Free GMAT Course > GMAT AWAC > 10 Most Common Errors

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.

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 makes 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”

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. Any sordid details of your life should not be introduced into your GMAT AWA essay.

7. Not Leaving Time to Proofread

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.

6. Too Many Opinions

The AWA is not a place to write your own opinions. Your task is to demonstrate your ability to analyze an argument. Your essay should focus on breaking down the author’s argument and using examples, counterexamples and alternate situations to show that the argument’s logic is flawed.

5. Rambling

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

4. 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 AWA 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 AWA writers often “pass out” at the end and paste on a weak 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. Many writers do not lay out 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 avoid this mistake 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 you’ll be able to outline them briefly and clearly in your intro.

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.

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