The GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section helps business schools examine your vocabulary and writing skills. You are presented with an argument, and you are required to analyse the reasoning behind it. This section assesses your capability to think critically and convey your ideas through an essay in the English language.
You are given 30 minutes to complete this section. The topics of the given argument are either business-related or might include a variety of other subjects, like current affairs, social science, etc. It is not important how much you know about the topic; only your ability to reason and write critically is assessed. Even though the AWA score does not affect your overall GMAT score and is included in a separate section on your report card, B-schools still judge the skills tested by the AWA, like logical flow, clarity of thought process, sentence construction, and reasoning on the basis of your AWA score.
The Analytical Writing Assessment of the GMAT exam evaluates your ability to think and communicate proficiently in English. This section consists of only one question – Analysis of an Argument. You are given an argument, and you are supposed to examine it critically. Then, you have to estimate the reasons behind it and express your views accordingly in writing. The views should comprise a critical analysis of the argument. Make sure you support your point of view with suitable examples, explanations and facts. Also, you need to be careful regarding your grammar and vocabulary while writing the answer. You will have 30 minutes to write this essay.
Your AWA article should address two important questions:
- What are the feasible suppositions behind the argument?
- What are the facts and examples that can help you form a detailed argument?
Evaluation, Scoring and Percentile:
Your AWA score is evaluated on a scale of 0 to 6 by both a human and a computer algorithm designed to analyze such essays. Your final score will be an average of both these scores. However, if there is a difference of more than 1 point between your computer and human score, then the score is reviewed and adjusted by an additional human rater. First, the computer, known as an E-Rater, evaluates your writing based on syntax and analytical aspects, followed by a trained human. They will score your essay based on the development of your ideas and written expression.
This section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, in half-point increments. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the official body that conducts the GMAT exam, earning a point 6 is ‘outstanding’, 5 is ‘strong’, 4 is ‘adequate’, 3 is ‘limited’, and anything below 3 is seriously and fundamentally deficient.
The average GMAT writing score is 4.37. The cut-off for the analytical writing section in most universities is 4. Your GMAT AWA score also includes a percentile ranking. This number reflects the percentage of candidates who you performed better than. For example, if you score 5.5 points, your percentile is 79, which means that 21% of the total candidates performed better or as well as you, and 79% did not.
6 points in AWA is 88 percentile,
5 points is 53 percentile,
4.5 is 42 percentile,
4 is 17 percentile,
3.5 is 11 percentile,
3 is 4 percentile,
2 and 1.5 are percentile, and
1 and 0.5 are percentile, respectively.
The factors that determine your AWA score are:
- Your ability to use proper grammar and vocabulary.
- Your ability to establish, structure, and implement facts.
- Your explanations and use of examples.
This section exhibits a variety of skills, along with the presentation of the argument. But what happens if you are not satisfied with your AWA score?
If you are not satisfied with your AWA score, you can request rescoring by an independent AWA reader for $45. Your request for rescoring will only be accepted if it is made within six months of your test date.
A few things to know before you go for rescoring are:
- Rescoring results are final, which means you can request rescoring only once.
- It could either increase or decrease your AWA score.
- You will receive the revised results after 20 days of submitting your rescoring request.
- Your fee will not be refunded once your request has been processed.
- To request rescoring, contact GMAT Customer Service.
Let us now take a look at the importance of the AWA.
Business schools do not accept AWA scores if they are less than 4. The competition is fierce; you need to aim for a score higher than 4.78. Your AWA score might not be as important as your quantitative and verbal reasoning scores, but if your score is 4 or less, it raises a lot of questions regarding your proficiency in the English language, vocabulary, and grammar. Your application essay might also be in question. In some cases, some authorities might not even consider your application at all.
The GMAT AWA section tests your capability to grasp information and convey your viewpoint in a clear and precise manner. These qualities are an important part of the daily activities of a leader. The ability to properly instruct, present ideas, and negotiate firmly are the qualities wanted in a senior executive. Hence, your AWA score helps admission committees understand where you stand and how skilled you are in expression.
Some Important Tips
- Read Thoroughly
Read the presented argument carefully and analyze it. Once you are done with your analysis, pick a side and take your stand. Make sure you are not diplomatic and do not end up sounding confused. Stick to your opinion till the end of the essay and write meaningful content on the same.
- Structure your Essay
Before you start writing, take a moment to gain some clarity about how your essay will develop. Draft a rough idea in your head with all the topics you want to cover in your article. Start with the introduction and explain your point of view. After that comes the body of the essay, which can be broken into three paragraphs. This should be followed by a conclusion. Make the conclusion interesting by penning down a summary of your thoughts. This will hold the reader’s attention till the end.
- Don’t Switch Sides
Once you have chosen a side, don’t think of switching. Your independent opinion cannot be ‘politically incorrect’ or make the admission committee think any less of you. There is no right or wrong in this section. Just make sure you can adequately communicate and express your viewpoint and sound confident in defending your stand.
- Provide Examples:
Using appropriate examples can prove to be effective in conveying your message to the reader. They don’t necessarily have to be from your personal life. You can make use of other sources like past events or current affairs. Also, do not get carried away while giving examples. Stay in touch with the key idea.
- Grammatically Correct:
Make sure there are no grammatical or spelling errors in your essay. Proofread at least twice from the beginning to the end to ensure that there are no mistakes.
Earning a high GMAT score will make you stand out during the admission process and will help you get into the business school of your choice. Since the Analytical Writing Score is not included in the overall GMAT score, it is taken lightly. What many candidates do not realise is that even though it does not directly affect your score, admission committees of almost all universities assess your critical reasoning and writing skills based on it.
GMAT Official AWA Practice will help you to gain confidence in your writing ability. It consists of 2 practice essay attempts. It allows you to identify and analyse flaws in your arguments. You will be able to easily score more than 5 points with the help of suitable study materials and some thorough practice. All the best!