Essay Analysis
Important Dates

Round 1


Round 2


Round 3


View School Profile

September 4, 2023

London Business School Masters In Finance
Full-Time Masters In Finance


One word: Juggernaut. You guys familiar with that idea? To essentialize it: “unstoppable force.” Something that has a kind of momentum that seems to have a will of its own. That’s what we want here. The sense, through the way you articulate your objectives, and the action you’ve taken and are taking, that you’re not just ideas and words, but you’re a runaway train, barreling toward your objective. For many folks in life, graduate school is a fallback plan. An expensive “reset” button because real life wasn’t catapulting them toward fame and wealth as they’d hoped. They don’t want that guy. They want the guy for whom this program IS the catapult. The guy for whom the plans for “fame and wealth” or “whatever else compels them” requires a Masters in Finance as a key missing piece. That final piece of track connecting one side of the bridge to the other, so that your runaway train can sail forward smoothly.

Above all else, your plan needs to make a ton of sense. The best way to gut-check this is to run it by actual “finance” people. Colleagues, bosses, mentors, folks who are in “the know” and know exactly how people “on the inside” think, and behave. If your plan makes sense in a theoretical world, but doesn’t scan in “the real world,” admissions committees will know that you’re more dreamer than doer. If you’ve cut your teeth in this universe though, and kinda have a sense for how it all works, how people maneuver within a company, between companies, progress in the industry, advance their careers toward bigger and better things, it’ll show in the way you lay out your plan. Now is NOT the time to get creative, and force the admissions committee to have to imagine that your plan MAY be viable. It needs to be bulletproof. And it should read like a military operation, with every step making perfect logical sense with respect to the one before and after it.

In fact, in keeping with that analogy, your plan (like any good one), must have some viable alternatives. Assume your “A” plan hits an unforeseeable bump. You’re not gonna pack it in and go home and sulk, right? You’re gonna find another pathway toward your goal. Walk us through it. And then do it again. Show us that whatever curveball life throws your way, you’re poised to make an adjustment and swat the ball into play, somewhere.

As for geography, this will have everything to do with your specific goals. Again, it will benefit you to have spoken with an expert in this area, who knows exactly how the industry works, and whether the language you use to articulate your plan jibes with how THEY on the other side experience it. That guy/gal has a better chance of succeeding than the one who simply has [1] the wherewithal, and [2] an excellent plan in THEORY, that doesn’t quite sit perfectly with the game on the ground.

As structure, let’s break it down:

  1. Explain quickly where it’s headed, big-picture. And why. Without getting side-tracked, SELL us on this larger vision you have for yourself. It’ll make your shorter-term battle plan stick better if we’ve bought into the idea that you have a solid RUDDER. [75-100 words]
  2. Now, take us through a very PRACTICAL battle plan for, say, 3-5 years after your Masters. Where are you headed within that time frame, and what are all the utterly logical steps between you and that goal? More important than your actual plan, is that you convey here that you “are the type who will always have a smart plan.” So, this is where you can EXPOSE some of the calculations BEHIND your decisions, don’t just zoom to all the conclusions. We wanna see how you GOT there, because therein lies the window into your ANALYTICAL NERVE CENTER. Hit us with Plan A first. [125-150 words]
  3. Now, wow us with your alternative plans, but more so than simply tick the box that you “have a backup plan,” find a way to convince your “investor” that come hell or high water, you’re gonna find a way to get it done. See the difference? It isn’t to sell us on the strength of your backup plan(s). Rather, it’s to fill us with confidence that if you were to stumble 99 times, you still have plenty of gears to go to in order to succeed, because SUCCESS is etched into your DNA. You can achieve this by exposing “just how much thought you’ve given this,” addressing viable bumps that may await you. And to do it with confidence, and steadiness. [125 words]
  4. Finally, hit us with the geography piece, fleshing out even in more detail, why you wish to end up where you hope to end up. Explain this in two ways: [1] in a way that makes professional sense, of course, but also [2] in a way that fits in with your personal wants and tastes, enough to convince us that you are likely to THRIVE within this setting. Sell us on it. Don’t force the issue, but convince us that your “plant” will “thrive” in this environment. Is there evidence of it in your past that’ll help us see it? Great, bring it. [100 words]
  5. Now, they haven’t explicitly asked for it, but it may help your case to explain quickly why you aren’t just lunging at this plan right now. What’s missing in your skillset? Why spend the time earning a degree? If you do this right, your inevitability for success should leap off the page, such that LBS will want to ENABLE you, thus doing THEMSELVES a favor. In other words, try not to be beseeching when explaining what you need. Posture more like “listen, I’m gonna get this missing piece no matter what. It’ll be in YOUR best interest that it happen under your roof.” [50 words or so, either at the end here, or organically earlier, when discussing your short-term plans.]


Adding value. Hm. In order to hit this precisely, it helps to imagine the DELTA between this program [1] Without You, compared to the program [2] With You. The difference between those two things needs to (a) exist (ha!), but (b) be. . . meaningful. Enough for someone on the other side to say, well, we much prefer Scenario 2 over Scenario 1 because we’re clearly better off in Scenario 2. Now, “clearly” doesn’t always mean measurably. And that’s where it gets challenging. But that’s where you need to SELL like a champ, and persuade.

Start by getting a bit real. Say to yourself (even if it hurts a bit) that the difference between you and most of your competition isn’t really all that great. The stuff that any single individual brings to the table. . . I mean, how much impact on a program can one guy make, right? It’s not gonna be a big thing, in all likelihood. It may be a little thing. A subtle thing. Something you’ve experienced at work that few others have, the insider experience of which, when shared, can add value. But value, how? Be able to articulate it. Or perhaps there’s an aspect to your upbringing/childhood/schooling/work experience (cultural, geographic, other such influences) that makes your approach to something that’s otherwise conventional… somehow different. And in that difference, lies that competitive edge that makes you more likely to add value than the guy without that background. Whatever your angle is, it will help your case to be able to illustrate the precise way in which it has made a difference in YOUR life, and therefore, how that might have a ripple effect when introduced to others pursuing the same general field.

Another neat trick here is to invert the question entirely, and to think back to a moment when you have personally benefitted from the influence of a colleague, or peer, or superior, or subordinate. Identify what that “learning” was. Now, find an analog trait that YOU possess (or some kind of unique perspective through background or experience, whatever) that you believe can similarly impact someone else, or a community of folks. You may never need to draw upon the initial example, but it can help kickstart the juices.

Now, apply that to specific areas of the program that you feel you’ll be able to impact the most. Part of this will be that “thing” you’ve identified above, the source of the value you have to contribute. But that’s gonna be worthless unless it’s accompanied by the WILL to wanna share it. This is where you need to sell us on your enthusiasm for LBS, and specific opportunities that you cannot WAIT to engage with. Prove to us that this isn’t just the thing you say in an application, but “the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.” Don’t just name-drop clubs and activities and programs. Show us that you know way more about than what’s listed on a website. Show us that you’ve dug deep, talked to alums, explored it in surprisingly aggressive ways; show us you mean business!


  1. A great way to attack an essay like this is to explain what you’re looking for in “an ideal program.” Leave LBS out of it for now. Just imagine you’re being asked to “paint” the ideal program on a magical canvas. Explain why THESE opportunities at this ideal place “bring out the best in you.” Cite evidence from your past. This is an important stage-setting maneuver. [100-125 words]
  2. Now, explain how SPECIFIC OPPORTUNITIES A B and C (maybe two or three examples max) at LBS map perfectly to whatever you laid out in Section 1. Walk us through your plan for engaging, explaining how your interaction here may go beyond the casual applicant’s. Sell us on the impact/value you’re planning on dropping. [150-175 words]

Learn more and explore each step of LBS’s Masters in Finance application process here.

Read More

July 7, 2021


What are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business School programme contribute towards these? (500 words)

This is the exact same question as last year, and more or less, the same question as the last few years. If you were to look at previous versions (“What will your future look like after completing your MBA?”) and compare it to these slightly tweaked versions (“What are your post-MBA plans and how will your prior experience and the London Business School programme contribute?”), it’s not hard to catch the vapors coming off of the LBS adcom:

“Let’s just ask the question we want to ask a bit more directly…”

What does this mean for you as the applicant? Give them what they want: a clear, precise, well-argued case for what you hope to succeed in, and why you will be successful (based on your past experiences combined with an LBS MBA). That’s all, folks. If you accomplish those two things, everything extra (“a novel idea,” “a big goal with big upside,” “a socially-responsible and inspiring vision,” etc.) will be just that… “extra.”

Most people will miss the KEY to this essay by packing too much stuff in. Slow down, take it one simple step at a time, and get the key stuff NAILED down first (you’ll be 98% done at that point).

Now, here’s the danger of going too far with Part I of the question (the GOAL part) without considering how Part II supports it. If you pitch an incredible idea/vision for the future, but have limited ability to back it up with evidence in your past experiences that convinces us that you have the necessary chops to execute on that idea… the idea may sound tasty, but it won’t be worth the risk for an elite MBA program. Remember, elite MBA programs rely on PLACEMENT statistics. Things like “how many students from the graduating class end up… employed” end up making XXX dollars in their first X years out of school, etc. Why? This affects their rankings, and rankings affect the caliber of student drawn to their program, which in turn affects the school’s ability to churn out success stories that juice those stats that then improve rankings and the future caliber of… you see how the cycle works.

So, MBA programs prefer SURE THINGS to high-volatility applicants. Given all that, the best chance you have of proving future success is to point to evidence in your PAST of success in a similar arena. Now, typically this means success in ROLE and INDUSTRY X and then pitching future success that is essentially an EXTENSION of those two things. If you’re a marketing maven, then you may have a hard time painting a picture of yourself as a logistics whiz. “Why should we believe that you will be successful here?” they will ask. This is why industry/career switches tend to be red flags, unless you’re able to convincingly draw a crystal clear connection between your success in the past and your future goals.

Start there: looking back at your career, what have you done? What have you achieved? What are you good at? What MAKES you good at the things you’re good at? Isolate it, hone in, be able to describe this to someone in ONE sentence.

“I’m the person who can mobilize a team of 50 people on ten continents.”

“I’m the person who can take ten departments’ confused and contradictory initiatives, and seamlessly cohere them into a winning, universally beneficial, perfectly aligned strategy.”

“I’m the person who…”

Find evidence in your past. Be messy at first, list ten chaotic forms of support. But then sharpen it, boil it down to three defining MOMENTS. Three episodes, where your actions PAINT A PICTURE of the value you brought.

Once you have that piece LOCKED, now we can cook up a “plan” that is a mouth-watering EXTENSION of it. Now we’re willing to go wherever you take us. If you’re Elon Musk, and you give us your resume, you better believe we will be interested when you tell us “I have an idea for how to revolutionize public transportation in third world countries.” If your background is in sales, however, we’re less interested in your “Big Idea.”

As you’re building your “post-MBA plans,” focus less on the flash of the idea, and more on the strategy behind EXECUTING it. Show us how well-thought-out the plan is. Do this with detail. Do this with evidence that walks us through how each step is necessary for the next one. Practical, pragmatic, bulletproof. This is the plan that excites MBA adcoms. You want them to say “this person is going to be successful.” Or “this person has success written all over them.”

You don’t want them to say “Wow, this is an absolutely brilliant and inspired idea! … I’m just not entirely sure s/he’s gonna pull it off.” That reaction is a potential death sentence.

Here’s the structure that’ll keep you very safe for your first pass:

  1. Hit us with a high-level sense of what kind of ISSUE or PROBLEM you hope to fix. Or an OPPORTUNITY you’re hoping to take advantage of. Quickly provide this background (sentence or two, max). Explain why solving this (or executing on the opportunity) isn’t easy. Explain why this hasn’t been done a million times successfully already. Then explain (super high-level) what your idea is. What your big picture plans are.
  2. Now take us through the story of how this all came into play. What’s the backstory? Where did you start, where did you cut your teeth? And most importantly, show us the evidence as you take us through the KEY NODES of your past, of your value. Don’t just rehash your resume. Present value-defining ACTIONS that made it very clear what made/makes you valuable.
  3. Now that we’re sold on how credible you are in this arena, give us a more detailed walk-through of your plans, showing us exactly how you plan on achieving each step. Details, specificity, show us how much thought went into it by convincing us that there are no holes.
  4. Last but not least, spend just a little bit of time making an argument for why LBS, of all the business schools on Earth, provides a few UNIQUE opportunities to propel you toward success. Don’t just explain that it’s a good B-School, or that you’re interested in LBS. You need to isolate a few idiosyncrasies of the LBS offerings, class, or setup that somehow IMPROVES the probability that you will succeed as compared to, say, HBS, Stanford, or Wharton. The coolest test to give yourself (embrace this conceit!) is to imagine getting offer letters from Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, and LBS. Make a case for why you would TURN DOWN the other three and go to LBS. All it takes is two or three bulletproof reasons and you’re home free.

August 4, 2019

Additional Information (Optional) Essay

Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School? (500 words)

Read our team’s complete take on the idea of the optional essay, including a brief (recent) history of b-schools’ relationship with it, and how our recommendations have evolved over the years, right here.

View more essay analyses.

Need help with your
essay writing?

We got you.

View Our Services