How to get a high score in the GMAT AWA
The GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section is the essay writing part of the MBA admissions test.
Currently split into two essay types (analysis of an issue and analysis of an essay), the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) recently announced plans to shorten the AWA section to only one essay, in favor of adding an extra section titled Integrated Reasoning.
However, until June 2012, the GMAT AWA will remain one hour long, with two essay questions.
GMAT participants are not able to share the time between the two questions, and must instead spend 30 minutes on each question.
In order to gain a high score in the GMAT AWA, test-takers will need to be aware that the two essay questions require very different approaches. While the analysis of an issue question is designed to test participants’ ability to argue a point of view on an unfamiliar topic, the analysis of an argument essay question is intended to test the ability to assess an argument contained in a short piece of text.
GMAT AWA questions
On their website, GMAC have the current essay questions and sample texts freely available for both the analysis of an issue and analysis of an argument questions. In order to score highly in the GMAT AWA section, all participants should ensure that they practice using these questions, and are familiar with what is required in their answers to each essay question.
Structure is of huge importance throughout the GMAT AWA. As the test is in a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) format, the structure of your writing can be more important than in conventional essays. Here, the computer will look for certain words or phrases to ascertain the structure of an essay, and so it can be extremely beneficial to plan your essays. This should always include a worthwhile introduction and conclusion.
In fact, as a result of the CAT format of the test, many GMAT preparation lecturers advise their most able students to dumb down their language, using words that are more commonly used, rather than original and thought provoking language, which will be lost on both the computer and the rushed-human examiner.
GMAT AWA score
The AWA section is scored separately to the Quantitative and Verbal sections of the GMAT, and will not affect participants’ final score out of 800. However, the AWA score is still provided to business schools, and will be marked between one and six, with six being the highest.
The importance that each business school places on the AWA score varies considerably, and is usually kept a close secret. However, it is safe to assume that the more competition for places at a particular school, the more likely that your AWA score will count towards your application. While many GMAT test-takers incorrectly assume that the AWA section is not an important part of the MBA admissions process, for some it can be the deciding factor in gaining an admissions interview.
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