GRE Super Over – Acing AWA
I’m going to jump straight down to the point and ask you this: “Have you or have you not started your AWA practice/preparation?”
If you’re like most students, your answer is probably the latter – you have not.
Whether you’re Shakespeare or Lalu Prasad Yadav, writing is no child’s play, specifically Analytical Writing.
But you might ask, what weight does my AWA score actually have on my admissions?
Well, more than you think!
The Analytical Writing Assessment Section in GRE aims to test:
- Your ability to think critically
- Your ability to frame a logical & coherent response to an issue or argument
That’s why, if you have two profiles like below:
Which one do you think is more likely to get an admit?
While the decision is more complex than just on the basis of these two factors, Profile 2 has a higher chance of getting an MS admit than Profile 1.
This is because a higher AWA score is important for a Master’s degree, particularly for thesis or PhD as it is a direct measure of your ability to break down and communicate ideas effectively.
So, how can you ensure you achieve a high score in AWA?
The perfect AWA answer usually consists of the following points.
Let’s quickly break down the AWA into different parts.
Task 1 – Issue
Time: 30 Minutes
This task tests your ability to evaluate an opinion and then present yours. You are free to agree or disagree with the opinion given to you, but you must justify a particular stance and why you have chosen it.
Most common topics are:
Task 2 – Argument
Time: 30 Minutes
This task tests your ability to evaluate an argument for its logical accuracy, without presenting your opinion of the issue at hand itself. You must act as a judge – look at the strength of the specific points made and check whether it justifies the conclusion presented in the question.
Some Expert Tips to Ace AWA
#1: Pick a Side!
With the Issue Task, many students often get stumped with certain topics and feel uncertain about taking a particular stance or are equally convinced by both sides of an issue.
Don’t fall trap to this!
It is important that you definitely pick a side and articulate it clearly in the first paragraph itself. The evaluator should be able to understand what side you’re taking just based on an initial glance!
AdmitEDGE Pro Tip: Taking a neutral stance requires you to justify both sides of the issue convincingly. And this can become a tedious task to accomplish within 30 seconds. So, pick a side and stick to it – you’re not going to be judged for which side you pick anyway!
#2: Build A Strong Foundation
The tallest building is only as strong as its foundation. Similarly, your essay can become persuasive only with a proper structure in place.
Thus, every essay has a
- Strong introduction
- Series of main ideas
- Supporting details for each main idea
- Clear conclusion
In fact, if you visualize your essay, it would look like this:
#3: Showing Off Is a No-No
If you had two teachers, who would you pay attention to:
- Teacher A, who uses difficult words and has an over-the-top accent
- Teacher B, who explains concepts clearly and simply
You would choose Teacher B, right?
Similarly, you must make your essay as easily readable and understandable as possible.
Don’t use complex GRE words unnecessarily. Use them appropriately to embellish your essay and give it a hint of sophistication.
For example, take the following question:
“True beauty is found not in the exceptional, but in the commonplace.”
Write an essay in which you take a position on the statement above. In developing and supporting your essay, consider instances in which the statement does and does not hold true.
Without using bombastic GRE words, the passage clearly conveys that the writer believes that people are amazed by things they experience rarely rather than experiences that are commonplace.
#4: Local vs. Global
Try putting yourself in the shoes of your evaluator. If you were evaluating an essay, would you be more compelled to read if the essay spoke about Shahrukh Khan or if it spoke about Colin Firth (British Actor)?
Similarly, when writing your essay, quote international examples that the evaluator can relate to.
For this, it is extremely important to develop a strong reading habit. Following the news every day can help you get trending, relevant examples to drive your point home.
[BONUS]: It also helps you build your reading skill & vocab for the Verbal section, so it’s a win-win situation.
#5: Tackling the Ticking Timer
You get 30 minutes for each AWA task. Within 30 minutes, you’re supposed to read the question, interpret what’s asked of you, ideate a flow, actually type it out, and then check for errors.
This can be quite overwhelming if you’re not prepared for it. Also, since it is the first section of GRE, you want to ensure it goes as smooth as possible so that you can set the pace for the rest of the exam.
So, what can you do?
AdmitEDGE Pro Tip: If you’re concerned about your typing speed, ensure that you get enough practice and speed it up. Many online websites such as www.typingclub.com can help boost your speed to the ideal target of 70 words per minute.