The 3rd Stage of the Oxford MBA is April 9th.

Here is my analysis of the essays questions for Said’s Business school one year program, ranked 10th outside of the US by Businessweek.

1)Explain why you chose your current job. How do you hope to see your career developing over the next five years? How will an MBA assist you in the development of these ambitions? Maximum 1,000 words.

Analysis: this is not an easy question to answer, as it combines multiple issues and applicants should make sure that they address alt eh various parts of the questions. Let’s break up the sub-sections:

  1. Selection of current job – similar a bit to the NYU’s MBA application questions regarding “decision” section of the first essay, you want to show a purpose and some focus in life. If it’s your first job out of college or 5th one, you want to explain what about the company, position and industry was attractive to you. If you’ve been in a similar path before it shouldn’t be a challenge, or just switched jobs inside an industry. If you have big gaps between previous jobs, you need to address why you did this change. Hopefully, there is some connection between your current job and your future job, otherwise it is going to be an ever more complex story to tell. Remember – you are looking to add information that is not clear from your resume, so make sure to have some news.
  2. Five year plan – this is a mix of short-term/medium term question, looking to hear about your goals. Notice that Oxford MBA Admission are very specific – they are asking for a plan, not just a vision. This is the place to show that you know what you’re talking about, especially for career switcher. If you are looking for a transition (into banking/finance/consulting/marketing) or anything else, explain how you are going to make that shift and how you will progress. Of course, you want to mention what you’re brining to the table and why you are going to get that job.
  3. How will the MBA assist you in the development of these ambition – this is a very straight forward part, in which you want to show that Oxford’s MBA program is not just great in general, but that it’s great for you – how it will help you. Talk about classes, clubs, initiative, ,hand-on experience, networking, alumni etc. This is the usual “why MBA” question that is present in almost every top MBA essays package, and even if it’s not present should be communicated somewhere throughout the application process.

2) Which recent development, world event or book has most influenced your thinking and why? Maximum 2,000 words.

Another difficult question to answer, but if you can crack this one well you’re 50% on your way into Said Business school!

Basically, this is the place to show your personality/leadership/passion/accomplishment and so on. You can talk about things that are important to you (environment, human right, women’ right, education, global warming, Africa etc). Notice how long this essay is – double the career goals. So you really need to have something here with a lot of meat.

The focus here should be on how you’ve been impacted from someone or something, but it’s less about them and more about you – how did you change, grow, develop etc. This reminds me a bit of UNC MBA’s question “How have the changes in the global economy over the last 18 months affected you and your plan for the future? (400 word maximum)” which wants to see that you’re connect to the world and reacts to it.

When you pick a world event or book make sure that is something that could talk to global readers of your application, and that it’s more than everyday reading. It’s fine to pick an event/book that might not be known to most people, but you need to make sure to explain why it had such a huge impact on you.

Notice that the question asks about something that “has most influenced you THINKING” and not behavior. This is different from Yale’s MBA questions about “What is the most difficult feedback you have received from another person or the most significant weakness you have perceived in yourself? What steps have you taken to address it and how will business school contribute to this process?”. The Yale essays is focused more on behavior, personal growth and the business aspects of it – it’s a practical, down to earth question. The Oxford essay could be in a much more abstract level, however you do want to tie it to you in a strong way. The best way to show that something has impact your thinking is to show the results of this thinking. J

If you are applying to the 3rd stage of Oxford’s MBA program and would like feedback on your chances or essay, send your resume/essay to schedule a free initial consultation.

Said MBA class’s profile:

  1. Class size: 240
  2. Average age: 29
  3. Nationalities : 48
  4. Average work experience: 6 years
  5. Average GMAT : 685
  6. Middle 80% range GMAT scores: – From  600 to 760
  7. Class composition: