Sunday, June 14, 2009

Essays and warming up math for GMAT

The last theory part of Cracking the GMAT 2009 was about essays writing (AWA). Overall, it was very okay, I liked it, although it looks like to makes some points controversial to official guide.

Why business schools need AWA on GMAT? They want to protect themselves a little bit against those non-native speakers who actually paid to have their essays written. Well, it might be so.

One of the important points — write as much as you can. Length matters. There is a statistical research that says that the length of essay is related to better score. I believe official GMAT guide says a little bit different things.

While the people who scores the AWA are supposed to ignore minor errors in spelling and grammar, you should be ready them not to. Keep in mind that we're all people and having only 2 minutes for an essay your graders might use to nail down the obvious mistakes only and these are your errors in spelling and grammar.

Pages 326-328 give you a nice template to Analysis of an Issue (AI) part. Don't use it as is though. Make sure to develop your own style or you can be easily caught by an "E-rater" — computerized grader of your essay.

There is a good organizational structure for AI on page 331:
  1. First paragraph to illustrate your understanding of a topic, chosing a position. Restate, express your feeling, but stay limited to couple of sentences.
  2. Second, third and fourth are to develop your examples and ideas to support your thesis.
  3. The last paragraph should sum up your position, but make sure to use slightly different words from the first paragraph.
Make sure to demonstrate a good vocabulary as well as don't go too deeply into finding unsual ideas to support your position. There is a possibility to be graded lower because of missing some obvious points, even if you took a deeper and more educated look at the problem.

Make sure to be specific and stay away from over-generalization.

Next thoughts are about Analysis of an Argument part (AA). Page 335 has a good intro and template for it, as well.

The organizational notes are the following:
  1. First paragraph should sum up the argument's conclusion.
  2. Second, third and fourth are used to attack the argument and supporting evidence.
  3. In the last paragraph you should summarize what you've said and show how the argument could be strengthened.
Starting from page 340 I found a very good ideas on preconstructions. VEry easy things that can be easily used.

On more thing is this is good to use some book to reference your ideas to. While this is not a panacea and not always possible, you might have a recent book or favorite one which you could use.

At the end I went through the warm-up math test which consisted of 20 questions. Unfortunetly, I made 4 mistakes (I was aware about 2 of them and other 2 were careless), but still went into the top one third section and supposed to start from math bins 3 and 4.

Technically, it looks like I'm switching to the hands-on practice again and it'll be less to blog about, except the hard questions.