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    GRE AWA Preparation: How to Prepare for the GRE AWA Section

    GRE AWA Preparation

    While aced GPAs are certainly impressive, don’t underestimate the importance of the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section. Even if your quantitative and verbal reasoning scores are strong, excelling in the AWA can make a significant difference in your application, especially for international students applying to business schools. After all, showing your writing skills in a second language is no small feat.

    The good news? You’ve come to the right place! We’ll share tips and tricks to propel you towards writing success on the GRE. From understanding the scoring process to writing compelling issue analyses, we’ll cover everything you need to excel in the writing section.

    Overview of the GRE AWA Section (Beginning September 22, 2023)

    The GRE General Test was updated as of September 22, 2023. It includes the Analytical Writing measure, designed to assess your critical thinking and analytical writing abilities. This section doesn’t focus on specific content knowledge but rather on your foundational skills in written communication through a variety of skills. Here’s a breakdown of what it evaluates:

    1. Articulate and support complex ideas: It evaluates your capacity to articulate complex ideas clearly and support them with strong evidence.
    2. Construct arguments: It measures your ability to construct well-reasoned arguments.
    3. Sustain a focused and coherent discussion: The Analytical Writing measure assesses your ability to sustain a focused and coherent discussion throughout your essay.

    The Analytical Writing measure consists of a single essay prompt called “Analyse an Issue” in 30 minutes. This prompt will present an opinion on a particular topic, along with instructions on how to respond. Your task is to critically evaluate the issue, consider its various complexities, and then develop a well-reasoned argument supported by relevant examples to back up your views.

    It’s important to note that you’ll be working with a basic word processor provided by the test administrators. This software allows for inserting, deleting, cutting, pasting, and undoing text, but it lacks the convenience of spell check or grammar check features. So, brushing up on your writing skills and clarity beforehand can be particularly beneficial for this section of the GRE.

    How to Prepare for the GRE AWA Section

    The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section of the GRE evaluates your critical thinking and analytical writing skills. Unlike other sections of the GRE exam, the AWA doesn’t require specific content knowledge. However, dedicating time to preparation can significantly improve your score. Here’s a detailed guide to help you ace the GRE AWA section:

    Did you know?

    The “Analyse an Argument” task was removed from the GRE General Test beginning September 22, 2023.

    1. Understand the skills measured and scoring

    Familiarise yourself with the scoring rubric used by ETS. This will give you insights into what graders look for in a high-scoring essay. Additionally, reviewing the official GRE website’s resources is highly recommended. These resources include:

    • Scoring guides: Understand how essays are evaluated based on criteria like analysis, argument development, and writing skills.
    • Sample topics: Get a feel for the range of topics you might come across on the test day.
    • Scored sample essay responses: Analyse high-scoring and low-scoring essays to understand what constitutes a strong response.
    • Rater commentary: Gain insights into the thought process of graders by reading their comments on sample essays.

    2. Familiarise yourself with the task format

    The current GRE AWA section only includes one type of task: the “Analyse an Issue” task. In this task, you’ll be presented with an opinion on a particular issue and asked to analyse it. Your essay should evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the argument, consider alternative viewpoints, and provide your reasoned perspective.

    3. Practice writing under timed conditions

    The AWA section is timed. You’ll have 30 minutes to plan, write, and revise your essay. Practising writing under timed conditions will help you manage your time effectively on test day. Here are some tips for timed practice:

    • Set a timer for 30 minutes.
    • Practice GRE analytical writing Topics from official GRE resources or Yocket Prep+ materials.
    • Spend 5 minutes brainstorming and outlining your essay.
    • Allocate 20 minutes for writing your essay.
    • Leave the last 5 minutes for reviewing and revising your work.

    4. Focus on a strong essay structure

    A well-structured essay is important for a high score. Here’s a basic structure to follow:

    • Introduction: Briefly introduce the topic and state your thesis statement (your position on the issue).
    • Body paragraphs: Each paragraph should focus on a single point that supports your thesis. Use strong evidence and examples to back up your claims.
    • Conclusion: Briefly summarise your main points and restate your thesis in a new way.

    5. Develop strong analytical and writing skills

    The AWA section is designed to assess your ability to think critically and communicate your ideas effectively. Here are some ways to develop these skills:

    • Read widely on various topics to broaden your knowledge base.
    • Practise critical thinking by analysing arguments and identifying logical fallacies.
    • Improve your writing skills by focusing on grammar, GRE vocabulary words, and clarity of expression.

    6. Expand your vocabulary

    Using a diverse vocabulary shows your writing proficiency. Aim to use synonyms and avoid repetitive language.

    7. Get feedback on your practice essays

    Having someone review your practice essays can be incredibly helpful. Consider asking a teacher, a writing tutor, or a friend familiar with the GRE to provide feedback on your structure, clarity, and argument development.


    1. The tasks cover a wide range of subjects, but no specific knowledge is required.
    2. The tasks are designed to assess complex thinking and persuasive writing.
    3. There can be a variety of approaches to responding to the task, as long as the response is well-developed and supported.

    Suggested: GRE Issue Essay

    GRE AWA Preparation: Dos and Don’ts

    Since strong performance on the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) depends on effective preparation, it’s important to understand key dos and don’ts. By keeping these points in mind, you can write a convincing and well-structured essay.




    Understanding the format

    • Familiarise yourself with the essay prompt (Analyse an Issue).
    • Understand the scoring criteria (reading comprehension, analysis, critical thinking, and writing mechanics).
    • Don’t skip familiarising yourself with the format, thinking you can “wing it” on test day.

    Building skills

    • Practice writing clear and concise essays under timed conditions (30 minutes each).
    • Read high-quality writing samples and analyse their structure and argumentation.
    • Expand your vocabulary and learn to use transitions effectively.
    • Don’t neglect to practise timed essays, believing more time will magically improve your writing.
    • Don’t focus solely on complex vocabulary; prioritise clarity and communication.

    Content and structure

    • Develop a strong thesis statement for each essay.
    • Use clear and logical arguments supported by evidence.
    • Organise your essay with a strong introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
    • Don’t write without a clear thesis. Aim for a focused and organised response.
    • Don’t rely on vague generalities; instead, use specific examples and details.

    Time management

    • Develop a time management strategy for planning, writing, and revising your essays.
    • Allocate time for each stage of the writing process.
    • Don’t spend too much time planning; try to leave enough time for writing and revising.
    • Don’t neglect revising your work; even a quick review can improve clarity.

    Practice resources

    • Use official ETS practice materials and high-quality prep books.
    • Consider seeking feedback from a writing tutor or experienced test taker.
    • Don’t rely solely on outdated or unofficial practice materials.
    • Don’t ignore opportunities for feedback. A fresh perspective can be invaluable.

    Test day

    • Stay calm and focused during the exam.
    • Read the prompts carefully and identify key points.
    • Manage your time effectively and stick to your plan.
    • Don’t panic and rush through the essay prompts; take a deep breath and plan your response.
    • Don’t go off on tangents or introduce irrelevant information; stay focused on the prompt.

    Suggested: GRE AWA Sample Essays

    6 Tips to Ace the GRE AWA Section

    Here are the 6 test-taking strategies for the GRE Analytical Writing measure (in the General Test):

    1. Understanding the AWA section

    Before starting with the GRE General Test’s AWA section, take some time to familiarise yourself with the format and scoring. Review the strategies, sample topics, sample essay responses with rater commentary, and scoring guide provided by the ETS. This will give you valuable insights into how raters evaluate essays and the key elements they look for in a strong essay.

    2. Understand the issue essay

    Carefully read the issue prompt. Don’t just skim it! Pay close attention to what the prompt is asking you to do. Next, identify the key points of the argument. What is the argument’s conclusion? What evidence is used to support the conclusion? Are there any assumptions underlying the argument?

    Consider the different perspectives on the issue. Is there another side to the story? Even if you agree with the prompt, acknowledging other viewpoints strengthens your essay.

    3. Develop a focused response

    Take a position on the issue (agree, disagree, or qualify). According to experts, a strong essay takes a clear stance. Additionally, support your position with relevant reasons and examples. You can back up your claims with evidence from your knowledge and experience.

    Organise your response clearly and logically. Create an outline before you start writing to ensure a cohesive essay.

    4. Write a well-structured essay

    Introduce your thesis statement in the first paragraph. Your thesis statement should be a clear and concise summary of your main argument.

    Next, develop each body paragraph with a clear topic sentence and supporting evidence. Each body paragraph should focus on a single main point.

    Conclude your essay by restating your thesis and summarising your main points. End with a strong and memorable final sentence.

    5. Time management is key

    The AWA section allows 30 minutes for each essay. Within this timeframe, it’s crucial to allocate your time effectively. Allocate sufficient time for carefully considering the issue and specific instructions, planning a strong response, and composing your essay. Remember that your goal is to show your best possible writing skills under timed testing conditions.

    6. Proofread for a polished essay

    While the clock ticks down, reserve a few minutes at the end to proofread your essay. An occasional typo or grammatical error won’t significantly impact your score. However, a series of uncorrected errors can detract from the overall effectiveness of your writing and potentially lower your score.

    Suggested: GRE Exam Syllabus 2024

    How to Ace the GRE with Yocket Prep+

    Feeling the pressure of the GRE? Don’t let the AWA section hold you back! While the quantitative and verbal sections might steal the spotlight, a strong AWA score can seriously boost your application, especially for programs that value critical thinking and clear communication. So, how can you turn Yocket Prep+ into your AWA prep assistance of choice?

    • Yocket Prep+ has practice prompts that cover diverse topics, forcing you to think critically and formulate arguments on unfamiliar ground. This is exactly the adaptability the AWA demands.
    • Yocket Prep+ also provides helpful breakdowns of each prompt, highlighting key arguments and different perspectives. By understanding the prompt and exploring various viewpoints, you’ll be a master of the task and write a well-reasoned response, all within that precious 30-minute window.
    • Yocket Prep+ goes beyond just practice. You get instant, insightful feedback too. That’s the magic of Yocket Prep+’s scoring and feedback features. Use this to identify your strengths and weaknesses in areas like essay structure, argument development, and clarity. This personalised feedback will refine your writing style and ensure your essays hit the mark.

    Sign up for Yocket Prep+ and begin your journey towards GRE success! You can even start for free by taking the full-length GRE diagnostic test. Get a feel for the platform and see if Yocket Prep+ is the perfect fit for you.

    From the Desk of Yocket

    While the GRE AWA section doesn’t hold the same weight as the quantitative and verbal sections, a strong score can definitely strengthen your application. The AWA assesses core academic skills that are universally important. Developing a strong argument, analysing information effectively, and expressing yourself clearly are essential for success in any graduate program. By honing these skills through GRE practice test, you’ll not only be better prepared for the test itself but also for the writing demands you’ll face in your coursework.

    Additionally, consistent practice with the GRE AWA template and format can significantly improve your writing speed and efficiency under pressure. The 30-minute time limit for the essay can feel difficult at first, but with practice, you’ll develop the ability to organise your thoughts, write a clear and concise essay, and stay within the time constraints. This skill will benefit you on the GRE and also in timed writing assignments you might come across throughout your academic career.

    Frequently Asked Questions about GRE AWA Preparation

    What is the GRE AWA section?


    How is the AWA scored?


    What is the format of the AWA section?


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