ISB Essays: How to write, Analysis and Tips for 2025 Intake

By Arvind Kumar

The Indian School of Business (ISB) Post Graduate Program (PGP) is renowned for its rigorous curriculum, global perspective, and robust network of alumni. The application process for the PGP at ISB, particularly the essay section, plays a pivotal role in showcasing your personal and professional journey, intellectual experiences, and career aspirations. 

For the 2025 intake, ISB has introduced three essay prompts (2 compulsory and 1 optional) designed to delve deeper into your individuality, learning approach, and future goals. These essays provide an excellent opportunity to reflect on your unique experiences, articulate your aspirations, and demonstrate your fit with the ISB community. 

In this article, we will analyze each essay prompt and offer tips to help you craft compelling responses that resonate with the admissions committee.

ISB Application Deadlines

Here’s the table with the application deadlines for each round:

Application RoundRound 1Round 2*Round 3*
Application Deadline15 September 2024December 2024January 2025

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ISB PGP Essay 1 Analysis for 2025 Intake

Essay Topic 1: Contemplate situations that have shaped your personal journey. Present what these situations have taught you about your strengths and weaknesses, and how they have shaped your personal and professional journey. (400 words only)

This essay prompt requires a deep dive into self-reflection. ISB is not just interested in your accomplishments but also in your ability to introspect and learn from your experiences. The prompt can be broken down into three key components:

  1. Situations that shaped your journey: Identify and describe pivotal moments in your life.
  2. Lessons learned about strengths and weaknesses: Reflect on what these situations taught you about yourself.
  3. Impact on your personal and professional journey: Explain how these lessons have influenced your development.

Stepwise Framework for Crafting Your Essay

To effectively address the essay prompt, we suggest this structured approach:

Step 1: Brainstorm Key Situations

  • Reflect on significant events or experiences in your life that have had a profound impact on you. These could be personal challenges, professional milestones, or transformative experiences.
  • Choose a few situations that collectively offer a comprehensive view of your personal and professional growth. Ensure they are diverse enough to highlight different aspects of your character.

Step 2: Describe the Situations

  • Briefly describe each situation, focusing on what happened, your role, and the context. Keep this part concise to ensure you have enough space for analysis.
  • Convey the emotional and psychological aspects of these experiences. This will help the admissions committee understand the depth of your introspection.

Step 3: Analyze Your Strengths and Weaknesses

  • For each situation, reflect on the strengths you exhibited. These could include leadership, resilience, empathy, problem-solving, etc.
  • Honestly assess any weaknesses or areas for improvement that these situations revealed. This shows self-awareness and a willingness to grow.

Step 4: Connect to Personal and Professional Journey

  • Explain how these situations have shaped your character, values, and outlook on life. Highlight any changes in your behavior, mindset, or goals.
  • Discuss how the lessons learned have influenced your professional journey. This could include changes in your career path, improvements in your work ethic, or new skills you have developed.

Step 5: Craft a Cohesive Narrative

  • Your essay should read as a cohesive narrative rather than a disjointed list of experiences. Use transitions to link different parts of your essay smoothly.
  • While it’s important to highlight your achievements, be careful not to come across as boastful. Similarly, while discussing weaknesses, focus on how you have addressed or are addressing them.

Example Outline for ISB PGP Essay 1

(A) Introduction

Start your essay with a compelling introduction that sets the stage for the introspective journey you are about to share. Emphasize the importance of introspection and personal growth, underscoring how these elements have played a crucial role in shaping your professional and personal development. This introduction should not only grab the reader’s attention but also provide a glimpse into the experiences that have significantly influenced your decision to pursue the ISB Post Graduate Program (PGP).

(B) Situation 1: Professional Challenge

Context and Description

Begin by describing a specific professional challenge you faced. Provide enough context to help the reader understand the scenario, including the setting, your role, and the stakes involved. Detail the complexities of the situation and what made it a significant challenge in your career.

Strengths and Weaknesses Revealed

Next, delve into the strengths and weaknesses that this professional challenge revealed. Discuss how you approached the problem, leveraging your strengths to address it. At the same time, be candid about the weaknesses that surfaced during this process. This reflection demonstrates your self-awareness and your ability to critically assess your performance.

Impact on Professional Development

Conclude this section by explaining the impact this challenge had on your professional development. Highlight the lessons learned and how this experience has influenced your approach to similar situations in the future. Discuss any specific skills you developed or enhanced and how this experience has prepared you for the next steps in your career.

(C) Situation 2: Personal Milestone

Context and Description

Transition to a personal milestone that has been pivotal in your life. Describe the context and details of this milestone, ensuring the reader understands its significance. Whether it’s an achievement, a significant change, or a personal challenge, provide a vivid description that conveys its importance.

Strengths and Weaknesses Revealed

Just as with the professional challenge, discuss the strengths and weaknesses revealed by this personal milestone. Reflect on how you navigated this period of your life, what personal attributes you relied on, and where you found yourself lacking. This introspection is crucial in showing your personal growth and development.

Impact on Personal Growth

Explain the impact of this personal milestone on your overall personal growth. Detail the lessons you learned and how this experience has shaped your character and worldview. Connect these personal insights to your broader life goals and aspirations, illustrating how they have prepared you for future challenges.

(D) Conclusion

In your conclusion, summarize the key lessons you’ve learned from both the professional challenge and the personal milestone. Emphasize how these experiences have collectively prepared you for the ISB PGP. Reiterate your motivation for pursuing this program, linking your past experiences to your future goals. Highlight how the insights gained from these situations have equipped you with the resilience, skills, and perspectives necessary for succeeding in the ISB PGP and beyond. This conclusion should tie your narrative together, reinforcing the central theme of growth and readiness for the next chapter in your professional and personal journey.

Pro Tips

  • Authenticity is Key: Be honest about your experiences and reflections. Authenticity resonates more than exaggeration.
  • Show, Don’t Tell: Use specific examples to illustrate your points rather than making vague statements.
  • Focus on Growth: Highlight how each situation contributed to your development. ISB values candidates who are proactive in their personal and professional growth.

By following this framework and focusing on introspective and meaningful experiences, you can craft an essay that addresses the prompt effectively and showcases your suitability for the ISB PGP program.

Looking for professional guidance on your MBA applications? Schedule a free chat with us, or drop us a line and we’ll get back.

ISB PGP Essay 2 Analysis for 2025 Intake

Essay Topic 2: What intellectual experiences have influenced your approach to learning and have led you to pursue an MBA? Please describe using anecdotes from your own experiences. (400 words only)

Stepwise Framework for Crafting Your Essay

This essay requires introspection, clarity, and a compelling narrative that showcases your unique intellectual journey. Here is a step-by-step framework to help you craft an effective essay:

Step 1: Comprehend and Analyze the Essay Prompt

  • The first crucial step in crafting your essay is to fully understand the essay prompt. Focus on identifying keywords such as “intellectual experiences,” “approach to learning,” and “motivation for an MBA.” Your goal here is to demonstrate how specific experiences have shaped your mindset and career aspirations.
  • Reflect deeply on what the prompt is asking, ensuring you grasp the nuances and expectations embedded within the question. This understanding will guide the content and direction of your essay, ensuring you address the core requirements effectively.

Step 2: Engage in Self-Reflection

  • Begin by brainstorming a comprehensive list of significant intellectual experiences, such as influential courses, impactful projects, enlightening readings, and meaningful discussions.
  • As you compile this list, look for recurring themes or patterns that highlight your approach to learning and your professional aspirations. This reflective process is critical as it helps you identify the experiences that have genuinely influenced your intellectual development and align with your decision to pursue an MBA.

Step 3: Select Key Experiences

  • From your brainstormed list, carefully select the experiences that are most relevant to your decision to pursue an MBA.
  • Focus on those that had a profound impact on your intellectual growth and learning style. These should be experiences that not only resonate personally but also clearly illustrate your academic and professional journey. By choosing the most impactful and relevant experiences, you will be able to construct a compelling narrative that convincingly links your past learning to your future goals.

Step 4: Develop a Structured Outline

  • To ensure your essay has a clear and logical structure, create a detailed outline. Start with an introduction that briefly introduces your intellectual journey and its significance to you. In the body paragraphs, delve into each key experience. For the first experience, describe the context, what you learned, and how it influenced your approach to learning.
  • Do the same for the second experience, highlighting its lessons and impact on your perspective.
  • In a subsequent paragraph, connect these experiences to explain how they collectively led you to the decision to pursue an MBA. Conclude your essay by summarizing your intellectual growth and reiterating your motivation for the MBA, linking it to your future career goals.

Step 5: Craft a Compelling Narrative

  • With your outline in place, focus on crafting a narrative that is engaging and memorable. Use anecdotes to bring your experiences to life and make your essay more relatable.
  • Be specific, providing concrete details to illustrate your experiences and insights. Show deep introspection by reflecting on how these experiences shaped your intellectual approach. This narrative approach not only makes your essay more engaging but also demonstrates your ability to think critically and reflect on your learning journey.

Step 6: Relate Your Experiences to ISB

  • Incorporate a section that explicitly relates your intellectual journey to the Indian School of Business (ISB). Highlight how ISB’s curriculum and community align with your learning style and career aspirations. Mention specific programs, courses, or aspects of ISB that resonate with you.
  • Additionally, outline how you plan to contribute to ISB’s community based on your intellectual experiences. This connection between your past experiences and ISB’s offerings will reinforce your fit for the program and your genuine interest in becoming a part of its community.

Example Outline for ISB PGP Essay 2

(A) Introduction

Start with a compelling opening that grabs the reader’s attention. Briefly introduce the concept of intellectual experiences and their importance in your journey.

Example: “My childhood in Hong Kong left an imprint on my cultural sensibilities. Living in this melting pot of Asian and Western cultures, and being surrounded by diverse perspectives, I learnt at a young age to respect differences. In 1st grade, when some parents requested a separate room for the vegetarian students to eat lunch, the school refused to segregate students based on religious choices. My mother shared this story with pride, commending the school’s indiscriminate environment. This early experience instilled a deep respect for inclusivity, shaping my decision-making in multicultural settings.”

(B) Body Paragraphs

Experience 1

Describe a significant intellectual experience.

  • Context: Set the scene (course, project, etc.).
  • Challenge: Explain the intellectual challenge you faced.
  • Learning: Detail what you learned and how it shaped your approach to learning.

Example: “During my first year at my current company, I undertook a research project on the economic implications of blockchain technology. The complexity of the subject pushed me to explore interdisciplinary resources, from economic theories to technical whitepapers. This experience taught me the value of integrating diverse perspectives and solidified my analytical approach to problem-solving.”

Experience 2

Describe another experience with similar depth.

  • Context: Where and how it occurred.
  • Challenge: The intellectual hurdles.
  • Learning: What you took away and its impact on you.
Connecting the Dots

Explain how these experiences led you to an MBA.

  • Synthesis: Combine the learnings from the experiences.
  • Decision: Link these to your decision to pursue an MBA.

Example: “While I possess complementary and transferable learnings, my experiences have been functional and industry-specific, which I am looking to bridge through ISB’s well-rounded curriculum.”

(C) Conclusion

Summarize your intellectual growth and motivation for an MBA.

  • Recap: Briefly recap your key points.
  • Future Goals: Link your past experiences with your future aspirations.

Example: “To conclude, ISB will not only help me with the immediate transition but also provide me with a life-long network and distinctive credibility.”

Looking for professional guidance on your MBA applications? Schedule a free chat with us, or drop us a line and we’ll get back.

ISB PGP Optional Essay Analysis for 2025 Intake

Given your experience and aspirations, how do you plan to use the PGP at ISB to fulfill your professional goals? (Optional) (250 words only)

This essay is an opportunity for applicants to demonstrate their clarity of thought, understanding of the ISB PGP, and alignment of their professional goals with what the program offers. Here is a stepwise framework to help you craft a compelling response:

Stepwise Framework for Crafting Your Essay

Step 1: Self-Reflection and Goal Setting

  • Identify Your Professional Goals: Clearly define your short-term and long-term career goals. Think about where you see yourself immediately after graduation and 5-10 years down the line.
    • Example: “In the short term, I aim to transition from core operations to strategy consulting to get 360-degree exposure to business intricacies across functions.”
  • Analyze Your Current Position: Assess your current skills, experiences, and accomplishments. Identify gaps that the ISB PGP can help you fill.
    • Example: “With a background in engineering and three years of experience in product management, I have developed strong analytical and problem-solving skills. However, I lack holistic business knowledge and strategic management experience.”

Step 2: Research the ISB PGP

  • Understand ISB’s Offerings: Dive deep into ISB’s curriculum, specializations, faculty, industry connections, and extracurricular opportunities. Identify aspects of the program that align with your goals.
    • Example: “I seek to specialize in Strategy, taking relevant courses like Competitive Strategy, Operations Strategy to gain essential knowledge for success in consulting.”
  • Leverage Alumni Insights: Reach out to ISB alumni and current students to gain insights into how the PGP has helped them achieve their career goals. This will provide concrete examples to support your essay.

Step 3: Bridge the Gap

  • Connect Your Goals to ISB’s Offerings: Articulate how specific elements of the ISB PGP will help you achieve your career goals. Be specific about courses, faculty, projects, and networking opportunities.
    • Example: “The Leadership Development Program at ISB will enhance my managerial capabilities, while courses like ‘Corporate Strategy’ and ‘Business Analytics’ will provide me with a robust strategic foundation.”
  • Highlight Unique Aspects: Emphasize any unique aspects of your background or aspirations that make you a good fit for ISB.
    • Example: “My experience in launching new tech products aligns well with ISB’s focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Step 4: Craft a Clear and Concise Narrative

  • Introduction: Start with a brief introduction that captures your professional aspirations.
    • Example: “With a vision to lead strategic initiatives in a global corporation, I seek to leverage ISB’s PGP to bridge the gap between my technical expertise and strategic acumen.”
  • Body: In 2-3 paragraphs, discuss your current position, how ISB will help you achieve your goals, and why ISB is the perfect fit for you.
    • Example: “My engineering background and product management experience have honed my analytical skills. However, to transition into a strategic consulting role, I need to deepen my understanding of business strategy and leadership. ISB’s PGP, with its comprehensive curriculum and focus on leadership development, is ideally suited to equip me with these skills. The opportunity to learn from distinguished faculty members like Prof. XYZ and to participate in the Consulting Club will be invaluable in achieving my career aspirations.”
  • Conclusion: Conclude by reiterating how ISB PGP will play a pivotal role in your career trajectory.
    • Example: “In essence, the ISB PGP will be instrumental in transforming me into a strategic leader capable of making impactful decisions. I am excited about the possibility of contributing to and learning from the vibrant ISB community.”

Additional (Pro) Tips for ISB PGP Essays

  1. Be Authentic: Authenticity is key. Use your unique voice and personal experiences to stand out. Avoid clichés and generic responses.
  2. Reflect Deeply: Take time to introspect and understand the core messages you want to convey. Your essays should reflect a well-thought-out narrative.
  3. Structure and Clarity: Ensure your essays are well-structured with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Clarity of thought and expression is essential.
  4. Use Anecdotes: Personal stories and specific examples make your essays more engaging and relatable. Highlight situations that genuinely impacted you.
  5. Align with ISB’s Values: Demonstrate how your experiences and goals align with ISB’s values and how the PGP will help you achieve your aspirations.
  6. Edit and Revise: Write multiple drafts and seek feedback from mentors or peers. Proofread meticulously to avoid any grammatical or typographical errors.

Final Thoughts

Crafting essays for the ISB PGP application requires introspection, clarity, and a strategic approach. Each prompt offers a unique window into your personality, intellectual pursuits, and professional ambitions.

By reflecting on your past experiences and aligning them with your future goals, you can create a compelling narrative that highlights your strengths and potential contributions to the ISB community.

Remember, the key is to be authentic and convey your story with honesty and passion. With thoughtful preparation and a clear focus, you can make a lasting impression on the admissions committee and take a significant step towards joining the prestigious ISB PGP program.

Looking for professional guidance on your MBA applications? Schedule a free chat with us, or drop us a line and we’ll get back.

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