Prepare for the AWA Essay

Taking the AWA requires that you read, analyze, and write a well-thought out critique of an argument in 30 minutes. For many, this is an overwhelming prospect. The key to beating anxiety and writer's block is to have an idea of what you will write before you even look at the prompt.

How to Ideate

Before you are ready to write the essay, you will need to be able to generate ideas. If you follow a set pattern, it will become simple to come up with substantive analysis. Using our three-step pattern, you will be able to efficiently and effectively identify and verbalize solid analysis.

  1. Find a flaw – familiarize yourself with common logical fallacies used in arguments to help you quickly identify places where the text asserts something without sufficient evidence.
  2. Identify its underlying assumption – ask yourself, what assumptions is the author making given the details and evidence he or she has provided thusfar?
  3. Identify the relevant requisite evidence to deal with it – once you have identified the assumption, you can offer an analysis of what evidence the author would need to provide to strengthen his or her argument.

Using a Template for the AWA

The AWA is scored in such a way that it is possible to have a basic template in mind which can later be fleshed out with relevant details from the provided prompt. Having this prepared will help you not only write a convincing essay, but will also help you to focus the specific details you are pulling from the prompt. We recommend that you plan your ideas in a brief outline during the 30 minutes provided. Memorizing your own version of the example template below will help you to organize your ideas and take some of the pressure off.


  1. [Source] argues that [restate argument].
  2. As it currently stands, the argument relies on assumptions without clear evidence and fails to address key points which undermine the conclusion as a whole.
  3. Consequently, the argument has several flaws which make it unconvincing.
  4. Until [flaw 1], [flaw 2], and [flaw 3] are dealt with, this argument cannot be seen as viable.

Body Paragraph 1:

  1. [Transition such as "First of all", "Firstly", "For one", etc] the argument asserts…
  2. The author's claim seems highly unlikely because…
  3. The argument could be strengthened if it had provided evidence that [analysis].
  4. This possibility proves that the conclusion vulnerable.

Body Paragraph 2:

  1. [Transition such as "Secondly", "Also", "In addition", etc] the argument claimes that [clearly identify second logical fallacy].
  2. Again, this is a weak claim with no substantive support that there is any correlation between [item A] and [item B].
  3. However, if the author would have provided evidence that [analysis], the argument would have been strengthened.

Body Paragraph 3:

  1. Finally, the argument concludes that [clearly state the conclusion the argument reaches].
  2. However, it still remains unclear [analysis/state the unanswered questions which should be addressed].
  3. To strengthen this argument, the author must provide evidence to support [analysis].


  1. [Transition such as "In conclusion", "In summary", etc], the argument is not convincing because of the above-mentioned flawed reasoning.
  2. If the author had clearly mentioned [the missing relevant information OR feel free to include specifics you mentioned in paragraphs 1, 2, and 3], the argument would be considerably strengthened.
  3. In its current state, the author's argument that [insert argument] is weak and unsound.
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