GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment: Writing High-Scoring Essays

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) includes an Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section, which is designed to evaluate your ability to think critically and communicate your ideas effectively through writing. This section consists of one task, the Analysis of an Argument essay, for which you are given 30 minutes to write. Here's a detailed guide on how to write high-scoring essays in the GMAT AWA section:

1. Understand the AWA Task:

   - The AWA task presents you with an argument or a statement, and your objective is to analyze the argument's logical soundness and coherence.

   - You are not required to express your own opinion or provide an alternate viewpoint. Your task is to critically assess the argument's strengths and weaknesses.

2. Read the Argument Thoroughly:

   - Carefully read the argument provided in the prompt. Take note of the main points, any assumptions made, the evidence presented, and the conclusion drawn.

   - Understand the structure of the argument and how each part contributes to the overall message.

3. Identify the Argument's Components:

   - Break down the argument into its constituent elements, including premises, assumptions, evidence, and the conclusion.

   - Identify any logical fallacies or flaws in the argument, such as unsupported assumptions, generalizations, or invalid reasoning.

4. Develop a Clear Thesis:

   - Begin your essay with a clear and concise thesis statement that summarizes your overall assessment of the argument. This sets the tone for your essay and provides clarity to the reader.

   - Your thesis should address whether the argument is well-structured, logically sound, and supported by sufficient evidence.

5. Organize Your Essay:

   - Structure your essay in a clear and organized manner. Typically, a well-structured AWA essay consists of three main parts: an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

   - Introduction: Start with a brief introduction that presents the argument you will be analyzing and your thesis statement. Provide context for the reader.

   - Body Paragraphs: Dedicate one or more paragraphs to discussing specific aspects of the argument. Each paragraph should focus on a single point, such as identifying an assumption, critiquing evidence, or pointing out logical flaws. Support your claims with specific examples from the argument.

   - Conclusion: Summarize your main points and restate your thesis. Provide a concise overall assessment of the argument, emphasizing its strengths and weaknesses.

6. Use Critical Thinking:

   - Apply critical thinking skills throughout your essay. Challenge the assumptions made in the argument, question the relevance of evidence, and assess the logical flow of ideas.

   - Avoid making unsupported claims or relying on personal anecdotes. Stick to an evidence-based critique of the argument.

7. Provide Specific Examples:

   - To bolster your analysis, use specific examples from the argument. Quote or paraphrase relevant portions of the argument to illustrate your points.

   - Explain how the examples you've chosen either support or weaken the argument's overall coherence.

8. Maintain Clarity and Conciseness:

   - Write in a clear and concise manner. Avoid overly complex language or convoluted sentences that may confuse the reader.

   - Use proper grammar and sentence structure to ensure that your ideas are easily understood.

9. Manage Your Time Wisely:

   - You have only 30 minutes to complete the AWA section, so manage your time effectively. Allocate a few minutes to read and understand the argument, plan your essay, and proofread at the end.

   - Prioritize addressing the most critical flaws in the argument within the allotted time.

10. Proofread Your Essay:

   - Before submitting your essay, take a few moments to review and edit your work. Check for spelling and grammatical errors, as well as overall clarity.

   - A well-proofread essay demonstrates attention to detail and enhances your essay's readability.

11. Practice Writing Essays:

   - Practice is key to improving your AWA writing skills. Utilize official GMAT practice exams and prompts to practice writing essays under timed conditions.

   - Solicit feedback from peers or mentors to identify areas for improvement in your writing style and argument analysis.

12. Stay Focused and On-Topic:

   - Avoid going off-topic or introducing unrelated information. Your essay should remain focused on analyzing the provided argument and its components.

13. Familiarize Yourself with Common Fallacies:

   - Develop an understanding of common logical fallacies and flawed argumentative techniques. This knowledge will help you identify weaknesses in the argument more effectively.

14. Don't Overcomplicate Your Language:

   - While it's essential to demonstrate strong critical thinking, avoid overcomplicating your language or making your analysis harder to follow. Clarity is paramount.

15. Seek Guidance and Feedback:

   - If possible, seek guidance from experienced writers or GMAT tutors. They can provide valuable insights and feedback to help you improve your essay-writing skills.


In conclusion, mastering the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) and writing high-scoring essays is achievable with careful preparation, practice, and a systematic approach. The AWA section of the GMAT evaluates your ability to analyze arguments critically and express your ideas clearly within a time constraint.

By incorporating these strategies into your AWA preparation, you can confidently approach this section of the GMAT and work towards achieving high scores that complement your overall GMAT performance. Remember that practice and a well-structured approach are key to success in the GMAT AWA section.