Tips to ace the GMAT Essay
The GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section is probably one of the most neglected sections. Most test-takers believe they will be able to write a great essay and score phenomenally on this section and end up scoring low.
This is because just like every other GMAT section, the GMAT AWA section isn’t your high school essay writing test. It will examine your essays in different criteria and will give you a score accordingly. Your vast vocabulary might get you a bonus point but that’s about it.
Getting a low GMAT AWA score also becomes a red flag indicator to the admissions committees at all business schools.
It would show them that just because it carried low weightage, you flaked on it. Also, in the world of business, a good communicator is key to every organization for every role, and a business graduate who cannot support an argument might not be the most desirable look.
Also, if you manage to write an exceptional MBA application essay and score poorly on the AWA you might end up looking sketchy to a business school assessing your MBA application. However, as long as your MBA applications were written by you, you won’t have to worry about anything.
But, wouldn’t you still want to make an all-round fabulous MBA profile? If yes, keep reading to find out how to score well on the GMAT AWA section
HOW IS THE GMAT AWA SECTION SCORED?
The GMAT essay scoring is very different form the scoring on the GMAT Quant or the GMAT Verbal sections. The initial score of 800 that a student receives on completing their GMAT exam does not consist of their GMAT AWA or GMAT Integrated Reasoning score.
Since our focus for this article is the GMAT AWA section, we shall not discuss Integrated Reasoning here.
The GMAT AWA essay score is from 0-6 in half point intervals. This is also exactly how your score will reflect on you GMAT official score report unlike the GMAT Verbal and Quant scores.
The GMAT AWA score is also only available to a student once the GMAT official score report is out.
The GMAT essay is scored twice to reach its final score, once by a software and once by a human examiner. The essay scoring software and the GMAT essay scoring expert then give the test-taker separate scores depending on their own evaluations.
While the GMAT essay expert can judge an essay any way he/she likes, the engine judges the essay of a few basic criteria.
Essay structure, i.e., introduction, conclusion, etc.
The scores provided by the essay scoring software and the GMAT essay scoring expert are then averaged to find out your final GMAT AWA score.
HOW TO PREP FOR THE GMAT AWA
Now that everything else about the GMAT AWA section is out of the way, let’s focus on what you came here for.
Here are some GMAT AWA tips that every GMAT student should know.
Include essays in your practise tests
It might seem like a painstaking process and you would want to avoid it for as long as possible but without any practice, you won’t be able to put together a flawless essay on your GMAT test day.
But we do understand it’s a long laborious task and thus only ask you to include the GMAT essay on your practice tests. This will help you get a rough idea of how the GMAT exam would really feel. This can also help you be prepared for the fatigue you might feel towards the end of the GMAT exam as if you were giving the real deal.
Analyzing the quality of your GMAT essays on a practice test will also clear any possible discrepancies that you might have while writing an essay under pressure of the test or otherwise.
Practice creating blueprints for essays
Since writing a whole essay is long and tiresome, we have another way for you to make sure you practice more essays than the number of practice tests you take.
Simply create blueprints for GMAT essays prompts.
This will make you study the logical fallacies and analyze arguments without having to spend the next 25 minutes writing the whole thing.
It’s necessary that you formulate your thoughts and make pointers as to how you want to connect each and every one of them. This makes for a clean and precise read with a sound structured argument. This would instantly help your score as you won’t struggle to relate different topics while writing and will be able to connect every paragraph with the next.
Take a minute and figure out how you want the argument to go. Decide beforehand if you’re pro the argument or anti. This would help you not digress in the middle of writing. Make points, if you need to, for both pro and anti and start on the one you feel most confident and comfortable with.
Making a blueprint for your GMAT essay is a crucial step while writing the essay on test day too. Thus, practising that could help you navigate smoothly through the essay on the actual GMAT.
Read GMAT essays available online
There is no better way to learn than to learn from other people’s mistake. Warren Buffet said something similar once, and if it’s philosophy good enough for him it’s good enough for us.
Why did I mention it? Because that’s exactly what I am asking you to do. There are various sources available online where people have posted sample GMAT essays or have shared their own GMAT essays. If you read through these GMAT essays, you will be able to pinpoint characteristics in them that either make them a 5.5 score GMAT essay or a 1.5 score GMAT essay.
This will first help you familiarize yourself with writing styles on the GMAT and the various prompts. Secondly, this will also help you develop a sense for a good GMAT essay. Thus, when proofreading your own essays or making blueprints, you will be able to distinguish a weak GMAT essay from a stronger one.
Get your essays checked
This might be a hard step to follow especially if you haven’t enrolled yourself into GMAT prep courses. However, find someone who can help you with this. A GMAT AWA high scorer you know, or simply someone with good English writing skills can help you do this.
Your basic aim with proofreading is to find out what basic mistakes are happening in your essays. Misspelt words, digressed points, no conclusion, no matter what your mistake is, someone with a good grip on the English language will be able to help you with this.
However, if you do have a GMAT tutor, they will be able to guide you through your mistakes and even catch the more technical mistakes that you make in this section.
GMAT AWA section might not be as highlighted as the Verbal and Quant section on the test, but it holds an important place too. Getting you AWA section polished won’t take you too long if you do it with sincerity. Practice is key to acing any section on the GMAT, and it isn’t any different for the GMAT AWA section.