GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA): Declassified

GMAT AWA Declassified
GMAT AWA Declassified

Importance of the essay section in the GMAT 

Are you wondering, “Will my GMAT AWA score affect my chances of admission?” and “If yes! How and what is a good score?”

You are not the only one. These questions have plagued generations of prospective GMAT aspirants and the answer is fairly simple. If the GMAT AWA score had not resonated with the needs of the admissions committee (AdCom), it would have been long expunged. The fact that it has survived over decades marked by changes in the way AdComjudge applicants testifies to its importance. 

Why does the GMAT have the essay section?

It comes as no surprise that the AdCom would want to take a sneak-peak into the ‘real you’ before making its final decision to determine your candidature. While your Quant and Verbal scores in the GMAT may reflect your aptitude in handling the B-school rigor, your AWA responses help the AdCom sketch your character portrait. When analyzed carefully, your essays can potentially reveal such traits as innovativeness, humor, maturity, coherency and articulateness, bigotry, carelessness etc.

Moreover, as a non-native speaker of the language, a strong AWA score can be immensely helpful in strengthening your applications and showcasing your verbal skills.

The AWA score can also serve as a tiebreaker between two applicants with similar profiles and GMAT scores.

 How is the essay scored?

You will receive the GMAT AWA score in the range of 0-6, in half-point increments. This score is not a part of the main score, which is given in the range of 200-800. Your AWA essay is usually read by two graders, one of which may be performed by an E-Rater, each of whom will independently assign you a score in the range of 0-6 and the two scores are averaged out, resulting in the final AWA score. In cases of discrepancies where the rating differ by more than one point, a third grader who will be an expert reader may also be involved to resolve the discrepancy. Interestingly, a perfect score of 6 on your AWA section will fetch you a percentile ranking of 92%, indicating that quite a few of the test takers do manage a perfect score.

What defines a good essay?

There is only one essay task: analysis of an argument, which needs to be completed in 30 minutes. In the test maker’s very own words, the AWA section tests “the test-taker’s ability to formulate an appropriate and constructive critique of a specific conclusion based on a specific line of thinking. A specific knowledge of the essay topic is not necessary; only the capacity to write analytically is assessed.”

Simply put, the argument task requires you to analyze an argument’s logic and convey your ideas in as clear and coherent way as possible. Attacking the argument in an impersonal way is desired in the construction of the essay. All comments should be reserved for the structure of the argument and personal opinions should be avoided.

A good essay will identify the flaws in the development of the given argument and on how the argument can be made well reasoned. Longer and well-organized essays tend to score higher. Minor spelling errors and grammatical flaws are often overlooked.

Hope you find the above read helpful. All the best!!

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