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GMAT AWA vs. GRE AW: Syllabus, Task types and Score


The analytical writing assessment is a common section in both the GMAT exam syllabus as well as GRE. Analytical writing assessment measures the candidate’s rational thinking capability and their explanatory writing skills. It assesses the test-takers’ competence in providing a coherent essay by supporting the intricate ideas, design and examine arguments, maintain a balanced discussion.

Why is Analytical Writing important?

The analytical writing assessment section for both GMAT and GRE is considered important for certain reasons. It examines how critically a test-taker can delve into things, communicate their ideas, introspect into an argument, and continue with a coherent discussion through their writing skills.

Though candidates generally don’t prioritize the GMAT or GRE analytical writing assessment sections a low score in the writing section can be detrimental towards the candidate’s admission process.

GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment

GMAT AWA section is one of the 4 sections of the GMAT syllabus and assesses the candidate’s competence in analysing the reasoning behind an argument and design a criticism based on that. The diagnostic thinking ability of the candidate is measured and how neatly they can communicate their ideas through an essay is examined.

The answer is provided by examining how well-speculated the argument is and that is done by focusing on the evidence used to support the argument.

  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Topics: General topics related to business or other subjects.

How is analytical writing scored on GMAT?

The GMAT AWA section is scored by both machine algorithm and human rater on a GMAT score scale of 0.0-6.0 and marked on 0.5 intervals. An electronic machine assesses the essays based on the structural and semantic features like:

  • Arrangement of ideas;
  • Linguistic variety;
  • Topical evaluation

To ensure a functioning constancy in the algorithm, random essays are picked for assessment based on their quality, solidity and proficiency. This audit is administered by expert human raters who keep an eye on the proper operation of the algorithm and that the GMAT AWA essays equal the standards of GMAC and ACT.

Is analytical writing important in GMAT?

This is a common question asked by the test-takers and the reason behind this is GMAT AWA scores and IR scores are not included in the GMAT score report. GMAT AWA and IR scores reported separately and not included in the composite GMAT score which includes verbal and quant. However, B-schools do receive a separate full score report which includes both of these scores and that also includes a copy of the candidate’s original AWA essay.

A good AW score in GMAT doesn’t guarantee a candidate’s entry into their selected B-school but a score lower than 4 might hamper the chances of consideration. For non-native speakers scoring high in GMAT AWA can be a boost to their overall score.

GRE Analytical Writing

GRE analytical writing resembles the GMAT AWA section where the test-taker has to prove their rational thinking abilities and put the ideas in the essay. GRE analytical writing is different from GMAT AWA in terms of task type along with durations.

GRE Analytical Writing: Task Types

The GRE analytical writing examines the proficiency level of the test-takers through two tasks:

  1. GRE Analyse an issue task – 30 minutes: This AWA task presents the candidates with an issue of general interest which is accompanied by instructions for responding. The issue has to be examined while probing into its complications and write an essay based on arguments supported by examples.
  2. GRE Analyse an argument – 30 minutes: This AWA task asks the candidate to write the essay after studying the argument, understand its logical correctness without agreeing or disagreeing with it. Certain instructions are to be followed.

How is GRE Analytical Writing Scored?

The GRE analytical writing is scored on a GRE score scale of 0 – 6 holistic scale. In a holistic scoring method, the raters are assigned the task of marking the essay which is a response of an allotted task based on predetermined guidelines. An e-rater developed by ETS then follows up the checking procedure by evaluating the writing proficiency found in the essay features of the test-taker.

If the scores of the e-rater and the human rater are very close then the average of both the scores is considered the final score. If the GRE analytical writing scores of the human rater and the e-rater are quite far away from each other then a second human-rater assesses the essay.

The final GRE analytical scores are then rounded to the closest half-point interval on the 0 – 6 score scale.

The GRE analytical writing section is equally important in the exam like GMAT AWA. Grad schools might not accept a candidate with as low a GRE AW score as 4.