Meet Columbia, Boston University, UCLA, IE, INSEAD, and more top business programs!

Join us in a city near you:

Tokyo: Monday, 3 September

Taipei: Wednesday, 5 September

Seoul: Saturday, 8 September

Beijing: Monday, 10 September

Shanghai: Thursday, 13 September

Shenzhen: Saturday, 15 September


Why should I attend The MBA Tour?

The world’s top business schools, all in one place. Stand out from the competition and meet with Admissions Directors from top domestic and international business schools. Connect in-person to ask your MBA questions, learn about program offerings, and discover how a graduate business degree can help you boost your career.

  • Small group meetings
  • Admissions panels
  • GMAT strategy sessions
  • School presentations
  • Networking fair
  • & much more!

Who will I meet?

Connect with admissions decision makers

  • You’ll have the unique opportunity to meet with admissions decision makers to increase your chances of acceptance.
  • Learn in-depth program information and ask your MBA questions during MeetUp discussions (invite only, small group meetings).
  • Discover admissions tips from industry leaders.
  • Network with the people that matter when it comes to getting accepted to your dream school.

How should I prepare?

Complete your online profile to be matched with top schools.

  • Provide helpful information during registration to let schools learn about you and your goals and have them invite you to meet with them during MeetUps or School Presentations.
  • Use The MBA Tour’s Research Schools platform to learn more about program offerings and options.
  • Log into The MBA Tour’s online portal to easily confirm MeetUps and build your schedule to make the most of your event.

Great, sign me up!

Register free today to reserve your spot. Space is limited!


Business Schools Attending

*Schools vary by city; check event pages for individual listings. More schools to come.

Bentley UniversityBoston University

Carnegie Mellon University


Columbia University

Emory University

ESSEC Business School

Fordham University

Fudan University

George Washington University

Hitotsubashi ICS


Hult Intl. Business School

IE Business School

IESE Business School

Indiana University

Johns Hopkins University

National University of Singapore

Purdue University


Queen’s UniversityRotterdam School of Management


Syracuse University

The University of Chicago

Tulane University

University of Alberta

University of British Columbia

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Riverside

University of Exeter

University of Manchester

University of Maryland

University of North Carolina

University of Southern California

University of Texas at Austin

University of Toronto

Washington University in St. Louis

William & Mary

Yonsei University


Want to Switch Careers? How an MBA Opens Doors



The Worst Business Decisions Ever Made—and What You Can Learn From Them


What would your answer be if someone asked you what the worst business decision ever made was? Not the worst decision you’ve made, mind you—the worst decision in the history of business decisions.

It’s a great question to think about, both to give yourself some relief (huge companies make mistakes, too!), but also to see what you can learn from the bad decisions of lore in order to prevent them from happening in your business.

So great, in fact, that The Atlantic asked 17 prominent businessmen and women for their opinions. Obviously, their thoughts differed heavily. Here are a couple of the key points—and takeaways that we should all remember to avoid making these mistakes ourselves.

The Consumer Matters

Melissa Lee, host of CNBC’s Fast Money and Options Action, took fault with the short-lived launch of New Coke.

In 1983, Coca-Cola launched New Coke, a weapon in its losing market-share battle with Pepsi. But consumers boycotted, and just three months later, Coke brought back Coca-Cola Classic. By 1986, Coke was back on top, and some alleged it was all a marketing scheme!

What can we learn from Coca-Cola’s gigantic business mess with the creation of New Coke? No matter how much money you pour into a new enterprise, if your consumer hates it, change it. Luckily, Coca-Cola came to its senses ASAP, took the product off the market, and was back on its feet within three years.

Creativity is Vital

Both Walt Mossberg, co-executive editor of Re/code, and Peter Thiel, partner at Founders Fund, agree that forcing out Steve Jobs was a pretty terrible choice, with Thiel writing:

After Apple forced out Steve Jobs, the company’s creativity ground to a halt. When he returned, Jobs transformed Apple into the biggest company on Earth, proving how a founder’s grand vision is typically underestimated but impossible to replicate.

Although he was considered a tough boss, Jobs was also a visionary who completely shifted the way people thought about electronics. What Apple seemed to forget was, a company’s ability to innovate (especially in the tech industry) is everything, and a company isn’t just the product it makes; it’s about the people who work there. Make sure you’re hiring the best people you can find who can create the best product possible—and not forgetting their value when things get a little rough.

Do Your Research

Gretchen Morgenson, assistant business and financial editor at The New York Times, pays attention to the failures of mergers and acquisitions.

In 2008, Bank of America purchased Countrywide Financial, an aggressive and abusive subprime-mortgage lender, for $4 billion, but the real costs came after the mortgage bubble burst. Between fines, penalties, and legal settlements, the deal has cost Bank of America an additional $40 billion.

Morgenson’s example of the Bank of America debacle illustrates the importance of doing your research before taking the leap in business, whether that be accepting a new job offer, taking a risk at work, or leaving your job or career altogether. Additionally, don’t ignore the signs of a problem—if a business or company seems like trouble, those issues won’t magically disappear once you begin to work there.

Bad business decisions are made time and time again throughout the course of human history. The question is, what can you learn from them? And if possible, how can you avoid them?


How to Prepare Now to Go to Grad School Later


Not ready to apply to business school just yet, but think that it’s something you want to do down the road? It takes a lot of people a few years to pull the trigger on grad school applications—going back to school is a big, expensive decision, and applying can be really time consuming. I started thinking about it a full two years before I ended up submitting my applications!

But even if you’re not ready to commit to applying, there are a lot of things you can do to set yourself up for success and save yourself time in the long run. Here are five ways to help you get the ball rolling as you think about applying to b-school.

1. Take the GMAT

I know it may sound premature, but I would strongly recommend taking the GMAT as far in advance as possible. Taking it early will give you ample time to study, take the pressure off if you have an emergency on test day and need to reschedule, and provide you with the opportunity to re-take it if you don’t like your first score. While you can knock out studying in two or three months, depending on how much material you need to review, trust me—it feels a lot better to get it out of the way so that you can really focus on your essays when it comes time to officially apply.

I took my test the year before I submitted applications and I think it really lowered my stress level going into the process. GMAT scores are valid for five years, so even if your b-school plan gets delayed a few years, you’ll have plenty of time to use your scores.

2. Start an Activity that You’re Passionate About

It’s no secret that many business schools ask applicants to list out community activities on their applications. A lot of people think this means that they need to sign up for an activity that “looks good” a couple years before applying, but this is absolutely the wrong approach. Admissions directors are really, really good at their jobs, and they can spot inauthenticity a mile away.

But while you shouldn’t get involved in something just because you think it will look good, you should get involved in something. If you’re not currently active in an activity outside of work, use this as the excuse you’ve been looking for to get involved in a program you are passionate about. You can do anything you like—volunteer, join a running club, take art classes at the community center. I have a friend who has always loved Irish dancing and got involved taking and teaching courses at a local studio. She got asked about the experience during her interview and thought it helped her stand out.

3. Go on Lots of Coffee Dates

The few years leading up to grad school are the perfect time for you to really think about how you’ll use your degree. To that end, I would really recommend taking the time to schedule informational interviews with a bunch of different MBA alums whose jobs you might be interested in one day, so you can learn more about how they got to where they are.

The timing makes the process feel non-threatening to the interviewee; instead of giving the impression that you’re fishing for a job, you can honestly say that you just want to learn more about their trajectory. You can find alums at your own company or use LinkedIn to search for MBAs from schools you might be interested in attending. For example, I talked to a couple VPs at my organization, and they were able to give me advice about how to leverage the degree in an interview. I found it helpful to talk with them about how they’ve been able to apply the skills they learned while getting an MBA and how they’ve used their MBA networks.

Along with building your network, this will really help you get a sense of how b-school can (or can’t) help your career after graduation—and may give you great connections and stories that can bolster your application.

4. Tack School Visits Onto Planned Trips

Visiting b-schools is extremely expensive and time consuming, but if you start thinking about those visits now, you may be able to save both time and money. You don’t have to plan specific trips for touring schools until you get closer to application time, but it’s a good idea to make use of any traveling you’ll be doing in the next two years. Going up to Boston for work and happen to be thinking about Harvard Business School? Or maybe you’re taking a vacation out to San Francisco and have had a curious eye on UC Berkeley. Wherever you might be traveling to, it’s a good idea to take a peek at what business schools are nearby, and consider adding a visit to your itinerary. It will only take a few hours, and it will save you from having to take another trip down the road.

Even if you don’t see your top choice schools initially, every school you visit will give you more of an idea of what characteristics might be really important to you in the school you finally choose. For example, I visited a school a couple of years ago when I was seeing family in California and was really turned off by the urban campus. Of course that’s just a personal opinion, but it helped me narrow things down when I started my search in earnest.

5. Up Your Education Game

If your undergrad GPA isn’t as high was you would like it to be, or you don’t have a lot of background in business-related subject matter, you might want to consider taking some one-off classes to show your academic commitment and capabilities. For example, you could look into business, math, or economics classes at your local community college or university. This can be expensive, so it definitely isn’t for everyone, but it can be a great way to show b-schools that you’re serious about their academic programs.

Check with your manager about whether or not work can defray at least some of the costs—many teams have a professional development budget for additional training that you may be able to use. Some accredited schools, such as UC Berkeley and UVA Wise, offer certified online courses if you don’t have time to take a class in person, which can be a great way to fit this in your schedule.

Typically b-schools will want you to have enrolled in a university so that you can provide a transcript, but you can always talk with people in the admissions office to see if they have recommendations about courses that aren’t university-based. When you apply, you just submit an additional transcript with your post-graduation classes so that they’re able to see your grades, or include any professional development classes on your resume.

Don’t worry if this seems like a lot to do—you have a lot of time to think about your applications and get things done. But, believe me, getting a head start now will make a huge difference when you do decide to apply.


Read Three Harvard MBA Essays


A soldier who served on the front lines in Afghanistan. A process engineer challenged by a long series of early failures. And a female consultant whose passion became healthcare.

Three MBA applicants to Harvard Business School last year. Three students in the newest crop of MBA students at Harvard this fall. All of them answered the question now being asked of 2017-2018 applicants to Harvard: As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?

The school provides minimal guidance for applicants trying to make an impression. “There is no word limit for this question,” advises HBS admissions. “We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here. Don’t over think, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.”

Each of the three applicants above wrote a clear and compelling essay in their applications, essays that Poets&Quants is reprinting with permission from the MBA Essay Guide Summer 2017 Edition recently published by The Harbus, the MBA student newspaper at Harvard Business School. The guide contains 39 essays written by successful candidates who are now starting the MBA program at HBS. Proceeds from the sale of the guidebook go to benefit the non-profit foundation that supports The Harbus.

With application deadlines rapidly approaching at Harvard Business School and many other prestige MBA programs, these successful essays will, no doubt, give current candidates a bit of guidance. More importantly, the essays that follow are most likely to provide comfort, that there is no formula or singular way to craft a successful answer.


In his 1,130-word essay, the U.S. Army applicant ties together his experiences of leading soldiers on the front line in Afghanistan together with staff postings in Army operations and logistics to paint a portrait of a dedicated and people-oriented leader.

Inspired by a selfless act from her nine-year-old mentee, this management consultant decided to challenge herself to make an impact in healthcare. In a 937-word essay, she uses a particularly difficult turnaround situation which she was put in charge of as exemplifying her strongest skills: building relationships and uniting people around a common goal.

In a 1,358-essay, a process engineer opens up to a long series of failures in his early life. By showing both vulnerability and honesty, he is able to transform this list of fruitless endeavors into a credible “badge of honor,” evidence of his resilience, determination and strength of character. It quickly becomes apparent that what appeared to be failures in the first half, actually proved to be successes or openings for new opportunities, given enough time and perseverance.


Behind every MBA application is a person and a story, and in this trio of representative essays the approaches taken by each candidate is as different as the essays they submitted to the admissions committee at HBS.

The engineer went through took eight drafts over two months. “I thought about what personal traits I wanted to share with the ADCOM and identified stories from my past that identified those traits,” he explains. “After two or three drafts, I’d figured out the right narrative and kept refining it, taking as much as a week to finalize each draft. My best advice is to be honest, start early, and have someone who knows what the ADCOMS are looking for to read through a couple of your drafts and give you pointers.”

The consultant estimates that she went through 25 drafts to get to her final version. “I think the most important thing with the essay is to iterate,” she advises. “Because the question is so open-ended, it is important to reflect as much as possible and give yourself the time (in my case two months) to go on the journey necessary to realize what you care most about communicating and how to do so in the most effective way. I also cannot overstate the importance of finding someone who will give you honest feedback.


20 Must-Read MBA Essay Tips


Business school admissions committees care about more than (just) your GMAT scores and GPA —they want to know who you are and why you belong in their program .

Your MBA essays are your best chance to sell the person behind the résumé. They should tie all the pieces of your business school application together and create a comprehensive picture of who you are, what you’ve done, and what you bring to the table. Here’s a roundup of our best MBA essay tips to keep in mind as you begin to write.

How to Write an Unforgettable B-School Essay

Business essay tips

1. Communicate that you are a proactive, can-do sort of person.

Business schools want leaders, not applicants content with following the herd.

2. Put yourself on ego-alert.

Stress what makes you unique, not what makes you number one.

3. Communicate specific reasons why you’re great fit for each school.

Simply stating “I am the ideal candidate for your program” won’t convince the admission committee to push you into the admit pile.

4. Bring passion to your writing.

Admissions officers want to know what excites you. And if you’ll bring a similar enthusiasm to the classroom.

5. Break the mold.

Challenge perceptions with unexpected essays that say, “There’s more to me than you think.”

6. If you’ve taken an unorthodox path to business school, play it up.

Admissions officers appreciate risk-takers.

7. Talk about your gender, ethnicity, minority status or foreign background….

But only if it has affected your outlook or experiences.

8. Fill your essays with plenty of real-life examples.

Specific anecdotes and vivid details make a much greater impact than general claims and broad summaries.

9. Demonstrate a sense of humor or vulnerability.

You’re a real person, and it’s okay to show it!

BONUS: Don’t Make These MBA Essay Mistakes

1. Write about your high school glory days. 

Admissions committees don’t care if you were editor of the yearbook or captain of the varsity team. They expect their candidates to have moved onto more current, professional achievements.

2. Submit essays that don’t answer the questions.

An off-topic essay, or one that merely restates your résumé, will frustrate and bore the admissions committee. More importantly, it won’t lead to any new insight about you.

3. Fill essays with industry jargon.

Construct your essays with only enough detail about your job to frame your story and make your point.

4. Reveal half-baked reasons for wanting the MBA.

Admissions officers favor applicants who have well-defined goals. However unsure you are about your future, it’s critical that you demonstrate that you have a plan.

5. Exceed the recommended word limits.

This suggests you don’t know how to follow directions, operate within constraints or organize your thoughts.

6. Submit an application full of typos and grammatical errors.

A sloppy application suggests a sloppy attitude.

7. Send one school an essay intended for another—or forget to change the school name when using the same essay for several applications.

Admissions committees are (understandably) insulted when they see another school’s name or forms.

8. Make excuses.

If your undergraduate experience was one long party, be honest. Discuss how you’ve matured, both personally and professionally.

9. Be impersonal in the personal statement.

Many applicants avoid the personal like the plague. Instead of talking about how putting themselves through school lowered their GPA, they talk about the rising cost of tuition in America. Admissions officers want to know about YOU.

Read More: How to Ace Your MBA Interview

10. Make too many generalizations.

An essay full of generalizations is a giveaway that you don’t have anything to say.

11. Write in a vacuum.

Make sure that each of your essays reinforce and build on the others to present a consistent and compelling representation of who you are, what you’ve done, and what you bring to the table.


Ten tips for perfectly pitched essays


Essays are an incredibly important part of the application process, says Stacy Blackman, an MBA admissions consultant. Seemingly straightforward questions require a great deal of introspection. Make sure you budget time to draft and redraft, try new approaches and carefully edit so that each line packs the maximum punch 

1. As soon as you know that you are going to apply to business school, you can start to prepare in a low-stress way. Keep a notebook and jot down anything interesting that comes to mind. An inspiring lecture, a disappointing performance review, an enlightening conversation with a friend, a travel experience, running a marathon, a stimulating book—all of these can be terrific material for your essays. Don’t agonise over whether it will make a great topic, just jot it down. You will find that you quickly have a plethora of material to choose from.

2. As you begin to approach essay-writing time, consider putting together a “brag sheet”. Write down all of the things about you that would not necessarily appear on a résumé: languages you speak, all extracurricular involvements, family traditions and more. This can also be mined for essay content.

3. Once you have the essay questions in hand, there may still be a few stumpers. Even with lots of content, when you are faced with answering a question such as “What matters most to you?” it is difficult to decide. Here is an exercise that stops you from over-thinking: set your alarm clock for 3am. When you wake up, ask yourself the question. The first thing that comes to mind might surprise you. Do this for a couple of nights and you may come up with a few options or find that you are building a consensus around a certain topic.

4. Before you actually write the essays, take the final step of mapping out the general topics you will cover in each essay. As you map a topic to a question, check it off on a master list of stories you want to cover. This way, you can make sure that a given school is receiving all of your key stories, and that you are spreading out different stories across an application and not being repetitive.

5. Everyone works in different ways: some work best first thing in the morning, others are night owls. Some need to outline concepts on paper, others go straight to computer. So develop a plan that supports your individual style. Many find that the first application can take around 40 hours of work—brainstorming, drafting, editing, refining. As you approach this process, make sure you have the time. Tackle one application at a go. Do not take work leave or attempt it in a single week. Essays require time to gel. Therefore make sure that you have plenty of time to do it right. You may require six weeks, or you may even want 12.

6. Many applicants are inhibited by perfectionism. They can sit at the computer for hours, unable to generate that “perfect” essay, rewriting so furiously that they don’t get past the first few sentences. It is often easier to edit than to write. So just type. A page full of so-so text is less intimidating than that blank page.

7. It is essential that you research your target schools and understand how to appeal to each of them. Each will have a slightly different ethos and look for something different in their students. But…

8 …you can also save yourself a bit of work. There are certain qualities that all business schools want to see in a successful applicant:

  • leadership
  • team skills
  • ethics
  • communication skills

Just saying “I am a strong leader” is not enough. Every claim you make must have supporting stories that help the reader believe you. You do not need to check off every quality on the list. Select a few that apply to you and reinforce those in an honest and compelling way.

9. Nobody is perfect. The schools know this and you need to show them that you are realistic and self-aware. Revealing your humanity—in the form of quirks, weaknesses and flaws—can often help the admissions committee to like you. A story about how you learned from a failure, improved upon a weakness or struggled with challenges can be compelling. The other side of this is the ability to demonstrate that you can really benefit from the MBA degree. If you know everything already, an admissions committee may wonder why you want to return to school.

10. Get some help. Even the most meticulous writers benefit from a second or third set of eyes. Ask someone to review your essays, look for typos and tell you if you are hitting all of the points in the right way. Is your attempt at humour coming off correctly? Do you seem too humble, too cocky, too serious, not serious enough? After you have been buried with your essays for weeks, a fresh perspective can often help you see the application as an admissions-committee member does: for the first time. Enlist someone who knows about the application process and make sure they are not just reassuring you that all is well, but are actually giving you some quality feedback.



Application dos and don’ts


The MBA application process is a lengthy one, comprising several important steps, designed to create a rich picture of you. Here, Stacy Blackman, an admissions consultant, shares her top tips

Where should I apply? And to how many programmes? 

DO apply to your dream school, even if it is a stretch. This is your only chance, don’t leave yourself with any regrets.

DO apply to at least four schools of varying levels of competitiveness to maximise chances of success.

DON’T apply to more than six schools. This is an intense and time-consuming process. Applying to too many schools leads to burn-out and diminishing returns.

DON’T rely on rumour and others’ opinions when deciding where to apply (including rankings such as The Economist‘s). Engage in first-hand research by visiting schools, and speaking with current students and alumni. Only you can decide which school is the right fit for your personality and goals.


It is important to take the GMAT exam seriously as this is one aspect of the application that is very much within your control. In a sea of highly qualified candidates, the GMAT is an important screening tool

DO take a class in order to prepare rigorously, with an established study schedule and practice exams in a realistic environment. One basic key to success is familiarity— with question type and the computer-adapted format.

DO plan to take the exam more than once. Fewer nerves and more experience often lead to a higher score the second time around.

DON’T cancel a score, no matter how badly you think you have done. Immediately afterwards you are given the option of not submitting the test. But schools will evaluate your highest score, so don’t worry about a low score weighing you down. In any case, it will provide valuable information about your testing strengths and weaknesses. And you may be surprised that a score is not as low as you expected.

DON’T wait until the last minute to take your GMAT. Take care of it early in the year, before you have to juggle the other aspects of the application. Leave time for two rounds of studying and testing.

DO consider the alternative GRE test. Because the GRE isn’t reported in class profiles and isn’t a factor in b-school rankings, if you struggle with the GMAT but have good grades and other strong credentials, submitting a GRE may make it easier for a school to “take a chance” on you. If you do well on GMAT, submit it. But if you are a poor test-taker, the GRE may be the way to go.

References (letters of recommendation)

DO try your best to secure professional references. An academic reference will not be able to answer the most common recommendation questions. Schools are really looking for insight into your professional performance.

DO  use references from your current and most recent jobs. The most recent insights help create a picture of you as you currently are. The admissions committee is not as concerned with how you behaved eight years ago.

DON’T secure a reference from a bigwig who hardly knows you. Make sure your referee can comment on you in a meaningful way.

DO prepare your referees and manage them closely. The references are a small test of your management abilities. If you cannot ensure that your referee submits on time, or follows other directions, what does this say about your skills as a manager?


See Stacy Blackman’s in-depth essay tips here.

The interviews

As with all aspects of this process, it is important to prep for the interviews. The subject matter of the interview will be you, and you will be expected to be the polished expert.

DO  practise out loud, rather than just mentally preparing answers. You can have mock interviews with a friend or even speak to yourself in the mirror.

DON’T opt to interview on campus if you will perform better off campus. Set yourself up for success, by choosing the environment where you will be most relaxed.

DO  follow up with a thank-you note, via e-mail or post.


Many schools are friendly towards re-applicants; if you approach the process correctly, a re-applicant can feel cautiously optimistic.

DO be sure to highlight how you have progressed since your previous application. Demonstrate professional and personal advancements. Help the admissions committee to understand how you have evolved and become a better applicant since your last attempt.

DON’T completely overhaul your application. Some schools ask you to submit an entirely new application, but too much change can signal that you are not being honest.

DO apply to new schools in addition to the old ones. If you were unsuccessful the first time, it may be because you applied to the wrong set of schools.

Stacy Blackman is the founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, an MBA admissions consultancy, and author of “The MBA Application Roadmap: The Essential Guide to Getting Into a Business School” (


10 things NOT to put in your personal statement


You have a precious amount of space in your personal statement. Here are 10 things you can drop to save room for what’s essential….

Just starting your personal statement? See what you definitely should include in your statement…

1. Quotations

It’s your voice they want to hear – not Coco Chanel, Einstein, Paul Britton, Martin Luther King, David Attenborough, Descartes or Napoleon’s. So don’t put a quote in unless it’s really necessary to make a critical point. It’s a waste of your word count.

‘So many people use the same quotes and the worst scenario is when it comes right at the start of the statement with no explanation.’

‘I don’t care what Locke thinks, I want to know what YOU think!’

‘We ignore quotes, so it’s a waste of space.’

Or as a sport admissions tutor said: ‘I’m totally fed up of Muhammad Ali quotes!’

Our guide to writing a killer opening has more advice around using quotes the right way.

2. Random lists

Avoid giving a list of all the books you’ve read, countries you’ve visited, work experience placements you’ve done, positions you’ve held. For starters, it’s boring to read. It’s not what you’ve done, it’s what you think about it or learned from it that matters.

A dentistry admissions tutor sums it up: ‘I would much rather read about what you learned from observing one filling than a list of all the procedures you observed.’

  • Must-read: Make your experience count in your statement

3. Over-used clichés

Avoid ‘from a young age’, ‘since I was a child’, ‘I’ve always been fascinated by’, ‘I have a thirst for knowledge’, ‘the world we live in today’…etc. You get the idea. They constantly recur in hundreds of personal statements and don’t really say an awful lot.

4. Bigging yourself up with sweeping statements or unproven claims

More phrases to avoid: ‘I genuinely believe I’m a highly motivated person’ or ‘My achievements are vast’. Instead give specific examples that provide concrete evidence. Show, don’t tell!

5. Limit your use of the word ‘passion’

The word ‘passion’ (or ‘passionate’) is incredibly over-used. Try to convey your passion without using the word ‘passion’. See, it loses its effect.

6. Stilted vocabulary

Frequent use of words or phrases like ‘fuelled my desire’, ‘I was enthralled by’ or ‘that world-renowned author Jane Austen’ make you sound, well, a bit fake (or like you’ve been over-using the thesaurus).

If you wouldn’t say something in a day-to-day discussion, don’t say it in your statement. It’s even worse if you get it slightly wrong, like ‘I was encapsulated by the biography of Tony Blair’ or ‘it was in Year 10 that my love for chemistry came forth’ (or, worse still, ‘came fourth’).

7. Plagiarism, lies or exaggeration

Ucas uses stringent similarity and plagiarism software and your universities will be told if you copy anything from another source.

And as for exaggeration, don’t say you’ve read a book when you’ve only read a chapter – you never know when it might catch you out at a university interview.

‘If you didn’t do it, read it or see it, don’t claim it.’

8. Trying to be funny

Humour, informality or quirkiness can be effective in the right setting but it’s a big risk, so be careful.

‘It can be spectacularly good – or spectacularly bad.’

‘An admissions tutor is not guaranteed to have your sense of humour.’

‘Weird is not a selling point.’

9. Negative comments or excuses

It can be difficult to ‘sell yourself’ in your personal statement, but don’t talk about why you haven’t done something, or why you dropped an AS level. Focus on the positives!

10. Irrelevant personal facts

Before you write about playing badminton or a school trip you went on in year nine, apply the ‘so what?’ rule. Does it make a useful contribution and help explain why you should be given a place on the course? If not, scrap it.