How to Manage Word Limits and Deadlines

Dealing with Deadlines

“Set yourself a schedule.”

Dealing with Application Deadlines:

  1. Set yourself a schedule and work backwards from your deadlines. Allow time for the holidays, sleep, exercise, and of course work.
  2. Focus first on the applications with the earliest deadlines.
  3. Work on applications one at a time. Adapt essays from your first application, when possible, to later applications. However never merely paste in an essay because the question is similar. Customize it for this application and this program.
  4. If you fall behind, consider dropping/postponing an application to maintain quality overall.

Dealing with Word Limits:

  1. Before you start writing, spend a few minutes to determine the theme and structure for the essay. I personally like a traditional outline, but others may prefer cluster outlines or index cards. Use the method that works best for you.
  2. Just write for 15 minutes. Don’t stop writing until the timer you set for 15 minutes goes off. (useful tool:
  3. Keep writing in 15 minute spurts separated by short breaks until you feel you are in your groove. Then write as long as you want.
  4. Edit your drafts using the editing funnel.

By , president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

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