The Dominate Test Prep Podcast

47. How to Tackle Short-Answer Application Essays, with Hillary Schubach

July 20, 2021 Brett Ethridge / Dominate Test Prep
The Dominate Test Prep Podcast
47. How to Tackle Short-Answer Application Essays, with Hillary Schubach
Show Notes

Application essays are an important part of the admissions process for all levels of higher education. Nearly all programs will ask you to write at least one "long" essay on a topic of their choosing. But many schools will also include one or more "short" essay prompts -- either required or optional -- that provide you with an opportunity to share additional bits of information about your candidacy. And don't be fooled! Just because these essays are short, they still require careful consideration and can round out your profile in a favorable way if written effectively.

In this episode we've invited MBA admissions consultant Hillary Schubach, founder of Shine MBA Admissions Consulting, to share her expert insight and provide tips on how to tackle these short-form admissions essays. During our in-depth conversation Hillary covers:

  • Statistics revealing just how important essays are compared to other parts of the application (test scores, GPA, recommendations, etc.)
  • The purpose of the short-form essay, and the mindset you should approach it with
  • The most common types of short essay prompts, with an emphasis on the short-term vs. long-term career goals essay
  • Discussion of this year's short-essay requirements from the Haas School of Business and Columbia Business School
  • What to do if you don't have a clear sense of your immediate post-degree career goals
  • Analysis of a short-essay prompt from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, with particular focus on nuanced language in the question itself -- and how to address it
  • The importance of taking a holistic view of your application before deciding which anecdotes to share and what to emphasize in your short-answer responses
  • Sample opening sentences and "hooks" to draw the reader in
  • Ideal essay structure
  • And more!

Even if you don't have to write the exact essays we discuss here, the tips that Hillary shares will serve you well and can be adapted to any short-answer essays you may have to write in your own applications. Enjoy!


  1. Contact Hillary Schubach at Shine MBA Admissions Consulting
  2. Boost your standardized test scores with Dominate Test Prep's proven prep courses


If you enjoyed this episode, we encourage you to check out these other relevant episodes of The Dominate Test Prep Podcast:

  1. Episode 7: Storytelling Essentials for Your Application Essays, with Michael Noltemeyer
  2. Episode 18: "I've Been Waitlisted! Now What?" with Hillary Schubach
  3. Episode 3: Framework for a Successful Grad School Application, with Linda Abraham


“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” — Blaise Pascal, Th

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