Sign Up For Your Free MBA Assessment Today!

Get Admitted

MBA Essays: How to Write a Great HBS 2016 MBA Essay

Posted by Chioma Isiadinso

Are you looking for tips on how to write a great HBS 2016 MBA essay? Have you checked out our Harvard Business School profile lately?

Writing your MBA essays can be a stressful and difficult process.

However, there are ways you can create write a great HBS essay without all the stress and difficulty that most MBA applicants face.

How can you do that?

In this post, I’ll give you a few tips to write a great HBS essay without all the stress and difficulty.

hbs 2016 mba essay

Use The HBS 2016 MBA Essay to Introduce Yourself

Let’s take a look at this year’s 2016 HBS MBA essay which was announced on the HBS Direct from the Director’s Blog:

“There is one essay question for the Class of 2018: It’s the first day of class at HBS. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your “section.”

This is the group of 90 classmates who will become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom.

Our signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create throughout this shared experience will be lasting. 

Introduce yourself.”

This year’s HBS essay is a much better option for applicants than last year’s essay that was completely open-ended:

“You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you.

What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?

(There is no word limit for this question. Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.)”

I like this new essay because it has a clear objective—introduce yourself to your section.

Related  Risk and the MBA Application

This question has been asked before by HBS a few years ago when they asked multiple questions.

HBS clearly liked it enough to bring it back again.

MBA Essay Tips From the HBS Admissions Board

The school provides you with some good tips to keep in mind when tackling this essay.

Dee Leopold puts it this way:

It’s just about as straightforward and practical as we can make it.   It gives you a chance to tell your story however you choose. Imagine simply saying it out loud.

This is what we mean when we’ve been encouraging you to use your own “voice” when approaching this part of the application.  We have no pre-conceived ideas of what “good” looks like. We look forward to lots of variance.

It’s useful. You will actually be introducing yourself to classmates at HBS.

For you: an opportunity to pause and reflect. Business school is a big experience – it’s exciting, it’s an unknown, it’s a beginning, it’s an investment in your future.

Stopping to reflect and gather your thoughts in writing is a useful exercise. 

That’s not just our opinion -it’s what we hear from students all the time.

How to Write an Incredible HBS Application Essay

So what additional tips should you keep in mind when writing your HBS application essay?

Related  Timing The MBA

Style and Tone

Your essay should be written in an informal style (since it should sound/flow naturally as if you were actually introducing yourself to your section).



While HBS doesn’t give you any word limit, I recommend opting for a brief essay (a page is more than adequate).

Most applicants can write this essay in two or three very short paragraphs while other applicants will achieve this objective in just a paragraph.


To successfully write this essay you have to have a laser-like focus on what you want to tell the adcom about yourself.

This isn’t the essay where you can get away with squeezing several things in. You can’t write this essay well without a clear sense of your personal brand and what’s unique about you.


One of the biggest challenges applicants have with this essay is figuring out what topics to write about.

You can write about almost anything. However, keep in mind that while the “what” is important to the adcom (and your section mates), the “why” can be equally important.


This essay is deceptively easy. But it is a trap that many applicants will fall into.

Don’t be fooled by how simple it appears.

Related  Top Ten MBA Application Mistakes

You have to be strategic when answering this question. This isn’t an essay you can write a couple of days before the deadline.

Take time to reflect on what you believe is truly your most differentiating elements or that explains your journey to date and take time to refine this message till it’s communicated in the most poignant and interesting way.


While b-school application can be challenging, hopefully you’ll find it less stressful after reading this blog.

You now have concrete advice on how to write a successful HBS essay.

Take a deep breath, relax, and get ready for some introspection.

Carve out time to brainstorm and define your personal brand and then begin to explore specific topics you want to focus on for your HBS essay.

The earlier you start with this process the more likely you are to produce an essay that truly represents your brand.

This essay is your way to become memorable to the HBS admissions committee so get ready to tell them what makes you compelling and why they (and your HBS section) should get excited about having you in their school.

Looking for MBA admissions advice that can help you get admitted to your target business schools? Sign up for our weekly newsletter and get our latest MBA admissions advice as well as news and events sent directly to your inbox.