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Analytical Writing Assessment on GMAT





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An Effective Structure for AWA Argument



The GMAT’s Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section includes two essays, the first of which involves analysing an argument, and the second involves analysing an issue. Unfortunately, many GMAT aspirants fail to grasp the full importance of the AWA section; they tend to operate under the impression that the AWA is of little importance, compared to the quant and verbal sections, and can be ignored. However, this is very much not the case, your AWA score will be vital to your overall GMAT performance. Here, we will cover an effective structure that you can use for your AWA argument.

The Structure


The first paragraph must clearly illustrate two things, what the passage’s conclusion is and that you do not find it convincing. It is crucial that your first paragraph convey this information, as it will form the core of your entire argument. After the first paragraph, you must write 4-6 more. Each paragraph must go into further detail on why you do not find the argument convincing. Devote each paragraph to explaining another, separate, flaw in the reasoning.

The second to last paragraph should include your input on what changes could make the passage more convincing. This inclusion will give the essay a more mature air, making it seem more like a dialogue than a monologue. In the final paragraph, you should reiterate that you did not find the passage convincing.

Sample Template


Below, you will find a template that you can use while tackling the GMAT AWA. We have made it quite complex so that it cannot simply be copied by all students.

The aforementioned argument, in asserting that____ appears, at first glance, to be fairly convincing. However, upon further examination of the argument and its underlying structure, a number of flaws become evident. Among the most pivotal shortcomings of the argument are its inability to address, or even acknowledge, its assumptions and lack of information to substantiate its claims.

Para 2: First of all,... (flaw)
Para 3: Secondly,... (flaw)
Para 4: Further,... (flaw)
Para 5: Moreover, ...(flaw)
Para 6: What all could have been done to make the argument convincing.

The argument, in its current stare, contains a considerable number of defects, the most blatant of which have been discussed above. Had the argument managed to address the aforementioned concerns, both its persuasive ability and its apparent legitimacy would have been greatly reinforced, perhaps to such an extent that it would have been difficult to refute. However, as it stands, one must conclude that that the argument is simply a hasty generalization, filled with overreaching assumptions and deficiencies in the information.

Once you have gone through this template, please take a few minutes to understand what it is doing. In the first paragraph, it is clearly suggesting that the paragraph is not convincing. Thereafter, in the next four to five paragraphs, it is pointing out one flaw each, per paragraph. Then there is one paragraph about what all could have been done to make the argument more convincing. Finally, in the concluding paragraph, it is re-stating that the paragraph is not convincing.


Sample Template for AWA Argument



The GMAT’s Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section includes two essays, the first of which involves analysing an argument, and the second involves analysing an issue. Unfortunately, many GMAT aspirants fail to grasp the full importance of the AWA section; they tend to operate under the impression that the AWA is of little importance, compared to the quant and verbal sections, and can be ignored. However, this is very much not the case, your AWA score will be vital to your overall GMAT performance. Here,we will provide an effective template for your GMAT AWA argument.

The Template


Below, you will find a detailed template that you can use for your GMAT AWA questions. Please take the time to study this template, carefully.

The aforementioned argument, in asserting that____ appears, at first glance, to be fairly convincing. However, upon further examination of the argument and its underlying structure, a number of flaws become evident. Among the most pivotal shortcomings of the argument are its inability to address, or even acknowledge, its assumptions and lack of information to substantiate its claims.

Para 2: First of all,... (flaw)
Para 3: Secondly,... (flaw)
Para 4: Further,... (flaw)
Para 5: Moreover, ...(flaw)
Para 6: What all could have been done to make the argument convincing.

The argument, in its current stare, contains a considerable number of defects, the most blatant of which have been discussed above. Had the argument managed to address the aforementioned concerns, both its persuasive ability and its apparent legitimacy would have been greatly reinforced, perhaps to such an extent that it would have been difficult to refute. However, as it stands, one must conclude that that the argument is simply a hasty generalization, filled with overreaching assumptions and deficiencies in the information.

Now, let us examine the functioning of this template, in greater detail. The first paragraph suggests that the argument is wrong and puts forth the idea that the primary flaw in the argument is its inability to address its assumptions. The subsequent 2-5 expand upon the shortcomings of the argument, each focusing on one flaw. Then there is the sixth paragraph, which suggests ways in which the argument could have been improved, and finally, the concluding paragraph that re-states that the paragraph is not convincing.

As you may have noticed, this template is quite complex. The idea behind developing the template to be so complex is to discourage students from trying to just cram it. This template must be used, wisely, as a reference; the idea is to help you pick up the structure of your essay, rather than specific words and phrases.

The first paragraph must suggest that the argument is not convincing, and the next four to five paragraphs must point out one flaw each, per paragraph. Regardless of the size of the flaw, each should get a separate paragraph. Then have one paragraph where you list what all you think could have been done to make the argument more convincing. Finally, in the concluding paragraph, re-state that the paragraph is not convincing. This is the treatment that you must give to your essay. Please use your own vocabulary, style, and tonality.


Time Management for AWA




Here, we will cover the most efficient approach to managing one’s time, while attempting the GMAT AWA section. Please pay close attention to this section and imbibe the guidance provided, carefully. As mentioned elsewhere on this page, although many candidates do not give the AWA the weight it deserves, it is just as important to your final score as the quant and verbal sections.

Recap


Before we begin working on time management, let us recap the AWA argument structure, discussed above.

The first paragraph of your argument must clearly explain what the author’s conclusion is, that you do not agree with it, and some ide as to why. The next 1-6 paragraphs should be devoted to explaining each flaw that you found, with one paragraph devoted to each flaw. In the second to last paragraph, include input on what could have been done to make the author’s reasoning more convincing. Doing so gives the essay a more mature treatment. The final paragraph must once again state that the argument is not convincing in its given state.

Time Management on GMAT AWA


Now that we have refreshed your recollection of the AWA argument structure, let us commence with the AWA time management.

The first thing to do when working on an AWA question is to take about two minutes to simply read and understand the topic. Afterwards, spend about three minutes writing the first and last paragraphs. Naturally, it may seem strange to write the to write the final paragraph, before any of the intermediate ones; however this is actually a very useful strategy. By writing the introductory and concluding paragraphs first, you will be able to give your argument some, much needed structure. If you write the concluding paragraph first,, you can guarantee that your answer will not look incomplete, even if you run out of time. Additionally, while typing out these paragraphs, which are largely similar, you can use the time to think of the flaws that you intend to address in the intermediate paragraphs. Your next step will be to take a full four minutes to find out the flaws in the argument and another two minutes to think about what could have been done to avoid them. Finally, take about 15 minutes to type the four to seven middle paragraphs. Remember to leave, at least, four minutes to proofread what you have written; typos and grammatical errors can have a very serious impact on your score.


Common Errors in AWA Reasoning



The Analytical Writing Assessment is an often overlooked part of the GMAT. Many candidates do not pay too much attention to this section, assuming that the Quant and Verbal sections are al that matter on the GMAT. However, this assumption is highly erroneous. If you are to secure a good GMAT score, performing well on the AWA is just as important as doing well on the Quant and Verbal. Here, we will discuss some of the common errors found in GMAT AWA reasonings, to help you put write better essays. However, first let us, briefly, explain the structure of the AWA section. In the AWA, the candidate must write two essays; in the first, the student must analyze an argument and, in the second, the student must analyze an issue. Each essay must be written within 30 minutes and is scored on a scale of 0-6. Now, let us begin discussing the common errors in AWA reasoning. Remember, when writing your essays, you must critically analyze the paragraph from the point of view of the common errors discussed below. Through these errors, you can suggest buzzwords that will make your essay easier for your evaluator to read.

Common Errors


These are the most common errors:

Assumption: Should you find that the author has made an assumption in the reasoning, the thrust of your argument must be that the author has presumed some information to be true, without sufficient backing. A fine way to phrase this argument is "The author in concluding that____ has assumed ....". Once you have established that the author has made an unfounded assumption, try to showcase the error properly and make it easy to understand and pick the exact error that you have found in the reasoning.

A few other errors that you are likely to find in the AWA are generalizations, extrapolations, failing to provide sufficient supporting evidence, the absence of relevant data, the absence of logical consequences of relevant data, and the failure to establish a causal relationship. To clarify, failing to establish a causal relationship means not establishing that there is a cause and effect relationship between two or more occurrences. Tweak the above format to phrase your argument, as per the error that you are targeting and then proceed with explaining your argument, as instructed. Needless to say, you must read the paragraph quite carefully, to ensure that you have identified a proper error within the author's argument.


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