Does the E-rater impact human graders?

The E-rater potentially puts pressure on human graders. Human graders will create problems if they constantly disagree with the E-rater and force a third, additional grader to look over the essay (this raises costs). In this way, the E-rater acts as a managerial tool to double-check graders and keep them in line. The bottom line: don’t rely on your essay being appealing to the human grader. There is no guarantee that the grader will give you a high grade to counter a low E-rater grade. Try to follow the E-rater rules.

What are the implications for the GMAT student?

On the Issue Essay:

You should not try any bold or original approaches in your essay. The essay should be written in a simple and organized fashion. If you write a boldly original piece, do not rely on the human grader to acknowledge the quality of your writing. This may not be the place to expound upon how your master’s thesis ties in with your GMAT essay.

On the Argument Essay:

The E-rater makes more sense on the Argument Essay because it is able to tell if you have identified the argument’s logical flaw. The E-rater stores hundreds of essays for each essay question and you should use keywords that correspond the stored “6” essays. When you have identified the logical flaws the essay questions, (use our “usual suspects” section to identify logical flaws), make sure to describe the logical flaws. This way the E-rater is able to detect that you have identified the correct logical flaws.


Pleasing the E-rater:

  1. Make your essay highly rigid in structure. Make it look, in its organization, like other 5 and 6 essays.
  2. Clearly demarcate sections using phrases such as “for example”, “therefore”, etc..
  3. Use qualifiers judiciously. The E-rater will associate careful use of qualifiers with high scorers.
  4. Read our 20 Real Essays essays to get a flavor for how “6” score writing is done.
  5. Use the exact terminology we do in the Usual Suspects section to identify logical reasoning flaws in the Argument Section.

Errors that will ruin your score with the E-rater (DO NOT):

  1. Write an essay in a unique and creative fashion.The E-rater will be evaluating you relative to other writers, so a unique argument structure will not appear standard and will always backfire.
  2. Misspell key phrases, such as “for example” and “therefore”. The E-rater will not pick this up and assume that you did not use transition phrases.
  3. Throw in jokes and other unnecessary commentary.The E-rater will not detect the meaning under your writing, only its structure, so making clever comments will not raise your score.
  4. Use unusual references that no other business school student would use.The E-rater uses other scorers as a template based on how well you resemble other scorers. On the Analysis of Issue question, if you do use unusual examples, try to use concept keywords and a tight structure.5. Avoid or overuse qualifiers such as “likely”, “should”, etc.. (link to qualifiers).Some of the best essay writers use qualifiers, which means the high score essays in the E-rater’s database will be filled with essays saturated with qualifiers. However, do not overuse qualifiers or it will dilute your essay.
  5. Use a unique and clever rhetorical device that spices up your essay. The E-rater cannot detect cleverness and may find an essay like this confusing, redundant or disorganized.
  6. Follow Steve Jobs’ clever advertising campaign for Apple “Think Different”. For the AWA it is “Think the Same”. You want to write as “6” scorers write. The Analysis of Issue section, in particular, is an exercise in conformity. Write opinions in the mainstream of intellectual thought. You may have compelling evidence about the role of UFO’s in our daily lives, but your GMAT essay is not the place to introduce this startling news to the world.
What GMAT score would you get? Take a free diagnostic GMAT with videos and tutor support.