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The Analytical Writing Assessment, or the AWA, is the first section of the GMAT. In a recent blog post, we covered six steps to help you conquer this section. In today’s blog post, we will discuss how the AWA is scored.
AWA essays are scored twice – once by a trained expert and once by what the GMAC calls an “automated essay scoring engine,” which is essentially a computer program. The GMAC writes that this program “evaluates more than 50 structural and linguistic features, including organization of ideas, syntactic variety and topical analysis.” The two scores are marked on a six point scale and averaged together. If the two scores vary by more than one point, another expert reads the essay and helps to determine the final grading.
Summary of the scoring system
A score of six is superb. The quality of ideas and structure of the argument are excellent. This essay develops the argument thoughtfully and logically. Relevant supporting reasons and examples are effectively employed. The essay demonstrates outstanding command of the language.
A score of five is quite strong. This essay clearly identifies facets of the argument and presents them in a logical way. It develops ideas clearly and transitions between them in a way that makes sense. This essay uses good supporting examples. The English is clear and demonstrates effective control of grammar rules. This essay may have minor flaws.
A score of four is fair. It demonstrates an adequate analysis of the argument and a satisfactory command of the language. This essay identifies key features of the argument. It develops examples but may not always connect ideas well. This essay may have some flaws.
A score of three is flawed but competent. This essay does not develop or express ideas well although some analysis of the argument is present. Sentences may lack variety. Command of the language is not particularly strong. Evidence offered to support the argument is not persuasive.
A score of two is very flawed. An essay that is marked a two demonstrates a serious lack of structure and understanding of the argument. It provides few examples to support the argument and does not show a clear command of the language. It may have numerous problems with sentence structure and grammar.
And last but not least, according to the GMAC, a score of one is “fundamentally deficient.” It provides little evidence of the writer’s ability to develop a cogent argument. It has major defects in grammar and sentence structure and may be incoherent.
Remember that the scores that you will receive for the AWA section are based on 30-minute, first-draft writing samples. It is possible to improve your analytical and writing abilities with practice. To delve into mastering the AWA section, read our tips.