdote about an event that had a profound impact on them. This event could highlight one of their key strengths. For example, a high-stress situation where their knack for thinking on their feet saved the day. They could balance this by showing how they grappled with a weakness, say, their fear of public speaking, by joining a Toastmasters Club or taking on roles that required them to face this fear head-on.

The Admissions Twist: This essay should feel like a chapter from an engrossing autobiography, showing how the hero (the applicant) has grown and evolved, facing their strengths and weaknesses with courage and determination.

Essay 2: Contemplating success and failure

The story of success could read like a well-crafted suspense thriller. Perhaps it’s about a project with high stakes where the applicant’s leadership and problem-solving skills came into play to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The story of failure, on the other hand, could be a soulful introspective piece. It’s not about the failure itself, but about picking up the pieces, learning from the experience, and emerging stronger. A narrative about a botched start-up could serve as a backdrop to highlight the applicant’s resilience and capacity for learning.

The Admissions Twist: This essay should be a rollercoaster of highs and lows, where the protagonist (the applicant) learns valuable lessons from both their victories and their defeats.

Essay 3: PGP at ISB and professional goals

For this optional essay, the applicant could transport the reader into a future where they’ve achieved their career goals post-PGP at ISB. It could start with a vividly painted scene of the applicant in their dream role. They could then rewind to the present and talk about the stepping stones towards that future, highlighting specific aspects of the ISB PGP that will help them get there. They could mention professors whose work aligns with their interests, clubs and activities that resonate with their career goals, and how they plan to leverage ISB’s extensive network.

The Admissions Twist: This essay should read like an exciting teaser trailer of a blockbuster movie, showing the exhilarating future the applicant sees for themselves, and how ISB PGP is the launchpad that will catapult them there.

Each essay should showcase a different facet of the applicant’s personality, like chapters in a book, making the reader (the admissions committee) eager to meet the author (the applicant) in person. The key is to blend self-awareness with storytelling to create an engaging narrative. You can find some inspiration from some of our success stories.

You can also see our YouTube video on how to ace the ISB PGP Essays where our founder Arijit Biswas, had a detailed discussion with his classmate from ISB, Shruti Sharma.

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