The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section of the GMAT requires you to analyze an argument and present a well-reasoned critique. To excel in this section, follow these strategies for crafting a compelling argument:
1. Understand the Task:
- Analyze an Argument: Recognize that your task is to critically evaluate an argument presented in the prompt. Identify the main points, assumptions, and evidence provided.
2. Structure Your Response:
- Introduction: Start with a concise introduction that outlines your stance on the argument. Briefly state whether you agree or disagree with the given argument.
- Body Paragraphs: Organize your response into clear and cohesive body paragraphs. Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of the argument, discussing its strengths or weaknesses.
- Conclusion: Summarize your key points in the conclusion. Reinforce your overall assessment of the argument and provide a strong concluding statement.
3. Identify Assumptions:
- Uncover Assumptions: Critically analyze the assumptions underlying the argument. Identify any unstated assumptions that may weaken the logical foundation of the argument.
- Question Questionable Premises: Challenge any premises or claims that lack sufficient evidence or seem questionable. Consider how these elements impact the overall validity of the argument.
4. Evaluate Evidence:
- Assess Supporting Evidence: Scrutinize the evidence presented in the argument. Determine if the evidence is relevant, sufficient, and credible. Note any gaps or flaws in the logical flow.
- Question Statistical Claims: If the argument relies on statistical data, question the validity of the data. Assess whether the sample size is representative and if the data is manipulated or selectively presented.
5. Consider Alternative Explanations:
- Explore Alternative Scenarios: Consider alternative explanations or counterarguments that could challenge the conclusion of the argument. Show that you have considered multiple perspectives.
- Highlight Weaknesses: Point out any weaknesses or gaps in the argument that the author overlooks. This demonstrates your ability to think critically and identify nuanced aspects.
6. Use Concrete Examples:
- Provide Concrete Examples: Support your critique with specific examples or counterexamples. These examples should illustrate the weaknesses or strengths you identify in the argument.
- Real-world Analogies: Use real-world analogies to illustrate how the argument's flaws or merits compare to situations outside the scope of the prompt.
7. Maintain Clarity and Coherence:
- Clear Articulation: Clearly articulate your thoughts and maintain a logical flow throughout your response. Each paragraph should build upon the previous one to create a cohesive critique.
- Use Transitions: Employ transitions between paragraphs to guide the reader through your analysis. Ensure that your ideas are interconnected and easy to follow.
8. Mind Your Language:
- Professional Tone: Maintain a professional and academic tone throughout your response. Avoid using overly emotional language, and focus on presenting a well-reasoned critique.
- Avoid Personal Opinions: While you are expressing your perspective, refrain from injecting personal opinions. Base your critique on the logical analysis of the argument.
9. Time Management:
- Allocate Time Wisely: The AWA section has a time constraint. Allocate sufficient time to read the prompt, plan your response, write your essay, and review it for any errors or improvements.
- Stick to Your Plan: Once you have outlined your response, stick to your plan to ensure you cover all relevant aspects of the argument.
10. Practice Regularly:
- Use Official Prompts: Practice with official GMAT AWA prompts to familiarize yourself with the style and content of the questions. This will help you develop a systematic approach to critique various types of arguments.
- Seek Feedback: If possible, have someone review and provide feedback on your practice essays. External perspectives can offer valuable insights into areas for improvement.
11. Review Grammar and Style:
- Proofread: Prioritize proper grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. A well-written essay enhances the overall impact of your critique.
- Correct Typos: Eliminate typos and ensure that your essay is polished and error-free. A clean, well-edited essay demonstrates attention to detail.
By incorporating these strategies into your approach to the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment, you can craft a compelling argument analysis that showcases your critical thinking skills and ability to communicate effectively. Regular practice and thoughtful consideration of various argument structures will contribute to your success in this section.