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We all know that the essay on the GMAT is scored separately and that the schools don’t care as much about the essay score. We also know we have to write the essays first thing, before we get to the more important quant and verbal sections (or even IR), so we don’t want to use up too much brain-power on the essay. Still, we can’t just bomb this section; the schools do care about the essay somewhat. So how do we do a good enough job without expending so much energy that we’re negatively affected during the multiple-choice portion of the test?
We need to develop a template, an organizational framework on which to hang our writing. The template will not, of course, tell us exactly what to write. For that, we need the actual essay prompt, which we won’t see until we take the test. We can, however, determine how to organize the information ahead of time, as well as the general kinds of messages we need to convey at various points throughout.
The template should tell us:
- how many paragraphs to use
- the primary purpose of each of those paragraphs
- the kinds of information that need to be conveyed in each paragraph
The template will vary a little bit from person to person; the important thing is to have a consistent template for yourself that you’ve worked out in advance of the official test.
As a general rule, essays should have either four or five paragraphs total. The first paragraph is always the introduction, the last paragraph is always the conclusion, and the body (middle) paragraphs are for the examples we choose to use.
Each paragraph should contain certain things; these are listed in the below sections. The information does not need to be presented in the given order below, though; just make sure that each paragraph does contain the necessary information in some sort of clear and logical order. In addition, the information listed below is the minimum necessary info; you can certainly add more where appropriate.