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GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment : Strategies for Success

GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment: Topics, Tips & How to Prepare

Are you eager to excel in the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) and secure your spot in a prestigious business program? The AWA section of the GMAT is a pivotal aspect of the exam, assessing your ability to construct persuasive arguments and analyse complex issues—an indispensable skill set for thriving in the business world.

Throughout this blog, we'll delve into various facets of the GMAT AWA, providing insights and strategies to help you tackle this crucial exam section with confidence and finesse. Let's uncover the keys to mastering the GMAT AWA and advancing your journey toward a thriving business education.

Synopsis

  • Comprehensive Preparation: Get a detailed guide on understanding the GMAT AWA section and essential preparation tips.
  • Insight into Argument Flaws: Learn to identify common flaws and misleading elements in AWA prompts effectively.
  • Step-by-Step Essay Structure: Follow a clear outline to organise your essay cohesively and logically.
  • Practical Sample Essays: Access annotated sample essays with personalised critique tips.
  • Enhanced Writing Techniques: Master essential writing techniques to make your analysis clear and persuasive.

Understanding the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment

The GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) is a component of the GMAT in which you have to write an essay in response to a given argument. 

The purpose of the AWA section is to evaluate your ability to analyse an argument and communicate your critique effectively in written English. You will be given a specific argument and asked to look it over, explain the reasoning behind it, and give your critique. 

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) is the organisation behind the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), a widely recognised standardised test for admission to graduate business programs. 

Format of the GMAT AWA

Time limit

You have a total of 30 minutes to complete your essay, which includes both planning and writing.

Scoring

Your final score is determined by averaging two separate ratings, each ranging from 0 to 6. These ratings are provided by both a computer and a human evaluator.

Evaluation process

Your essay will be graded by both a computer program and a human evaluator. If the computer's score is more than one point off from the human evaluator's score, a second human evaluator will review it to ensure fairness and accuracy in grading.

Preparation Tips for the GMAT AWA

gmat analytical writing

Preparing for the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) is a fundamental step towards achieving a competitive score on the GMAT exam. Excelling in the AWA requires a strategic approach and dedicated practice. To begin your preparation journey, it's essential to understand the significance of this section and how it contributes to your overall GMAT score.

With that in mind, let's delve into some key strategies and techniques to help you navigate the AWA section with confidence and finesse.

Understanding the Process

Understanding how to approach the AWA section is essential for success. Focus on:

Creating a well-rounded analysis: Learn to break down argument prompts, identify critical elements, and evaluate their effectiveness.

Practising with sample essays: Familiarize yourself with various argument types and practice writing essays under time constraints to enhance your analytical abilities.

Utilising resources like GMAT Write: Use online tools and prep materials, such as GMAT Write, to receive feedback on your essays and improve your writing skills.

How to Tackle the Challenge

In the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), test-takers are tasked with critically analysing arguments within a limited timeframe. However, many arguments present in AWA prompts contain common flaws or misleading elements that require scrutiny.

Do not forget to go through every element of the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment syllabus. Let's explore some of the flaws to understand better how to approach AWA essays effectively:

Inadequate Evidence: Arguments often rely on weak or insufficient evidence to support their claims. Phrases like 'reported' or 'filed' may be used without providing concrete numbers or thorough survey data, leaving the argument's credibility in question.

Faulty Comparisons: Arguments may make faulty comparisons between two dissimilar things, violating the LIKE-UNLIKE rule. This can lead to flawed analogies that weaken the overall argument's logic.

Biased Samples: Arguments based on data from biased samples can skew results and undermine the validity of the argument. To avoid bias, it's essential to ensure that survey samples represent the entire population accurately.

Changing Preferences: Arguments that assume people's preferences or behaviours remain constant over time overlook the reality that preferences can change due to various factors. Failure to acknowledge changing preferences weakens the argument's persuasiveness.

Questionable Studies: Arguments relying on dubious studies or sources lack credibility and can be considered flawed. Test-takers must assess the reliability of the studies cited in the argument to evaluate its validity accurately.

Need for Data: Conclusions drawn without sufficient evidence or data to support them are considered flawed. Test-takers should look for a clear connection between facts and arguments to assess the argument's strength accurately.

Subjective Words: Arguments that heavily rely on subjective language, such as 'many' or 'few,' lack precision and clarity. Test-takers must critically evaluate the subjective terms used in the argument to identify any potential weaknesses.

Understanding Percentages: Misleading interpretations of percentages can occur if not understood in the context of sample sizes or absolute numbers. Test-takers should consider the total population or sample size when interpreting percentages to avoid misrepresentation.

By being aware of these common flaws and misleading elements present in AWA essays, test-takers can approach the task with a critical eye, effectively analysing arguments and providing well-reasoned critiques to achieve success in the GMAT AWA section.

Structuring The GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment Essay

gmat analytical writing

Sequence your essay writing process by crafting passages that are cohesive and relevant to the overall work. We recommend breaking down each passage into distinct paragraphs before proceeding with subsequent stages of composition. Let us further talk about the process by discussing the GMAT syllabus for AWA:

Introduction: Restate the argument and explain why it's wrong. State your opinion and explain why you disagree with the argument.

First Paragraph: Start with an example that shows the argument's weaknesses. Use examples that are easy to understand and relate to. Make sure your examples support your critique of the argument.

Second Paragraph: Begin with a clear statement about the issue. Provide a simple example to illustrate the problem. Use your own experiences to help explain the issue.

Third Paragraph: Start with the second argument and explain its weaknesses. Use examples to support your critique of the argument. Make sure your examples are relevant to the argument.

Fourth Paragraph: Begin with the third argument and explain why it's weak. Provide an example to support your critique. Ensure the example is relevant to the argument.

Conclusion: Restate your disagreement with the argument. Summarise your critique of the argument. Offer suggestions for how the argument could be improved.

How to Enhance your GMAT AWA

Clarity and persuasion are crucial to getting your point across. Learning some essential writing tricks can help make your ideas clearer and more convincing. Let's explore these techniques to make your writing shine.

  1. Transitions: Words or phrases like "however," "therefore," and "in addition" help connect ideas smoothly within and between paragraphs, enhancing coherence.
  2. Examples: Concrete instances that illustrate a point or concept make writing more transparent and more accessible to understand. Relevant and specific examples are preferable to vague or generic ones.
  3. Evidence: Data or information that supports arguments and claims strengthens writing and makes points more persuasive. Utilise credible evidence such as statistics, research findings, and expert opinions.
  4. Counterarguments: Addressing opposing viewpoints demonstrates critical thinking and engagement with different perspectives, ultimately strengthening the overall argument.
  5. Analogies and Metaphors: Comparisons like analogies and metaphors aid in explaining concepts by drawing parallels between two different things, making the writing more engaging and memorable. Relevant and appropriate analogies and metaphors should be used to support arguments and illustrate points effectively.

GMAT Analytical Writing Sample Essays

gmat analytical writing

Students are well aware that the Argument essay in the GMAT question paper is a prerequisite before moving on to the more vital Quantitative and Verbal components of the test, so it is very important that you approach this portion with utmost care.

To remain alert for subsequent portions of the exam, it's recommended that you become familiar with high-scoring examples of argumentative composition. Therefore, below are some samples that may be used as a reference point upon completion.

Sample Essay 1
“The recent surge in violence in the southern part of the city is a result of a shortage of police officers and an absence of leadership on the part of the city council. In order to rectify the burgeoning growth of crime that threatens the community, the city council must address this issue seriously. Instead of spending time on peripheral issues such as education quality, community vitality, and job opportunity, the city council must realise that the crime issue is serious and double the police force, even if this action requires budget cuts from other city programs.”

How to approach

  • Acknowledge Valid Points: Recognize that increasing police presence can help address immediate safety concerns.
  • Consider Alternative Solutions: Discuss the potential limitations of solely focusing on law enforcement and suggest alternative strategies such as community policing or addressing underlying social issues.
  • Evaluate Evidence: Assess the evidence provided for the argument's claims regarding the cause of the violence and the proposed solution's effectiveness.

Sample Essay 2
“The rating system for electronic games is similar to the movie rating system in that it provides consumers with a quick reference so that they can determine if the subject matter and contents are appropriate. This electronic game rating system is not working because it is self-regulated, and the fines for violating the rating system are nominal. As a result, an independent body should oversee the game industry, and companies that knowingly violate the rating system should be prohibited from releasing a game for two years.”

How to approach 

  • Challenge Assumptions: Question the assumption that an independent body overseeing the gaming industry would solve the problem without considering potential challenges and unintended consequences.
  • Discuss Industry Dynamics: Explore the unique challenges of regulating the gaming industry compared to traditional media and the potential impact of stricter regulations on innovation and creative freedom.
  • Propose Alternative Solutions: Offer suggestions for improving the effectiveness of the rating system while considering the practicality and feasibility of implementation.

Sample Essay 3
“Many farmers who invested in the equipment needed to make the switch from synthetic to organic fertilisers and pesticides feel that it would be too expensive to resume synthetic farming at this point. However, studies of farmers who switched to organic farming last year indicate that their current crop yields are lower.

Hence, their purchase of organic farming equipment, a relatively minor investment compared to the losses that would result from continued lower crop yields, cannot justify persisting on an unwise course. And the choice to farm organically is financially unwise, given that it was motivated by environmental rather than economic concerns.”

How to approach 

  • Highlight Environmental Benefits: Discuss the potential long-term benefits of organic farming, such as improved soil health, reduced pesticide use, and biodiversity conservation.
  • Evaluate Study Limitations: Critically analyze the methodology and scope of the study cited in the argument, considering factors like sample size and duration.
  • Advocate for Sustainable Practices: Suggest integrating organic farming practices with sustainable agriculture techniques to maximise both economic and environmental benefits.

To facilitate this crucial facet of your preparation journey, you can visit MIM-Essay and explore the free GMAT mock tests available online.

GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment Score

gmat analytical writing

The essay is worth 6 points on an individual scale. You will have two independent assessors, one of whom may or may not be a computer program but whose judgements shall always remain the same by one point. This assures that if the first assessor gives you 4 while the other assigns 5, then your score will remain at 4 points—no matter what. 

However, for the GMAT essay section, the test-taker must demonstrate their bona fides by providing proof of identity and completing it within 30 minutes without any assistance. Aiming for a 5-point minimum is an attainable target score; sometimes, even a 4 may suffice in order to avoid risking being placed around the 20th percentile on account of its current scoring system. To learn more about the GMAT, check mba.com.

Conclusion

Mastering the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) requires diligent preparation and practice. By familiarising yourself with the test format, refining your writing skills, and reviewing sample essays, you can confidently approach this crucial section of the exam. With the right effort, you'll be well-prepared to showcase your analytical abilities and achieve success in your pursuit of business education.

How much does the GMAT cost?

You can take the GMAT up to five times in a 12-month period. You are not permitted to take the GMAT more than once within a sixteen-day period, or eight times altogether.

How many attempts one can give for GMAT?

Arranging a GMAT appointment can be costly, with the cost of $250 being commonplace.

Can I retake the GMAT?

You may take the exam up to five times within a twelve month period. Although approximately one-third of students choose this path, business schools do not frown upon retaking it if your score gets incrementally improved with each iteration. In fact, around 10% of applicants have taken the test three or more times.

 

Can I Utilize a Calculator for the GMAT?

You will have access to an on-screen calculator with basic functions during the integrated reasoning section. You will not have access to a calculator during quantitative sections but do not fret! You won't be required to perform any precise calculations when answering quant questions; it merely needs your input and evaluation of data.

Know Your Author
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Abhyank Srinet
Study Abroad Expert
Abhyank Srinet, the founder of MiM-Essay.com, is a globally recognized expert in study abroad and admission consulting.His passion lies in helping students navigate the complex world of admissions and achieve their academic dreams. Having earned a Master's degree in Management from ESCP Europe, Abhyank's expertise in data-driven marketing strategies has driven growth for some of the most competitive industries. As the founder of MiM-Essay.com, he has helped thousands of students get into top business schools with a strong emphasis on research, shortlisting, and applying to schools from a single platform. His dedication to education has also led him to create MentR-Me, a free-to-use social platform that simplifies the study abroad process for students, while providing universities with a powerful recruitment tool. As a leader in the field of admission consulting, he is constantly researching and implementing the latest strategies to ensure that his clients receive the best possible guidance. He leads the Business Development and Digital Marketing side of both companies, and has grown both ventures to 7 figure revenue.His unique insights, experience, and dedication to his clients make him a valuable resource for anyone seeking to advance their education or career.
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