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Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews

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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 02 Sep 2013, 10:47
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Thank you everyone who has participated. We are full in terms of essay requests for September.
Please do not send any more essays at this time. We will post an announcement when we start accepting the essays again.
Thanks Souvik!

To everyone else - glad that these are becoming popular! Remember that EssaySnark does reviews of essays on the blahg too. We're a little backed up there as well but we definitely will be posting more in September.
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 09 Sep 2013, 14:29

EssaySnark Essay Review! Stanford Essay 3: “when you went beyond what was defined or established”


We're on a Stanford binge! Well no wonder, right? Those essays are HARD! We already tackled the biggie – Stanford Essay 1 – what matters most. And we did a Stanford career goals review too. Now today, we're wrapping it all up with a review of Stanford Essay 3.

Before we go too far, you should know that any of the three options are fine to answer. There is no better one over the others. You can choose any of these prompts and go to town with it with confidence. Just pick the one that you can write the strongest story for; don't overthink it. They're equivalent in the adcom's eyes.

Here's the question this Brave Supplicant chose:

Tell us about a time in the last three years when you went beyond what was defined or established.

And then they said:

(No specific word limit – I have taken it as 600 words)

And we got a little worried at that. That's really a lot more words than the adcom suggests; they say that 400 is a good number for this one. If you're spending 200 more words than recommended on this essay then what have you sacrificed with the others?? This is cause for concern. There's no way that you can do a good job on career goals in 250 words... which means that it's the all-important “matters most” essay that you've cheated yourself on. You wrote about what matters most to you in fewer words than you wrote about this? That instantly raises questions in EssaySnark's mind – but we didn't get the “matters most” essay and so we don't know how it was handled.

Just a warning to the BSer that maybe a re-examination is in order.

In terms of the actual Stanford Essay 3, here's the start of it:

I was recruited as a Planning Engineer to my present company straight out of college in 2011. The construction sector was at a stand still. My recruiting organization especially was going through a very bad phase. In spite of this, I chose this company as my first preference because I always believed that steering a ship through troubled waters is what makes a good helmsman. Starting my career with this mindset really helped me in seeing optimism in the pessimistic situation.

So we hafta say, that first sentence is actually kinda useful. It would be more useful if you actually named names – what is this “present company” that recruited you? Don't force the reader to pick up the resume to know the data. Include it. This goes for all BSers everywhere. But that first sentence is nicely establishing some time and place for the essay, and that's always a good way to begin.

In fact, taken in a vacuum, the whole first paragraph ain't so bad: it gives some insight into the BSer's motivations in accepting this job and gives a little taste of this person's attitude towards things. This is offering information about the BSer that goes beyond straight facts, and it can be very helpful for the adcom – you're communicating a variety of things in that paragraph.

The problem is, there's nothing in that paragraph that's related to the essay question. Sure, you need to establish a time and place for the situation that you're going to discuss in the essay. And maybe that first paragraph does that. But in terms of literally serving THIS essay and setting the stage for THIS question... it's not actually doing much.

Another issue for us is the metaphor introduced in the middle about steering a ship – that threw us off. Do you work in shipping? On a boat? It may seem innocent enough to use that particular metaphor but it actually made us stumble. Your goal in writing your essays needs to be a) answer the question, b) communicate new information about yourself, and c) write in a way that lets the reader move quickly through the material. These are all equally difficult and equally important – but that last one? If you write stuff that makes the reader have to stop and go back and re-read? That is avoidable. You don't want to do that. You want them to be able to breeze through and easily pick up the awesomeness that you're laying down.

We're not saying that it's wrong to use that metaphor, just that it put a roadbump in the way for us. It made the 'Snark brain twist up in confusion for a brief moment, which is never what you want to happen.

The main reason we're harping on that metaphor – besides the fact that it threw us off since you're apparently not in the shipping industry – is that it sets expectations in the reader for what you're going to talk about in the essay. By using that in the intro, the reader has an understanding that your essay is going to be about a time when you were a good helmsman, when you steered some ship (or team or project or whatever) through troubled waters. With a metaphor like that, the reader will presume that you're going to talk about how you saved the day and rescued the maiden and brought us all to safety.

But alas, that is not what the essay is about.

The BSer might think that that's what the essay is about. But it's not.

Here's what we get in the second paragraph:

Being good at computers, I saw an opportunity to computerize day-to-day tasks to help save time. Our company has a good ERP system called EASYCOIN. I took the help of this program to integrate one of the most time consuming processes of manually creating Bar Bending Schedules to the ERP system. Now, all it takes is a matter of 20 minutes to generate a BBS with detailed drawings – which earlier took more than an hour. This system is now being widely used in over 40 construction sites all across the country.

This paragraph made us lose hope. If we hadn't kept reading, we would've assumed the BSer totally missed the point for this essay, and for applying to Stanford in general.

This paragraph sounds like a complete topic for a Stanford Essay 3 all by itself – but a) there's not nearly enough information in here to show what the BSer did that was so awesome, and even worse, b) this paragraph makes this BSer sound just like all the other engineer applicants (and we know from this person's GMAT Club username that they're Indian). So you're reinforcing the main thing that you want to be moving beyond in your essay strategy. In addition, there's all this jargon-y stuff. Your adcom reader probably knows what an ERP system is – but we never like to see any acronyms in essays, they're just not necessary and often they completely get in the way.

That one paragraph either needs to be expanded to become the entire essay – or, probably a better strategy in this case, needs to be cut completely. The BSer actually went on in the remainder of the essay to present some story about how they did a whole bunch of other things – something about taking over at a project that was in trouble and something else about getting a client to pay a lot more money. Either of those could potentially be a good topic for Stanford Essay 3 – but we strongly recommend that you pick just ONE story and go into details on it.

What this BSer is missing in every single story that they've crammed in here – and there are at least three, probably more – is that they're not talking about WHAT THEY DID. They brush way too fast past some stuff about problems and how they got assigned to a position but then BOOM all is fixed, everything is perfect, everyone loves you – and they never say what they actually did to create any of those results.

Not effective.

This essay is too long for us to post the whole thing and discuss – look at how much of your time we've wasted already – but hopefully you will agree with our assessment that, despite how that opening might have value in some context, in this essay, those first two paragraphs are misguided and not necessary – and if the whole essay is already 200 words too long, then there's some obvious need for focus and revision. You need to have ONE story in this essay - “Tell us about a time” - not a mishmash kitchen sink dump of random miscellaneous everything. Find the core example of how you're amazing and tell us about that. In detail. Start to finish. Focus. Refine. Polish.

Hope that helps. Good luck, Brave Supplicant!



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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2013, 04:50
essaysnark wrote:
not a mishmash kitchen sink dump of random miscellaneous everything.


Nice way to say " your essay is sh!t" :roll:

Thanks a lot for your review. Looks like this BS needs to improve a lot! :|
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2013, 06:23
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ankurq7 wrote:
essaysnark wrote:
not a mishmash kitchen sink dump of random miscellaneous everything.


Nice way to say " your essay is sh!t" :roll:

Thanks a lot for your review. Looks like this BS needs to improve a lot! :|

It wasn't that bad - we've seen way worse!! You had elements of goodness scattered about... but yeah, room for improvement too. Good luck with it!!
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2013, 06:32
ankurq7 wrote:
essaysnark wrote:
not a mishmash kitchen sink dump of random miscellaneous everything.


Nice way to say " your essay is sh!t" :roll:

Thanks a lot for your review. Looks like this BS needs to improve a lot! :|


Don't feel bad... My friend who got into Duke and UCLA just reviewed my Duke essay and basically told me to scrap it and rewrite it but said I can still make early admissions deadline for Duke. I feel your pain brah!
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2013, 23:13
Hey EssaySnark,

A quick question here.

For US bschool applications, is it OK to specify the monetary impact in the essays in terms of INR (in my case)? As you know, the Rupee is really unstable right now and the current conversion rates into USD is pretty high. The "time i made the impact" was a while ago and converting it to USD at the current exchange rate will not give a clear indication of the enormity of monetary impact I had actually made.
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2013, 23:30
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ankurq7 wrote:
Hey EssaySnark,

A quick question here.

For US bschool applications, is it OK to specify the monetary impact in the essays in terms of INR (in my case)? As you know, the Rupee is really unstable right now and the current conversion rates into USD is pretty high. The "time i made the impact" was a while ago and converting it to USD at the current exchange rate will not give a clear indication of the enormity of monetary impact I had actually made.



Unless it is an indian school, I would not use INR since adcoms are probably not familiar with the exchange rate and may get confused. Imagine quoting a price in Brazilian reals or Mexican Pesos or RMB, or Russian rubles. Would you be impressed with a financial figure in those currencies?

I would use the original savings/impact back when it happened. E.g. is $24 a lot of money? Not today, but a few hundred years ago (4 hundred to be specific), a dude was able to purchase an island of Manhattan for $24.... which is still a screaming deal since it is about $1,000 today.
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 15 Sep 2013, 05:06
bb wrote:
ankurq7 wrote:
Hey EssaySnark,

A quick question here.

For US bschool applications, is it OK to specify the monetary impact in the essays in terms of INR (in my case)? As you know, the Rupee is really unstable right now and the current conversion rates into USD is pretty high. The "time i made the impact" was a while ago and converting it to USD at the current exchange rate will not give a clear indication of the enormity of monetary impact I had actually made.



Unless it is an indian school, I would not use INR since adcoms are probably not familiar with the exchange rate and may get confused. Imagine quoting a price in Brazilian reals or Mexican Pesos or RMB, or Russian rubles. Would you be impressed with a financial figure in those currencies?

I would use the original savings/impact back when it happened. E.g. is $24 a lot of money? Not today, but a few hundred years ago (4 hundred to be specific), a dude was able to purchase an island of Manhattan for $24.... which is still a screaming deal since it is about $1,000 today.
Actually, you should use both. It can look strange to an adcom reader for values to be quoted only in dollars when it's a Indian at an Indian company working on an Indian project. The standard is to cite INR with the $-equivalent in parenthesis. You can use the value at the time, as BB said.

Separately though: We're concerned that you're featuring stories where you made an impact a long time ago. That in itself is a bit of a red flag for us. Your essays should be focused on tales of how you've been a superstar in recent years. Maybe it's fine but just be careful with that; you don't want to use stale and dated stuff in your main essays.

Good luck with it!
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 15 Sep 2013, 07:58
essaysnark wrote:
Actually, you should use both. It can look strange to an adcom reader for values to be quoted only in dollars when it's a Indian at an Indian company working on an Indian project. The standard is to cite INR with the $-equivalent in parenthesis. You can use the value at the time, as BB said.

Separately though: We're concerned that you're featuring stories where you made an impact a long time ago. That in itself is a bit of a red flag for us. Your essays should be focused on tales of how you've been a superstar in recent years. Maybe it's fine but just be careful with that; you don't want to use stale and dated stuff in your main essays.



Well, the "impact" time I am talking about is within the timeframe of a year. And believe it or not, USD to INR exchange rate has gone up by close to 25% within this time.

Talking about parenthesis: To show the monetary impact I had on my project, I have to state its original contract value, the loss it was in when i intervened, and the extra amount I helped the company save. Now, thats 3 huge sums. If i go on writing them in both INR and USD, its not only going to make my essay geeky but also unnecessary longer.

About BB's comparison of INR with Brazilian reals and other currencies - This comparison is really not justified. I mean, Indian applicants are a major pool for all US bschools. Each top school would probably have atleast 600-700 Indian applicants. Do you really think the adcom will not be familiar with INR? They dont really need to know the exchange rates in specific. They just need to know that 400 million Rupees is a big amount. They are obviously not going to convert into USD and interpret it based on the USD amount because India is a much cheaper country. What is a really small project amount in the US in terms of USD can actually help complete a huge project in Indian cities.
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 15 Sep 2013, 09:41
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EssaySnark Essay Review! Another Duke Essay 2: “Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you for why you want to go to Duke”




Eek! The deadlines are here! How did THAT happen?!?

And the BSer who sent this Duke essay in is probably cursing us to see this essay review go up. We apologize for giving it to you so late in the game. Hopefully the previous Duke essay 2 that we reviewed was helpful to any and all who are struggling with these questions. Today we're going to offer another set of comments on the longest essay that any school is asking for this year: Duke essay 2, and what you'd tell your friends.

Here's the question:

When asked by your family, friends and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you

This is a two-page essay so what we're going to do, as usual, is begin at the beginning – it's not that people don't make fatal errors in the middle of their essays, but if you don't get things moving in the right direction from the opening, then it's unlikely you'll be able to recover later on – perhaps in such a long essay you could. Laying your foundation with an appropriate introduction can take you far. So let's examine the foundation that this BSer laid:

“How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? You have to have a dream. You have to be willing to work for it.” As a proud NAME Alumni, these words from the late Jim Valvano echo at the very heart of my family. From my parents who built their dream in America after arriving as refugees of the Vietnam War to my sister who overcame scoliosis and earned her master’s in nursing at UNC, my family is the embodiment of that quote from the now famous Valvano speech during the 1993 ESPYs. Perhaps it is no surprise then that I share the same drive as my family to realize my dreams. Two of my dreams are to have a loving family and a successful career in the high tech industry. In order to capture those lifelong dreams, I need to capture my first dream; an admission to Duke University.

Uh-oh.

First, we're starting with a quote. That's not illegal or anything but... EssaySnark rarely sees it go well. In fact, it's on our perennial Don't Do list.

The problems with starting with a quote are that it's putting the focus immediately some place else. Unless you know the famous person then it's not giving the adcom ANYTHING to go on about YOU.

And this famous person isn't really famous. We have no idea who Jim Valvano is. Is this a Duke alum? That sentence about the “proud alum” doesn't even make sense – there's some big grammar problems there – are you saying that Valvano is the proud alum? Or is that referring to the BSer who's writing the essay? Typically that sentence structure is used when the author is making a point - “As a such-and-such, I think this...” So we're having trouble simply comprehending the points being offered.

And then we look at Wikipedia and... it does reference Duke University in Valvano's profile... but only to say that Mr. Valvano passed away at their hospital facility. This is kind of a head-scratcher. What are the 1993 ESPYs? Is that something your adcom reader is going to know about?

Back to using a quote.

A quote is a gimmick; it distracts. It's wasted words. We very rarely see an essay that pulls off the quote-thing at the top. Wait, let's restate that: We NEVER see it. It's reminiscent of writing a paper for English 101 class in common. In fact, the quote-as-opening is seriously common in college application essays – which, right there, tells you that you shouldn't go down that path. You don't want to appear to be applying for undergrad. You are an ADULT! You have DONE STUFF! You have THINGS TO TALK ABOUT!

Even more important: You need to ANSWER THE QUESTION! And we've never ever heard of a bschool adcom pose an essay question that says, “Tell us about an inspiring quote that you dug up on the Internet that you think will impress us.”

We are belaboring this point because we see this a lot, and it's just not a great way to go. No, you're not going to be rejected from bschool because you start your essay with a quote – but you're cheating yourself, and the adcom, because if you do that, then you are by definition not answering the question.

And that, my friends, is where this BSer fell down the worst.

Remember people: You need to answer the question. And what better place to do that but in the beginning.

While the stuff that this BSer tossed out in the opening is marginally relevant – we can see how most, or maybe all, of it could be included in an essay like this – the whole tone of it, and the way the content is presented, just seems wildly off base for this specific question.

If your best friend asks you, “Why do you want to go to Duke?”, you're going to wax poetic about dreams? Really??

This is some of the same feedback that we gave to the other BSer on that previous version of a Duke 2.

We could've basically gone along with some of that paragraph 1 content but a lot of it? Just not relevant. Sorry to hear that your sister has scoliosis but how is that relevant to your application to the Fuqua School of Business? It's hard to put the pieces together. It's just not a fit to this question.

So let's move on. What did this BSer do with paragraph 2?

Duke always held a special place in my heart but I truly fell in love with the university when I visited in April this past year. The second I walked into the Fuqua building I was greeted by NAME, a class of 2014 candidate who will be working at General Mills in their marketing division. He immediately gushed about the university and confidently stroked his unshaven face remarking how he was a serious contender in the mustache charity contest. At the end of our conversation, he proudly told me how much the school emphasizes “Team Fuqua”, a philosophy built upon “the ideals of collaboration, accountability, and respect… that we are stronger together than we are apart.” As my day progressed, I witnessed firsthand “Team Fuqua” in action.



And we say, “Wow – that looks like a great thing to tell the Fuqua admissions people about!”

That second paragraph – which we've only included a portion of – is way too long – it's this huge intimidating never-ending block of text on the page that goes on forever kind of like this essay review is doing – and that's not good. Give your reader a break. Use that little ENTER key on your keyboard from time to time. Introduce a paragraph break here and there and it'll make your essay more accessible.

But to that content? The second paragraph that this BSer wrote?

Well hot d@mn. We hafta say, we've got ourselves a winner there.

BSer, please ditch paragraph 1 and start your essay on paragraph 2. That is totally the tone and the content and the meaning that Duke wants to see. That is way in line with what they are looking for from you. That is how to do a bang-up job on Duke essay 2. You're talking about your PERSONAL EXPERIENCE on campus. You're relating the reasons why you think you fit there. You are giving us a sense of your values, by talking about what you responded to in your campus visit.

Bravo. That's the way these things are done.

We wish we could go on and do the rest of the paragraph, but alas, this has gone on long enough, and BSers have essays to write! Hope this was helpful! Good luck with Duke, Brave Supplicant!



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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 15 Sep 2013, 18:22
Thanks so much for the review! By the way, I am the bser for the duke essay that was just posted. Sad to say this, and while I really appreciate the input, I ditched that essay and rewrote it haha! I'll give a more detailed post about it after wed (Duke EA deadline), but long story short, my friend who got into Duke about 4 years ago said the essay was too much name dropping and "sucking up" and not enough about me! But I'm really glad to hear that my 2nd paragraph content wise was good and about the first paragraph, he pretty much said it was a load of bs too lol!

Thanks again snark and I'll make sure to give a more detailed post after wed!
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 15 Sep 2013, 18:30
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Thanks so much for the review! By the way, I am the bser for the duke essay that was just posted. Sad to say this, and while I really appreciate the input, I ditched that essay and rewrote it haha! I'll give a more detailed post about it after wed (Duke EA deadline), but long story short, my friend who got into Duke about 4 years ago said the essay was too much name dropping and "sucking up" and not enough about me! But I'm really glad to hear that my 2nd paragraph content wise was good and about the first paragraph, he pretty much said it was a load of bs too lol!

Thanks again snark and I'll make sure to give a more detailed post after wed!
Moral of the story: Send us your FINISHED drafts.
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 15 Sep 2013, 19:23
essaysnark wrote:
kple12 wrote:
Thanks so much for the review! By the way, I am the bser for the duke essay that was just posted. Sad to say this, and while I really appreciate the input, I ditched that essay and rewrote it haha! I'll give a more detailed post about it after wed (Duke EA deadline), but long story short, my friend who got into Duke about 4 years ago said the essay was too much name dropping and "sucking up" and not enough about me! But I'm really glad to hear that my 2nd paragraph content wise was good and about the first paragraph, he pretty much said it was a load of bs too lol!

Thanks again snark and I'll make sure to give a more detailed post after wed!
Moral of the story: Send us your FINISHED drafts.


Haha, I actually thought it was nearly finished because I had three people already review it and he was reviewing it concurrently with yours but then he came back to me about a week ago and was like "uhh... I'm not going to tell you to rewrite it, but you need to change your approach".

Moral of the story for me though alongside sending finished drafts... know your reviewers and make sure your toughest critic reviews it first. The past week has been kinda hell but hopefully it'll all pay off :P
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 15 Sep 2013, 21:08
essaysnark wrote:
Moral of the story: Send us your FINISHED drafts.


Is a draft really ever finished until you submit it? ;) It's difficult to leave an essay alone, especially if the deadline is impending. Usually you have more than one pair of eyes looking at it, since you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket. Simply put, drafts are always a work-in-progress, but that doesn't mean the feedback isn't useful (or that we're not grateful for it!)
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 16 Sep 2013, 02:07
i stumbled upon this thread today.. and i must say it is so cool... great job ES !!
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 16 Sep 2013, 06:47
Thanks a lot Essay Snark.
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 16 Sep 2013, 06:55
missxmelon wrote:
essaysnark wrote:
Moral of the story: Send us your FINISHED drafts.


Is a draft really ever finished until you submit it? ;) It's difficult to leave an essay alone, especially if the deadline is impending. Usually you have more than one pair of eyes looking at it, since you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket. Simply put, drafts are always a work-in-progress, but that doesn't mean the feedback isn't useful (or that we're not grateful for it!)
What it does mean though is that kple12 did not get the same level of strategic feedback from us that they could've. If you send in your best work then we can help you take it beyond the next level. This person sorta cheated him/herself by asking for a review when there was a fairly obvious miss right at the beginning of the draft - we had to focus on that and thus weren't able to offer a more sophisticated set of comments.
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 16 Sep 2013, 08:23
kunzi wrote:
i stumbled upon this thread today.. and i must say it is so cool... great job ES !!
@kunzi and @ rajeevurfraju - glad it's been useful!

kunzi, from your comment, it sounds like you didn't know about these reviews on GMAT Club? That would be a real bummer if people aren't finding this thread... :(
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 17 Sep 2013, 05:31
Hey Essaysnark,

Really enjoyed your essay breakdowns. Quick question though: when you said that Columbia had given a "classic career goals question..reframed" for essay 1, is the "Given your individual background, why are you pursuing a Columbia MBA at this time?" really that? To me it sounds like "at this point in your career, why are you taking the time to get an MBA, i.e. what are you missing, why now, how can we help?" Career goals are definitely a part of it, but is it the main part? Not quite following that...
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Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews [#permalink] New post 17 Sep 2013, 06:33
ES... i had seen it when the thread started... but didn't know it'd turn out to be so amazing, so didn't check it out again till now..
Re: Free Essay Evals by EssaySnark -Official GMAT Club Reviews   [#permalink] 17 Sep 2013, 06:33
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