November 5th, 2007

Learning to Write

Of late, the biggest part of my life has been preparing for the GMAT. I think writing is particularly important, and there's an essay section on the GMAT. That has been my biggest area for of focus. I invested a real effort looking for good tools to help my essay writing. Apparently, this is not the primary focus of the rest of the world: nobody sells anything specificly targeted at the GMAT essay section. Peculiarly, the essays are graded, in part, by a computer program. The makers of this program also sell automated online writing coaches. I felt that that would be the right place to apply my energies.

Selecting the right coach turned out to be a bigger challenge than I had anticipated. From the outset, I was pretty sure that I didn't need the “Faith and Values” writing coach. I decided to go with the “College” writing coach before I realized that it hasn't yet been released. I broke down and asked for help. They recommended the “Professional” writing coach. I ran with it. They caught me off-guard when the first lesson was based on an essay justifying censorship in school; I had been pretty sure that I hadn't bought the “Faith and Values” coach. None the less, I plowed through the lesson and got to my first assignment.

I like my writing: I enjoy reading my casual writing and I feel that my more formal writing is very effective. The computer does not like my writing. Ironically, the more I like the writing, the less the computer does. Fortunately, I get feedback. Why didn't it like my writing? Good argumentative writing can easily be identified because it has a thesis, three supporting arguments, two points to back up each argument, and 1 SAT word per paragraph. I didn't know that. I had thought that good argumentative writing just had to persuade a reader to some idea.

Though I find the lessons disagreeable, as long as I only have to use the skills they teach on one exam, I can handle them.