The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section of the test consists of 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. The essay is read by two readers who each mark the essay with a grade from 0-6, in 0.5 point increments with a mean score of 4.1. If the two scores are within one point of each other, they are averaged. If there is more than one point difference, the essays are read by a third reader.
The first reader is IntelliMetric, a proprietary computer program developed by Vantage Learning, which analyzes creative writing and syntax of more than 50 linguistic and structural features. The second and third readers are humans, who evaluate the quality of the examinee’s ideas and his or her ability to organize, develop, and express ideas with relevant support. While mastery of the conventions of written English factor into scoring, minor errors are expected, and evaluators are trained to be sensitive to examinees whose first language is not English.
Each of the two essays in the Analytical Writing part of the test is graded on a scale of 0 (the minimum) to 6 (the maximum):