GMAT Essay: Write It!

Written by Kelly Granson. Posted in GMAT Study Tips

Essays-Trial-1You probably already know that the GMAT consists of four sections: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal. While all of them require some analytical and reasoning skills, only one assumes you will express your thoughts in writing.. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), owner and administrator of the GMAT exam, the Analytical Writing Assessment or AWA is designed to measure your ability to formulate an appropriate and constructive critique of a specific conclusion, based on a coherent line of thought.

The Writing section used to include two essays—(1) Analysis of an Issue and (2) Analysis of an Argument—but GMAC changed the AWA last year, retaining only the Argument essay. So what does the AWA section look like?

You have 30 minutes to analyze an argument and write a constructive critique of it. It doesn't matter whether you agree or disagree with the argument presented; what matters is how articulate you are and how well you support your point of view with examples or supporting evidence.

The argument presented in the test typically addresses business or a more general topic, so specific knowledge is not necessary. What is necessary it that you write a clear, coherent, and constructive critique.

Therefore, in order to get high scores in the AWA, you need to master two skills: analysis and writing.

Here are few tips that you may find useful.

1. The first thing to do when you face the AWA is to read the text carefully and clarify for yourself the author's the main idea or opinion. Rewrite it in your own words and use it to introduce your critique. It not only will show that you understand the text, but it actually can help you understand. Furthermore, by rewriting part of the stimulus, you switch on your creative and analytical mood.

2. Next, analyze the author's reasoning and assumptions. Underscore what you find questionable, contrary to common sense, or not supported by facts. Prepare to explain why you think an assumption lacks supporting evidence or reasoning is flawed.

3. Think about what sort of evidence would strengthen the argument, and also consider evidence that might weaken the conclusion. Analyzing it from both sides will ensure that you know the argument well enough to defend your judgments.

4. Now it is time to write it all down and organize your essay. Make sure to follow the basic principles of essay structure. Remember that there are three parts to a well-constructed academic paper: (a) opening or introduction, (b) main part or idea, and (c) conclusion.

• Follow the general rules of standard written English. If you're using any preparation guides, their language very likely complies with those formal rules.

• Keep it simple. If you must use a complicated sentence, make sure its ideas and logic are clear and understandable. It is a good idea when you revise your essay to try to make it simpler, including not only sentence structure but also word choice and organization. Don't try to impress your readers. Your task is to question the argument's reasoning, challenge the assumptions, and make sure your own arguments are clear and supported by relevant evidence.

• Before finishing save few minutes to go back and proofread your essay. You might be surprised how many obvious errors you will find.

As you prepare for the AWA, you will find it helpful to read quality literature to deepen your immersion in standard written English. You will boost your vocabulary and become accustomed to English rules and style.

But the most important advice to follow is this: Write. Write as often as you can. Try to simulate the AWA at home by arguing with articles from the morning paper, weekly magazines, or blogs you read. Maximize your progress through proofreading. Review your own writing objectively. Then give your essays to someone who is fluent in English, a native speaker if possible, and ask to have your mistakes pointed out and improvements suggested. No doubt, reading and writing (with feedback) are the best and fastest ways to master the analytic and writing skills you need for success on the AWA.

Good luck!

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