How to write an Argument Essay in AWA?

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) also known as the GRE essay section, is one of the three sections of the GRE test. This section measures your ability to form an opinion, articulate it effectively, and justify your position convincingly. However, your AWA score does not contribute to your total out of 340. It is scored separately out of six. 

Is the AWA section really important?

AWA is the first section that you are going to face on the test day.  Even though AWA is not included in the 260-340 score range, a low AWA score can be interpreted as an inability to reason critically and express your opinions in a clear, logical manner. Therefore, a good AWA score is crucial to your overall application and has a definite impact on your admissions.

Apart from measuring  your ability to think and form opinions, in a smaller scale, the AWA section also tests your language, grammar, and vocabulary.

What does the AWA section consist of?

This section requires you to write  two essays – Issue and Argument. You get 30 minutes for each of the essays.

Given below is a brief of the essays.

  • Issue essay:

This will be the first essay assigned to you where the topics will be generic in nature and can have varied opinions to it. This is also because the topic given to you is debatable and can have more than one side to it. You will be provided with a brief paragraph on a generic topic, such as climate change, social governance etc. In this exercise, you must take a stance and justify your opinion with supporting details from the given information and suitable international examples.

Reading leading newspapers like The Times of India, The New York Times, The Hindu etc. every day will be of great help in expressing your opinion effectively, besides strengthening your  knowledge. This will help you grasp the style of writing as well as build your awareness on issues worldwide. Using current examples to convey your opinion can earn you serious brownie points with the evaluators.

  • Argument essay:

The Argument essay is the second essay that you are required to write in the AWA section. In an argument essay, you must logically evaluate the arguments made in the question provided. Remember, you are not expected to provide your point of view. You are merely checking for fallacies in another’s point of view on a particular topic. Your task here is to be unbiased and pass your judgment on the validity of the argument.

How to answer an Argument essay in AWA?

Since, the Argument essay forms one-half of the AWA section , it requires specific preparation. Generally, GRE test takers find it difficult to keep their opinion out of the picture and evaluate the argument from a third-person point of view. This is probably one of the gravest errors you could make because that defeats the entire purpose of attempting the exercise. Another common problem among students is that they tend to digress from the topic and don’t quite make their point cogently. So, while writing the Argument essay, you must follow some of these tips:

#1: Brainstorm before you write. 

Taking a few minutes before you start writing always works in your favor. During these few minutes, you are expected to evaluate the argument effectively. Think about what is being stated and the possible reasons behind it. Taking this top-down approach will help you get to the logical fallacies that the argument is anchored upon. Then, scrutinize the argument and think about points that could have made the argument stronger.

#2: Make an opening statement!

An ideal Argument essay would start with an introductory paragraph, explaining the various pillars of the argument. You must make sure that your introduction clearly defines the premise that is set. Don’t provide your opinion on the dispute at hand. Comment on the logic that defends each side. So, clearly state logical fallacies and then proceed to explain it one by one.

#3: Play the Devil’s Advocate.

After identifying the underlying assumptions use the next couple of paragraphs to point out the flaws and while mentioning the possible alternatives as well. This makes your argument seem holistic because you have addressed the points raised in the essay and also refuted them with ample evidence.

At this juncture, having a predefined structure for your essays helps as you can mentally visualize and arrange your points. For example, you can find a flow here:

 

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#4: Practice until you can’t get it wrong!

While preparing for GRE, practice sample essays or go through the solved ones. This will teach you how to think logically and help you develop a flow to your writing.

GREedge Pro Tip: ETS has a pool of topics for both Issue and Argument, including solved examples. You can be rest assured that most of the AWA questions that you will see in your actual GRE will be taken from this pool of topics. So, practicing AWA from ETS is more than enough to score above 3-3.5.

If you want to read more on what each score band in AWA means, click here.

#5: Build your vocabulary

Actively practicing on GRE word list while learning during GRE preparation can definitely elevate the quality of writing. But ensure that you only use those words that you are very comfortable with and are fully aware of the meaning and context of usage. Your AWA essay is tests your critical reasoning skills, not your english proficiency.  

#6: Flash forward your typing!

Believe it or not, your typing speed plays a huge role in determining your AWA score. You risk losing precious time and putting yourself in a state of panic is you type too slow. Unfortunately, since not many of us are exposed to touch typing, it is quite an awkward battle with the keyboard, come exam day. Therefore, be sure to practice your AWA section on a computer, in a timed setting.

GREedge Pro Tip: To effectively improve your typing speed and learn touch typing, you can use www.typingclub.com. With multiple exercises and increasing difficulty levels, this website allows you to type quickly as well as accurately. 

Ideal Timeline for an Issue/Argument Essay:

Timenline-quora

 

How to score above 4 in AWA? 

Watch our expert unravel the important techniques behind answering AWA questions!

Now, don’t worry about scoring well in your AWA. It is just a matter of knowing how to identify key points and express it effectively. Ensure that you get a couple of your essays evaluated by experienced professors/trainers so that you know where you stand and where you have to improve.

As long as you read, solve the sample essays, and get the right guidance, you have a very good chance of scoring well in the section

We wish you all the best for your future endeavors!

What other doubts do you have regarding AWA? Type in as comments and let us know, we’ll clarify it for you! 🙂

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  2. Tanya says:

    I have a gre score of 317 and a disappointing awa score of 2.5. Should I consider retaking GRE for an admit into top universities?

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