Jargon includes two categories of words that you should avoid. The first is the specialized vocabulary of a particular group, such as doctors, lawyers, or baseball coaches. Second is the overly inflated or complex language that burdens many student essays. You will not impress anyone with big words that do not fit the tone or context of your essay, especially if you misuse them.

If you are not certain of a word’s meaning or appropriateness, leave it out. An appropriate word, even a simple one, will add impact to your argument. Ask yourself, “Would a reader in a different field be able to understand exactly what I mean from the words I’ve chosen?” “Is there any way that I can say the same thing more simply?”

MBA candidates are particularly prone to using MBA jargon. When you go to business school, you will find that MBAs have a language of their own with words such as “incentivize” or “M & A”. Indeed, you will find that a large part of the lasting benefit of business school is learning the proper MBA language to help you better relate to the MBAs who dominate the business world. For now, however, the GRE is not the place for MBA jargon or any jargon for that matter.

Replace jargon with the words in parentheses:

  • optimize (make most efficient/make most favorable
  • time frame (length, duration)
  • utilize (use)
  • finalize (end, complete)
  • conceptualize (imagine, think)
  • maximize (get the most)
  • originate (start, begin)
  • facilitate (help, speed up)
  • bottom line (profits)
  • parameter (boundary, limit)
  • user-friendly (responsive, flexible, easy-to-understand)
  • input/output (considerations/results)
  • blindside (bypass)
  • downside (worst possible outcome)
  • ongoing (continuing)

Your essay graders may not be up to date on the latest trendy abbreviations. Also avoid lazy and sloppy statements like “top-line/bottom line”. Slashes and numbered items are completely inappropriate. You are not making a business presentation or writing a marketing plan; you are writing a formal essay to graders, many of whom were English majors. Graders are quickly annoyed by trite phrases.

Read the following paragraph from an actual essay (unedited) submitted to 800score’s essay grading service to get a feel for what jargon sounds like.

Profit maximization is the core activity of any progressive and professional company of the world today. The success of the CEO is rated by the fact in his / her tenure how much ROC employed or what was his net contribution to the top-line / bottom-line of the company and hence the shareholder value. The dilemma of an organization to be termed profitable and successful emanates by the fact that what is the turn-over and what is the revenue of the company, hence all the functions of an organization is aimed at taking up activity which will make more profit.

Evaluate the following sentences for jargon.

Drill #1.
With reference to the poem, I submit that the second and third stanzas connote a certain despair.


Answer. When the poet wrote the second and third stanzas, he must have felt despair.

Drill #2. Allow me to elucidate my position: This horse is the epitome, the very quintessence of equine excellence.


Answer. This is a fine horse.

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