The application is a storytelling exercise, and the short answer questions are a great opportunity for you to demonstrate your authentic voice. The short answers are also an opportunity for you to tie together the other elements of your application such as your academic record, your resume, interests and demographic information to present a holistic picture of yourself.

View the webinar recording from August 2021, featuring FAQs and application insights all about short answer questions.

For the 2021-22 application cycle, we will again feature multiple questions, and we are particularly excited about some of the new additions to this year’s application. For the Leadership and Impact question as well as the Diversity and Inclusion question, applicants will now choose from two prompts, responding to the one they feel best aligns with their experience and their overall application narrative.

You will bring your whole self to business school, and Darden students shape their experience in and out of the classroom. As a result, in the short answer questions, we are interested in learning more about how you lead, how you relate to others, what you’re passionate about, your awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion principles, your career goals and much more. 

Our questions reflect key values that are central to the Darden experience and community. In the application, we frame some questions with additional resources to demonstrate these values. 

This year’s questions are as follows:

  • Tell us what you would want your Learning Team to know about you that is not on your resume. (150 words) 
  • What is your short-term, post-MBA goal and how does it align with the long-term vision you have for your career? (200 words)

As noted above, applicants will choose from two prompts when responding to the Leadership and Impact and question. You should respond to one (200 words): 

  • Tell us about a time when you worked with a team to solve a problem or seize an opportunity. What role did you play? What did you learn from this experience? OR
  • Tell us about a time when you acted to solve a problem for the greater good. What drew you to this issue? What did you learn from this experience?

Applicants will also choose from two prompts when responding to the Diversity and Inclusion question. You should respond to one (200 words).

  • Share a time when you learned something related to diversity, equity or inclusion that was previously unknown to you? How did this experience impact your perspective? OR
  • Share a time when you advocated for a perspective, identity, or community different from your own. How did this experience impact your worldview?

Full-Time MBA applicants will also respond to a question inspired by the Batten Foundation Worldwide Scholarship. This scholarship covers the course fee for one Darden Worldwide Course for most Full-Time MBA students:

  • Darden has an incredible network of alumni and partners around the world, and, in a typical year, the School connects with over 80 countries. If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to travel? And why? (85 words) 

Here are a few more tips as you think about crafting a successful essay response:

  • Applicants frequently overthink their short answer responses, feeling that there must be something specific we are looking for. Let us be clear: We are not reading your responses with a prescribed or “right” answer in mind. How you choose to answer a particular question is often as insightful as what you choose to write about. The best essay responses are those that are responsive to the question, but also authentic and genuine. And remember, whenever possible, show don’t tell! 
  • Leave time for pre-writing. Sometimes the first idea you have is the best idea, and sometimes the best idea is born of significant thought and reflection. A little planning can save you a lot of heartburn, so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to craft the best essay without feeling hurried or rushed.
  • Keep it brief. All questions require responses of 200 words or less, and in our experience, it typically takes a few drafts before applicants hit on a response they feel is both compelling and falls within the word limit. The more time you give yourself to craft your application (again, the operative word is “craft”), the more intentional you can be with your responses, and by extension, your narrative.  
  • Find a good editor. Of course, your short answer responses should reflect your own thoughts and work, but it is always a good idea to ask for a second opinion. After you’ve written a response, set it down for a little while and come back to it later. Also, share your draft with a friend or colleague and ask for their feedback – Is it responsive to the question? Does it sound like you? An editor (and a fresh set of eyes) can also help you catch those pesky typos and grammatical errors you might miss after reading an essay a few times.
  • Don’t cut and paste. We know other schools’ essay prompts, and we can always tell when applicants have repurposed essay responses. We (as Business schools) know we are not making it easy on you by asking you different questions, and we know that applying to business school takes a lot of time. However, we have reasons for each of the questions we ask, and we always appreciate it when applicants take the time to craft a unique response.

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