A Template Approach to the GMAT Essay

You will be given an essay topic that ETS expects to be debatable. In other words, about half of the people will agree with one side, while the other half will agree with the other side.ETS will not give you a topic that most people agree on. For example, you will not see a topic asking you to give your opinion on the value of education for children, nor on whether or not the government should have programs to decrease the number of the drug users.

However, you might see an essay topic asking you to give your opinion on school vouchers, for example, or you might see a topic asking you to pick whether you think it is primarily the government's or the family’s responsibility to prevent drug use among children.
In general, do not take one side of the argument completely. A good rule of thumb is to argue your opinion at about 60 percent or 70 percent. I should emphasize this—even if you believe you are one hundred percent correct, you should still pretend that you are 60 or 70 percent correct.

Although the GMAT essay scorers are trained to forgive certain mistakes given the time constraints of the essay, ETS can be very picky. Pay attention to your grammar, spelling, and logicalsequence, just to name a few. How can you improve your score? ETS also looks for sentence variety and ability to use language. I will show you some simple ways to do this—really, it's not that hard!

First of all, you have to figure out why they chose this as a topic. Remember—not everybody will agree, in fact it should be about 50/50. This is your hint. Try to find about five points for and against each side (ten points total). Don't worry if you think that your points are stupid or trivial. The important thing right now is just to get some ideas down on paper, to start your brain working.

Second, figure out which side you are going to take. Duh.

Third, start writing! Don’t worry about an introduction or a conclusion right now—they are the hardest to write and everybody gets hung up on them. Just get your ideas down first.

Next, make sure you have about three or four paragraphs. You should be thinking about adding some examples now. Try to make one personal, maybe from your country and another one either international or American (the idea is that most educated Americans will have heard about the topic before). Don’t make your examples too personal! Imagine your prospective boss is reading this.

Now, go back and spice up your language—add something witty, an illustrative anecdote, a rhetorical question, even sarcasm or irony. Also, try changing the order of some of your sentences, i.e., put the subordinate clause first.

Almost done! Write your intro and conclusion!

Last, check grammar and spelling. Viola! A perfect essay!


Okay, let’s try the essay now.

First Paragraph: Introduction

The issue/belief/idea/opinion that ______________________________________ is an interesting/controversial one. This issue is increasingly important in this age of ___________________________. Many people believe _________________________, but these people overlook _________________________________________________. Furthermore, _____________________________________. In this essay, I will argue that __________________________________________________ _______________.

Second Paragraph: Support

There are many good reasons for ____________________________. However, it cannot be ignored/overlooked that ___________________________. A classic example of this is ___________________________________________ . Try to add something interesting in this paragraph. Make sure you use a few complicated structures—try putting a subordinate clause first. Like this: While many type of professional promote the notion that _____________________________, I believe the opposite should be argued given the current situation/status/ of ____________________________________.

I have argued _______________________. This view will become increasingly dominant in the coming century given ________________________________. Many of these issues can never be resolved to everybody’s satisfaction, but in the long run, promoting ________________________________ will lead to the betterment of all involved. Finally, _____________________________ increased something like global cooperation, cultural understanding, blah, blah, blah can only result from this, resulting in ______________________________ for everybody.


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Vocab Power Updated Daily

  • COBBLED - Repair or mend
  • ABHORRENCE - Hate coupled with disgust
  • INCUMBENCY - The term during which some position is held
  • MITIGATE -Lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
  • dubious - Open to doubt or suspicion
  • FOSTERING - Encouragement; aiding the development of something
  • ELICIT- Call forth (emotions, feelings, and responses)
  • PLAUSIBLE - Apparently reasonable and valid, and truthful
  • FORGE - Move ahead steadily
  • BOLSTER (V)-Support and strengthen
  • ECCENTRIC- A person with an unusual or odd personality
  • PATRONAGE - The act of providing approval and support
  • IMPERVIOUS - Not admitting of passage or capable of being affected

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