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GMAT AWA: How To Ace The GMAT Essay Section

The GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment is now included in both the GMAT and the GMAT Online Exam. Here’s how best to approach and master the GMAT AWA section

By  Cara Skikne

Thu Jun 10 2021

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section of the GMAT measures your ability to think critically and communicate your ideas via an essay written in English. It’s now included in both the GMAT and the GMAT Online Exam.

Your GMAT AWA score is not as important as your GMAT score out of 800, which is based on the Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning components of the test. 

Business schools don’t really look at your AWA score unless it is below four (out of six). The AWA score is therefore a kind of hygiene factor in the GMAT: unless you do badly, the score won’t be an issue. 

The good news is that around 80% of test takers get a score of four or above in the GMAT AWA. This means that if you have a good understanding of what the AWA essay is asking you to do, you should be fine. 

To get that understanding, read on for our guide on how to ace the GMAT AWA section:

Understanding the AWA 

In the AWA, remember, you are not arguing against the author: the aim is to critique and improve the argument—not to show that the argument is wrong. 

You must explore the implications of assumptions made without evidence and indicate how the argument could be better positioned with more research/evidence. 

The attitude you should have is that while the argument may be true, there are gaps that need to be filled in order for you to be confident in the claim the author is making. 

You will find examples of essays and a scoring guide in the back of the GMAT Official Guide. You have 30 minutes for this section, so stick to that time limit when you are practicing. 

Watch: GMAT Prep Tips | How To Get Started

Crossovers with CR and RC

There are a lot of crossovers between the Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension sections and the AWA, so practicing the AWA essay will also give you an edge in these areas. 

One important and often overlooked part of the Reading Comprehension section is that many of the questions are testing the relationship between ideas; the role the information is playing. This is true of the boldface questions in Critical Reasoning as well. 

Having the chance to practice structuring your own argument and using...

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