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Intro to AWA

Chris Lele
Lesson by Chris Lele
Magoosh Expert
Learn More About Magoosh GMAT
Welcome to the GMAT AWA overview lesson. Let's first start off with what AWA means. And it stands for Analytical Writing Assessment. It consists of one essay which is the analysis of the argument. So you might think, why not just call it the analysis of the argument. Well, originally there were two essays filed under AWA.

Now there is only one, which is the analysis of the, of the argument. But the GMAT has just kept the old tag, AWA. Now what this argument looks like, essentially, is just a short paragraph for you to read. Your job is to critique or find holes in the argument. And so this is a overview, and all of this stuff, we're gonna get into much more depth later.

As far as the specifics go though, what you need to know is that you'll be spending 30 minutes writing this essay. That's important to know from an endurance standpoint, exactly how long a test is gonna take you. It's also important in terms of the actual essay itself. You need to know how much time you have to write each part of the essay.

And so when you're practicing at home, always keep a clock nearby you so that you can write that essay within thirty minutes. Next important thing is the argument, the analysis of the argument is the first thing you see. That may sound rather superficial. OK, first thing I see then I move on.

But wait a second. If you move on and you're not in a good place psychologically, meaning you're not confident, you feel you didn't do well. That's going to affect your performance on the rest of the test. So, even though the AWA is a not a part of your eight hundred score, it does actually influence that score.

So again, walk out feeling confident after the AWA so you can do rest, well on the rest of the test. The good news is the AWA's very learnable. You can follow a format in terms of how to write an essay, how to break up the paragraphs. That will help your score a lot.

And in these lesson videos we're also gonna talk about the common fallacies or logical flaws that pop up in these arguments over and over again. So when you become adept at identifying those, you will definitely feel a lot more confident and your score will reflect that. So, wa, what essentially is going on here is, that this argument, this analysis of your argument, is testing your ability to think analytically.

So, your logic, the way that your ideas connect to, of course, this paragraph and the important part though is, it's not just you writing a list of, oh this argument makes the following fallacies. Rather it's about how well you write. Again this is a essay. So it's about organizing these thoughts on paper in a way that is very persuasive and also in a way that is grammatically correct.

So make sure that your ideas connect and that your grammar is up to snuff. So, who's gonna determine all of that? Well let's talk about the scoring. The essay is graded on a scale of zero to six. Again this is not apart of your 800 score. And it's graded as follows.

There is one computer grader. That's right. The computer will actually grade your essay. It's gonna be looking for syntax and grammatical issues to make sure everything in terms of the way that your sentences flow, one after the other, in terms of their variety, that everything is impressive.

In terms of your actual argument making sense, because you're trying to be persuasive as you write, a human grader is brought in. This human grader, of course, will pick up on issues with grammar as well, but he or she mostly will be looking for the persuasiveness of your analysis. Now your score is based on an average of these two scores. If these two scores differ by more than one point, let's say the computer grader gives you a four cuz you have many grammatical issues, the human grader thinks you write, so persuasively that person gives you a six, then a master grader's gonna brought in and that person's score will be you final score.

So what do I mean by all this, sixes and zeros, what do those things look like? Well the six essay is essentially one that is cogent, well articulated. So this is something that we should all strive for in our writing. Whereas a four essay is one that is simply competent. While all of this may sound pretty eloquent, this is also very abstract. What does it actually mean to be cogent?

Or to be competent? So a great place to answer that question is the official guide, the GMAT official guide. Head over to page 792 and there you will see example essays. And no longer will this be so abstract. You'll see, aha, that's why this is a six essay.

Indeed, the writers of the test, the writers of the official guide, give you a long paragraph or two analysis of why the essay, why the example essay is a six and why the example essay is a four. There's also a two in there, and that will give you a sense of where you are currently writing. Hopefully, you're not at a two.

And again, just to set expectations, a two essay is pretty terrible. It's only a few lines long. The person just gave up. So it's difficult to score that low. But again, you'll get a sense of where you're scoring and that will allow you to know exactly how much more you have to improve.

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AWA Basics