If you are planning to take the GRE exam, then you should know one of the sections that you need to master is the AWA GRE. The AWA GRE full form is Analytical Writing Assessment, which is an equally important section in the exam besides the other two — Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections. Though it doesn’t contribute to your composite score, it has to be prepared thoroughly as most universities give equal importance to these scores. So, let’s acquaint you with the AWA section of the GRE exam. 


AWA GRE Topics


AWA GRE or Analytical Writing Assessment is divided into two parts — Analyse an issue and Analyse and Argument and each has a 30 minutes time duration. 

Under ‘analyse an issue’ topic, you are provided an issue and are required to present your arguments and support your opinions with specific examples. You are required to answer this question/topic based on specific instructions (on how to respond to the issue) that is presented to you.

On the other hand, under the ‘analyse an argument’ you are provided with an argument. Based on specific instructions, you are required to evaluate the argument presented or the claim made, as opposed to strengthening or weakening the argument that is presented to you.

The overall aim of the two AWA GRE topics is not the same. While an analyse-an-issue topic aims to test your ability to present a view and support it with examples, the analyse-an-argument topic aims to test your ability to gauge someone else’s argument by analysing their claims and evaluating the evidence they provide.


AWA GRE: Test Types 

The AWA GRE section is available in both methods of test deliveries —  the computer-delivered and the paper-based. If you choose the computer-delivered test then you will be provided with a word processing tool that is developed specifically by ETS to conduct this section of the test. The word processor involves basic tools such as insert or delete text, cut and paste and undo command. In order to be fair to those taking a paper-based test, the word processing tool does not have any spelling or grammar check feature. 

Moreover, if you are opting for a paper-administered test, then you must ensure that your handwritten essays are transcribed into the test booklet that will also contain the answers to your verbal and quant sections. Furthermore, you will be required to write clearly and quickly. Hence, it is essential you take some time to organize your thoughts and structure your arguments well before you start writing. 


AWA GRE Scores and Evaluation

The purpose of the AWA GRE section of the exam is to assess your critical thinking skills and your ability to clearly articulate your arguments. Based on this, your write-ups are scored on a scale of 0-6, 6 being the highest and representing a well-articulated criticism of the argument and 0 being the lowest score, representing that you do not meet the requirements of the AWA GRE section. Moreover, the analytical writing assessment has a 0.5-point increment system. Although there are two topics in this section, the score provided is an average of the two topics and is presented as a single score. 

Furthermore, the scoring of your analytical writing portion is carried out by a human and a computer grading system. First, your essay is graded holistically by a trained evaluator who analyses your essay and grades you based on the overall quality. Second, your essay is reviewed by ETS’s computer program called “E-Rater”. This computer program helps to standardize test scores across different writing styles and knowledge backgrounds. However, if there are significantly large differences between the computer and human scores, then the essays are evaluated by a second human. The final scores are the average of both the scores, as rated by the two trained evaluators, and are rounded to the closest half-point interval.       

Now that we have explained in detail about the AWA GRE section, the AWA GRE score pattern and the method of evaluating this section, we hope you’re in a better position to begin your preparations. It is essential that you write quickly and at the same time keep your focus throughout the 30-minute duration of the analytical writing assessment task while building your arguments. ETS recommends that even good writers should spend some amount of their preparation time practising the AWA GRE tasks. For further resources to enhance your preparation, do check out the pool of essay prompts published by ETS. 


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