Okay, This might be an old news..(precisely 2 weeks old) But as I checked the ISB site 2 days back, I found that the application-portal is up and the essays are out as well. As some of the regular visitors of the blog may know, ISB is one school that never left my list since I decided to go for an MBA..So  I guess I need to get my grey cells charged to attack the essays with full might..

The essays this year have changed completely and i guess ISB is perhaps the only school that comes up with new essays every year. And the pattern is unique too!! This year too they continued with their 3 300-word essay norm. Here’re the three essay questions:
1) Please give three reasons why ISB should admit you into the class of 2010. These reasons should ideally differentiate you from your competition. (300 words max)
2) You are contesting the election to be the President of the ISB Student Body. Write a speech you will deliver to the student body on why they should elect you as the President?
3) CASE : You have been appointed to head the team to build a dam across the River Zumba. Success in this project is critical for your company and would earn you a promotion. Failure would mean that your company would be bankrupt and will take along with it, its investors and its employees. Building a dam across the river would result in deforestation of a portion of the rainforests and would mean relocation of the tribals and destabilization of wild life at Zumba. There is resistance from environmental groups against your project. You are meeting the head of the resistance movement in one hour wherein you would have to explain your decision. Describe what you would do and why? (You will be evaluated on the creativity and practicality of your solution). (300 words max)

I don’t find myself getting too impressed with the questions.. I’m surprised to see the goals-essay absent yet again. However repetitive and common that may be, but I feel the goals-essay is very important to judge a candidate’s sense of direction and judgement.
Further I feel that though the essays help you let your imaginations free and think creatively, (I guess in this field only essays from Haas are the closest match.), still it does not give you many chances to delve into your past and quote from your personal experiences. And with 300 words each, I guess ISB is quite stingy. (Particularly First essay: three differentiators in 300 words!! ). And though, it’s a great idea to have a case as one of the essay questions, but I find data a bit insufficient for Q3.

I’m not indulging in ISB-bashing here (as one of my friends termed it when I discussed this with him.) ISB was and still is one of my favourite schools.. But just didn’t like the questions much..

In any case, it’s a level playing field.. If data is insufficient for me, it’s insufficient for every other candidate. If I find word-limit a bit harsh, same limit holds for others too.. Further,with the applications to the school multiplying every year, perhaps it’s not that easy to go ahead with the longer essays.. And perhaps by designing these unique Qs,ISB wants to eliminate the reuse of essays written for other schools, thereby making sure that only candidates genuinely interested in the school apply..

One good thing is that the R2 deadline has been shifted to  December 1. (from Nov 15 last year) I’ve decided to app in R2 because I need to have something to compare with if and when I get an offer from ISB. As per the schedule, R1 results will be out by mid-November, which means that by that time, I’d not have even got my app reviewed at most of the schools, if I app in R1. So R2 it is for ISB!

BTW, I’m not finding many of my blogger-pals interested in ISB.. Are there any?? Do leave a comment here??

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17 Responses to “ISB essays are out!!”

  1. S says:

    Hey! This year’s Qs at ISB seem better than last year – I particularly liked the last Q. Too bad these questions didn’t come out last year. However I feel that applying in R2 would be a mistake esp given the fact that you belong to the extra-stretched applicant pool of IIM. Go ahead and apply in R1. If you get the admission and are required to pay up the deposit, then go ahead and do so. If you decide not to take it, then just pretend it was money donated for a good cause. A classmate from my bschool also paid up the deposit etc and then chose the US bschool over ISB. So I’d advice that it’s better to go with R1 which traditionally has lesser number of people applying, so as to give your candidature a leg up in the race.

  2. ahembeea says:

    Hey, I msged you on gtalk, lets discuss whenever we find each other online. I’m applying to ISB as well.

  3. […] 2009 BusinessWeek forum thread – for now, at least! Getting back on track, Missionmba examined the Indian School of Business’ unconventional essays – which even include a case study – and what he’s dubbed their “stingy” word […]

  4. missionmba says:

    Thanks for ur inputs.
    I agree wth u.. The questions surely r better than the last year’s.
    Regarding apping in R1, not really sure whether right now,I’m in a position to donate 2 Lakhs even for a good cause. But surely, I’d to ponder over ur advice b4 deciding whether to go for R1 or take the risk for R2,,

  5. Kiran says:

    have few comments abt the decision to apply in R2…
    after following your blog for past some time, i felt
    that ISB is one of target no.1, in that case why dont go for R1 …
    i heard chances are high if you go for r1 unless u have a spectacular profile..

  6. missionmba says:

    Thanls for the inputs Kiran..
    Yes, ISB is a school that I’d love to attend, but it isn’t my target #1.
    But surely after getting advice from many corners against deferring my application to R2, I believe I need to give it a serious thought.

  7. Anupam says:

    well shobhit, in my view, securing a seat at ISB won’t be a bad idea even if you have to pay the an amount to confirm your seat.

    later if you have an admit in other school and you have to withdraw your seat from ISB, you won’t regret that you paid to them before (i’m sure your joy of getting a better school will prevail)..

    and in any case, you will always have an option to compare.

    go for a killer application in round 1.

    I’m applying for R1 too. last year reject. attempting GMAT once again (have 690). might need your help..


  8. upinder says:

    i am also not so enthused with the essays that isb has come up with but had to live with it.Like to discuss the same with you al online.

  9. Saurabh says:

    Is there anybody from Delhi who is applying to B Schools this year? May be we can help each other on eassay, keep motivating each others and also manage timelines better.

  10. Ruchir says:

    Hi There

    Well am new to the blog, and am planning to apply this year to R1..any ideas what might be a good gmat scroe to apply…this questions has as many diff answers as people….

    my gmat is 31st aug….


  11. Pranay says:


    Even I have the same dilemma of whether to apply in R1 or in R2. After speaking with a few people who have passed out from ISB and a few who are with ISB this year, I was told to apply in R1 as you have a better chance in R1 as compared to that in R2.

    So, 2 lakhs shouldn’t matter than much once you get a good admit in some college abroad.

    Let me know your thoughts on this.


  12. missionmba says:

    Hey Pranay
    For me, it’s final.. I’m apping in R2 for sure..

    2 lakhs may not matter in long term; but it means a lot to me, if I need to take this amount of my meagre savings :((

    This purely is a personal decision and has to be taken considering your own financial situation.. If you think you can manage to take out 2 Lakhs, go ahead and app in R1!!

  13. swetha says:

    hey. how important is the GMAT score in the admission process at ISB? I have an excellent work ex record, that I’m proud of, but my gmat stinks. what are my chances? will they even read my essay?

  14. missionmba says:

    For Indian IT Males, GMAT scores matters very much. From your name, I can make out that the first condition applies to you, third does not. Much will depend on whether u r from IT.. :-)In case, u feel u have some scope of improvement, by all means retake the test..

    That said, honestly speaking, there’re not many of us who can say that they’re proud of their work.. So if you’ve really very compelling stories from work and beyond, may be you can get thru..

    BTW, I’m almost sure of one thing.. They’re gonna read u essay even if your score is <600..

    Gud luck!!

  15. JT says:

    Go all out on your essays… however, with the limited info in Essay 3.. I really don’t see how easy it’s going to be to give a creative and practical solution.. sigh.. got to really mull over this one.. hmm..

  16. BP says:

    Hi All,

    I have a 660 on my GMAT, with good acads and work-ex (10+ yrs mostly international in US). Although I belong to the IT services department, my job role involves a lot of business interaction as well.

    Any thoughts on my chances of an admit into ISB? Is retaking and improving on my GMAT a must at this point?

  17. SVK says:

    Hi All,

    Its interesting to read the queries and replies on this thread, it seems to be helpful. So couldn’t resist myself from floating my query.

    >I have 3 yrs (1+ in US) of exp. and GMAT score of 540, what are the chances..?
    >I am keen to know institutes other than ISB and IIMs that accept GMAT score and have an course structure to address ‘Foriegn trade policy’

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