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For the optional essay, writing a long chronicle without any set agenda is a sure way to upset the application evaluator. As the note states, “It is not necessary to write this essay”. Don’t use it unless you have to. And if you have to, then be brief, concise and to the point.
Please do not use this as a platform to unload all of your insecurities and explain all your weaknesses, because ISB very strongly believes that people succeed irrespective of their weaknesses. Use it only to explain something that's important but that wasn't addressed elsewhere in the application.
Given that ISB reduced the number of essays this year from 3 to just 2, the optional essay may remain a critical tool to make up for the loss of opportunity to communicate more about yourself.
The optional essay prompt doubles up as the reapplicant essay if you applied to ISB in the past. ISB looked at your application then and they were not convinced at that point – so what changed since you last applied that you expect them to reconsider your application. Important projects that you worked on, new things that you learnt (at work or otherwise), new clients/industries you gained exposure to, additional training/certifications you gained – can all be a part of your reapplicant essay. Instead of being emotional and vague about how keen you are to make it to ISB (which a lot of candidates end up doing), discuss specific items and how it adds value.
It is possible that you reassessed your career goals since your last application and your plans are now further refined. We would recommend that you cover this in your career goals essay itself and provide good justification for this change in plans.
Overall, the reapplicant essay remains extremely important and you ought to pay good attention to this essay. Do not assume that things that you mentioned in your last application are communicated to the admissions team already. While they have access to the last application, they may not necessarily go back and go through it entirely. So if something is really important to you, feel free to repeat in your current application as well (probably with a new flavour).
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