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    Importance of GMAT AWA

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    Graduate Management Admission Test Analytical Writing Assessment or GMAT AWA is an essay that the students write for the GMAT exam. This is a part of the writing section of the GMAT paper. For this question, the candidates will be given a certain argument for which they need to give a written analysis. AWA question does not specify any requirements for the length of the essay. However, based on the analysis of previous years’ assessments, the GMAT AWA essay is considered good if it is somewhere between four to six paragraphs long.

    What is GMAT AWA?

    Analytical Writing Assessment section of the GMAT question paper presents an argument that needs to be analyzed by the student. The analysis of this argument is written in the form of an essay detailing whether the argument is well-reasoned and points to support their analysis. The candidates need not be very familiar with the subject of the argument as they only need to check if it is logically sound.

    This is the first task that the applicants will get to attempt when they take GMAT. There will be a few introductory screens displayed to them when they sit at their assigned computer after which the actual test begins. The task will have directions and an argument that will have a lot of flaws. The analysis will show the candidate’s ability to formulate an evaluative argument. They need to explain how poor the argument is and why.

    Why is GMAT AWA important?

    The GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment tests those skills of the applicants which are vital for their further studies and future career choices. The kind of arguments that are given to the students to analyze belong to specific categories like scholarly research, government policies, and business operations. These arguments test their ability to examine such levels of arguments which are important in managerial work as well as in the management classes that the students will be undertaking. Management skills will help them not just in their classes but also in the future when they start working on managerial positions.

    This is why the GMAT AWA task is important to be included in the test paper. The marks obtained in this task are also taken into consideration by the management schools when the candidates apply for admission.

    Necessary information about the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment

    Here are some facts about the GMAT AWA and the overall GMAT score:

    • As per the latest syllabus and pattern of GMAT, there is only one writing task in the GMAT question paper. Earlier, before 2012, the test paper had two different essay questions. Later, one question got replaced with the Integrated Reasoning section. This writing question, which is the task of analyzing a given argument, is a 30-minute essay. Candidates will find this essay right at the beginning of the exam. The score obtained by students in this task will be the GMAT analytical writing score of the candidate.
    • The GMAT analytical writing score does not get added to the final GMAT score of the candidates. Just like the score for the Integrated Reasoning section, this is also a separate score. The scores for GMAT AWA will be shown along with the scores obtained in the remaining section of the GMAT question paper. In addition to these scores, there are further subscores from the quantitative section, verbal section. The final GMAT score is a combination of these subscores plus the AWA score and the IR score, both shown separately.
    • The admission committee for each college or university checks the candidates’ scores in the essay task too. While the overall subscores hold more weightage, the GMAT AWA score holds its own importance.

    Importance of the GMAT AWA Score

    This may be argued that the GMAT AWA score is not as important as that of the remaining sections. Now, it is true that the scores obtained by the candidate in the quantitative and verbal sections are comparatively more important as they add up to the overall GMAT score. To further stress on it, the essay section was again recently divided into two sections, which was earlier a single section with two argument questions. Accordingly, it has divided the separate scores into two parts - one score from the Integrated Reasoning section, and one score from the AWA essay task. All these factors have made the AWA scores less important but that does not mean that the scores are not important.

    Most of the business schools, that consider GMAT scores, rely more on the scores obtained by the students in the quantitative section, verbal section, and the composite GMAT score. Their emphasis is significantly more on these sections than on the scores obtained in the IR and AWA sections. However, that does not affect on the separate importance on the essay score considered by the schools. Where a score of 5 or 6 would be good and will only strengthen the business school’s decision on admission, a score of 4 or below in the essay section could hurt your chances of admission.

    Now let us see why is this score important. The main reason for including the AWA section in GMAT question paper is not just to test the candidate’s critical reasoning but also to test how well can they write. It checks their effectiveness in expressing themselves through written communication. In the current business world, this holds very high importance as they need to communicate with many people for extensive deals. Most of this communication will be done via email or online conversations and the student’s writing skills will be the clients’ first experience of them. Consider an example where a deal goes wrong because of improper communication or because the client was not impressed by the way the candidates interacted with them. To avoid such messy situations in the future, business schools want to ensure that they give admission to those candidates who are fluent in written English. High-quality writing has very high professional importance. This is why a score of 4 or below would lead the schools to question your competence in English writing and communication.

    It is understandable that the GMAT AWA essay task may be difficult for candidates who are not native English speakers. This is highly probable in a country like India where English is not the primary language for majority of the students. However, regular practice and dedicated efforts will certainly help the candidates in getting a really good score in the essay test. Scoring a score of 6 in the essay by a non-native English speaker would be a testament to their knowledge of the English language and their hold on it. The students need to keep in mind that they need to keep practicing essays regularly until they feel that their assessments are now very strong. Additionally, they could take help from experts or coaching classes so that they get high-quality feedback on their essays which will help them improve further. Now, this does not mean that the candidates should devote a big chunk of their preparation time to GMAT AWA practice essays. One practice essay in every two weeks and implementing feedback received every time will certainly help the students in getting a good score and hence securing their admission to reputed business schools.

    Guidelines for a good AWA essay

    Here are some preparation tips and tricks for writing the kind of essay that the institutes look for while going through assessments:

    • The first and most important tip is to read the argument thoroughly and understand what is it trying to convey despite being majorly flawed
    • Make a lot of points to support your analysis. A minimum of three points gives a strong base to the argument and also helps in giving your essay an appropriate length. Expand on these points to give enough body to your essay
    • Outline the argument well before you start writing your analysis. You should be clear in your mind about the points that you will be putting forward and further justifications to your analysis. While it is a good step to find flaws in the argument and refuting it completely, but a point or two in support of the argument will make your analysis stronger.
    • Be very sure of where you stand when it comes to agreeing or disagreeing with the argument. You shouldn't start by stating that the argument is completely flawed and then add points explaining how it could be right too. Before beginning the analysis, decide if you are in complete support of the argument, or are incomplete disagreement, or if you feel that the argument might be accurate but certain points can make it better.
    • Avoid writing the essay in a first-person format. Using strong words like 'I disagree' or 'I believe' do not make up for a good analysis.
    • Finish your essay a few minutes early so that you have some time with you to read your essay and improve it further.
    • Keep a watch on grammar and make sure that your essay does not have grammatical errors or typos.
    • In the midst of everything, don't forget to present your analysis in a basic essay format. Start with presenting what is the argument about, which would be your introduction paragraph. The body paragraphs should have points supporting your analysis and then add a conclusion paragraph summarising everything presented in the essay.
    • Do not deviate from what the challenge is actually about. Remember that your task is to evaluate the argument and write your analysis on it. You are not expected to write suggestions related to the topic of the argument.
    • Last, but not the least, keep practicing sample essays before you actually sit for the exam. Review the essays you write and keep working on ways to write better assessments. You can also ask someone else to review your essays and then work on the feedback given to you.

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