How to prepare for a video essay answer

Optional and mandatory video essays are becoming more popular in applications to overseas degree programs. Students can prepare for their final video message by practising some important answers to questions schools typically ask.

Another article has dealt with creating an impact in your video essay for overseas institutions like the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in London. Here we take a look at how Indian students can prepare for a video essay and then create it when applying to study abroad at foreign business schools.

Some schools require video essays, other make it optional. For the latter cases, it is highly recommended that you take the opportunity to show the school who you are. Application instructions will usually tell you the stipulated length your video message should be. At some schools the stipulated time is for the video essay is 3 minutes. You can shoot it with your webcam, phone camera or tablet, though some schools may have specific requirements.

It is highly recommended that you prepare to create your video message with some practice questions. It can be an awkward experience the first time you try, and this will come out as nervousness, which you do not want.

How to Practice for your Video Message

Write down some questions you can answer for your practice message. The application form will usually give you a direction question for the final product. Sample questions can include the following:
  • What is the reason for choosing your college major?
  • What was your favourite course as a student?
  • What are your passions/hobbies and interests?
  • What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
  • What is the most interesting place you have travelled to, and what did you enjoy about it?
  • What inspires you?
  • What was your first job? Tell us about it.
  • What word describes you best and why?
  • Is there a difficult situation you have had to handle in the past? What have you learned from it?
  • How have you changed in the past five years?
  • Have you taken any risks, and what have you learned from them?
  • Describe an accomplishment or a unique skill set or perspective you have. Talk about how it can benefit the school, classroom discussions or classmates.

In other words, you should practice talking about your undergrad school life, personal interests, role models and leadership, teamwork experiences, contributions etc. These are the areas which schools are interested in, to see if you fit in with their school.

When you practise, have the same setup you would in your final video message. Make your appearance professional, have a smile on your face, natural and confident body language, and be clear, articulate and reasonably loud. Also, keep your answers well-structured and organized. It helps to practice how to answer questions in 60 seconds.

If you have trouble with public speaking, you might want to take some professional training or join an informal public speaking group in your city (you can find some on Meetups) to give you the confidence to create the perfect video.

After you have created your final message, you must upload it on YouTube. You can then share the URL on the application form (it is recommended that you set the video accessibility to Unlisted so that it will not be searchable and only people who have the URL can visit it).

You can also check written MBA essays to get a sense of what you can include in the video MBA essay.

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