This post has been marked as OLD. EssaySnark's advice and strategies for winning MBA applications don't change from year to year, but some of the school-specific admissions policies, essay questions, or other information covered in this article may be outdated.
Pro Tip: If you’re struggling on how to cut back a too-long essay, today’s post may help!
There’s this style of writing that many of us were taught somewhere back in high school that’s actually not so great. It’s common in certain public speaking courses too.
The method they say to use is this:
- First, tell them what you’re going to tell them.
- Then, tell them.
- Then, tell them what you told them.
You know what?
That method sucks.
When you’re writing essays, you should just say what you’re gonna say.
There simply isn’t enough space in your essays to do otherwise.
Here’s a little snippet to illustrate what we mean:
DOH! The video of a Parks & Rec snippet with Perd Hapley doing a news segment has been taken down!!! BUMMER!
You only have to watch 5 seconds of that; if you watch longer, you risk it being NSFW.
We tried to find it elsewhere on the net but failed. 🙁 The gist of it was, he is a newscaster and he introduced a news segment with essentially the sequence, “This is what I’m going to talk to you about now…. Now I’m talking to you about it…. That was what I wanted to talk to you about.”
Don’t do it that way.
Yes you need an intro. Yes you need a conclusion. But those should contain information. They shouldn’t be high-level fluff fests.
Please, people. Just say what you’re gonna say.
If, in revising your essay, after you are confident that you’ve got the right topic for the question, you discover multiple sentences that are saying basically the same thing, well guess what? You probably don’t need both of them! Keep the one that actually says the thing. Ditch the one that’s giving a soft ramp-up introduction to it.
Sometimes, in writing your first draft, you need to write for awhile before you figure out what you’re saying. The “write for awhile” stuff is sometimes called “throat-clearing,” like when you stand up to give a presentation and it takes a minute for you to get your voice all primed and ready to start. Then, once you’re rolling with it, it all flows naturally and it’s meaningful.
That throat-clearing thing is fine for a first draft.
When you’re on your final polish draft, there should be no more throat-clearing. It should just be smooth sailing, each sentence there to serve a purpose in conveying your message of gold.
(C’mon, let EssaySnark have a little fantasy there. “Message of gold.” We can dream, can’t we?)
It doesn’t matter that Columbia allows 750 words for Essay 1. (Update: As of 2017 versions of the Columbia questions, it’s 500 words.) You don’t need to use all 750 words allotted to you – and if you do, they’d best be pulling their weight and earning their keep. Every single one of ’em.
If they’re not, take an axe to ’em.
Chop chop chop!
Ah. Don’t you feel better now?