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February 02, 2014

Cambridge Judge MBA Essays for Entry in September 2014

In this post I analyze the essay questions for the University of Cambridge Judge Business School for Entry in September 2014. I’m too late for the first two deadlines, but better late than never. Hopefully next year, I will get this up in time for first round.

I have worked with eight clients to Cambridge Judge including two who already admitted for the September 2014 entering class.  You can find my clients’ results and testimonials here.

Anyone who thinks that the Cambridge only has has two essays is in for a bit of surprise when they actually look at the Cambridge Judge Online Application because there are actually 5 essays, not two. Let’s take a look at each of them

Two “MBA Essays” 
If you could change one thing about your current organisation, what would you make different? How would you overcome obstacles to this change, and what impact would this change have in the short-term and long-term? (300 words)
This hypothetical question is a very interesting way for Cambridge to gauge a number of things about you:
1.  Your understanding of your organization, which relates to the way you might actually manage.
2. Your ability to critically assess something you should seemingly be very familiar with.  This relates to your analytical/critical thinking skills.
3. Your solutions oriented thinking.
4.  Your ability to think about organizational impacts short and long-term.
5.  Your ability to conceptualize organizational change.
Considering the MBA curriculum’s focus on Practical Learning, this essay is a great way for Judge to judge your ability to work effectively on consulting projects.

 Suggestions for Brainstorming:
1.  If you are having difficulty formulating a topic, I suggest using a SWOT analysis on your organization to identify its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Here is a nice video that relates directly to organizational analysis: SWOT Analysis: How to perform one for your organization.
2.  Make sure there are real obstacles to your proposed change. If there are no obstacles, chances are pretty high that the change you are discussing is relatively minor. Find another topic.
3.  Make sure that you fully consider both the short and long term impact of your proposed change.  Applicants sometimes focus so much on explaining the change they want to make that they ignore addressing the time factor.  If the change you are proposing seems to lack distinctive short and long-term impacts, there is a problem either with your proposed change or in your ability to think about it.

What did you learn from your most spectacular failure? (up to 200 words)
This is a fairly standard failure question except that they specifically ask for a “spectacular failure,”  which means that it should not be the sort of thing were only you were disappointed by the outcome, rather it would be one were you overtly failed and other could see it, otherwise how can it be very spectacular? It is critical that you learned something meaningful . The basic components of an answer:
1. Clearly state what the failure was.
2. Clearly state your role.
3. Clearly state the result.
4. Explain the effect in terms of what you learned and perhaps also how you applied what you learned .If possible, show how you applied what you learned to a new situation because the application of abstract learning to a new situation is a key indicator of real learning.

One  ”Career Objectives” Statement
Please provide a personal statement. It should not exceed 500 words and must include the following: 
  • What are your short and long term career objectives?
  • What skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you to achieve them?
  • What do you hope to gain from the degree programme and how do you feel it will help you achieve the career objectives you have?
This truly is a standard statement of purpose question.

  • What are your short and long term career objectives?
  • What do you hope to gain from the degree programme and how do you feel it will help you achieve the career objectives you have?
Please see my analysis of Stanford Essay 2 as what I have written there will help you answer the 1st and 3rd parts of this question. Especially if you are having difficulty with goals formation, that post will help you.  Your objective is to Cambridge a clear plan for future. They need to understand both your professional plan and how Cambridge fits into that plan.

  • What skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you to achieve them?
As stated above, give them a plan. Show how specific skills/characteristic support that plan. The order you answer this question is really up to you, but I think it is very important that your answer not become overburdened by discussing your past experience at the expense of discussing your plans and why Cambridge is right for you. Keep in mind that you should be using your skills/characteristics  as evidence to support your plan. The point is provide analysis, not to try and describe in detail because you will not have sufficient word count for that purpose. Cambridge admissions will be reading your resume and your answers to the other essay questions, which will provide them with a wealth of detailed information about your past experience. Here try to distill that past experience into two-three core skills or characteristics that will enable you to reach your post-MBA goals.  

Two “Essays” in the “Current Full-Time Employment”  Section

Those applying to Oxford’s MBA program will see that they ask these same questions. as Cambridge

What is your most significant challenge within your current company? (1000 Characters Maximum)
I hope you have been working for your company for more than a few days.
A challenge can certainly be a weakness, failure or setback, it is surely possible that a challenge could simply be a real test of your leadership and a great way to convey an accomplishment.
1. Clearly state what your challenge was.
2. Explain what actions you took. Think about what your actions reflect about your own skills and/or personality.
4. Explain what you learned and/or gained (a skill or a new opportunity, for example) from the experience.  It is critical that you learned or gained something, otherwise it will be difficult (probably impossible) to explain how this experience has helped you achieve success now and in the future.

Here are some types of challenges to get you brainstorming:
-Challenges that relate to lack of ability or skill. For instance having difficulty completing a task or being successful because of your limited capability.  Overcoming such a challenge involves a story about gaining or otherwise obtaining access to the necessary skill.
-Challenges that relate to relationships with other people or groups, such as conflicts within a team. Overcoming such challenges typically involves effective utilization of interpersonal skills.
-Challenges that relate to one's psychological condition, cultural understanding, or other deeper mental assumptions.  Overcoming such challenges typically involves a change in mindset.
-Challenges that relate to a really difficult task. It is possible that you write about a challenging situation which you use to highlight your abilities rather than a situation where you were initially deficient in some way.

What is your most significant accomplishment within your current company? (1000 Characters Maximum)
Please see my analysis of IMD's Essay 1, What do you consider to be your single most important achievement and why? as that analysis fully applies here.

Best of luck with your Cambridge application!

-Adam Markus
I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.
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