Darden is now accepting the MCAT or LSAT for applicants to its MBA programs! See here for quick discussion.
2019 Darden MBA Essay Questions – Class of 2022
Darden Round 1 is in 2 weeks, 2 days, 5 hours (October 4).
Darden’s Early Action round has already closed, and if you submitted then, congrats on getting a very early application done! We have interview prep resources available here and check out our category on the blahg on interviewing.
The Darden Class of 2021 boasts a 713 average GMAT, which is another indication of how competitive things have gotten even at “easier” schools! This is off their all-time high 717 from the prior year but still super impressive. (Their class profile is not labeled with which class it is; these data have been confirmed with the school.)
Wow, so much energy and momentum at this school. Darden has a lot going for itself right now!
But the MBA admissions essays at Darden? CHALLENGING! And there are a lot of them!
How do you answer them?
Darden short-answer questions
- The Batten Foundation Worldwide Scholarship provides all Darden students in our full-time MBA program with an opportunity to participate in a Darden Worldwide Course . If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to travel, and why? (100 words)
Eeek! 50 words is short!!! This Batten opportunity is one of many reasons why Darden is going to be of interest to more applicants these days, particularly international candidates. This answer needs to be concise (“Obv, ES.”). The most important part is the WHY — don’t be tempted to name somewhere exotic just to sound interesting. Have a credible reason to back up the answer! You’ll probably want to define your career goals first in order for this to at least not contradict what you say there. It doesn’t have to be directly related to your goals but it should make sense as part of a portfolio of answers.
- Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personal, professional, or both. (100 words)
Not convinced you can do “both” in 100 words but if you feel you can, then go for it! If not, then we’d kinda lean towards something personal on this question, provided it’s relevant to what you think your peers would find interesting. Remember your audience! Yes you’re writing this for the adcom’s consumption but the question is asked how you’d introduce yourself to your peers.
- What is your short-term, post-MBA goal and why? (150 words)
Pretty straightforward. Shouldn’t be that difficult to lay this out in the 150 words they’ve given you.
Darden slightly longer questions / almost-essays
- Darden strives to identify and cultivate responsible leaders who follow their purpose. Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (200 words)
Probably start with the “meaningful impact” first and identify which examples you’ve made an actual difference in life. Can be professional or from some type of community organization — but don’t be tempted to use a lighter-weight story from a volunteer experience only because it’s from volunteering. The “purpose” part is important but may not be the most important aspect to optimize for your answer. Figure out your strongest example of leadership. Built that out into a full story (should take about 150 words to do a tight, concise representation of the action). Then, examine that story and name three characteristics that it reveals about how you were successful and what leadership attributes it’s demonstrating. Easy? Nope. This one will cause you grief. 🙁
- Diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission, and they work best when they are an integral and celebrated part of our community. Read University of Virginia’s Diversity & Inclusion Vision Statement . Share a time in which you engaged with a perspective, identity, community or experience that was different from your own and how it impacted your worldview. (200 words)
Darden has focused on questions like this for a few years now – which isn’t a great surprise, given the events that happened in the Charlottesville community two years ago. They want to know how you’re flexible, open-minded, accommodating of other’s viewpoints, and willing to change. If you have a very stereotypical background or aren’t bringing in many markers of diversity within the standard demographics of your profile, this essay is an exceptional opportunity to help differentiate yourself. You don’t have to be a liberal ally; it’s fine if you hold conservative views. Just show how you’re willing to listen and change when faced with others’ perspectives. Our Darden application guide goes into great detail on this question.
At least one of those longer answers should be team-focused, where you feature your actions as part of a group context of some type. Leadership involves other people, right? Being influenced by factors of diversity involves engaging with at least on individual who is unlike you in some way. One or both of your stories need to show this. It’s the most fertile ground to explore for questions like these.
We’ve completely overhauled the Darden MBA Application Guide for 2019 — insights and advice on how to approach every single question, including the Batten Scholarship Essays!
If you decide to get some assistance on your Darden application, then we’re able to support you with all five of these questions through our Standard Essay Decimator MBA essay critique service. Normally that service allows for four essays total, however you’ll be able to combine your answer to Question 1 — 100 words on your learning team — and Question 2 — 50 words on where you want to travel through the Batten opportunity — into one file and submit that along with the other three answers in their own separate files (so, four files submitted together, with the first file containing two answers). Hope that flexibility helps you out! Click here for our Help FAQ topic on specific schools and how they’re supported through our Essay Decimator in 2019.
UVA Darden 2019 MBA Deadlines
Darden’s Early Action deadline is the first due date of any American school on a standard application schedule (having Sept/Oct and Jan rounds). Early Action at Darden works very similar to how Duke does it, except for Darden it’s not binding. The main advantage? You get your answer super quickly!! Find out your fate early and know if you have a seat in an MBA class locked up, or if you need to go back to the drawing board and re-examine your strategy. See Darden MBA Class of 2022 deadlines on their website and a full discussion of the advantages to Early Action — and possible implications for your overall application strategy — in our Darden MBA Application Guide.
- Early Action (non-binding):
September 3, 2019– and this is a REAL “early action” round! Darden is going to be issuing decisions on these EA apps super fast, which is a nice advantage, particularly since it’s non-binding. Duke is the only school that has a similarly-structured “early” process, yet theirs is binding (Columbia also has a binding “Early” option however their admissions is rolling, so it works differently). You need to get your butt to Charlottesville during their Open Interview period if you’re going to make the most of this opportunity!!!! Our Darden MBA guide explains all.
- Round 1: October 4, 2019 This option is totally fine and won’t put you at a significant disadvantage compared to Darden EA if you can’t pull everything together in time. Your decision will come in the same December timeframe that most other schools release Round 1 decisions. If you can, it would still help to do the Open Interview on campus in the summer, even if you choose a Round 1 or Round 2 application. If you don’t, then they’ll invite you to interview if they want to move forward with you. Assuming that part works the same as last year, then Darden Rd 1 interview invites should begin to come out at the tail end of November, and they can come all the way through the decision day in mid-December. They usually issue invitations to U.S. residents first; if you’re living here, you’re expected to travel to Charlottesville for your interview. The second wave is invites to international applicants, and those interviews are either with an alum local to you or via Skype with someone on campus.
- Round 2: January 6, 2020 – Unfortunately one of the earlier Round 2 deadlines which is a bummer, says EssaySnark (and future BSers). For Round 2, don’t expect interview invitations to start coming till well into February.
UVa Darden MBA RecommendationsDarden is using (pretty close to) standardized recommender questions in 2019.
UVA Darden and Standardized Tests
As of Class of 2022 applications, University of Virginia is now accepting the GMAT, the GRE, or the MCAT (for medical school) or LSAT (for law school) for applying to its MBA program. You don’t have to be trying for a joint-degree program to get into Darden with an LSAT or MCAT. Just report your score from whichever test(s) you’ve taken on the Darden application. They will be looking for similar qualities through the respective tests, mainly reasoning skills and overall intellectual ability. The tests need to have been taken within the past five years. If you are a non-traditional candidate who’s looking to go to bschool now, Darden would love to see an application from you! Remember that the first year core curriculum at any MBA program is quite quant-heavy, so it might be helpful to supplement your application with recent evidence of taking a quant-focused class like statistics, if you’re applying with an LSAT especially instead of the more typical MBA-specific scores. The MCAT does test for some math and so that will help the Darden admissions team, but it would still help to find ways to demonstrate quant skill elsewhere in your application.
Darden made our list of 5 favorite business schools back in Fall 2014! A *lot* has changed since then but we still are quite fond of them and are seeing positives happening on campus for all of you BSers to benefit from.
University of Virginia Darden MBA General Info
- Darden Admissions Blog
- Darden Admissions Tips Videos – that’s their previous Admissions Director talking about different essay questions but the info is still legit!
- @DardenMBA on Twitter
- Darden full-time MBA class profile (GMAT score is now
718– gulp! ADJUSTED TO 717 for Class of 2020 but that’s still incredible!)
Our 2019 Darden guide was rewritten practically from the ground up to help you with this year’s unique essay questions – pick it up now and get started!
from the EssaySnark blahg:
- “evolving leadership style” Darden essay (December 2018)
- more on Darden’s evolving leadership style essay (December 2018)
- Too much professional feedback – aka, I screwed something up! (December 2015)
- Darden’s “most important professional feedback” essay (December 2015)
- essay critique: challenging situation – written for the 2013 app but comments still relevant today (December 2014)
- essay critique: Darden courageous professional decision (August 2014)
- essay critique: Darden challenging work situation (September 2013)
- Rare opportunity: feedback available from Darden (June 2011)
- essay critique: How will you contribute? (May 2011)
- adcoms that we trust part 2 (October 2010) and The one less traveled by: DARDEN (December 2010)
Also useful: A local’s guide to the best 29 restaurants in Charlottesville! 2016 edition
For Reference: Darden’s Past-Season Questions
Included in case anyone wants to see what UVA asked before.Click to view 2018 questions
2018 Darden Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis
Here’s what we said when last year’s questions came out…
While we didn’t manage to update the DArden guide for 2018, it was actually still totally on point! Almost all of the 2018 questions had been asked before, and are already covered in the existing version from last season. We also posted specifically about the “evolving leadership style” Darden prompt here and a follow-up post on Christmas Eve here!
Average GMAT at Darden is a new record – up five points to 718 for the Class of 2020. It’s likely to still be reasonably competitive here (relatively speaking) – you may want to leverage our Darden MBA Essay Guide to better understand why.
The Darden application seems to be very different this year but really it’s not. They’ve asked similar questions to these for a long time! They just buried most of them within the application itself. For the 2018 Class of 2021 app, they’ve made all of them more visible and they’re now inviting you to craft your application strategy more directly around this suite of questions (which is what EssaySnark has long advised our clients to do! Even the 2017 version of our SnarkStrategies Guide for Darden covers many of these questions, since most are not technically new this year).
Darden short-answer questions
- Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personal, professional or both. (100 words)
We’d kinda lean towards something personal on this question, provided it’s relevant to what you think your peers would like to hear about you in your first introduction to them.
- Each year, Darden connects with over 80 countries. If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to go with Darden? And why? (50 words)
Eeek! 50 words is short!!! This one needs to be concise. The most important part is the WHY — don’t be tempted to name somewhere exotic just to sound interesting. Have a credible reason to back up the answer!
Darden slightly longer questions / mini-essays
- Darden strives to identify and cultivate leaders who follow their purpose. At this stage, how would you describe your evolving leadership style and please provide an example. (200 words)
This one is likely to be the most difficult of all of these to answer, both because it’s so hard to identify one’s “leadership style” but also and especially when you’re given only 200 words!! It’s kind of mean to limit it so severely. What we suggest? Instead of a drawn-out explanation to define your leadership style, identify two to three adjectives that capture it. The best way to do that? Figure out your strongest example of leadership. Built that out into a full story (should take about 150 words to do a tight, concise representation of the action). Then, examine that story and name three characteristics that it reveals about how you were successful and what leadership attributes it’s demonstrating. Easy? Nope. This one will cause you grief. 🙁
- Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (200 words)
By contrast, you should do just fine with 200 words on this one — it’s very possible to construct a powerful story that shows how you brought results in a significant way in that much space! This question seems to be open to you as an independent contributor adding value, but it’s not limited only to that. Obviously you need a different example here than you’ve used for the “leadership style” question.
- What is your short-term, post-MBA career goal and why? (150 words)
A classic career goal question, nearly identical to what some other schools like Ross ask this year. This one should be straightforward! Pro Tip: The “why” part is the most important piece.
[end discussion of 2018 questions]
Click to view 2017 questions
2017 Darden Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis
Average GMAT at Darden is a new record at 713, even on a slightly larger class. Percent women, percent international, and percent U.S. minority all went DOWN however.
“When preparing for class at Darden, students formulate an opinion on each case before meeting with their learning teams and class sections. When encountering different views and perspectives from their own, opinions frequently shift. Tell us about a time when your opinion evolved through discussions with others.”
This is a VERY challenging question that Darden is asking! This is somewhat similar to what some other schools are asking about how your perspective has changed based on differences with others. This question is ideal for a discussion of any cross-cultural experiences you have had — or, what about politics? They’re clearly inviting you to talk about how you have been open-minded and flexible and receptive to others’ ideas (or even better, a time when you were not! and you had to change!).
The most important advice we can offer is don’t just make this a conceptual or intellectual discussion. Instead, the best way to present your story of how your opinion evolved is to show what you did differently as a result. We will go into a full layout of ideas, pitfalls and opportunities for this question in the Darden MBA essay guide (which we will be updating soon!).
See discussion of past season Darden application questions below to gain insight into what they cares about and trigger some ideas for how to handle this year’s essay. Darden also appears to have overhauled its website (at least, it’s way better than we recall from the last time we saw it); there is a lot of info and it’s clearly laid out in easy to follow sections. Be sure to study the information they’re offering to you there.
Darden also typically has some important questions within the application itself. We discuss those in the Darden application guide.
How do you write an essay about getting your perspective changed?!?? Well, we’ve got some ideas!!
[end discussion of 2017 questions]
Click to view 2016 questions
2016 Darden Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis
For the Class of 2019 they used the same question as the prior year (2015).
Describe the most important professional feedback you have received and how you responded to this feedback. (500 words maximum)
Darden’s 2016 essay question was clearly inspired by the standard questions that some schools are asking of recommenders.
When Sara Neher introduced this question she offered this advice:
Warning: If your essay topic even remotely resembles the example she gave…. that’s not gonna be so great for you.
See discussion of past season Darden application questions below if you want to understand what they’ve asked before – that can often give you insight into what a school cares about, and may even trigger some ideas for how to handle this year’s essay.
Darden also typically has some important questions within the application itself. We discuss what those have been in past years in the Darden application guide, which is a great opportunity for you to prepare some meaningful answers both for the application dataset and also potentially for your interview experience.
You probably want to go for our 2016 Darden MBA essay guide which includes a complete discussion of best practices (and some gotchas to avoid!).
[end discussion of 2016 questions]
Click to view 2015 questions
2015 Darden Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis
Describe the most important professional feedback you have received and how you responded to it. (500 words maximum)
Now here’s a question that allows you to show your maturity! It’s also a really hard question to answer (at least, to answer well!).
You should be aware that this one essay isn’t the extent of the writing you’ll do for Darden. They also typically have some questions within the application itself.Darden had (pretty close to) standardized recommender questions in 2015.
You just need to warn your recommenders about an error in the Darden process!
So EssaySnark is on bschool QA duty today? Heads up @DardenMBA: The email your app sends to recommenders has LAST YEAR'S DEADLINES in it.
— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 28, 2015
We don’t know if it’s been fixed.
[end discussion of 2015 questions]
Click to view 2014 questions
2014 Darden Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis
Describe the most courageous professional decision you have made or most courageous action you have taken at work. What did you learn from that experience? (500 words maximum)
NOTE 6/25/14: The words in bold above were ADDED after the question was originally posted on the Darden website . PAY ATTENTION TO THOSE WORDS WHEN YOU’RE FIGURING OUT WHAT TO TALK ABOUT IN YOUR ESSAY!
This question is a great change 2014 and it’s also a very refreshing alternative to the trend that’s been happening with other schools that have few essays all focused on goals and the school. This question actually a) will make you do some thinking, to come up with a great story, and b) has the potential to let you share something interesting and useful for the Darden adcom.
Bravo to Sara Neher and her team for this.
More bravo to Sara for this: “How to Approach Darden’s 2014-15 Essay Question”
Man, we almost don’t need to update the essay guide, when we get great stuff like this from the adcoms!
(But of course, we did!)
[end discussion of 2014 questions]
Click to view 2013 questions
2013 Darden Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis
Here’s what we said when the 2013 questions came out.
UVA has had just one essay in its MBA app for years. Here is this year’s version:
Share your thought process as you encountered a challenging work situation or complex problem. What did you learn about yourself? (500-word limit)
They also have some questions within the application itself. Note: They don’t want you to talk about why you want to go to Darden in these answers. Instead, for each one, be sure to ANSWER THE QUESTION exactly as asked.
[end discussion of 2013 questions]
Click to view 2012 questions
2012 Darden Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis
Here’s what they asked before — obviously this is very old!
- Share your thought process as you encountered a challenging work situation or complex problem. How did this experience change your perspective?
[end discussion of 2012 questions]