AWA Score on the GMAT
Before writing a practice essay, it is beneficial to look at the guide the scoring readers will be using when they score the essay you write on the day of the exam. This will help you have in mind a more concrete idea of the difference between "Outstanding" and "Limited" essay so that you can avoid costly mistakes.
|Score||Rating||Characteristics of a Typical Paper with this Score|
|6||Outstanding—a cogent, well- articulated critique of the argument, demonstrating mastery of the elements of effective writing.|
|5||Strong—a well-developed critique of the argument, demonstrating good control of the elements of effective writing.|
|4||Adequate—a competent critique of the argument, demonstrating adequate control of the elements of effective writing.|
|3||Limited—a competent but clearly flawed critique of the argument, demonstrating some control of the elements of effective writing.|
|2||Seriously flawed—a paper demonstrating serious weakness in analytical writing skills.|
|1||Fundamentally Deficient—a paper demonstrating fundamental deficiencies in analytical writing skills.|
Reading over the scoring guide is an important way to ensure that you understand the expectations the reader and computer will have for you on the exam. Now that you have all of this information, how should you use it? Here are some important takeaways as you prepare to sit for the AWA:
- Clarity is key – notice in the scoring guide that for scores in the 4-6 range, all start by describing the corresponding essay as "clearly" identifying features of the argument. Clarity can be conveyed through your organization, vocabulary choices, and grammar. Your ideas should be easy to understand and follow a clear logic.
- Organization is emphasized – your essay should be organized in such a way that it is easy to understand. Paragraphs should include your argument and have the evidence you are using connected to your argument. You will also want to be sure to have transition words between paragraphs (First of all, In addition, In conclusion, etc.). Note that one way you begin to drop from a 5 to a 4 is by not consistently including transitions.
- Grammar is important – while you likely will not lose many points for the occasional misplaced comma, the basics should be on point. Basic spelling, capitalization, and word confusion (there/they're/their, your/you're, to/too/two) can be red flags that draw attention to an essay with weak grammar, so be sure to brush up on the basics. Grammar also contributes to clarity and organization, so making basic grammatical errors can hurt your score in multiple subcategories.
- Practice, Practice, Practice! Sitting down for a 30-minute writing assignment is not a simple task, but if you have practiced with sample AWA questions, you will be ready to respond to the type of questions you will see on exam day. Having practiced several times, you will likely have a basic outline prepared, including transitions and a logical progression from identifying the weak arguments and using evidence to address these weak arguments.
- Take time in the beginning of the AWA to carefully read the prompt and create a small outline before you start writing so that you fully address the weak arguments and to ensure that you have organized your ideas in advance instead of as you go. While taking this time in the beginning may feel like precious minutes you should be using to write the essay, it will actually save you time avoiding writer's block and boost your score by helping you achieve a well-organized argument.
- Be sure to save time (we suggest about 3 minutes) to edit your writing. This will help you boost your score by ensuring basic grammatical issues are addressed, your ideas are clear, and that you remembered transitions.