How to Prepare for the Video Essay

One of the key components of the Berkeley MFE Program application is a video essay. The video essay is an opportunity for you to showcase your communication and presentation skills. Candidates record themselves answering the prompt which appears once you hit start. A webcam and microphone are required for this section. Since the video essay is a little different from the standard application requirements, here are some tips to help you prepare.MFE Video Essay Tips1. Setting

It is important that we are able to hear and see you. Before you start recording, make sure you are in a quiet space with good lighting. In order to minimize distractions, please have a neutral background that isn’t busy with objects or bright colors.

2. Lighting

You want to make sure you are in a well lit room. If possible, we recommend recording during the day with natural light. If your space has a window directly behind you, ensure that the shades or curtains are closed.

3. Camera and Audio

Check the quality of the device you are recording on. Make sure that your face is fully in frame and visible, and that your audio is clear. You will have an opportunity to do a test before you begin the recording, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity. 

4. Connectivity

You have two attempts to record your video, so make sure beforehand that you are in an area with stable Internet connection. Since you will record the video essay directly in the application portal. We encourage you to check your internet speed and that your video will upload properly at the end of your recording. You can use an online speed test to check your speed.

5. Attire/Appearance

We all know that the first impression is usually the most important. The video essay may be the only time the admissions committee will see and hear you, so take the time to ensure you are well dressed and groomed.

6. Essay Prompt

The essay question(s) will not be available beforehand. While you will not be able to prepare in advance, we recommend preparing yourself mentally: take deep breaths, go out for a walk, hydrate, etc. Do what you need to get in the right mind set. When you are ready and completed the video and audio check, the question(s) will appear on screen when you hit “Ready.” We have designed the question(s) to be answered it on the spot and you will have a few seconds to read the prompt before the recording begins. 

7. Timing

You only have two minutes to answer the prompt. Make sure to pay attention to the time and start wrapping up before time runs out. Once you completed the recording, take a few minutes to review your response. Utilize the second attempt if needed. If you decide to record your response using the second attempt, we strongly advise that you do not read your answer or look it up on the internet. Use your own words, be yourself and talk to us as if you were sitting across from us during an interview.  This is not a pass or fail exercise. We want to hear from you, your opinion, and what you have to say on this subject.   

We hope these tips will help you feel more confident and ready for the video portion. If you have not already done so, we encourage you review the application tips. If you still have questions or need additional guidance, here are ways to connect or learn more: sign-up for an information session or join the weekly Q&A session via zoom on Tuesdays from 3-4 PM PT/Wednesday from 9-10 AM PT.

About The Author

The Berkeley Master of Financial Engineering Program, a STEM designated degree, provides you with the knowledge and skills to prepare you for a career in the finance/fintech industry.