Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) essay is the first thing that you will encounter in GMAT. This section assesses your critical thinking and written communication abilities which are very important in a managerial career.

You will be given an argument and you need analyze the argument and write your critique of the argument in 30 minutes. You should not state your opinion but rather analyze the one given. You should look at flaws in the argument, identify the circumstance in which the argument may fail and suggest additional evidence that could strengthen the argument.

Sample Essay Prompt

Memo of the VP of a popular Chocolate Company:

"Our premium and most expensive line of chocolates got good feedback in the recent taste test and the sales also increased consequently. So I feel, we should focus on producing more lines of premium chocolates and should waste our resources on low-priced ordinary chocolates. In the current recession, luxury items like cars may be out of the reach of many customers. But they do not mind spending money on basic luxuries like our premium chocolates."

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion, be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counter examples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion. M

Scoring Process and Scale

AWA section is scored on a 6-point scale. The essays are evaluated by college and university faculty members from various subject matter areas. Your essay will be read holistically—that is, you get rewarded for the overall structure and logic of the essay.

The responses are also rated by a computer program. If the difference in score given by the computer and human is more than 1 point, then a third person evaluates the essay. According to GMAC, such instances are very rare.

The final AWA score is the average of the two scores. The Analytical Writing Assessment score is computed and reported separately and it WILL NOT affect the net GMAT score on the 800 scale.

About 20% of test takers get a score of 5.5 or 6 and about 45% get a score of above 5.0 or above. Hence a candidate looking for admission into any of the top-100 B-schools across the world must target a score of at least 5. This is not very difficult provided you prepare well, follow the basic guidelines and not panic on the D-day.

You need to type in your essay on a simple word processor that lets you perform simple functions like cut & paste, undo & redo, insert & delete text. No special computer skills are required for this.

Spell check and grammar check are not available. So you must be careful to avoid blatant grammatical and spelling mistakes. A few minor mistakes here and there will not affect your score much. Length of the passage is not very significant. Logic and structure are of primary importance.

COMMON FAULTS IN GMAT ARGUMENTS While evaluating the argument given, specifically look for the following flaws in the argument. 1. Assuming 'cause-and-effect' relationship for a coincidence or correlation

2. Questionable assumptions

3. Sweeping generalizations based on very few examples or situations

4. Drawing conclusions from a survey whose sample may not be big enough or representative of the whole population

5. Sometimes there may be more than one factor effect in result. The author might ignore some of those factors and draw conclusions based on one or a few of the factors

6. Drawing analogies between two scenarios that are truly not analogous

After typing the argument essay you may put these 6 questions to yourself. 1. Does the introduction give a clear-cut indication that you have spotted the right conclusion(s) and the evidence(s) being used in the argument?

2. In the body do you expose the flaws in the argument and explain them adequately?

3. Did you suggest ways in which argument could be made better?

4. Did you maintain a smooth logical flow and organize the entire essay properly?

5. Is the language proper without too many major grammatical errors?

6. Is there sufficient variety in your sentences?
Steps to be followed to organize your thoughts and write the essay 1. Identify the conclusion (s) and premises of the argument

2. Identify the assumptions made by the author and see if they are valid in all situations. Your critique will be directed at the invalid assumptions or to those situations where the assumptions might not be valid.