Said MBA program at Oxford University do not rest on their laurels – they keep changing the MBA application essays from one year to the next, whether just by modifying the word count or by introducing new questions. This year they have really done it – essay no. 3 is one of the most challenging essay questions used in MBA applications across top business schools globally. Read my analysis to get some ideas on how to tackle it.

Said Oxford Essay 1. What should Oxford expect from you?  (maximum 500 words)  

What a wonderful essay to start the Oxford application. This question was also a part of last’s year application, although the word count was higher (750 words). While the phrasing of the question is very different from what other schools ask, the gist of it is the same – Why Oxford, and what will you bring to the classroom, the school, and the overall community?

The admissions team at Said Oxford MBA would like to know how you envision spending (and hopefully will spend) your time while in school.  In my mind, one can break the term “Oxford” up into the various stakeholders, groups and individuals you will interact with during your time at Oxford:

  • Fellow Oxford MBA students
  • Alumni of the Oxford MBA program
  • Professors and staff at the Oxford MBA
  • The overall Oxford community, beyond the business school

So to figure out what you can bring to the Oxford MBA program, you need to understand what unique experiences and character traits you have; what is it about your personality, background and interests that will impact the experience of other fellow MBAs?

Said Oxford Essay 2: How do you hope to see your career developing over the next 5 years? How will the MBA and Oxford assist you in the development of these ambitions?  (maximum 500 words)  

Last year, Oxford MBA asked about how you chose your current job, as well as your future plans, in an essay that totaled 750 words. This year, the focus is solely on your future career goals and how the MBA will support your growth during this period and beyond.

While applicants often tend to focus on what happened in the past (and their career progression to date), Oxford specifically removed that part from the question – so don’t spend time (and valuable words) on it.

One important key to answering this question property is to connect your career goals with the skills and experience you will gain during your time at the Oxford MBA program. While 5 years might seem like a short time (one year for the MBA and 4 years for your first job) the expectations are high; Oxford MBA are hinting that in that period of time you should accomplish significant things. If you plan to talk only about one role or one project you have in mind, Oxford might get the wrong impression – that you’re not ambitious enough, or that you don’t have a clear vision of your career. While it is given and normal that when they get to business school people change their minds about their target companies and industries, you still need to tell a convincing and powerful story, one that will impress your readers and convince them that you are going to be a successful alumni of the program.

Said Oxford Essay 3 Sport is pure competition. What does it teach us about companies, individuals, and markets? Or  The business of business is business. Is this true? (maximum 500 words)lease choose and answer one of the two essays below:

Here is the curve ball of the Oxford MBA application: essay number 3. This is by far one of the most challenging essays of this application season, even topping the Harvard MBA application (which includes very little guidance on what to write).

Still, I would take the HBS essay over this one any day.

The second prompt, “ the business of business is business,” is attributed to the famous  American economist Milton Friedman, , a supporter of free markets who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976. The title of the essay is somewhat of a cliché; you will need to work hard to find something interesting to say about business and how it has changed (or not).

If you are going to answer the first question, in which you’re asked to compare business to sports, you don’t need to be a big sports fan (whether it’s soccer, football or synchronized swimming) to structure an interesting argument. Also, while Oxford did ask about sports, this doesn’t mean that your readers will be into sports themselves – so try to make it interesting for people from various backgrounds. Try to address the various parts of the questions – what sports teach us not just about companies, but also about individuals, companies and markets.  If you’re a soccer fan you might be tempted to talk about Sir Albert Ferguson, but remember that you will not be alone if you pick this for a topic.

I’ve helped many applicants secure spots (and scholarships!) at Oxford Said MBA program. Let me help you with the Oxford MBA application. Email to schedule an initial call.

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