Writing is a skill that can often be overlooked. With a strong resume, reputable degree, and a bit of charisma, you can get far. However, once you enter into an Online MBA program or attain higher status positions, having strong written communication skills is a must. Working to improve your writing skills before you begin an Online MBA will benefit you as you work through the program and beyond.
There are over 2,300 graduate-level business schools around the world and more than 7,000 programs that either accept or require GMAT scores as part of their admissions process. The analytical writing portion of the test requires that students critically analyze an argument in just 30 minutes. This requires critical thinking skills and the ability to thoughtfully convey a message in written form. Both of these skills directly transfer to Online MBA coursework, as well as communicating with employees or coworkers effectively.
Most graduate students understand the importance of being able to complete written assignments. But, you may be wondering how you can improve writing skills in this specific area. Here are a few tips to feeling more confident in your analytical writing ability for the GMAT and beyond.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
One of the best ways to improve your analytical writing skills is to prepare. GMAT and GRE students can do this by researching possible prompts and practicing writing, looking at past example essays, and enrolling in a GMAT or GRE prep course that covers this material. You can glean important tips, not just on actual writing, but how to be more efficient by creating an outline before you dig into your essay during the test.
Just how you can’t learn to fly an airplane in a day, you can’t improve your writing skills in just one sitting. But potential Online MBA students can rest in this fact, all the writing preparation is not just for a single test on one day. MBA students will have plenty of written assignments throughout a program. Not only to present your own ideas, but also to be able to respond to peers in your courses. Thoughtful and persistent preparation will offer ripple effects for years to come.
Critical Reading Skills
To be a great writer, it is important to first be a great reader. For those prepping for the GMAT/GRE, this means really paying attention to the directions and prompts given. Online MBA students will also utilize this skill during reading assignments, quizzes, discussion boards, and more. As business leaders, graduates must have the ability to read directions, understand and utilize information in emails, and share that information with their teams.
Delivery and Language Choice
When taking the analytical writing portion of the GMAT, test takers are expected to share their views of an issue or topic in a thoughtful, clear, and relevant way. The focus of this section is an objective critique of the argument provided. Achieving a respectable score requires clear and concise language. According to ETS, words such as somewhat, rather, might be, and probably should be avoided. On that same note, over-confidence is not desired either. Finding this balance can be tricky. Online MBA programs help students develop their critical thinking, leadership, and communication abilities so that as they enter the workforce, they are comfortable with this skill set. For example, those in management must also have very precise language choices. If directions are not clear and delivered in an appropriate tone, they will be seen as too passive (and not worth listening to) or too authoritative (and threatening or not respectful). Written communication is a key component to successfully interacting with others in the business world.
The first step to success in the analytical writing section of the GMAT and GRE is preparation. As we mentioned before, this is a foundation for excellence in many other areas as well. This often meetings looking at examples and doing your research. If you don’t have extra funds, that can mean a quick Google search or checking into one of the resources listed below.
The following are reputable sources for sample AWA writing prompts. While these will not be identical to the prompts given on the test, they are either similar or have been used on previous versions of the test.
According to Magoosh (a leading educational test prep resource), there are several types of analytical writing prompts for the GRE. These include
- Intellectual Endeavors
- Government and Power
For those with additional room in their budget, who are still looking to save, a GMAT/GRE test prep book may be the best solution for you.
This GMAT prep resource was created by the experts at the Princeton Review. It includes six practice tests, online add ons, and covers all areas of the GMAT, including the writing portion. There are also tips and techniques woven throughout the book to help you find test success.
The Mometrix GMAT Prep Book helps students gain a stronger understanding of vocabulary, logical organization, and principles behind analytical writing. Full practice tests are included with explanations for answers. Online videos also break down elements of the test.
GMAT For Dummies includes seven online practice tests, 500 digital flashcards, details on how to create a study plan, and a pre-assessment test to help you identify what areas need the most improvement. A full section on integrated reasoning and writing makes this a no-brainer for those who struggle with the analytical writing portion of the test.
Improving writing skills is a worthwhile investment whether you are studying for the GMAT, in grad school, or working in a corporate office. The ability to present information in a decisive manner is something that will always be beneficial. A well-rounded Online MBA candidate has exceptional skills in many areas. Improving your quantitative and verbal skills is another step to acing the GMAT, improving your MBA admissions possibilities, and preparing for your dream job. Our article to Improving Quantitative Skills and Improving Verbal Skills are designed specifically for this task.