Perfect Guide to GRE Analytical Writing (AWA)

GRE Analytical Writing (AWA) Guide

GRE Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) is the first section on the GRE test and it is not taken serious by the students in general.

In addition many students confuse between these two sections. A student has to write two essays in 30 minutes each. They are:

1.       Issue writing

2.       Argument writing

The score is calculated on a scale of 6.0.

Does GRE Analytical Writing Really Matter?

There are many myths and misconceptions around. It tests your analytical thinking and the way you evaluate an issue. It also tests writing skills with cohesive sentences and centered ideas in a given time limit.

There are lots of differences in both of these essay types and many are not aware of them. In common students think that these are just two essays and proceed in their own way of writing.

Understand the Difference Between Issue Essay and Argument Essay

Issue essay presents an issue or a situation. You have to explain the issue with your own views sticking around the topic.

You should write your ideas, validations with situational evidence if any to support your argument. Where as an argument writing itself is an argument.

Here, you have to validate the statements and factors given from your side but not interfering in to the topic. Argument essay is written by other authors. You have to ask questions and verify its logic through your reasons.

Issue essay is presenting your view where argument essay is validating someone else’s view about a topic.

Issue essay is probably a very general topic social, political, science and technology or philosophy etc. When it comes to the case of argument essay, a specific subject or a topic comes to play.

[ Also read: Top 10 GRE Tips to Score 320+ ]

Planning Essay Format is crucial in GRE Analytical Writing

GRE analytical writing not really as easy as a student thinks. On the other hand not difficult or complex like many explain. It’s just a matter of awareness. It completely depends on one’s practice and knowledge.

Most important thing to consider is that one should strategize his essay. The key to this strategy is

  • What is the question about? What is to be written?
  • Your essays are evaluated by two graders one of which is the ETS developed application package. The other is a human. So, think about miscommunication with the electronic systems.
  • The final step is the way you should answer to reach the highest score.

For all this to happen, you need a guide to know what ETS graders expect in your essay and how you have to respond to score good. Let us present some factors that would make your essay worthy to score closer to 6.0.

Factors that Influence Your Score in GRE AWA

1) A Clear Idea and Explanation

This is not prominent but a general problem. People start writing and keep wooing around the subject without touching it. It’s dangerous.

 Because if your explanation is not clear and you are not straight to the point. And the grader has to read it one more time. It shows that you are not clear with your ideas and argument as well.

ETS grader spends no more than 2 minutes to read an essay and would not bother to reread it. Of course no one! Isn’t it? Such scenarios lead to a downfall of your score and you end up in disappointment.


It is important before you attempt to write anything, anytime.

·         What are you writing about?

·         Is your concept equipped with specific evidence?

These 2 queries will make your essay more clear and centered. Think about it. Grader would have no distraction other than understanding it clearly. Undoubtedly you will be awarded with what you actually deserve.

2) Essay Format

Readability depends on the format of your essay. Any document structure itself conveys its own understandability.

Readability can be maintained by dividing your matter in to small and individual paragraphs. Suitable transition words will create a massive impact on the reader’s impression.

Every small paragraph is a new idea of the concept without deviating from the topic given. The conventional essay format consists of an introduction, body of the essay (body of the essay generally has 3 – 4 paragraphs) and finally the conclusion or justification of the topic given.

Follow the same format, divide it with wit and increase the visibility of the format and readability of the text you write.

3) Sentence Construction

Never follow the same sentence format. You’ve got to go through some news articles to understand this. Keep in mind that you are writing a small paragraph. Same kind of sentences are boring and the essay looks lifeless to the reader. That will lead to unwanted results obviously. So once you complete your essay, proof read it for any of such things.

It is a skill and you will gain it through regular practice. It doesn’t mean passive sentences to prolong your explanation. Passive voice generally messes up the clarity of your idea.

Example: If you have to say “The training system of the most renowned fighter is always kept secret.” Then, you have to rephrase it as “The mysterious training system made him the most renowned fighter.

This is the way you should follow.

4) Vocabulary Words

Not here and there, it exists everywhere in the world. Using a heavy vocabulary is a proof of your language proficiency. Trust this! It is false.

While using such words, did you ever think what happens to the meaning of the sentence and logical sense? Try to answer this question and you would never do this.

[ Also Read: Ways to Study GRE Vocabulary ]

AWA tests how logically you are able to defend your statement and the continuity of your thoughts. Your argument is strengthened by the evidence. The beauty of your presentation lies in the idea of equivalence. Your thoughts should flow with sensible statements and logical reasons. Use vocabulary where necessary and guard your statement intelligently. It’s that simple.

5) Grammar Usage

We know grammar is essential. A good number of times, relative minor mistakes in grammar are ignored till it affects the meaning of the sentence.

But once a mistake (may be a silly one) is noticed, it’s a natural tendency to become cautious and search for more. This scenario will actually mislead everything. The grader will stop understanding and look for mistakes. ETS officially said that it ignores minor mistakes. But seriously, it matters.

6) Reasoning Process

The element of top priority is reasoning. All the elements discussed above are technical. But reasoning is not a technique. It is a combination of techniques. It is aesthetic.

Once you read the question, you need to activate your sensual reflexes to think. Reasoning is basically done in your mind in 2 different ways.

·         Synthesis and

·         Analysis

Once you encounter a statement; synthesis is constructing the matter what follows next. Laying bricks where it might lead to. Reasoning about the destination is synthesis. Thinking forward is synthesizing.

If you think backward from a given statement, it is called analysis. The same process but deducing the beginning point of the statement.

Example: Deriving what circumstances had let the outcome of the statement.

Through these two steps, you will be able to get the complete information about the given incident or an argument.

You can independently follow through your own ideas of justification. This is an ideal way of thought process.

7) Evidences

Evidences are widely discussed as examples. But we call them evidence. Examples are similar scenarios that help while explaining. Example is not evidence.

Did you know this? to explain something, logic is a theory. But evidence is a reason to explain.

Do not confuse. Think about the above statement. While writing an essay, think about the logic and support it with evidence. This is what reasoning means.

             When you attempt to write an essay from a given situation or an argument, you should consider all the above elements. It may seem difficult but not practically is.

To convince the grader, these are the norms to consider. However, these are the elements that evaluates look for in your essays.

Just follow these 7 elements and write your essay following these.  You will surely reach your desired score.

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