Gmat Essay Guide

Guide to Perfect 6.0 AWA GMAT Score

Related AWA Resources:

I took the GMAT twice and scored 6.0 each time. I did put a lot of time in it the first time....too much actually. Being a non-native speaker and having not written a damn essay (of any kind) in many many years, I was very scared of the AWA. So, I went through every guide that I could find and wrote nearly 25-30 essays. Even had a friend grade them for me.....Pathetic, huh?

Anyway, for my second time, I just looked over my templates I created and wrote one of each the day before test just to refresh my memory on faster typing without making too many typos......

So, here it is....Enjoy, and please do not blame me if the 6.0 percentile goes down to 80 soon


by Chineseburned

1. General Structure

Intro - Restate argument, point out flaws or state intention to discuss them below
1st Para - First,...
2nd Para - Second/In addition,...
3rd Para - Third/Finally,...
Conclusion - The argument is flawed/weak/unconvincing because of the above -mentioned...Ultimately, the argument can be strengthened if/by...

2. Structural Word (should be all over the essays)

  1. Supporting examples - for example, to illustrate, for instance, because, specifically
  2. Additional support - furthermore, in addition, similarly, just as, also, as a result, moreover
  3. Importance - surely, truly, undoubtedly, clearly, in fact, most importantly
  4. Contrast - on the contrary, yet, despite, rather, instead, however, although, while
  5. Decide against - one cannot deny that, it could be argued that, granted, admittedly
  6. Ying-yang - on the one hand/on the other hand
  7. Concluding - therefore, in summary, consequently, hence, in conclusion, ultimately, in closing

3. Templates

The argument claims that ....(restate)
Stated in this way the argument:
a) manipulates facts and conveys a distorted view of the situation
b) reveals examples of leap of faith, poor reasoning and ill-defined terminology
c) fails to mention several key factors, on the basis of which it could be evaluated
The conclusion of the argument relies on assumptions for which there is no clear evidence. Hence, the argument is weak/unconvincing and has several flaws.

1st Para:
First, the argument readily assumes that......
This statement is a stretch....
For example,...
The argument could have been much clearer if it explicitly stated that...

2nd Para:
Second, the argument claims that....
This is again a very weak and unsupported claim as the argument does not demonstrate any correlation between....and...
To illustrate,...
In fact, it is not at all clear...rather....
If the argument had provided evidence that.....then the argument would have been a lot more convincing.

3rd Para:
(pose some questions for the argument).....Without convincing answers to these questions, one is left with the impression that the claim is more of a wishful thinking rather than substantive evidence.

In conclusion, the argument is flawed for the above-mentioned reasons and is therefore unconvincing. It could be considerably strengthened if the author clearly mentioned all the relevant facts....
In order to assess the merits of a certain situation/decision, it is essential to have full knowledge of all contributing factors. In this particular case....
Without this information, the argument remains unsubstantiated and open to debate.

4. Going from the templates to full-fledged essays

The following appeared in the editorial section of a national news magazine:[/b]

"The rating system for electronic games is similar to the movie rating system in that it provides consumers with a quick reference so that they can determine if the subject matter and contents are appropriate. This electronic game rating system is not working because it is self regulated and the fines for violating the rating system are nominal. As a result an independent body should oversee the game industry and companies that knowingly violate the rating system should be prohibited from releasing a game for two years."

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Point out flaws in the argument's logic and analyze the argument's underlying assumptions. In addition, evaluate how supporting evidence is used and what evidence might counter the argument's conclusion. You may also discuss what additional evidence could be used to strengthen the argument or what changes would make the argument more logically sound.



The argument claims that the electronic games rating system, although similar to the movie rating system, is not working because it is self regulated and violation fines are nominal, Hence, the gaming rating system should be overseen by an independent body. Stated in this way the argument fails to mention several key factors, on the basis of which it could be evaluated. The conclusion relies on assumptions, for which there is no clear evidence. Therefore, the argument is rather weak, unconvincing, and has several flaws.

First, the argument readily assumes that because the electronic game rating system is self regulated, it is not working well. This statement is a stretch and not substantiated in any way. There are numerous examples in other areas of business or commerce, where the entities are self regulated and rather successful. For instance, FIA, the Formula1 racing organization is self regulated. Yet, the sport is very popular and successful, drawing millions of spectators around the world each year. Tickets are rather expensive, races are shown on pay-per-view, and nearly all drivers are paid very well. Another example is the paralleled movie rating system that the argument mentions. The author fails to clarify whether it is working well, but it is clear that the movie rating system is pretty well received by people, who often base their decisions to go see a movie with kids or not on the movie rating. It has never been a case when someone would feel cheated by the movie rating and express disappointment afterwards. Since the movie rating system is also self regulated, it follows that this regulatory method is working pretty well and it is not obvious how it can be the reason for the poor electronic game rating system. The argument would have been much clearer if it explicitly gave examples of how the self regulatory system led to bad ratings and customer dissatisfaction.

Second, the argument claims that any violation fees for bad electronic game ratings are nominal. It thus suggests that this is yet another reason for the rating system not working. This is again a very weak and unsupported claim as the argument does not demonstrate any correlation between the monetary amount of the fines and the quality of the electronic game rating system. In fact, the argument does not even draw a parallel with the mentioned movie rating system and its violation fines. If any such correlation had been shown for the movie rating system, which supposedly works well, then the author would have sounded a bit more convincing. In addition, if the argument provided evidence that low violation fines lead to electronic game manufacturers to ignore any regulations with respect to the game rating system, the argument could have been strengthened even further.

Finally, the argument concludes that an independent body should oversee the game industry and companies that violate the rating system, should be punished. From this statement again, it is not at all clear how an independent regulatory body can do a better job than a self regulated one. Without supporting evidence and examples from other businesses where independent regulatory bodies have done a great job, one is left with the impression that the claim is more of a wishful thinking rather than substantive evidence. As a result, this conclusion has no legs to stand on.

In summary, the argument is flawed and therefore unconvincing. It could be considerably strengthened if the author clearly mentioned all the relevant facts. In order to assess the merits of a certain situation, it is essential to have full knowledge of all contributing factors.

5. Final tips

  • During the tutorial type in a few sentences in the mock essay window to get used to the keyboard.
  • Again during the tutorial, jot down on your notebook the basic structure of your essays or the opening sentences in case you get too nervous and forget them when the clock starts ticking.
  • Write as much as you can. Try to write at least 500 words per essay.
  • Always have the e-rater in mind as your potential reviewer. Remember that the human rater will make every effort to grade just like the e-rater. In that sense, keep your structure and volume in mind over actual quality/content.
  • Be careful of spelling mistakes. Double check words that you normally know you misspell (e.g. exercise). Try to finish 2-3 minutes before time is up so you can slowly re-read your essay for the purposes of spell checking. Do not reorganize/delete sentences/paragraphs with less than 2 min left.
  • No matter how great you thought your essays went, try to stay humble and focused - remember this was just a warm-up and the real stuff hasn't started yet!

Good luck!


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Chinese Democracy is your nearest BestBuy.

Best AWA guide here:

Last edited by bb on 14 Nov 2017, 21:18, edited 10 times in total.

Added the template as image

If you’re preparing for the GMAT, you’ve probably spent countless hours reviewing math concepts and mastering grammar skills. You’ve likely also spent time studying for the newer integrated reasoning section, too. But have you thought about the analytical writing assessment part of the GMAT?

If your answer is no, don’t worry! You’re not alone. Many test-takers go into test day without spending a lot of time preparing for the essay section of the GMAT, especially since it’s unclear how much (or even if) the GMAT essay even matters for getting into business school.

In this article, I’ll shed some light on the oft-forgotten GMAT AWA section. First, I’ll give you an overview of what’s actually on the AWA section. Next, I’ll discuss whether or not that score really matters for your admission to business school. Finally, I’ll tell share the top GMAT essay tips that are guaranteed to boost your GMAT essay score.


GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment Overview

The GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment is designed to measure your ability to think critically about a topic and then communicate your ideas about that topic. During the AWA section, you’ll be asked to analyze and critique an argument and judged on your ability to do so clearly, thoroughly, and thoughtfully.

The GMAT AWA section consists of one writing task: a 30-minute essay. You’ll complete the AWA portion of the GMAT first, before every other test section.

For your GMAT essay, you’ll be asked to think critically about an argument that’s presented to you. You’re not supposed to give your opinion on the subject itself.

GMAT AWA scores range from 0 to 6, in half-point intervals. Every GMAT AWA response receives two independent scores. According to, one of your scores may be performed by an essay-scoring engine. At least one of your GMAT AWA scores will be determined by a GMAT essay reader.

Your AWA score doesn’t affect your GMAT total score and is generally considered the least important of your GMAT scores.



The 6 Best GMAT Essay Tips

If you’re looking to achieve a GMAT essay score that’ll help you get into business school, these six GMAT Analytical Writing tips will help you achieve success.


#1: Follow the Directions

One of the most important GMAT essay tips is to understand the directions of the AWA section.

The AWA section specifically asks you to critique an argument on its strengths and weaknesses. AWA graders aren’t looking for a well-written, thoughtful opinion piece about the topic discussed in the prompt. They’re looking for you to analyze whether or not the argument itself was sound, and to back up that analysis with evidence from the text, and they’ll judge you on how well you accomplished that specific task. If you don’t follow the directions, you won’t achieve a high score.


#2: Develop a Clear Structure

Another one of the important GMAT writing tips is to take the time to set up your essay in a clear way.

You don’t need to write the most interesting or lengthy essay in the world to score well on the AWA section, but you do need to give your essay an easy-to-follow structure. Usually, that consists of an introduction, three to four well-developed body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Your introduction should restate the main argument of the prompt, then highlight the flaws in the argument that you’ll discuss in the body of the essay.

Each of the body paragraphs should focus on a specific flaw in the argument. First, you should highlight the flaw itself. Next, you’ll need to explain why that particular flaw is a flaw. Finally, you should highlight how the argument could’ve been made more clearly or more successfully.

In the conclusion, you’ll want to restate each of the reasons why the argument was flawed and summarize how those flaws affected the validity of the argument.

Following this clear, simple structure for your GMAT essay will help you achieve your goal score.


#3: Know the Common AWA Flaws

Your task for the GMAT AWA is to critique an argument given to you in a prompt. That means that you can assume the argument given is a weak one, since your job is basically to analyze its weaknesses.

GMAT AWA prompts typically have arguments that are weak in predictable ways. Be on the lookout for these common “flaws” that you’ll encounter in AWA prompts:

Causality: GMAT AWA prompts often contain errors in causality, which means that they attribute the wrong effect to the wrong cause. If you see an argument that uses causality, make sure you check to make sure that causality is correctly attributed and that there’s a provable causal relationship.

Vagueness: GMAT AWA prompts often contain vague terms or statistics that are used incorrectly to draw conclusions. For instance, a prompt might suggest that, out of a sample of 500 consumers, more are buying name-brand paper towels than generic paper towels. The use of the word “more,” in this case, isn’t specific enough because it doesn’t tell you exactly how many more people are buying name-brand paper towels. You can’t draw a definitive conclusion off of vague data.

Overconfidence: GMAT AWA prompts often contain overconfident language. You should be looking for the language in arguments to be thoughtful and well-balanced. Keep an eye out for words like “undoubtedly,” “definitely,” and “of course,” which indicate overconfidence.



#4: Practice

One of the best GMAT essay tips is to practice, practice, practice before you actually complete the GMAT AWA section on test day. You can find real, retired GMAT AWA prompts on the GMAT website for free. You can also purchase the GMAT Write tool to receive scores on practice AWA prompts if you’re really concerned about your score.

Practicing will help you in a number of ways. First, practicing will help you master your timing. You’ll only have 30 minutes to craft a logical and well-reasoned essay on test day. The more you practice, the faster you’ll get at outlining and completing your essay.

As I mentioned in the previous GMAT writing tips, you’ll need to fully answer the correct prompt to achieve a good score on your GMAT essay. Practicing will help you get used to the structure of GMAT AWA prompts and help you get used to the types of questions you’ll see on test day.

Finally, practicing will help you get used the structure you need to employ to succeed on your GMAT essay. The more you practice, the more naturally you’ll be able to craft a complete introduction, body, and conclusion for each of your GMAT essays.


#5: Take Time to Outline

While outlining may seem like one of the more basic GMAT essay tips, taking five minutes at the beginning of the AWA section to sketch out a basic outline of your essay will really help you as you start to write.

Everyone outlines differently, but in general, I’d suggest having one to two bullet points for each paragraph that highlight the main ideas the paragraph will cover. Outlining will help you make sure you’ve covered all the main points you need to fully answer the question.


#6: Don’t Sweat the AWA Too Much

The final of my GMAT analytical writing tips is to not worry about the AWA section too much. As I mentioned in a previous section, the AWA section isn’t that important in the overall scheme of your GMAT score. It’d be a mistake to spend a lot of time and energy stressing over and preparing for the AWA section before you take the GMAT.

Spend between three to six hours preparing for the AWA, depending on how comfortable you are writing to the AWA’s structure. More often than not, that’s all the time test-takers need to achieve a solid AWA score.

Your GMAT AWA score won’t make or break your chance of admission to the business school of your dreams. An AWA score between 4-6 will sufficiently demonstrate your writing abilities to most admissions committees, and there’s not a huge advantage to scoring a perfect 6 on the AWA section.

An AWA score of below 4, however, will raise red flags for admissions committees who may question your communication abilities. So, it’s important to study for the AWA section to make sure your score is sufficient.


What’s Next?

Feeling set on GMAT analytical writing tips, but looking for more advice on other sections of the GMAT? We’ve got tons of in-depth, high-quality guides to help you master the content you’ll see on GMAT test day. Check out our guide to the GMAT verbal section to learn how to master the three GMAT question types or read our guide to the GMAT quant section to understand exactly what math you need to know to achieve your goal GMAT score.

Looking to make an in-depth, comprehensive GMAT study plan? Our guide to GMAT study plans provides four sample study plans that you can adapt to your needs. Pick and choose between one-month, three-month, and six-month study plans that are each designed to boost your GMAT score.

Setting a realistic goal score is a hugely important part of your GMAT prep. By setting a realistic goal score, you give yourself a target to work towards and a benchmark by which to measure your progress as you prep for the GMAT. In our guide to GMAT score requirements, you’ll learn about how to set a goal that makes sense for your abilities and needs as a test-taker.


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