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5 October 2023

5 minutes read

Mastering GMAT AWA: Your Guide to Analytical Writing Assessment

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on mastering the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). If you’re aspiring to join a graduate business program, you’re likely aware of the importance of the GMAT in your application.

The AWA section, although sometimes overlooked, plays a significant role in showcasing your critical thinking and communication skills. In this blog, we’ll provide you with valuable insights, strategies, and templates to help you excel in the GMAT AWA section.

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Understanding the GMAT AWA Section

Before we delve into the strategies for success, let’s start by understanding what the GMAT AWA section entails.

What Is GMAT AWA?

The GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment is the first section of the GMAT exam. It’s designed to evaluate your ability to analyze an argument critically and communicate your analysis effectively in writing.

GMAT AWA Structure

The AWA section consists of one task: the analysis of an argument. You will be presented with a brief argument, typically no longer than a paragraph, and your task is to critique the argument’s logic and evidence. Your response should be structured and well-reasoned.

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Scoring in GMAT AWA

GMAT AWA is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, with half-point increments. Two different evaluators assess your essay: a computer algorithm and a human grader. Your final score is the average of these two evaluations.

Importance of AWA Scores

Many graduate business programs consider your AWA score when making admissions decisions. While it’s not as heavily weighted as the Quantitative and Verbal sections, a high AWA score can strengthen your overall application.

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Preparing for GMAT AWA

Now that you understand the basics, let’s dive into how you can prepare effectively for GMAT AWA.

Familiarize Yourself with the Essay Structure

GMAT AWA essays follow a specific structure. Your essay should consist of an introduction, body paragraphs where you critique the argument, and a conclusion. It’s crucial to adhere to this format for clarity and organization.

Use AWA Templates

One valuable tool at your disposal is AWA templates. These templates provide a framework for your essay, ensuring you cover all necessary elements. Let’s take a closer look at a sample template:

Introduction

  • Briefly summarize the argument’s main points.
  • State that the argument is flawed and explain your purpose.

Body Paragraphs (2-3 paragraphs)

  • Each paragraph should focus on one major flaw in the argument.
  • Provide evidence from the argument to support your critique.
  • Explain how the flaw weakens the argument’s overall conclusion.

Conclusion

  • Summarize your main points.
  • Reiterate that the argument is flawed and should not be accepted as presented.

Practice with Sample Arguments

To hone your analytical skills, practice with sample AWA arguments. There are numerous resources available online that provide sample arguments for you to analyze and critique.

Seek Feedback

Don’t practice in isolation. Share your practice essays with peers or instructors to receive feedback on your writing style and analytical approach.

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Writing Your GMAT AWA Essay

Now, let’s explore the specific strategies for writing a compelling GMAT AWA essay.

Stick to Standard Written English

Your AWA essay should adhere to the conventions of standard written English. Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and clarity of expression. An essay with language errors can detract from your overall score.

Avoid Personal Opinions

Remember that you’re critiquing an argument, not expressing your personal opinions. Focus on the argument’s flaws, its use of evidence, and its logical structure.

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Analyzing the Argument

To excel in GMAT AWA, it’s essential to develop a keen eye for argument analysis.

Identify Assumptions

In your critique, identify assumptions made by the author that are not explicitly stated in the argument. Question the validity of these assumptions and how they impact the argument’s strength.

Consider Alternative Explanations

Think about alternative explanations or counterexamples that might weaken the argument’s conclusion. Demonstrating that there are other plausible explanations can strengthen your critique.

Evaluate Evidence

Examine the evidence provided in the argument. Assess whether it is relevant, reliable, and sufficient to support the argument’s claims. Point out any weaknesses in the evidence.

Assess Logic

Evaluate the logical structure of the argument. Look for gaps in reasoning, instances of circular logic, or any other flaws that undermine the argument’s validity.

AWA Scores: What Do They Mean?

Understanding the interpretation of your AWA scores can provide insight into your performance.

Separate Score

Your AWA score is reported separately from your overall GMAT score. It ranges from 0 to 6 in half-point increments.

Elements of Standard Written English

In addition to your overall score, you will receive feedback on the elements of standard written English. This feedback can help you identify areas for improvement in your writing skills.

Tips for Achieving a High AWA Score

Now, let’s explore some specific tips for achieving a high AWA score.

Use Examples Wisely

While you should avoid expressing personal opinions, using relevant examples to illustrate your points can enhance your essay. Be concise and ensure that your examples directly support your critique.

Strengthen Your Conclusion

Your conclusion should effectively summarize your main points and reiterate that the argument is flawed. A strong conclusion leaves a lasting impression on the grader.

Edit and Proofread

Allocate a few minutes at the end of your 30-minute AWA time limit to edit and proofread your essay. Correcting minor errors can make a significant difference in the overall quality of your writing.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, mastering GMAT AWA is an achievable goal with the right strategies and practice. By familiarizing yourself with the essay structure, using AWA templates, practicing with sample arguments, and seeking feedback, you can improve your analytical writing skills and excel in this crucial section of the GMAT.

Remember that a high AWA score not only showcases your ability to analyze arguments but also enhances your overall application to graduate business programs. So, invest time and effort into preparing for GMAT AWA, and you’ll be one step closer to your academic and career goals.

If you have any questions or need further guidance on GMAT AWA, feel free to reach out. Best of luck with your GMAT preparation!

FAQs

Q1: What is GMAT AWA?

GMAT AWA stands for Analytical Writing Assessment, a section of the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). It evaluates your ability to analyze arguments and present your ideas in a written format.

Q2: Why is GMAT AWA important?

GMAT AWA is essential because it assesses your critical thinking and writing skills, which are crucial for success in graduate business programs. Many schools consider AWA scores when making admissions decisions.

Q3: What does the GMAT AWA section consist of?

The GMAT AWA section consists of one writing task: the analysis of an argument. You’ll be presented with an argument and must critique its logic and evidence in a structured essay.

Q4: How is the GMAT AWA section scored?

The GMAT AWA section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, with half-point increments. Your essay is assessed by both a computer algorithm and a human grader. The final score is an average of these two scores.

Q5: Can I prepare for GMAT AWA in advance?

Yes, you can and should prepare for GMAT AWA. Familiarize yourself with the essay structure, practice writing essays using AWA templates, and review sample arguments to hone your analytical skills.

Q6: Is knowledge of the essay topic necessary for GMAT AWA?

No, you don’t need specific knowledge of the essay topic. The GMAT AWA prompts are designed to be accessible to test-takers without specialized knowledge. Focus on critiquing the argument’s structure and evidence.

Q7: How can I improve my GMAT AWA score?

To improve your GMAT AWA score, practice writing essays regularly using AWA templates, analyze sample arguments, and seek feedback on your writing. Additionally, ensure your essay follows standard written English conventions.

Q8: What common mistakes should I avoid in GMAT AWA?

Avoid making assumptions not explicitly stated in the argument, and refrain from providing your personal opinion. Focus on identifying flaws in the argument’s reasoning and evidence.

Q9: Can I use templates for GMAT AWA essays?

Yes, using AWA templates can help you structure your essay effectively. These templates provide a framework for your analysis, making it easier to convey your ideas coherently.

Q10: How much time should I allocate to GMAT AWA?

GMAT AWA is the first section of the test and has a 30-minute time limit. Allocate around 5-10 minutes for planning, 20-25 minutes for writing, and a few minutes for proofreading.

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