Originally Posted: Sep 24, 2012
Last Updated: Apr 28, 2016
The GRE has two essays: the Issue and the Argument essay. The new revised GMAT only has one: the Argument essay. Here are some tips to beef up your essay-writing skills!
Don’t waffle. And don’t try to take a “middle of the road” approach. Even if you don’t 100% believe in the side you’ve chosen to defend, defend it to your full capacity. In 30 minutes, you won’t be able to address the full complexity of the issue.
No example is “too” specific. As long as you can argue logically that it supports your thesis, no example is “too” specific. Most essays are way too general. If you are using an example from personal experience, a little detail can go a long way. Replace abstracts with absolutes.
Use the opposing side. A great way to strengthen your own argument is to acknowledge that there is in fact complexity to the issue. However, if you bring up and describe the opposing side, make sure to criticize it effectively and reiterate that your side is the only one that is valid. This is a great tool to use in your conclusion, although many students include it in an additional body paragraph.
Don’t lie. Ever. Made up statistics and facts won’t impress the GMAT graders, but strong organization, logical arguments, and specific supportive examples will. Don’t be tempted to make up data because you are not an “expert” in the subject matter.
Be clear, not pedantic. Focus more on conveying your argument succinctly and forcefully than on sounding scholarly. Don’t include long-winded sentences that go nowhere in the hopes of sounding more intelligent. The argument essay needs to be formal, but more importantly, forceful.
Remember: you already know your thesis. No matter what the prompt, your thesis is essentially, “the argument is flawed.” All you have to do is come up with solid logic backed by specific examples that show why.
Criticize the wording of the argument. An easy way to find fault in the structure of the argument is to pick apart its diction. Just how many is “many”? Exactly what does the author mean by “benefits”? Look for vague wording and qualifying language to attack. It will be there!