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            GMAT Prep: Why The AWA Is Not An Average Essay Assignment

            Think the GMAT's Analytical Writing Assessment is just like any other essay section? Think again. Varsity Tutors breaks down what makes the AWA unique - and how you can crack it.

            “There's no way to study for the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). Because you don't know the topic they’re going to ask you about, you can't prepare anything in advance. You can’t predict how they’ll grade your essay. The AWA is like every other essay test you've seen; just go in and write whatever you think about the topic they give you.”

            Discuss how well-reasoned you find this argument, which many test-takers whom are unfamiliar with the GMAT claim is true.

            The average individual mistakenly believes that the GMAT's AWA is similar to any other writing test you may face. You receive a topic, you write your response and you earn a grade. However, this claim is deeply flawed. But why?

            You must assess, not opine:

            The speaker believes that the test-taker should simply state his or her opinion of the provided prompt. This demonstrates a lack of understanding of the assignment. In reality, the AWA presents an argument. The writer's task is to analyse that argument.

            The directions typically provide a sense of the information to note: assumptions, faulty comparisons, and misinterpreted or missing evidence. The grader is uninterested in the writer's opinion of the topic, but is instead interested in the test-taker’s assessment of how successfully the argument is constructed.

            You can anticipate how your essay will be marked:

            The above speaker likewise believes that the scoring is arbitrary and subjective. In truth, the AWA is graded twice: once by a member of higher education and once by a computer program. These marks are averaged, and if they differ by more than one point, a second human grader provides the final score.

            According to MBA.com, the computer recognizes and assesses “more than 50 structural and linguistic” features. Therefore, organizational cues such as transitions are extremely important when composing your response.

            Human graders judge your essay on its organization and reasoning, use of examples and mastery of the English language. They are always impartial.

            You can ready for the AWA:

            Finally, the speaker feels it is impossible to prepare for the AWA. While test-takers do not know precisely what their AWA question will entail, they can review a number of items. Writers should absolutely study basic logic flaws. These are the same flaws as in the Critical Reasoning section.

            A strong test-taker will also practice constructing a strong thesis sentence in advance. The five-paragraph essay format and a well-written thesis will suit every AWA. This impromptu writing need not be so spur-of-the-moment, after all. 

            Toby Blackwell, the author of this article, is a professional GMAT tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. He graduated with honours and received his Bachelor's degree from Harvard University. He scored a 770 on the GMAT.