The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) is the first section that you’ll encounter in the GRE exam. Most tend to neglect the AWA essay What are the score ranges for GRE AWA essays, the average AWA scores, the different types of percentile for each score and tips to improve your GRE AWA scores.

 practice thinking it is not as consequential as the other GRE sections. However, the GRE AWA score plays an essential role in determining your eligibility, especially if you are planning to apply for a research-oriented program abroad. 

The AWA section consists of two tasks — Analyze an Argument and Analyze an Issue — that intend to measure your ability to think critically, analyze a given prompt and reason through writing. A high score in the GRE writing section will not guarantee you admissions, yet, a significantly lower score can decrease your chances of getting a seat in your dream college. Your performance in the AWA section is an indicator of how well you can express your thoughts in the English language, which is necessary for the master’s and doctoral courses. 

Through the course of this article, we’ll provide information on the score level descriptions, GRE AWA score averages, the percentiles and the ways to improve the scores. 

The GRE Score Level Descriptions

Though the GRE Analytical Writing measure comprises two writing tasks, scores are reported in a combined form, as it is more reliable than reporting separate scores for each task. The AWA section is scored on a scale of 0-6 with half-point increments and doesn’t not contribute to the overall GRE score. 

If you are looking for a more comprehensive breakdown of scores, given below are the different score levels and the criterias for the same.

Score 6-5.5 

  • If you construct and support your claims with highly persuasive evidence or relatable examples
  • Use precise vocabulary and effectively convey the meaning.
  • Provide an in-depth analysis of complex ideas. 
  • Make minor mistakes that don’t impede the meaning of the essay. 

Score 5-4.5

  • If you provide a thoughtful analytical interpretation of complex ideas.
  • Use good sentence structure and vocabulary.
  • Develop main points and provide convincing evidence to support them.
  • Maintain good control over the usage of language. 
  • Even if the writing has minor errors, it doesn’t change the meaning of the essay.

Score 4-3.5

  • A fair analysis of the ideas.
  • Support the claims with relevant examples.
  • Convey the meaning sensibly.
  • Decent control over the structure of sentences and language usage.
  • Errors that could affect the clarity of the essay.

Scores 3-2.5

  • Average competence in writing.
  • Writing is flawed in one of the given ways — weak analysis, flaws in organization of the ideas, weak sentence structure or language with errors that further leads to lack of clarity.

Scores 2-1.5

  • Serious flaws in the writing.
  • The writing is defective in at least one of these ways — strong flaws in analysis or development, issues in the organization of ideas, serious problems in language usage and sentence structure with errors that affect the meaning of the essay.

Scores 1-0.5

  • Fundamental issues in analytical writing.
  • The writing is flawed in any of the following ways  — extremely confusing and irrelevant content, slight to no development of ideas, pervasive flaws in sentence structure and language usage that results in incoherence.

The Average GRE Scores 

The field of study that you’re interested in pursuing is one of the important factors that affect the average GRE scores. Each higher education field asks for a separate AWA cut off during the admission process. Generally, the engineering and the science programs tend to have lower AWA score cut-offs, compared to those in arts, social sciences. Given below is a table that highlights the GRE AWA score averages for different fields of study.

Higher Education Field Average AWA Score
Business 3.4
Arts and Humanities 4.0
Physical Sciences 3.4
Education 3.6
Life Sciences 3.7
Engineering 3.2
Social Sciences 3.9
Other Fields 3.6

GRE AWA Score Percentiles

Just like the average scores, it is imperative that you are well-acquainted with the GRE AWA score percentiles. Your score percentiles tell you how well you have performed in the section compared to other candidates. The higher the AWA percentile, the better your performance is. To avoid further confusion, here’s a table of AWA percentiles (data is taken from the official GRE website).

AWA Score Score Percentile
1.5 1
2 2
2.5 8
3 18
3.5 42
4 60
4.5 82
5 93
5.5 98
6.0 99

If you check the table, you can see no percentile ranks are available for the scores from 0.5 to 1.0. This indicates that no candidates have scored below 1.5 in the analytical writing section.

Tips to Improve AWA Scores

Here are some tips to improve your Analytical writing section scores: 

    • Get acquainted with the topics – The tasks in the AWA section include prompts from a broad range of subjects — from arts and humanities to the philosophical and physical sciences.  Though the task doesn’t measure your specific content knowledge, it is always good to know the content areas from which the questions are asked. Knowing the topics and practicing the essays in these areas can boost your confidence and help you craft responses accordingly.  
  • Practice time management – You get only 30 minutes to complete each task in the AWA section. To reduce the stress and pressure on the actual exam day, practice time management during the preparation. For eg., decide how much time you will spend creating an outline of an essay, reading instructions, writing the introduction, etc. 
  • Do mock review- The official GRE website provides sample essays that you can refer to during the preparation. Take the prompt available on the official website and write a response. Once finished, compare your answer to that of the response available in the essay. This will help you analyze and identify the mistakes and improve your writing accordingly. You can also score your essay based on your performance. 
  • Follow a structure – Maintain a structure and flow throughout the essay. An essay without a structure holds no value as it creates confusion. Hence, take a few minutes, outline a draft for the essay, note down the important points you need to include and then start writing. 
  • Edit your work –  It is obvious that you might make errors unknowingly, especially when you’re typing fast. Hence, once you finish writing, take time to read over and edit your work to avoid ending up with an essay full of typing errors. 

We hope now you are well aware of the GRE AWA scores and tips to improve them. So keep the above information in mind and start practicing. Good luck!

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