Some Handy Hacks for the AWA section on the GRE

Analytical Writing Section is an integral part on the GRE, and as ETS cautions, ‘Everyone- even the most practiced and confident of writers- should spend some time preparing for the Analytical Writing Measure before arriving at the test center’. You might be wondering why this caution. The fact is that the AWA section on the GRE does not measure only your writing skills, but moreover, measures your ability to think imaginatively and critically on an issue or argument.

Here are some tips for facing the AWA section more confidently.

1. Be sure to read the question with its instructions carefully

Both the issue and the argument task often come are accompanied by varied set of instructions. For example, in the issue task, you could have an instruction like– “Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim and the reason on which that claim is based”, or you could have something like,  “Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both views presented”. 

As evident, both set of instructions expect different things from your response. Therefore, be sure to read the instructions carefully. By the way, there are fixed 6 set of instructions on the issue task, out of which one would show up. Same goes for the argument task. You can have a look at these fixed set on the ETS website.

2. Budget your time

Since you are given, 30 mins of each task, in which you have to think , organize as well as type out your response, it is important that you budget your time. Ideally, you should adopt the following –
3 mins – Brainstorming and forming the outline
3 mins – Introduction
20 mins – Body and Examples
2 mins – Conclusion
2 mins – Review

3. Dont waste too much thinking for that perfect introduction

More often than not, people tend to spend more than required time to think for a perfect impactful introduction, and often this leaves them lesser time for developing their body, and as a result, the body does not look quite that impactful, replete with diverse examples. Now, you need to know that your introduction and conclusion do not carry as much weight as your body does. What makes an AWA task stand out is the body. So, even if your introduction and conclusion are just of one line, it really does not matter, and you should not be wasting too much time on it.

4.  Length matters!

On the AWA, the length of your writing does count toward your score. So, try to write a lengthy essay, of course, one that does make sense. For this, you must try to provide numerous examples, as they could help you increasing the length of your essay, without being devious and senseless. Often, the essays with a score of 6 are lengthier. Of course, quality does matter, but what you should know is that even if a similar quality essay is to be graded, but it is much shorter, it is more likely that it would get a 5 or a 5.5, and not 6. So, work on the length.

5. Always address ‘the other side’

As mentioned above, the purpose of the AWA measure is to test your critical thinking. Hence, you must always develop your position fully, implying that always address the other side of the argument as well. You could state how the other side holds true under certain circumstances, or you could state the other side and then refute it by your stance – anything! When you address the other side, it gives an impression that you are aware of the holistic picture and are able to think critically. You could address this ‘other side’ in the 3rd or 4th paragraph.

6. Number of paragraphs

Ideally, you should have at least 4 paragraphs on your essay. The first should be the introductory paragraph, in which you state your thesis statement (indicating your stance), followed by 2/3/4 paragraphs in the body (elaborating your stance and bolstering it with examples, and also addressing the other side) and then a concluding paragraph. Introduction – First paragraph
Body – At least 2 paragraphs
Conclusion – Last paragraph
On the argument task, you must point out at least 3 logical fallacies and elaborate on them, stating how those fallacies weaken the argument and how the argument could have been made stronger.

7. Do check out pool of the essay topics

The topic that you would see on your test day would not be unfamiliar to you, if you once have a look at the pool of essays that ETS has published on its website. There are some 250-300 topics, out of which, one would show up on the test day. So, do check out the pool. Tell us what you think about this post. Our team would love to hear back from you!

About Skill Maestro

At Skill Maestro, We guide prospective students about the entire application process as well as suitable universities as per their profile/test scores. We have consulted dozens of prospective students for MIS across the globe. We have a physical presence in Indore where we also help students prepare for GRE, GMAT & SAT


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