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How to score well on AWA?

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How to score well on AWA? [#permalink] New post 20 Mar 2017, 18:29
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How to score well on AWA?

The Analytical Writing Section, also known as the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), is the essay section of the Graduate Record Examinations. It comprises two essay writing tasks of 30 minutes each, designed to measure your critical thinking ability and analytical writing skills.
Your overall objective in both essays will be to create a compelling and convincing thesis statement and to defend the same over the course of several paragraphs. You will be assessed and graded on three key parameters, which are your ability to:

a) express complex ideas clearly and support them effectively,
b) build strong arguments and evaluate them, and
c) maintain a logical, focused, and consistent discussion.

Inside the Analytical Writing Section

The two analytical writing tasks included in AWA are – (1) the Analyze an Issue task, and (2) the Analyze an Argument task.

Both tasks are complementary in essence. One requires you to take a stand on a given issue and justify it. The other requires you to assess whether someone else’s stand is logically correct or not.

Analyze an Issue
This task involves a relatively generic issue of broad interest. You will be presented with an opinion on the issue as well as a set of instructions, which outline how you should respond to the issue in question. Your task is to evaluate the issue, form your own views about the given opinion (that is, to agree or disagree with the given opinion), and to build an argument in support of the views or opinions. Your argument must be supported with reasons and examples.

GO TO FORUM: Analyze an Issue

Analyze an Argument
This task involves an argument which has already been made with regard to a certain issue. You will be presented with a set of instructions that outline the criteria you should consider when evaluating the argument. Your task is to assess the logical soundness of the argument in question. You must assess the claims made by the arguments and evaluate the reasons and examples it provides in support to opine whether or not the given argument is rational and appropriate.

GO TO FORUM: Analyze an Argument

4 Tips to Ace the AWA

Before you begin preparing for AWA, here are four things to know about the section:

What is Being Measured?

The focus of the Analytical Writing Section is your ability to make clear, reasoned judgments and to express them coherently. It is not to test your knowledge of any particular subject or discipline. Thus, specific content knowledge from the given test is not graded in this section.
Each essay is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 in single-point increments. Your final score for the section is the average of the two essay scores rounded off to the nearest half-point. Thus, the final score is reported on a scale of 0.0 to 6.0. Analytical writing graders are trained to award the scores in 30 seconds or less.

As a control measure an automatic essay grader is also used in calculating your scores. The purpose is to ensure the ETS-trained grader has made no mistake in scoring your test. The automatic essay grader, or E-rater, is an electronic software application that follows its algorithm to grade both essays and award a final score between 0.0 and 6.0. If the scores awarded by the E-rater and the GRE grader differ by more than one point (on the 0.5 scale), your essays are sent to another ETS-trained grader for reevaluation.

You Earn Points for:
The quality and depth of judgments/arguments made.
  • The logical flow of judgments/arguments in the essay.
  • The use of correct as well as effective grammatical structures.

What is Considered a Good Score?

Getting scores between 0.0 and 2.0 is both undesirable and uncommon. The vast majority of students get between 3.0 and 6.0, which can be considered a “good score” in general. To better understand the grading system and the meaning of each score, you can check out the score level descriptions provided by ETS.

What is Considered a Good Essay Length?

While there is no specific word limit or recommendation on the same, for that matter, longer essays tend to score better than shorter ones given they’re appropriate in terms of quality and depth. Longer essays that are not substantial will result in a low score. You will also have to consider the 30-minute deadline for each essay.

It is generally a good idea to limit the length of your essay to five paragraphs: one each for introduction and conclusion and three in the body of the essay. Ensure each paragraph is structured well (see below to learn more about structuring) and presents a new, compelling point.

How do you Write a Good Essay?

Writing a good essay is all about preparation and practice. Now that you know what skills are measured in the Analytical Writing Section, you can direct your preparations accordingly. A good essay can be characterized by three C’s:

Clear – There is a reason why simplicity is considered the ultimate expression of sophistication. Ensure you present your ideas in a direct, lucid, and clear manner. You don’t want to impress with complex sentence structures as graders actively look and score for clarity. Using an advanced, GRE-level sophisticated vocabulary is recommended, however, as it improves scores.

Cogent – Graders look for strong, compelling arguments from your side. To get a high score, you want to choose strong reasons and develop specific examples to express cogency. The trick is to express cogency in complex arguments and clarity in language at the same time.

Coherent – The different ideas and opinions expressed in your essay, as well as the reasons and examples you present in their defense must be logically connected to one another. Ideas must flow logically, and so should paragraphs.

Apart from the three C’s, you also want to pay attention to your grammar. While minor grammatical errors here and there will not affect your scores, major errors or several minor errors definitely will. There’s a fifth parameter, as well, which will help you score well in the analytical writing section: structure.

Because your graders only have 30 seconds to grade your essays, they take a cursory glance of the essay first, stopping to read only what feels important. When glancing through, graders look for well-structured essays marked by distinct paragraphs, which
1) start with a topic sentence,
2) build into the opinion with examples and reasons, and
3) conclude with an articulation of the topic sentence formerly stated.

When practicing for this section, mark yourself on the three C’s of good essays as well as the structure and the grammar.

AWA Preparation Strategy

The single most helpful strategy is to practice, practice, practice. Writing your essays within 30 minutes and grading them (or having them graded by friends or family) will help you build speed and stamina.

Keeping this in mind, here are six keys to preparing intelligently for the analytical writing section:
Read Sample Essays:The next best thing to writing essays is reading them. ETS has a great online resource of sample essays for both issue and argument tasks to help you understand what graders are looking for in your essays.

Create Outlines: It is never a good idea to jump straight into writing the essay. During the preparation phase, prepare an action strategy for yourself to tackle the section effectively. It is a good idea to include the tasks of brainstorming and outlining before getting started with the actual writing. Spend the first three to four minutes thinking of different ideas. Write them down quickly, and then spend one minute on creating an outline for your essay. This outline will help you manage the coherent flow of paragraphs. Start writing only after this. Follow the same strategy when taking the actual test as well.

Review Practice Essays: You’ll be able to recognize your error patterns, common mistakes, and other problem areas in your writing. When reviewing, also take time to correct the mistakes and then read the final draft as one of the sample essays. Over time, you will become more aware of yourself and where you go wrong in the three C’s, grammar, and structure, thereby minimizing mistakes in the test. Use the scoring guide to grade yourself and monitor progress over the week. You should aim to move up the grade scale every week.

Improve Vocabulary and Grammar: Graders look for sophisticated, GRE-level grammar and vocabulary. If you don’t have much preparation time, focus on grammar alone. Brush up on topics such as subject-verb agreements, active and passive voice, conjunctions, tenses, and the proper use of commas, semi-colons, etc.

Learn how to Manage Time: Managing time is very important to ensure your final submission is error-free and of high quality.

Budget the 30 minutes to have sufficient time for five activities:
  • Reading the issue/argument as well as the instructions accompanying them.
  • Brainstorming ideas
  • Creating an outline
  • Writing the essay
  • Proofreading
Spend no more than five minutes on brainstorming.

Outlining the essay and proofreading the final essay in the end can be done within three to five minutes, as you don’t need to comb through the essay. Only check for large grammatical errors. Thus reading the issue/argument and instructions, plus writing the essay are the most time-consuming parts of the test. Aim for at least 20 minutes of writing time.

Leverage the published pool of topics. The ETS also shares the entire pool of essay tasks, from which the Issue and Argument tasks are selected for your GRE exam. The Issue topics and Argument topics are listed categorically, and the topics you get in your test will be nothing more than a lingual variation of the topics from the pool.


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Re: How to score well on AWA? [#permalink] New post 12 Apr 2017, 09:38
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If anyone is interested, we have a free series of 9 videos that cover everything you need to know to do well on the Analytical Writing section of the GRE: ... al-writing


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Re: How to score well on AWA? [#permalink] New post 13 Apr 2017, 01:15
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really interesting as always from you. We have also a new guide about AWA, wrote from scratch.


Best wishes,


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Re: How to score well on AWA? [#permalink] New post 03 Jan 2018, 22:14
You note the following: The vast majority of students get between 3.0 and 6.0, which can be considered a “good score” in general.

How is it possible that 3.0 is a good score when it's in the 18th percentile? I.e. allegedly 82 percent of all test takers score higher?

Can you provide a terse compendium of what is needed to score 4.5 and above?
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Re: How to score well on AWA? [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2018, 02:29
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For a full compendium how you can score well on AWA section, look at here ... -3426.html


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Re: How to score well on AWA?   [#permalink] 04 Jan 2018, 02:29
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