Tips on Acing the Analytical Writing Section of GMAT


You always hear about the analytical writing assessment (AWA) as the least important out of all the sections in your GMAT test.

And there’s some truth to this statement, as failing to secure an “outstanding” score won’t hinder you from entering the program. The AWA is scored within the range of 0-6, with 6 translating as “outstanding,” 5 as “strong,” 4 as “adequate,” and so on.

The computer and the human evaluator will score you. The total will be averaged to get the final score. Typically, business schools don’t make a distinction if you score 6 or 5.

To give you an idea, the total mean score for GMAT takers is around 4.37. So a GMAT prep course will surely increase your chances of acing the test.

What is Evaluated in the AWA?

  • Your ability to organize your thoughts, conceptualize an idea and put the idea into writing
  • Your ability to present your argument using examples and to support theories
  • The quality of your thoughts
  • The overall quality of your grammar and the use of syntax

While business schools have different standards in weighing the AWA, please note that a scoreof below four will likely scuttle your chances of getting into the program.

Going by those elements mentioned above,  a low percentile score will speak volumes about your writing skills. That means they are not adequate to present your ideas on paper. No teacher would be looking forward to checking your work.

Your application letter will also be weighed against the overall score of your AWA. If they don’t match, then that’s a huge red flag for the business school. It shows that you might not be the one who wrote your application letter in the first place.

Tips in Passing your AWA

Taking a GMAT prep course will give you some insight into what to expect for the analytical writing assessment. You also want to make sure you are aware of the GMAT test dates.

  1. Read the instructions. You would be surprised by the large number of candidates who are not following the directions. It could be nerves, excitement, or any other reason.
  2. Analyze the question. The AWA tests your ability to analyze the argument and support or refute the treatise. You need to express whether the argument itself is rooted in a good foundation or not. Then you support your analysis with facts and evidence.
  3. Gather your thoughts. Don’t just dive in without a clear plan. Take time out to make a draft outline at the start of the test, so you don’t veer too far away from your line of reasoning.
  4. Outline your composition. Proper analytical reasoning is just one half of the equation. You need to present your argument in a clear and structured form. A draft outline will help in this regard.

Remember, you are not being asked to express your opinion on a particular topic in the AWA. You are asked to analyze the statement, present your argument, and support it with evidence and facts. A GMAT prep course provides plenty of opportunities for you to practice with questions that were used in previous tests, so you get a better idea of what to expect.

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