ISB – Complete Analysis

Gauri Khatri

Gauri Khatri

Founder, Pegasus Global Consultants

ISB is a dream destination for many MBA aspirants and besides a good GMAT score an applicant needs to exhibit brilliance in academics, essays and recommendations as well to enter this prestigious B school. An important tip to applicants aiming to crack ISB admission is the essay, all your academic and work related achievements can be showcased effectively through essays and can be a break or make factor in getting a call from ISB. Let us review some important tips for turning the ISB dream into a reality. In this blog, we will discuss what exactly does the admission committee at ISB expect from an essay? Also, let us understand the application process at ISB as well.


We are going to discuss in detail the following sections:

· Important Dates and Rounds of ISB

· ISB Application and Essay Analysis

· What does ISB look for in Applicants?

· Typical Applicant Categories at ISB

· How to Write ISB Application Essays to Impress the Adcom


Important Dates and Round of ISB

As a brand, ISB has gained immense value in the last decade. Consistently ranked in the top 30 business schools worldwide, it has a well-established alumni network across the globe. ISB is instrumental in promoting the concept of “One School-Two Campuses”. The school is functional at Hyderabad, Telangana and Mohali, Punjab. The Hyderabad campus has a strength of 600 -650 students and there are 250 to 300 students at the Mohali campus. Making it a collective batch of 900 students.


Now let’s have a look at ISB’s admission calendar this year.


Given below are the dates released by ISB: –

An important detail mentioned above this Admission Calendar on the ISB website quoted verbatim “Though applying in either round does not impact your chances of securing an admission offer, we encourage you to apply in Round 1 to improve your chances of receiving a scholarship.”


Given below are reasons mentioned on the official ISB website: –


· Full tuition fee waiver is only offered to applicants of Round 1

· Round 1 applicant are given preference for 50% of the merit and need basis waivers


So, the question you have in your mind is so should I apply in the first round?

We recommend aspirants to apply in the round they consider they have the highest chance of making the cut. If you are confident of your academic and work credentials and consider yourself fit for admission, then any round you apply will have similar chances of gaining an entry. If you feel you need to retake the GMAT and apply in round 2 or 3 than do that. The programme begins in April 2020 and ends in April 2021, however, the earlier you get in it makes the entire transition smoother. Once your seat is confirmed at ISB, the school sends you relevant study material. The material helps you during the course as PGP is an exhaustive program of 8 terms with 5 subjects in each term. Each term also has a mid- term and end of term exam as well. So, the 12-month program has 16 exams in total.


ISB Application Essay Analysis 2019-20

This year as well there are two themes to the PGP application essay questions


Tell us how you are different from others?Tell us why you want the ISB PGP?


Essay Question 1

There will be 900 students in the Class of 2021. Why should you be one of them? (400 words)

Ask yourself why ISB wants this information? even though they have your undergrad transcripts, GMAT/GRE scores, work experience and recommendations. The answer is crystal clear. ISB wants to know the person behind the scores, statistics and recommendations. They want to understand how you will add merit to the program besides uplifting the core values of the school.


How to approach this essay

Be genuine and to the point. It is a good idea to present a personal story as well as a work related one. The story you present can leave a lasting impression on the Admission committee. For example, if you have a success story that is unorthodox in approach, do share it. The school appreciates risk-takers. So how do we tell a story that makes an impact?

Structure your thoughts and START framework is the best approach

Situation: – The background behind the story is as important as the foundation of a new building

Task: – Even if your achievement is a team effort, highlight the fact that you are a team player

Action: – Explain application of steps for to achieve the result

Results: – Give a detailed explanation of how your initiatives had an impact on the outcome

Takeaway: – Elaborate on the learning experience

Take help from family and friends. Sometimes a third person observes a situation from a different angle and can make valuable contribution to your stories. Once complete, try to evaluate them through three tests: –


Relevancy Test:

– Is it relevant to your application? – Does it exhibit your capability?


Recency Test:

– Is this something that happened in the last 2 to 4 years? – Did this happen earlier and has had a deep impact?


Uniqueness Test:

– Is this something that makes me different from my peer group? – Does this help strengthen as well differentiate my application from others?

Once you decide which stories to include you can proceed with the structuring of your essay


How to structure your essays

Have you ever thought why screenplay is so important to a movie? A screenplay sums up the entire story in the right format, that is what is expected from your essays. Since there are two stories in your essay, the structure discussed below should help: –


Introduction – 50 words. This is the prologue to the essay.Story -1 – 150 words. Describe the incident in a way that it highlights the personality trait you want to focus on through the story.Story -2 – 150 words. Follow the same steps as story 1Closing – 50 words. In this conclusion, try to drive to the crux of the matter and make a simple and straightforward closing.


Structuring of essays is a simple process based on the following factors: –


State the personality traits you want to emphasizeDemonstrate those traits with relevant examples.Reinforce the idea that it is a personality trait Convince the readers by driving the bridge between the prologue and the epilogue

We have discussed in detail on what to do with you essays. Let us also dwell on what not to do?


What NOT to do in this essay

· Copy Paste from your Resume

· Explaining in lengthy details (be concise and to the point, you can always explain in detail during the interview)

· Don’t go overboard in adding stuff to your essays

There is a word limit to the essay and you must explain within the prescribed limit.


Essay Question 2

What will you be doing in 2025 and 2030? How will the ISB PGP help you to achieve these goals? (400 words)


What is ISB looking for?

ISB is looking for applicants who have a clear goal in mind and are aware of the advantage of taking the PGP. ISB’s question is farsighted, they are not asking your aspirations as soon as you graduate. Assuming you are graduating in 2021, you need a few years to implement your learning from the program. Some more areas that ISB will focus on the essay are: –

Employability– Someone who will not have to really struggle to find work opportunities

Practical Approach– Be realistic in your expectations from the program. Nothing works till you work. This program gives an advantage but how you use the advantage is up to you

It is important to come across a person with clarity in thoughts and a set goal in mind.

Next section highlights how you should approach the essay

How to approach this essay


There are three components to this essay

1. Your 2025 goal

2. Your 2030 goal

3. Benefit of the PGP course


The factors that decide the answer are: –

Role and Industry- Figure out if you are fit in a consulting role or finance is your calling. Do you like the HR function, or you prefer management? Every role is applicable to an industry in a different way, pick your choice of industry.

Geography: – Do you want to work in India or move abroad. Industry domains vary across geographies and so do the function.

Emphasize on your 2025 goal, clear explanation of 2025 makes 2030 goal clear and evident. For answering the third part of the question, read blogs by ISB alumni, go through the ISB website and understand the program and make pointers highlighting advantages of doing the PGP. These pointers structured well will help you frame the answer correctly.


What does ISB look for in applicants?

ISB focuses on 3 important aspects of an application

· Academic Credentials- 12th grade, undergrad, post grad scores. Any certificate or diploma courses scores and the most important GMAT/GRE scores

· Leadership Potential

· Personal qualities

ISB is looking for well rounded personalities that display respect for opinions and high level of ethics in personal and professional conduct


How does ISB Categorize Applicants?

Typically, we can narrow down to 4 types of applicants

High Achievers (Academic and Professional)- Alumni of IIT with an enviable GMA/GRE score and an employment with a fortune 500 company. However, be cautious in listing your achievements, don’t give an impression that you are pompous and think you are doing ISB a favour by seeking admission.

Diversity – Let us take the example of an Army personnel serving in Naxalite hit area or a fashion school graduate employed in the procurement department of a buying house. Do these people need an MBA? Yes, since the examples discussed are people centric and if there is clear presentation of long-term goal in pursuing this course, ISB will be more than happy to welcome you. Diversity in candidate selection is what makes the case methodology approach of ISB’s curriculum relevant.

Profile Issues- the major issues in this category are: –

1. Gap in Academics

2. Negligible work experience

3. GMAT score lower than your peer group

There is not much you can do to bridge gaps in academics or lack of work experience. Retaking the GMAT score may not be practical owing to time, finances etc. So, what can you do to make ISB notice your application? Make sure your essays stand out, be honest with the gap in academics, a little bit of humour in essays can intrigue the Adcom and they may be interested in seeing the face behind the wit and humour.

One Among Many

There is a high probability that you are in this category. You are employed in a reputed organization are a consistent performer with a degree from a good college and you GMAT score is decent. This is a tricky category, you have it all, yet you are one among in the list of applicants. So, what will set you apart from others. Your essay is going to differentiate between you and someone with a similar profile. Play your strengths and convey to the Adcom how your profile might be one among many on a superficial level but on a deeper level you are meant to stand out.


How to write to impress the ISB Admission committee

Before you present your thoughts via your essays, introspect and understand is that real you or you are, watch out for ego-alert. ISB is looking for a competent and unique personality not a self-absorbed personality who remembers his rank or position in a balloon race he ran in kindergarten.

Checklist before submitting Essays

· Answer what is asked don’t exaggerate to increase word length

· Leave no room for assumption. Be clear and to the point

· Eliminate negativity of any kind, be it people, organization or circumstances

· Don’t copy paste your resume. Nobody wants to read the same information again

· No room for grammatical errors. Don’t let silly mistakes given an impression that you lack eye for detail


Good luck with the application process

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