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.

For the 2022-23 cycle, we will again feature multiple questions, and we are particularly excited about some of the new additions to this year’s application. 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. 

Short Answer Questions

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. For Executive MBA and Part-Time MBA applicants, this year’s short answer questions are as follows:

  1. Given that you will be forming lifelong connections with your classmates that extend beyond the classroom, what is important for your classmates to know about you that is not on your resumé? (200 words)
  2. Please describe a tangible example that illuminates your experience promoting an inclusive environment and what you would bring to creating a welcoming, global community at Darden. (300 words)
  3. At this time how would you describe your short-term, post-MBA goal and how does it align with the long-term vision you have for your career? (200 words)

Additional Tips

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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