STAR Approach Strategies to ace your MBA application essays

Crafting an application essay for top-tier MBA programs can be an intimidating challenge. It requires not just hard work and commitment but also thorough research, accuracy, and clear articulation. The key to a successful application lies in making your essay stand out from the myriad of others. A popular method among applicants to achieve this uniqueness is the STAR writing format. STAR, which stands for Situation-Task-Action-Result, is a structured approach often used to address behavioral questions effectively.

Following a sequenced approach based on STAR writing format would earn for uniqueness and allow you to present your relevant skills more elaborately.

This article will share elaborate STAR approach strategies, STAR essays format, and dynamics of the STAR approach to ace your MBA application essays and personal statement.

STAR APPROACH TO ESSAY WRITING 

The STAR writing technique is a widely-used approach to organizing examples, whether it’s for crafting a CV, composing an achievement essay, filling out an application form, or responding to queries in an interview.

The STAR Writing format helps employers and admission councils evaluate the skills, qualities, and experiences you have that would help you fit with the job, program, company, or institution. 

While drafting achievement essays for your B-school application letters, remember that the two most crucial parts of the story are the actions you took on time and the results you achieved because of it.

The actions you describe offer a glimpse into how you handle specific situations, revealing your strengths and capabilities. The outcomes demonstrate your ability to effectively influence and execute the necessary actions when it matters most. Utilizing the STAR writing method in your application essays can serve as an effective tool to articulate your thoughts both clearly and concisely. 

FOLLOWING THE STAR WRITING FORMAT

The STAR writing format is a clever and bold way to approach a behavioral question presented at an interview which involves citing a situation, the task at hand, the action you took, and the subsequent results. 

While setting up the situation in your essay, try not to indulge in citing unnecessary details the school won’t be interested in; always keep in mind that you are elected to write essays for interviews. Moreover, avoid industry jargon and uncommon acronyms. 

Be precise when listing the tasks you were responsible for; you don’t have to add random details.

Amongst all, the action portion of your essay should be the lengthiest. It should clearly illustrate how you exceeded expectations if you can conclude with both quantitative and qualitative results and the impact you made, even better. 

STAR APPLICATION EXAMPLES

In the below paragraph, we would deal with different essay and interview questions commonly framed by top B-schools to get the most out of their candidates. 

Situation

Questions are precisely put to know any challenging situation you faced at your job or personal life and how you deal with it. This helps the admission council to understand what comes next and set expectations. Always remember that the admission council reviews a vast amount of highly qualified applicants, so the context is most important or else, you’ve lost them right out of the gate. 

Classically, the context you are giving is one of the problems at work. Typically such problems include hitting sales targets, quality control issues, or just plain dysfunction among team members. The stage is being set for you to come in and save the day. 

Explain the situation that you were faced with briefly. You could start sentences like: ‘during my degree’ or ‘while working in the company.’ Set up the situation for your reader as succinctly and clearly as possible. Leave out any “inside baseball” details that will bore the adcom. Remember, they want to learn about “what YOU did” and not about the intricate complexities of your organization, team, or client’s issues. 

Task 

Any job that your manager or team assigned you to resolve or improve the situation you described above can be counted as your “Task.” Moreover, suppose a manager didn’t give the task. In that case, it could work on your side as you can explain how you decided on accomplishing the task yourself – which is an excellent opportunity to showcase to the interviewer how you have the initiative to go beyond discrete tasks assigned to you by a higher up. Briefly, you also need to explain what you did and how you met the criteria for success. If it was group work, demonstrate the overall group task but mainly focus on your role since B-schools are looking for team players in their top candidates.

But if the opposite happens, they ask you to describe your most impressive accomplishment; they want to understand your complete orders. 

Action taken

This is the most substantial part of the essay writing method; action” is what you did to remedy that situation. It should cover around 55-70% of your article.  While writing a perfect action scenario, there are four significant questions that you should keep in mind:

Did you come up with a unique plan to turn sales around? Did you come up with an innovative manufacturing method that resolved the quality control issues? Did you talk to each of your teammates separately and motivate your team members to work constructively as a group? Make sure to tell admissions how you did all that, and this is what they are looking for.  

The Action section is where you should expand a bit more and use this chance to shine. First, explain what you did specifically, and ideally, show how you went above and beyond in your role. Then, you can finally wrap up the essay by revealing what Results you achieved. Moreover, if you somehow can quantify the results of the impact you made, even better.

Keep in mind that both qualitative and quantitative outcomes are essential to include, if possible. 

Before moving on to the next part in the STAR writing format, one specific word in the above paragraphs is highly imperative – “YOU.” 

Well, to be honest, this is a widespread mistake made over and over again, even with well-prepared applicants. The admissions council doesn’t care much about what the “team” did – they want to know what YOU did exclusively. They want to understand how much of a force you are for an innovative change, how you exercise your leadership, analytical, and communication skills, and how you implement all that. 

The Results 

Results” is the conclusion to your answer. Given the above context and given what you did to resolve it.

What happened afterward? Did those sales numbers go up after your idea? Did those quality issues were resolved? Did your team start getting along? All these questions are answered in the concluding part. 

Moreover, the critical thing to remember while writing the results section is to add data wherever possible. Mention the numbers in your answer; data input increases the relevancy of your essays. It’s crucial to show that there were indeed concrete results and that your actions made many differences.

 Quantify your results  

The numbers illustrate the amount of experience you have. Specific details count here; you should try to quantify your results. These numbers will also display your level of authority and responsibility. For example: “the sales number went up, directly helping to raise $15,000 for the organization and exceeding our goal by about 50%.” moreover, the numbers also illustrate the level generic, but of your success and the effectiveness of your actions

A positive outcome and happy ending will make your story more critical, establishing you as its star.

Using the STAR writing format to answer all your behavioral – make admissions life easy, as they are precisely looking for those things in an answer. Moreover, think of a handful of compelling examples and keep those at the top of your mind. Then, you can adapt those to polish your answers whenever you get hit with any behavioral questions. 

Last but not least, always remember that it should be YOU, not the team, not your manager, who should be doing the task; if you were a bystander in the actions you are describing, look for a better, more compelling example. 

HOW TO INCORPORATE THE STAR APPROACH IN YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT FOR AN MBA APPLICATION?

An MBA personal statement can also be defined as the goal statement or the statement of purpose. The personal statement is quite different from your regular application essays; it describes why you are a good fit for the MBA program.

To ace writing personal statements, you could follow a step-wise approach starting with your research about the school and the MBA program. Since research lays the foundation of good writing, it’s the most crucial aspect of writing a personal statement. 

The second step would be to focus on writing specific questions; you are not writing an autobiography. Write only those things which seem relevant from the council’s point of view. Don’t waste words or time on irrelevant information.

Proofreading and editing are the keys to success. However, no matter how well you draft your statement, a personal statement with lots of errors will never set a good example in front of the admissions council.

An indulging and exciting introduction is the place where you hook the readers. Make sure that you set the tone of the whole statement in the opening itself. An introduction is where most candidates are going to break away; you don’t need to elaborate. Just begin with specifics and make sure you aren’t beating around the bush. 

Following the tips mentioned earlier could help you write a near-perfect personal statement. Just keep in mind that you need a lot of practice before you could master the art of writing a perfect message. 

Moreover, suppose you want someone to assist you at our organization, “MBA and Beyond.” In that case, we provide you with college admissions essay samples written by our expert team of counselors and editors hailing from prestigious business schools.

We would provide you with personal statement samples, purpose samples, and application essay samples for college. Our team of experts is dedicated to helping you construct a unique essay — not one similar to other essays while following the STAR writing format. 

Frequently Asked Questions

01.

Why is the STAR method important?

Writing essays and drafting application letters for admission to a top B-school requires a lot of research work, creativity, and precision. Since the admissions council gets around thousands of application letters, the question arises what makes your letter better than anyone else? Following the STAR approach to describe a behavioral situation earns you points on the uniqueness. Also, even though many candidates are still following the STAR approach, your task, problem, action, and results may very well differ to a more considerable extent.

02.

How do you write the STAR Method?

The STAR writing Format follows a step-wise approach towards the behavioral questions enlisted in the B-school questionnaire. The entire essay is divided into four significant subtopics:

Situation

Task

Action

Results 

Also, while following the STAR Writing format, the action paragraph is suggested to be the longest, covering almost 55-70% of the essay. Also, try to quantify your results as numbers illustrate the degree of your success and the effectiveness of your action. 

03.

What is a star statement?

A STAR personal statement is meant to describe your goals and ambitions to the admissions council. incorporating the STAR Writing format in your personal statement helps you to follow a step-wise approach in describing your statement of purpose. The best suggestion to follow for writing a STAR statement is to keep it specific and to the point rather than wasting your words and space in mentioning topics deemed irrelevant to the admissions council.

04.

How do you use the STAR method on a job application?

The STAR approach can be used anywhere from writing essays and application letters to even final round interviews. Following the STAR approach helps make your content unique which is the most critical aspect for any selection round.

While filing a job application, always remember that the company looks for individual leadership qualities, analytical skills, and teamwork. The STAR approach can be beneficial in establishing a compelling example of yourself.

05.

What are STAR interview questions?

To be completely honest, the STAR interview comprises mainly of behavioral questions such as : Tell us about a specific situation where you needed to work beyond your discreet roles? What was the impact of your actions, and what was the final resolution of the dilemma outlined at the beginning of the story? These questions may look very generic, but answering any of them requires a lot of creativity, precision, clarity, and research work.

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