How to tackle AWA

How to tackle AWA (Analytical Writing Assessment) section of GRE?

Ans. The AWA section of the GRE is a compulsory question which one cannot evade. It comprises of two tasks. 1) Issue Essay and 2) Argument Essay.  Both the tasks are for 30 minutes.

Issue Essay tips: On the issue essay, you are given a general topic of interest pertaining to anything from education to politics or culture. You are simply required to evaluate the topic, and reason your argument with good examples. The better the supporting example is, the more points you will get. So rather than focusing on the vocabulary or language, you should spend more time on writing good genuine examples to support your argument.

A lot of students are concerned with the type of topic they will have to write on for the AWA. They are mistaken that the topic will determine if they will do well on the GRE AWA i.e. they may have deep knowledge about a certain topic or they may not have any knowledge about it. This concept is wrong as you will not be given any topic for which you need specific or specialized knowledge – topics are very general in nature for which you don’t need subject knowledge.

Argument Essay tips: The Argument task, by contrast, asks you to dissect the logic behind someone else’s argument on an issue. Argument essay complements the issue essay i.e. an issue essay wants you to construct your own argument on an issue, whereas the argument topic requires you to analyse and evaluate another writer’s stance on a topic. In an argument essay you need to consider the logical soundness of argument rather than simply putting your own stance on the topic.

Points to remember while writing these essays:

1) A good essay that completely captures all aspects of the topic would entail a minimum of 500 words.

2) Moreover, you should look for a five-paragraph essay to the least containing an intro, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Paragraph length matters too. Paragraph should contain the stuff that logically flows from your chosen stance. Too small or too long paragraphs must be avoided.

3) Improve your Grammar, Spellings & Punctuation – ETS explicitly states that they are looking for quality and clarity of thought and not grammar. Even though readers are not meticulously looking for grammar, as soon as you make the tiniest mistake, they will notice and it can take your score down. You can get a perfect score with an error or two, but minor grammatical errors (faulty pronouns, subject/verb agreement) can mar the quality of your essay. So, do focus on your grammar & spellings. A well-reasoned essay that is riddled will such basic errors will not portray a good impression of your hard work. Hence work on these minute aspects of your essays.

4) Proofread your essays – Once you’ve finished typing both the essays, take time out to go through the entire essays once again and carefully observe minute details such as typo errors, punctuation mistakes, spacing of words, spellings and other essential things. Accordingly correct them if you come across any such errors.


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