Writing an essay for a timed test is more challenging than writing an essay for a college assignment; anyone preparing for the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section of the GRE knows this too well. If English is not your first language, the AWA score may get more attention, regardless of the type of program to which you apply. Grad schools sometimes use the AWA score as a measure of your ability to express ideas in written English. Some grad schools clearly specify the minimum AWA requirement and it is best to check these requirements well in advance. A good GRE score (Quant + Verbal) with a low AWA score can adversely affect your chances of admission.
Investing some time regularly for AWA preparation will help you avoid last minute challenges before your actual GRE test. Too many GRE test takers tend to leave the AWA preparation till the last minute – for obvious reasons this is not an ideal way to prepare.
It is important to note that writing for the AWA does not require you to have formidable writing skills, nor does it require in-depth knowledge of the topics. In addition, essays with flowery writing and rhetoric aren’t always the best essays for a top GRE AWA score.
Some tips to get you started on your AWA preparation for the GRE
Know the difference between an Issue and an Argument essay
An Issue essay asks you to
- analyze a general statement that is usually related to culture, politics or education
- present a point of view and substantiate your point of view with relevant examples
- either agree OR disagree with the statement
An Argument essay asks you to
- analyze the logic behind a position
- discuss the soundness of the logic
- demonstrate your critical thinking abilities
Take time to brainstorm the topic
First think…then write! While attempting either of the AWA essays on the GRE, first understand the key terms, and the instructions and then think and plan the essay on the scratch paper provided. Once you have planned the essay – don’t deviate from your plan.
Structure your essay
Keeping the limited amount of time that you have to brainstorm and type the essay, it is easy to keep a broad structure in mind. Stick to the following standard essay format and keep it simple:
- body paragraph 1
- body paragraph 2
Use effective transitions
A well-written essay requires more than organization into major sections. Transitions are an effective way of connecting ideas and ensuring that your grader knows what’s coming next in your essay, and transition words help the grader to identify concepts between and within the paragraphs.
Some transitions that you can use are
- as an example of
- first of all
- not only…but also
- in addition to
- as a result
At Manya-The Princeton Review, the AWA classes aim to get you ready with the three elements that are essential for acing the GRE AWA section.
- depth of ideas
- writing – grammar, style, and vocabulary
Teachers at Manya-The Princeton Review not only help you understand the requirements of GRE
essays but also give you templates that you can follow to get your essay organized, brainstorming tips to develop examples and reasoning, and tips on writing required for a high score on the AWA.