GRE AWA Section: Scoring and Essay Examples

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is designed to assess your ability to think critically and express your ideas in a clear and well-structured manner. In this article, we'll explore how the GRE AWA section is scored, what the scorers are looking for, and provide examples of essays that received different scores.

 Scoring in the GRE AWA Section

The GRE AWA section consists of two tasks: the Issue task and the Argument task. Each task is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, in half-point increments. Your scores on the two tasks are then averaged to give you an overall AWA score, which also ranges from 0 to 6.

Here's how the scoring is typically interpreted:

- 6.0: Outstanding - A top-tier essay that effectively and insightfully addresses the topic and demonstrates strong critical thinking and writing skills.

- 5.5: Strong - A well-crafted essay that effectively addresses the topic and displays sound critical thinking and writing abilities.

- 5.0: Competent - A competent essay that adequately addresses the topic and shows reasonable critical thinking and writing skills.

- 4.5: Adequate - An adequate essay that addresses the topic but may lack depth in critical thinking or writing.

- 4.0: Limited - A limited essay that may have difficulty addressing the topic or may lack coherence and organization.

- 3.5: Weak - A weak essay that minimally addresses the topic and shows limited critical thinking and writing skills.

- 3.0: Poor - A poor essay that fails to address the topic and lacks clear organization and critical thinking.

- 2.5 and below: Very Poor - A very poor essay that is incoherent, irrelevant, or completely off-topic.

 What Scorers Are Looking For

Scorers evaluate your essays based on the following criteria:

1. Clarity and Cohesion: 

Is your essay well-organized and easy to follow? Are ideas connected logically and coherently?

2. Critical Thinking: 

Do you demonstrate strong analytical and reasoning skills in your response? Are your arguments well-founded?

3. Use of Evidence: 

Do you provide relevant evidence and examples to support your arguments? Are they well-explained and effectively integrated into your essay?

4. Control of Language: 

Is your writing clear, concise, and free from major grammatical and syntactical errors? Do you use language effectively to convey your ideas?

5. Understanding of the Topic: 

Did you accurately and comprehensively address the topic? Did you show a clear understanding of the issue or argument presented?

 Essay Examples and Scores

Here are two sample essays for each task, along with their corresponding scores:

 Issue Task: Sample Essays

Essay 1 (Score: 5.5):

In our fast-paced world, where multitasking is the norm, it's easy to overlook the value of leisurely, in-depth exploration. Some may argue that instant access to information through technology has made deep learning unnecessary, but that's not the case. Deep learning enhances critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. For instance, reading an entire book allows readers to grasp the author's nuances, recognize the subtleties in character development, and form a well-informed opinion. Shallow learning, on the other hand, often leads to superficial understanding. The pursuit of deep knowledge is essential in our information-saturated society.

Essay 2 (Score: 3.0):

Technology has revolutionized how we learn and access information. In today's world, we can quickly find answers to our questions online, making deep learning unnecessary. Who needs to spend hours reading books when they can get answers instantly? The value of deep learning has diminished in the age of technology.

 Argument Task: Sample Essays

Essay 1 (Score: 6.0):

The argument presented in the passage is flawed due to several critical assumptions. Firstly, it assumes that an increase in sales of the medication is solely due to the advertising campaign. It ignores other factors that could have contributed to the rise in sales, such as increased demand for the product due to seasonal illness. Secondly, the argument assumes that the increase in revenue directly correlates with improved health outcomes. However, it provides no evidence to support this claim. A more rigorous analysis, including a comprehensive study, is required to establish any causal relationship. Therefore, the argument is unpersuasive and unconvincing.

Essay 2 (Score: 4.0):

The argument posits that the advertising campaign is the sole reason for the increased sales of the medication and that this increase will lead to improved health outcomes. However, these claims are unsupported by evidence. The argument fails to consider other factors contributing to sales and lacks data to establish a clear causal relationship between increased sales and health outcomes. Therefore, the argument is unconvincing and should be substantiated with more comprehensive research.


Scoring well on the GRE AWA section requires strong critical thinking, clear writing, and the ability to address the topic effectively. To achieve a high score, practice is essential. Reviewing sample essays and understanding what scorers are looking for can help you improve your writing and analytical skills, ultimately leading to a better AWA score on test day.