GMAT Essay - Tips For Effective Writing

By: Abraham Theide

While most Business Schools are very clear about their cut off regarding GMAT scores, they are not very clear about their requirements for GMAT essay scores. Does this mean that you shouldn't take the GMAT essay sections seriously? Not at all! Look at it this way. The highest-ranked B-school you can get into is one at which you are a borderline candidate, right? And it is the borderline candidates who are going to receive the closest scrutiny. In such a close situation, it is the GMAT essay scores that come to your rescue. Hence with a little extra effort on the GMAT essay section, you could probably get into the best possible Business School available for your GMAT score.

The GMAT essay writing section is relatively easier to score. With some discipline and practice, you can do fairly well in this section. Here are a few tips to guide you through and help you produce an effective essay.

Be Short but Persuasive:  Write a short essay, limiting it to about 250-300 words. Let the flow of thoughts be coherent and the tone persuasive. A persuasive tone helps you to get your point across in a more effective way and a smooth flow avoids breaks of thoughts, thus helping in maintaining the readers'/evaluators' interest.

Structure Your Thoughts and Writing:  Have a structure in your mind before you begin writing. Having a well thought-out structure for the GMAT essay is always better. Those few minutes spent on developing a structure is time well invested and brings high returns. A coherent flow of thoughts always pays off. It is advisable to spread your essay in 5-6 paragraphs. These paragraphs should include: an introduction (1 paragraph), body (3-4 paragraphs) and conclusion (1 paragraph).

Introduction: Well begun is half done - The introductory paragraph should be well thought out, crisp and captivating. Begin by stating your position and make propositions that you will be presenting on the topic at hand. In grammatically correct sentences, present 2 or 3 points that are relevant and which you plan to discuss in the main body of your essay.

Body Paragraph: Substance matters - The body paragraphs should expand upon the points that you presented in the introduction paragraph. Provide specific details while structuring one main idea in each paragraph. Thus the 2 to 4 points made above should require 2 to 4 developed paragraphs in the main body section of your essay. It is also advisable to use examples, as they help express your idea more cogently. Make an effort to maintain the interest levels of the person reading the essay.

Conclusion Statements: All is good if it ends well - The conclusion should summarize your point of view. This can be done by restating your position and presenting the thesis statement of the essay in a revised format.

Time Management:  The time allotted for the GMAT essay section is 25 minutes. This must be utilized effectively to obtain the best possible score. The initial 3-5 minutes should be spent in understanding the topic correctly, analyzing all relevant aspects of the topic and formulating a structure. This step will ensure the right flow of ideas and establish the order of their presentation. The next 13-15 minutes should be spent in writing the essay and maintaining the flow of thoughts, while citing examples from real life. The last 5 minutes should be reserved for revising and editing your work. This phase, often overlooked, is extremely crucial. Failure to invest a few minutes in revision often leaves your writing laden with errors. No one is perfect the first time, and you are no exception. Remember that uncorrected writing may prove to be very detrimental to your final GMAT essay scores.

What Not to Do:  It is important to keep your writing crisp, interesting and informative. Here are few things to avoid:

  • Wordiness and redundancy
  • Use of tough words which break the flow of ideas
  • Use of slang, which is considered inappropriate in a formal essay

Writing that perfect essay might be difficult at first, but with some discipline and practice, you can certainly improve.The best way to start is by accepting your limitations. Good planning and reasonable practice, along with confidence and the passion to succeed, will not only take you through the GMAT exam, but well beyond that.

Best of Luck!

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About the Author:

After working for 7 years in corporate sector, Abraham Theide moved to academia. He initially taught GMAT and GRE at a leading test prep review company in New York, USA. The next assignment was at a Los Angeles test prep company in California. He is now working as a Manager (Curriculum) in the course development department at the office in Chicago, USA and has been responsible for developing one of the best GMAT study guides on the net.

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