A motivational letter or a writing assignment in IELTS, TOEFL, SAT, GMAT formats. In any 99papers review you are required not only to know English, but also the logic of statements. Getting people to think more, to develop their thinking is the goal of what Mary Metzger, a professor at New York University, has been doing for 25 years. Mrs. Metzger doesn’t use the «50 Best Entrance Essays» or «Writing for Dummies» books. She keeps her methodology for writing successful essays in her head so she can share it with her students in class. Mary shared some of the secrets of her methodology with StudyLab.
There are several types of essays
- A statement that the student has to answer on their own. This is the level of the GMAT test.
- A situation where you are asked about a social problem. This is typical for the SAT, TOEFL exams.
- A personal question of the type «They opened a pizzeria in your house. Are you happy or not?» This is an IELTS-level question.
What do universities expect from you?
The first thing you do with any type of statement is to address it, to repeat it: «The question before us…/ The issue of ‘bla-bla-bla’/ My feelings about…».
On the GMAT exam, you «destroy» the statement, you create a reverse statement, you show what is on the other side of that statement, what is NOT said. Then you say, for example: «Well, it may be true that this thing can identify diseases, but it’s certainly, there are diseases that it cannot cure. You have to come to this conclusion on your own.
On the TOEFL exam, there is an analysis of a social problem (this is a lower level than the GMAT). Example: «Should all the people be required to take a test to get their driver’s license?» and you are given options: «Some say yes,» «some say no.» So you’re given options, and that’s the difference between the types of questions on the exams. On a personal question (on the IELTS) there is no choice, just say what you think about one side of the question. At the higher level (TOEFL, SAT) – the student has to spell out what is good and what is bad. He has to choose what he agrees with. At the highest level of the paper (such as the GMAT), you have to create your own statement and that’s the hardest part. Universities test the student to see if he or she can reveal both sides of an issue, extract the whole, create the opposite, and critique the statement. There are no more clues here.
Any essay has three parts
Whether it’s the GMAT or the SAT, it doesn’t matter. Say what you’re going to say, say it, and say it again. («Say what you’re going to say, say it and say it again.») That’s the three steps. It’s a formula and you can’t deviate from it: «concept, judgment, inference.» When I teach students to write essays, I teach them to find connections. No one needs grammar, and grammatical errors should not be considered a serious flaw. I don’t require the student to have an abundance of vocabulary. When you write an essay, give examples, they don’t have to be real. Make them up! The university needs to understand if the student knows what he or she is supposed to do, if he or she knows how to write an essay.
I’ll tell you a story
One of the most talented students I had to work with was from Yemen. I was teaching him critical writing for an essay assignment to determine if the student could get into college. The writing assignment question was, «They say white Americans should apologize to black people for slavery. Black Americans say they don’t need to apologize to them, they need to be paid. White Americans say these are actions against whites.» Basically, the type of essay where options are given and you have to say what you think. What do universities require you to do in this case? – To critique each aspect and come to your own conclusion. So, my student’s work was done just brilliantly, there were no words! He wrote, «Yes, black Americans should apologize.» But he also created three points of his own: «Not only should black Americans be apologized to, but also to women, for the way the state has behaved toward them: infringing on their rights, imposing discrimination, not paying them. Besides women, it wouldn’t hurt to apologize to Native Americans as well.» And I said: «Oh my God, that’s brilliant!» But the student was slammed. I went to the college to challenge the committee, and I said: «It’s a great essay, the arguments are brilliant.» The university told me, «Yes, but he wrote 50 words less than the stated minimum.» And I realized that it’s not enough to teach a student to write. You need him to be able to write 250-300 words.