How to prepare for AWA section on GMAT? | EducationAisle Blog

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section on GMAT is the only 'non-objective' section on GMAT. Test-takers normally believe that one has to write an 'essay'.

It is actually quiet misleading to state that GMAT requires you to write an essay. When you are given a normal essay with a given topic, you are supposed to take sides, in the sense that you express opinion either for the topic or against the topic. However, on GMAT, you are not supposed to be doing any of this.

AWA is actually not an essay at all. In fact, it very closely mirrors a Critical Reasoning question. That's the reason, it is actually called an Analysis of the Argument. Basically, an argument is given; like all Critical Reasoning arguments, the argument has a premise and a conclusion. What you're supposed to do, is to find the gaps between the premise and the conclusion (again, this is true for all critical reasoning questions).

Basically, you need to prove that the given premise does not necessarily lead to the conclusion in the most logical manner. In other words you would expose that:
i) There are certain assumptions that are needed for the argument to reach the conclusion
ii) There are certain evidences (pieces of information) that are currently missing. Hence the argument is weak.
iii) These evidences, if present, would have strengthened the conclusion

Saving time on AWA preparation


AWA Time saving


Since AWA is largely a Critical Reasoning question, there is really no separate and dedicated practice needed to tackle the AWA section on GMAT. During your preparation, the time that you dedicate towards Critical Reasoning, is also the time that you are sub-consciously spending towards AWA preparation.

During the exam, you just need to put-in your Critical Reasoning analysis, in a structured format. There are many freely available templates on the net, that provide you with the basic framework, in which to fit in your Critical Reasoning analysis.

An example of an offical AWA

What better way to illustrate our point, than an official example of an AWA


Let's take an example of an AWA prompt and a corresponding appropriate response:

The following appeared as part of a campaign to sell advertising time on a local radio station to local businesses:

"The Cumquat Cafe began advertising on our local radio station this year and was delighted to see its business increase by 10 percent over last year's totals. Their success shows you how you can use radio advertising to make your business more profitable.“

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underline the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sounds, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusions.

According to the argument, a local radio station claims that the Cumquat Cafe increased by 10 percent, after Cumquat Cafe began advertising on the local radio station this year. Stated in this way the argument:
(a) Manipulates facts and conveys a distorted view of the situation
(b) Reveals examples of leap of faith, poor reasoning and ill-defined terminology
(c) Fails to mention several key factors, on the basis of which it could be evaluated

The conclusion of the argument relies on assumptions for which there is no clear evidence. Hence, the argument is weak unconvincing and has several flaws.

First, the argument readily assumes that the entire 10 percent increase in business of Cumquat Cafe materialized as a direct result of advertising on the local radio station. However, it is possible that Cumquat Cafe could have done umpteen other things that could have resulted in 10 percent increase in business. For example, Cumquat Cafe could have changed its location, the cafe could have changed its menu, or the cafe could have changed its pricing. In fact, even on advertising front, Cumquat Cafe could have also advertised on print media or on other local rival radio stations. All these host of other factors either in isolation or in combination could have resulted in 10 percent increase in business of Cumquat Cafe. Hence, the local radio station's claim that takes the entire credit for 10 percent increase in business of Cumquat Cafe, is a stretch.

Second, the argument states that Cumquat Cafe witnessed 10 percent increase in business, and then concludes that radio advertising can make businesses more "profitable". This is again a very weak and unsupported claim as the argument does not demonstrate any direct correlation between business increase and profit increase. Business increase is generally related to "revenue increase" and increase in revenues cannot be directly correldated with increase in profits, unless we have information available on "costs". Just to illustrate, if there are excessive costs associated with radio advertising, then an increase in revenues might not be accompanied by proportional increase in profits.

Finally, the argument concludes that radio advertising makes business more profitable, by citing an example of 'Cafe business'. The argument however, fails to mention whether radio advertising could as effectively work for businesses other than cafe business. The fundamental nature of businesses is different; hence, one cannot assume that whatever works for the cafe business, will work for an IT business, a hardware business, or travel business. Without convincing answers to these questions, one is left with the impression that the claim is more of a wishful thinking rather than
substantive evidence.

In conclusion, the argument is flawed for the above-mentioned reasons and is therefore unconvincing. It could be considerably strengthened if the author clearly mentioned all the relevant facts. In order to assess the merits of a certain situation/decision, it is essential to have full knowledge of all contributing factors. Without this information, the argument remains unsubstantiated and open to debate.