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MBA Essays: How to write essays within the word limit

In an earlier post, we had talked about why MBA essay word counts are important and why you should not overshoot (or for that matter, undershoot) those word limits. That brings up the logical next question – what can you do to ensure that the tedious and frustrating process of knocking out sections from your fully drafted essay can be minimised.

There are no right or wrong ways to do this and you might have already thought about how you want to approach it. For those who don’t want to spend time on discovering and fine-tuning an approach, here’s a quick start.

How do I go about writing essays keeping word count in mind?

Before you even start writing, carry out this exercise:

– Think of a high level structure for your essay
– Jot down short (2-3 word) phrases that highlight the key idea you want to present.
– Depending on your natural style of creating sentences, think of an average number of words you’d need to expand on each idea.

Bang! You get a rough idea of how long your essay will be with minimal effort. If the estimated word count seems too less, you know you can include a few extra ideas. If it’s too much, drop a few less important ideas.

Sounds too simple? Flawed? Probably, yes. But it can be a good start for the following reasons:

– It’s a great way to visualise what the end product might look like with very little effort.

– Discarding an idea or in fact re-changing the basic structure itself will be easier and less painful than throwing away big chunks of text and many hours of writing.

Once you’ve frozen on the skeleton, then start adding muscle to it. Form sentences around each idea and make it ready for human consumption. This will be your starting draft and it’ll undergo revisions as you chisel away or add to the essay.

Throughout that process, you need to have a rough estimation of the word allocation for each section right from the initial drafts or you would be faced with another challenge of cutting down the size of your essays at the last minute.

With each review cycle, you’ll find your essays in a better shape and in sync with the word count with every round of essay-editing.

Some go to extreme lengths in restructuring sentences so that the use of commonly used articles like ‘a’, ‘an’ or ‘the’ are minimised. In Indian English the end result may sound ok, but when an international reviewer is going through it…tauba tauba! If you are thinking of doing the same, ensure that it does not affect the overall flow and the impression you are making on the reader.

Focus on enhancing the readability rather than mechanically trying to bring the word count down.

Time to put the theory into action now!

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

5 thoughts on “MBA Essays: How to write essays within the word limit”

  1. Hey

    I am a second year student at University of Delhi (pursuing Bcom Hons).
    10th – 9.6 CGPA
    12th – 97%
    I’d like to know if I should opt for work experience first and MBA later or get into a B School in India, gain some work experience and probably pick up executive MBA abroad.

    Please suggest?

  2. Hi Sameer,

    My name is Sarang and have overall 5+ years of IT experience working in India. I am close to 28 years now. At this stage, I am experiencing not much growth in terms of my career and looking to pursue MS course particularly MIS from US. Ultimately, I wish to settle abroad. Currently, I am trying for PR visa and if that does not work out, then I would go for MS program.

    What are the possibilities and prospects for me to pursue higher studies at this experience level? Which countries should I target for? I come from middle class family.

    Kindly guide me for this career path.

  3. hello sir
    I m now in final semester of my master degree in biotechnology from jamia hamdard nad have attained my (h) in microbiology from delhi university.I am keen to take up my phd anywhere in abroad with scholarships or fundings . Would you please guide me which countries are good ..

  4. @Karishma: We always suggest getting some work experience before going for an MBA. No point in getting another theoretical degree, right?

    @Sarang: Applicants with your experience usually prefer an MBA, as opposed to MS which attracts students with lesser experience. If that’s what you decide on, here’s a list of countries to think about:

    @Sudhisha: Choose the country where you want to work after studying. Read this article about the job scenario for PhD students:


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