Common Writing Errors to Avoid On GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment

You may know what you need to know to develop a good writing style for the analytical writing assessment, but becoming a better writer takes practice. Fortunately, you can rapidly improve your writing style (and your analytical writing assessment score) if you avoid these ten common writing mistakes!

Composing Complicated Sentences

The chances of making multiple grammar and punctuation errors increase with the length and complexity of your sentences. If you need to improve your writing in a hurry, concentrate on simplicity. Make your point, end your sentence, and move on. Remember that the readers have to grade many exams. Don’t make your reader work too hard to understand your sentences. You can (and should ) use a variety of sentence structures, but keep them simple.

Presenting Your Text in Passive Voice

Active voice is clearer and more powerful than the passive voice. Passive voice uses more words than are necessary and clouds the main action. You’re much more likely to make errors in verb usage with a passive sentence. Remember that the passive voice is only really appropriate when the doer of the action is unknown or unimportant, such as in scientific writing. For business writing and the GMAT, use active voice.

If you need a quick refresher on the difference between active and passive, consider these two sentences: Active voice should be used on the GMAT is passive, because no one is doing the action. You should use active voice on the GMAT is active.

Wasting Time with Unfamiliar Words

Trying to impress the essay readers with your advanced vocabulary is tempting. But if you aren’t completely familiar with a word’s meaning, don’t use it on the GMAT. GMAT readers focus more on how you organize and support your thoughts than on the reading level of your essay. And they’ll take points off your score if you misuse words. You have only 30 minutes to develop your argument, so don’t waste time coming up with five-syllable words unless you just happen to use them in your normal conversation.

Using Unclear (or Zero) Transitions

Tell your reader where your argument is going by including clear transitions. With just one or two words, you can tell the reader whether the next paragraph continues the current idea, refutes it, or moves in a new direction. Using transition words and phrases can really improve your assessment score.

Going Overboard with Generic Terms

To clarify your points and excite your reader, pack your sentences with lively and unambiguous descriptions rather than fuzzy generalities (like interesting, great, and awful). Your writing makes a greater impact and will receive a higher score when you fortify it with expressive language.

Writing in Informal English

Save slang and creative capitalization and punctuation for the e-mails you send to your friends and coworkers. For the GMAT, apply the rules of standard written English you learned in grammar class.

Giving a Laundry List of Examples

Satisfy essay readers with a few clearly developed examples to back up your points rather than a list of undeveloped examples. Readers are more concerned with the depth of your supporting evidence than they are with its quantity. In fact, you could earn a 6 with just one example if you develop it well.

Succumbing to Sentence Fragments

Your essay shouldn’t read like an outline. Fully develop your thoughts with properly punctuated complete sentences and well-organized paragraphs.

Announcing a Position

Both essay prompts require you to adopt a position. But merely stating your position and jumping into your argument is insufficient. Introduce your essay with a brief analysis of the argument or issue that shows the readers you understand what you’re writing about.
Putting Aside Proofreading Leave yourself enough time at the end of the 30 minutes to quickly read through your essay and correct any obvious errors. Plan on using about three minutes to proofread and eliminate careless errors. Doing so could raise your score a complete point.

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