Almost all major competitive examinations have a writing component to assess your ability to express ideas through written words. GRE and GMAT have analytical writing (AWA) sections, scored from a range of 0 to 6.
Unlike the objective part of the exam (MCQ-based), the writing part is subjective and what is “good” for you may just be “average” in the eyes of the reviewer.
In this post, we explore what analytical writing assessment (AWA) is, its importance, sample GRE & GMAT essays and the ways to grade your practice essays.
AWA tests your analytical and critical thinking skills along with your ability to articulate and expand on complex ideas. It does not focus on specific knowledge of the content in question or your opinion on the matter discussed. The cogency of the presented ideas is very important. The main criteria for the evaluation are as follows:
The essays are assigned a couple of ratings, one of which can be from an automated essay grading system. The ratings from the 2 sources are averaged to arrive at the final score. However, if the ratings from the bot and the human reviewer differ by more than a point, another human expert evaluates the essay to resolve the discrepancy. Though there is no official word on the ideal length of the essay, a closer analysis of the official graded pool of essays reveal that longer is usually better. 500-600 words is the sweet range you should target to achieve the golden score. Essays that are longer than this usually seem to compromise on the quality.
Note: The electronic system (e-rater) is based on an algorithm that takes into account a variety of linguistic and syntactical features, including (but not limited to) organization and flow of ideas, structure, and organization. The e-rater has a pool of human-graded essays, and the most predictive features for the grade are identified. If your essay resembles a 6-grade essay, you are likely to get a 6. It is not able to detect subtleties such as a brilliant style of presenting arguments or humor.
There is a tendency among the students to defer the preparation for AWA. The general consensus is that a couple of days of preparation before the test would suffice. As a result, the scores for this section are usually abysmal, especially for the Indian cohort. The students usually skip the AWA section during practice as well, which ends up backfiring as it affects the pacing on the day of the test (it is the first section in the case of GRE/GMAT!).
If the AWA score of a candidate is too low (non commensurate with the rest of the test scores), it can raise a red flag. If you have a stellar SOP and a poor AWA, the admission committee could assume that you’ve had generous external help for drafting that all-important statement. For PhD admissions, the AWA section is very important as a huge part of doctoral studies involves writing effective prose.
During your practice session for the AWA, it can be confusing to keep on churning out essays without knowing if you’re headed in the right direction. Hence, a score/grade for an essay is essential for your preparation (feedback is even better). So, what are your options, apart from self-evaluation?
Are you aware of any other options for free online essay grading of GRE and GMAT essays?
– Reviews of the top GRE Online Courses