GMAT Essay Section

Started by sajiv, Nov 26, 2008, 07:52 AM

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sajiv


The GMAT Essay Section means Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) is how business schools evaluate your writing skills. The AWA section has two 30-minute essay questions, each requiring a completely different stategy.

    * Present Your Perspective on an Issue (30 minutes)
      Here you present your opinion on a controversial issue.

    * Analysis of Argument (30 minutes)
      Here you analyze the reasoning in an argument and find its logical flaws.

Before 1999, two human graders would grade your essays. If they disagreed, it went to a third grader. Under the new system, a human and the "E-rater" (a computer program that scans essays) will grade your essay. If the human and E-rater agree on a score, that's the grade your essay will receive. If they disagree, a second human will grade the essay to resolve any differences.

The computerized grading system pressures human graders to follow the E-rater's strict standards. Human graders are aware that there is a computer double-checking their work, and they are more likely to follow the E-rater's strict grading parameters.

How to Tackle the Analytical Writing Assessment

Students tend to under-prepare for the AWA section. This is ironic because it is the one GMAT section where a small amount of preparation can make a large difference on test day. You don't want an embarrassing AWA grade coming up in a business school interview.

To beat the AWA, you must learn how to write in a highly disciplined and concise manner.

   1. Be particularly concerned with structure. Clearly divide your essay into the introductory paragraph, two to three content paragraphs, and a conclusion. Take time out before you start writing to set up an organizational structure.

   2. Use transitional phrases such as "first", "therefore" and "because" to help the computer identify concepts between and within the paragraphs. Make sure you spell these transition words correctly so that the computer may identify them. The E-rater does not have a spell-checker built in.

   3. Be a conformist. The E-rater is not programmed to appreciate individuality, humor, or poetic inspiration; it will be comparing the style and structure of your essay to that of other high-scoring essays. If your essay looks like the high-scoring essays in the E-rater's memory banks, you will get a high grade; if not, you will get a low grade.

   4. Clearly state your critique in the Analysis of Argument essay. The Analysis of Argument question will show you an essay loaded with logical fallacies, such as the unwarranted assumption or fallacy of equivocation. These are buzzwords that the E-rater detects to see if you have correctly identified the argument's logical flaws.

   5. Know the essays and how to answer them. The Essay Section Guide shows you all of the 275 actual GMAT essay questions and 20 selected sample answers to those essay questions. This will give you a feel for the essay questions and how they should be answered.

   6. Write in effective American style. Both the human and the E-rater will detect poor writing style. The E-rater's memory banks have essays written in American grammar/style, which is slightly distinct from the English used outside of the United States.

   7. Practice, Practice, Practice. Try to do the essays in the 30-minute time frame. That is half of the challenge. Always practice under timed conditions on a computer.


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