Writing a strong AWA Argument Essay

The AWA argument essay is a mandatory component of both the GMAT and GRE exams. The AWA argument essay is not necessarily considered a selection criteria for admission; yet, a low score can negatively affect your chances of getting into a good program. The key is to get an ‘above average’ score, without letting the process of writing the essay stress you out.

This is especially important when it comes to GRE, where the AWA tasks are the first things that a student encounters and these cannot be skipped for later review. On the GMAT, we recommend you choose the test order where AWA and IR are positioned at the end of the test.

AWA Argument essay

AWA Argument essay: Scoring

The AWA argument essay is scored from 0 to 6. This is true for both GMAT and GRE. This score does not interfere with your Verbal and Quant scores in anyway. These scores are reported separately, after about 15 days of your test date. A good score on the AWA argument task is usually anywhere around 4 – 5.

What does the AWA argument essay test?

AWA argument essay is different from the traditional “opinionated” essays we are used to. Unlike those, the argument task expects a test-taker to identify the conclusion (suggestion, plan, proposal, prediction, claim or opinion) that author of the ‘argument’ makes and evaluate what is lacking in her use of evidences and reasoning. This ultimately requires that you identify the underlying, hidden assumption that the author make in her argument.

If some of the terms here seem a bit alien to you, it’s a good idea to do a quick brush up of what an ‘argument’ is, what it is made up of and how one can break it apart to uncover the hidden assumptions.


This mini-lesson should help gain some perspective


What do graders look for in a good AWA argument response ?

Unlike other essays you may be familiar with, the AWA is a ‘standardised’ testing unit. This means that the graders are looking for very specific things in your response and have objective grading scales to conform to when giving a grade out of 0–6.

# 1 Quality of analysis 

How well you understood the conclusion and how precisely you discovered the hidden assumptions.

# 2 Clarity of Thought / expression

How clearly you expressed your analysis in words, how well you were able to describe the underlying flaws in the argument (because of the assumptions) …

# 3 Structure 

Use of transition and introductory phrases, creating clear structural distinctions among ideas, paragraphs etc…

How do you execute a good AWA response without stressing out?

# 1 Use the Plusprep AWA Argument Essay Builder tool

This tool provides blow-by-blow instructions and guidelines on how to construct a solid GMAT / GRE AWA argument essay response.

Argument Essay Builder | Plusprep

# 2 Go through an actual Student-response

This should give you a good idea of what a ‘good’ AWA response requires and how yours should be constructed as well.

Access student-response here

# 3 Write a couple more responses from the AWA essay Pool

This is a pool of topics for AWA that will give you an idea of the varied kind of tasks you could possible see on test day.

Access the Argument Essay Pool here


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