Ace Your Essay: Tips for Scoring High on the GMAT AWA
During GMAT prep, many people often neglect the AWA (Analytical Writing Assessment) portion of the GMAT exam. However, the AWA is different from the rest of the exam because it requires test-takers to generate unique content rather than answer multiple choice questions. Looking at a blank page can be intimidating. Thankfully, by adding a little bit of writing to your GMAT prep, you can write an excellent essay and get the AWA score you’re hoping for.
What Is the AWA Anyway?
The AWA tests your ability to analyze an argument and state your position clearly. It is not looking for your opinion. Instead, it asks for an impartial analysis of the information provided to you. When writing your essay, avoid attempting to address all sides of the issue and focus on formulating a clear and well-supported thesis.
While your AWA score may not factor into your larger GMAT score, it is still important for your business school application. That said, it is probably not worth your while to aim for the highest score of 6. Instead, it is a better tactic to make sure you write well enough to earn a score of 4 or 5.
The time limit for your essay is 30 minutes, and there is no word minimum or maximum. The prompts will not require any specialized knowledge. Instead, you will be expected to show sound reasoning and critical thinking skills. The AWA is graded both by an electronic application and a human grader.
AWA Skills as Part of GMAT Prep
It is a huge benefit that you have access to all the AWA questions before the exam. You can download them here. Aim to write one practice essay for every 1-2 weeks of studying. Then ask business professors or other professionals to give you feedback and advice on your writing to help you improve.
Many business school hopefuls swear by using a template for their AWA format, and there are lots of templates available online. Using one is a valid way to take the guesswork out of your essay format. At the same time, it is essential to make your essay your own work. Instead of memorizing a template, try reading several options online and creating your own. Once you have reviewed and used your own format several times, it will become automatic.
The AWA on Test Day
First, outline your essay template on your scratch paper. Then take a few moments to brainstorm the key flaws in the argument assigned to you. Remember, it’s an AWA argument, so it will have several weaknesses to pinpoint. Once you have identified the ways you can dismantle the argument, begin writing. Use the outline you jotted down and fill in the details as you go. By this point, the essay will almost write itself.
Try to spend only 15-20 minutes writing your essay. Doing so will allow you plenty of time to proofread after you are finished. Once your argument is complete (aim for about 500-600 words and five paragraphs), spend a few minutes looking over it for errors. While the GMAT is not looking intently for grammar or spelling mistakes, it’s crucial that your sentences make sense and that you organize your paragraphs.
While many often neglect the AWA during GMAT prep, it is well worth your time to hone the skills it requires. With minimal investment and some smart preparation, you can write a solid essay and give yourself a further advantage on your business school application. If you want more direction and advice on the AWA and the other GMAT sections, check out our EMPOWERgmat course available here.