Recently, a prospective candidate e-mailed mbaMission with the following question: What is the most basic stylistic error that candidates make when writing their essays? Our answer: unnecessary repetition. Although repeating a word within a single sentence or in consecutive sentences does not constitute a grammatical mistake, it can still be grating to the ear of the reader.
Consider this example:
During my time at XYZ Sales, I increased productivity by 31% and increased revenue by 21%. Meanwhile, I increased my own client base by an industry-leading 81%, bringing increased prestige to my firm.
While the example above-which includes the word increased four times in two sentences-may seem like an exaggerated case, it is actually not as unusual as you might think. By making a few simple changes, though, the repetition can be easily eliminated and sentences can become increasingly reader friendly:
During my time at XYZ Sales, I increased productivity by 31% and revenue by 21%. Meanwhile, I grew my own client base by an industry-leading 81%, enhancing the prestige of my firm.
The key to eliminating repetition is first becoming aware of the potential problem and then gaining distance from your work. By setting aside your essay drafts for a day or two and then rereading them, you will gain the objectivity necessary to catch-and correct-this easily avoidable mistake.