Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

There are two sections in the AWA : Analysis of an Issue, and the other is Analysis of an Argument. In Analysis of an Issue, you must either agree or disagree with the issue at hand, supporting your argument logically and with relevant examples. For Analysis of an Argument, you need to analyze and critique the logic of a given argument, again supporting your critique with examples and reasons. You will receive a grade on each essay that will range from a possible 0 to a perfect 6 (in increments of 0.5). The AWA score is scored separately (average of scores on both essays), and does nott constitute to the 800 score.


AWA is important because of two reasons :

  1. The GMAT test starts with the AWA section. There are 2 essays to be written in 30 minutes each. So it’s very important that you do well in the AWA so that you start the quants section on an upbeat note.
  2. The second reason is that your AWA scores are sent to schools. And if the quality of application essays which you have sent do not match the poor score in your AWA, it can go against you.

Here are some tips before we get started: Grammar and spelling is, by-and-large, less important than structure and content. Focus on structure and your argument formation. The E-rater’s main impact is to put more value on highly structured writing and the use of “key” words and phrases that the E-rater recognizes. Take plenty of timed practice tests on a computer. Our sample essays on the site are designed for you to take practice essays and be evaluated. Do not procrastinate AWA preparation. Students tend to put off the AWA until it is too late and then they cannot adequately prepare.


There is a nice document on AWA which I found on the web. I am not able to give the proper credits as I am not aware of the source. Nevertheless thanks to him/her. I will try to condense the information into pointers.

  1. The E-rater will read your essays and look for phrases that indicate competent reasoning.
  2. The E-rater uses a stored battery of hundreds graded essays for each of the 280 essay questions. The E-rater has sample 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 score essays for each topic. The E-rater will evaluate your essay in terms of the stored essays in the E-rater’s database.If the essay you wrote resembles the stored “6” essays in the E-rater’s database, you will get that score. If your essay better resembles the “5’s” in the E-rater’s memory, you will get a “5” from the E-rater.
  3. The E-rater cannot detect certain things, such as humor or grammar. It analyzes structure through using transitional phrases, paragraph changes, etc. It evaluates content through comparing your score to that of other students. Do not write anything unusual.
  4. You should not try any bold or original approaches in your essay. The essay should be written in a simple and organized fashion.
  5. Make your essay highly rigid in structure. Make it look, in its organization, like other 5 and 6 essays.
  6. Clearly demarcate sections using phrases such as “for example”, “therefore”, etc..
  7. Use qualifiers judiciously. The E-rater will associate careful use of qualifiers with high scorers.
  8. State precise logical flaws and use the exact terminology for logical reasoning flaws. e.g: Ad hominem, etc.
  9. Avoid making spelling mistakes, especially for the qualifiers.Avoid humour, it doesn’t count.Analysis of Issue question, if you do use unusual examples, try to use concept keywords and a tight structure.
  10. Write opinions in the mainstream of intellectual thought. In other words your ideas/opinions should conform to the general opinion.
  11. Each example or illustration must be connected to that idea with transitional markers such as : for example, thus, or moreover.
  12. Use American english to write the essays. Since the “6” essays stored in the E-rater were primarily written by Americans, you must make sure your writing style is American.
  13. Avoid any local jargon or particularly any unusual transitional phrases (e.g. “heretofore”).

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