We’ve graded tens of thousands of essays, and certain errors occur again and again and again. This is a list of the top ten errors that we see on essays.

10. The “Kitchen Sink” Argument
This argument throws in everything and discusses every topic of an issue in one paragraph. Paragraphs are discrete units meant for discussing a limited range of ideas. Narrow the scope of your paragraphs and arguments into manageable, topic-specific units. On a larger level, limit the scope of your essays. On issue questions, especially, it is not an opportunity to expound on your entire worldview.

9. The “Microsoft Example”
Try to use interesting examples other than the usual Microsoft example. Too many writers cite Microsoft as a way to prove a point. It makes for a trite essay, and is tedious for graders to read. Another overused example is the “U.S. has low unemployment” example for macroeconomic policy. Be more creative. Essay graders have boring jobs and appreciate new twists. Still another example that is less-than-popular with graders is the hypothetical example. Using hypothetical examples make a writer seem unintelligent or uneducated, because he or she should be able to come up with a real world example instead of making one up.

8. Using Casual Language: “really” “like” “u” “r”
Don’t write as if you are sending an email or use casual phrases. Along this line of being too casual is the example that is way to personal and casual. Any sordid details of your life not be introduced into your GMAT Writing Sample essay.

7. Not Leaving Time to Proofread at the End
Always leave a few minutes to re-read your essay for typos and errors at the end. Cleaning up any careless spelling or grammar errors puts the finishing touches on your essay, and can make a real difference in your writing.

5. Rambling
Write in a concise manner that summarizes your points and provides good examples. A paragraph with 12 sentences is too long.

4. Introducing new arguments in the conclusion
The introduction and conclusion are for summarizing your argument, not for bringing in examples. The body paragraphs should be full of compelling examples. Students commonly introduce new arguments in the conclusion when the conclusion should be used for restating their arguments. State any new arguments in an extra body paragraph before the conclusion.

3. The Weak Conclusion
The conclusion should wrap up your argument. Writing the GMAT Writing Sample essay is like running a mile race. You can’t sprint a mile; you have to pace yourself or you’ll pass out at the end. GMAT Writing Sample writers often “pass out” at the end and paste on a conclusion that is one sentence long. The conclusion must summarize your points effectively and restate your argument well. Your essay will not receive a high score if you do not tie everything together effectively at the end.

2. Leaving the Reader in Suspense
The intro should state your position and lay out a structure for your argument. You must not only say what your opinion is but also why you have it. Many writers do not layout their arguments in their intros, leaving the reader in unnecessary suspense. Use the intro to distill your arguments into three concise sentences. One trick to solve this is to write the introduction after you have written everything else. That way you’ll know exactly what points are made in your essay and be able to outline them briefly and clearly in your intro.

A vague intro either: hopelessly pretentious (I don’t deign to tell you everything upfront because my ideas are of great import), clueless (I am making up this essay as I go along so of course I can’t tell you much in the intro) or both.

1. Oops! Forgot the Example
Anchor your body paragraphs to your main thesis by using compelling examples. Provide clever examples for your points to illustrate them. Do not use hypothetical examples. Be concrete. Everything you say must be backed up by real world evidence.

You have completed the Essay Section Guide! We offer practice essays for you to hone your skills.