The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) involves two essay tasks: the Issue essay and the Argument essay. In this article, we'll focus on mastering the Argument essay, which requires you to critically analyze and evaluate an argument.
The Argument essay on the GMAT AWA tests your ability to assess the reasoning and evidence used in an argument and present a clear and well-structured response. Here are some key strategies to excel in this section.
Understanding the Argument Essay Prompt
Before diving into the strategies, let's understand the structure of the Argument essay prompt. It consists of a passage that presents an argument. Your task is to critique the argument's logical soundness, identify flaws, and provide a well-reasoned response. The typical Argument essay prompt includes:
1. Introduction to the Argument:
The passage introduces the argument, often providing background information and context.
2. Presentation of the Argument:
The argument's main points are presented. This is where you should identify the thesis and supporting claims.
3. Evidence and Reasoning:
The argument includes evidence and reasoning to support its claims.
4. Instructions for Your Response:
The prompt instructs you to discuss the logical soundness of the argument, and often asks you to provide suggestions or recommendations for improvement.
GMAT Argument Essay Strategies
1. Analyze the Argument Structure:
- Identify the thesis statement and supporting claims.
- Examine the evidence provided in the argument.
- Check for logical connections between claims and evidence.
2. Spot Logical Flaws:
- Look for common logical fallacies such as circular reasoning, causal oversimplification, or hasty generalization.
- Assess the sufficiency and relevance of the evidence.
- Examine any assumptions made by the author.
3. Develop a Clear Thesis:
Your essay should have a clear thesis statement that states whether the argument is well-founded or not. This thesis will guide your response.
4. Plan Your Response:
- Outline your essay structure, including the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
- Decide on the major flaws you'll address and the order in which you'll discuss them.
5. Write a Coherent Response:
- In the introduction, summarize the argument's main points and state your thesis.
- In the body paragraphs, present your critique of the argument's flaws, providing specific examples.
- Address each flaw in a separate paragraph, using a clear topic sentence to introduce the flaw.
6. Use Evidence and Examples:
- Back up your critique with evidence and examples.
- Reference specific parts of the argument to support your claims.
7. Address Potential Counterarguments:
- Acknowledge potential counterarguments, but explain why they do not weaken your critique.
- This shows that you have considered alternative viewpoints.
8. Organize and Express Your Ideas Clearly:
- Use clear and concise language.
- Ensure your response is well-structured and follows a logical progression.
- Use transition words to connect your ideas.
9. Reiterate Your Thesis in the Conclusion:
- Summarize your main points and restate your thesis.
- End with a strong closing statement that emphasizes the overall strength or weakness of the argument.
Practice and Timing
Practicing Argument essays under timed conditions is crucial. Set aside 30 minutes to complete each practice essay, and review and score your responses using GMAT scoring guidelines. This will help you become more comfortable with the time constraints and improve your performance.
Mastering the Argument essay in the GMAT AWA section requires the ability to critically assess the logic and evidence presented in an argument and construct a well-structured response. With a clear plan, attention to logical flaws, evidence-backed critique, and a well-organized essay, you can effectively tackle this section and earn a strong score on the GMAT.