How to tackle optional essays in your MBA Application?

When assessing a candidate’s profile for admission to a business school, adcoms evaluates an individual on different parameters. They take your GMAT/GRE scores, undergraduate GPA, professional experience, MBA application essays, and many other aspects of your profile into consideration. Each of these aspects has a role to play in presenting your applications; essays present your personality, resume exhibit your professional achievements and career progression, LORs provide a viewpoint on who you are, and scores help understand your academic rigor.  

In all the profile evaluations we did, there is one aspect that baffles almost all the applicants with low GPA/GMAT- how to compensate for/defend it and present a strong narrative. Assuming you pay for it well, defending is where the MBA optional essay comes in and plays a critical role; writing an MBA optional essay helps an applicant give more information or clarity on the areas of the application that you couldn’t defend anywhere. The MBA optional essay aims to address your profile gaps and make a strong case for your candidature.

Learn how you can compensate for a low GPA/GMAT

The purpose of MBA optional essays is to offer you (the applicant) the benefit of the doubt rather than leaving questions totally up to the interpretation of an admissions officer. The MBA optional essay allows you to clarify any flaws in your application. Be it your low GPA in undergraduate, low GMAT, second MBA, education, job experience gaps, also if you have had any academic or legal misbehavior in the pastor or any other gap in your story such as why would you quit your current startup when your long term goal is to start a venture of your own. This article will help you understand how to defend your gaps in your MBA optional essays, thus presenting you as a strong applicant.


MBA Optional essays are another opportunity for applicants who have gaps in their application that could not be clarified in other parts of your MBA application; this MBA optional essay allows you to address those gaps and increase your chances of admission to the B-school.

Along with managing the reasons for gaps in your profile, in this MBA optional essay, you can discuss what makes you a strong prospect in further detail. You can showcase your preferred talents, experiences, or background components by answering MBA optional questions. This will provide the admissions committee with a complete picture of who you are as a candidate and how you will contribute to the incoming class.

You don’t always need to write optional Essays. As the name suggests, they are optional, and hence write them only if you have apparent gaps in your profile that you would like to explain or you want to exhibit some strong aspects of your profile that you could not talk about in other parts of your application.


There are two forms of MBA optional essays that a school’s admissions committee may commonly request.


USE THE OPTIONAL ESSAY TO DISCUSS RECOMMENDER CHOICE– It’s very common for employees to be hesitant to tell their present bosses about their plans to quit the company to pursue an MBA. Furthermore, many businesses oppose their employees’ decision to continue their education. In this circumstance, candidates seek recommendations from other sources, such as their clients, acquaintances in other firms, or mentors in different industries, which might backfire and negatively impact the situation.

LOW SCORE, GMAT/GRE – If your score falls below the school’s average or does not accurately reflect your ability, the optional essay is the chance to remedy it. You can also write an extra essay to explain why your verbal or quantitative score is so low. You might also emphasize how you have succeeded in other areas. Multiple promotions, leadership, innovations, and performance at work, substantial community service, or brilliance in extracurricular activities are just a few examples of how you might make up for a poor GMAT score.

EMPLOYMENT GAP – It’s possible that being fired isn’t the sole cause of a career history gap. You’re young and carefree, and it’s conceivable that you’ve been bitten by the travel bug and decided to take some time off to see more of the world and do new things. There can be many different reasons for gaps in your work experience but if it’s considerable, do not leave them unexplained. 

LOW GPA – You don’t want to leave anything to guesswork or make your argument for a low GPA weaker.

Avoid putting things under the rug or being evasive. Assume you had a low GPA in your first two years because you suffered from over-committing and poor time management. In such a scenario, it’s fine to confess that mastering your time management abilities and learning to prioritize successfully takes some time. However, it indicates a great level of maturity and self-reflection.

Explain why a drop in grades is due to considerable hardship: you should not be embarrassed to mention if your grades are poor owing to exceptional circumstances, such as working part-time because a parent lost a job.


Stay as succinct as possible, if you can express your message in 50 words don’t drag your optional essay further. Come straight to the point.

Do adhere to the word limit (if none exists, it should not exceed the length of your statement). Usually, 250 words will be enough.

 If you want the admissions committee to spend more time reading it, you should attempt to present your case thoroughly.

Use the optional essay to convey information not conveyed in your primary essay or application, giving you an edge.

Share no information that appears (or may appear) elsewhere in your application (data forms, short answers, etc.). You will just bore the hell out of the adcoms!


In the Essay given below, the applicant has clearly explained how he has a strong academic rigor and given the pieces of evidence for the same.

There is no particular format to be followed in the MBA Optional essays. You can simply talk about the particular gap and explain it and present evidence that irrespective of the gap, how you still have the respective quality in your profile which makes you a strong applicant for the targeted B-school.

Hope this article helped you understand better how you can tackle MBA Optional essays (if you should). MBA applications can be very confusing and sometimes, scary too. But with the right people and strategy, you can ace them with beautiful colors

If you’d like, we are happy to get on a one-on-one Profile evaluation call with you and help you understand your strengths, and weaknesses and create a roadmap for you to tackle MBA applications! 

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