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ISB 2023 Application Breakdown

ISB applications for the 2023 intake are now open.

Over the last 3 years we have helped 30+ candidates get interview invites and admits from ISB. For the 2022 intake, 23 candidates applied to ISB with us, of which 18 received interview invites and 9 received admit from the school.

If you are seeking help for your 2023 ISB application, please feel free to explore our services or reach out to us.

Round 1 deadline to apply for the 2023 intake is 4th Sep'22.

Indian School of Business (ISB) is one of the best Business schools in India, consistently ranking among the Top MBA programs worldwide. The PGP program at ISB brings together a cohort of ~900 candidates each year, with an average work experience of 4-5 years. In the latest FT Rankings, ISB is ranked at 32, ahead of Indian peers such as IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta.

In this post, we break down the entire ISB application, their requirements, how to tackle different sections and optimize your chances of securing an admit from India's best business school.

We will cover 3 major areas in this article:

Building the Perfect Resume for ISB

There are 2 key things that candidates need to keep in mind while building their resume for ISB.

  1. ISB does NOT ask candidates to upload a resume.

  2. Sections – Academic details, Work experience, Awards, Extra-curriculars and Hobbies are utilized to automatically build one.

Let's go step by step into each of these sections.

Academic details:

  • Input your academic details, college marks, professional courses, and test scores.

  • ISB does not require TOEFL/IELTS if you have had an English medium bachelor’s degree.

Work experience:

Key aspects

  • You can add different roles you have had in your career.

  • For each role you have 5 bullet points for highlighting your responsibilities, and 5 to highlight your initiatives and achievements.

  • Each bullet can be max 100 char in length

Best practices:

  • Break down different roles even in the same organization into separate experiences. This will allow you to showcase growth/change/movement in your career.

  • Responsibilities – clearly highlight the role/leadership role you played in different projects and the objective of those projects.

  • For example: Led a team of 2 analysts to optimize the report generation process for a Fortune 500 client

  • Initiatives & Achievements – clearly highlight the results you achieved and the associated action in a single bullet. Quantify as much as possible.

  • For example: Reduced report gen time by 85%; implemented 4 automation systems across 3 business verticals

Awards / Extra-curricular activities / Hobbies:

  • Be very straightforward – highlight what you did, or why you received an award. For hobbies, ensure that you add interesting details about your hobbies which provides some personal insights about yourself and what you have done.

  • For example: Award (100 char limit): Received Student Achievement award for contributions to literary activities during college Extra-Curricular (50 char limit): Organized 15 public speaking workshops Hobby (200 char limit): Public Speaking: I believe strong communication skills are key to a fruitful career & have organized 6 online cohorts (10 members), collaborating with other professionals to improve speaking skills.

Answering Essay Questions for ISB

This year, ISB again has 2 essay questions that candidates need to answer. Both the essays have a 400-word limit.

Essay 1: Peer Learning is a major building block of PGP at ISB. Help us in understanding how will you be able to add value to the PGP peer group through your personal and professional qualities/capabilities? (400 words)

This essay focuses on 2 key aspects:

  • Your Personal and Professional Qualities / Capabilities

  • How will those qualities help you to add value to the ISB community

This is a very common essay question, often seen across different business schools. One of the most popular essays on similar lines is by Wharton, where they ask about specific contributions that you can make to the Wharton community.

Essentially, what ISB wants to ask is - What do you bring to ISB?

First, identify 2-3 key qualities or capabilities that you want to highlight. You can think across these areas:

  • Personal or professional qualities that make you unique or you are good at

  • Skills you have

  • Extra-curriculars / hobbies you pursue

Once you have identified aspects that you are good at, share specific and relevant experiences with ISB which can show what you have done so far and highlight your key qualities through these experiences.

After you have shown what you have done in the past, then quickly illustrate how you will be able to add value to your peers at ISB.

For example: I believe great communication skills today form an important part of any professional’s career, and I have played a small part in helping my communities become better at it. I organized communication building workshops for my peers while at ABC company, coaching them about different presentation styles and becoming more effective at interacting with senior management. At ISB, I hope to continue to add value to my peers through my association with the Toastmasters club, organizing events, building camaraderie, and forming life-long bonds with them.

Essay 2: What are your short term and long term career goals? How will Post Graduate Program at ISB assist you in achieving your goals? (400 words)

The second essay for the 2023 application is a very standard goals question for MBA programs. The essay remains the same as last year's application, and is a way for the school to identify how clear are you with your plans and your decision to apply to ISB?

This essay can be boiled down to - How will ISB help you?

The first thing to understand about this essay is that ISB really wants to see if you have thought through your decision to apply for an MBA. Are you certain that an MBA at this stage of your career will add value to you? Why do you believe so? Do you have clarity about the goals that you have?

When working on this essay, you need to also answer multiple hidden sub-questions. We usually suggest our candidates to clearly highlight the below aspects in their answers:

  • What have you done so far in your career? What have you learnt?

  • How have your experiences motivated you towards your goals?

  • How does an MBA fit with your requirements?

A good answer to this essay will have the following aspects covered.

  • Presenting a clear background of what you have done and learnt so far.

  • Connecting those experiences with what you want to do in the future and why?

  • Clearly answering the question about your short and long-term goals, without any ambiguity, and presenting a clear direction of how you see your career evolving.

  • Illustrating how different facets of the ISB PGP program fit in with your requirements to achieve your goals. What do you hope to learn at ISB, and how?

To answer both the essay questions we suggest candidates extensively research about ISB, their offerings, resources, aspects of curriculum, societies, and events they host, and form a detailed understanding of what they will be exposed to at ISB.

As you build this understanding and knowledge of what ISB has to offer, you will be in a much better position to specifically point out areas where you see yourself contributing to ISB, and where you see yourself learning through ISB.

Letter of Recommendation for ISB

The final aspect of the ISB application is the letter of recommendation. The Indian School of Business asks only for 1 LOR, which can be submitted by your superiors, manager, or senior colleagues.

One of the biggest mistakes that candidates make when thinking about LORs is that they assume that the position of the person who provides the recommendation matters a lot. It does not.

LORs are simply another way for ISB to gauge from a third person's viewpoint, the kind of person that you are.

So the best-suited referees are those who have known you personally for a sufficient period of time and can attest to your strengths and weaknesses, irrespective of their position.

Here are some best practices:

  • Don’t worry about the position of your referee. It does not matter.

  • Take it from someone who has been in a senior position to you, and knows what you have done.

  • Should strongly endorse you as a potential MBA candidate at ISB and highlight your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Also, is able to provide clear examples to support their claims.


We recently conducted an Ask Me Anything session, diving deep into the ISB application and answering questions from candidates. You may find it useful if you have questions about the ISB application!

You can see the complete session below.


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