Analytical Writing Assessment
The AWA section is designed to assess your ability to think critically and to communicate complex ideas. The writing task consists of two sections that require you to examine the composition of an issue, take a position on the basis of the details of the issue, and present a critique of the conclusion derived from a specific way of thinking. The issues are taken from topics of general interest related to business or other subjects.
The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) consists of two essay questions, each of which is allotted 30 minutes. In general, the questions favor students accustomed to expressing their thoughts in concise and well-organized written English. The Analytical Writing Assessment will always be the first portion of the test administered.
Each essay will be scored by two graders, who are college and university instructors from various schools and departments experienced in teaching and evaluating writing, or the essay will be scored by computer. Each essay will be scored 'holistically', which means that it will be assigned one score (between 0 and 6, with 0 being the lowest and 6 the highest) by each reader, based on its overall quality. The two scores for each essay are averaged, and then the two average scores (one for each essay) are averaged again to produce the writing score, which is reported on a scale of 0 to 6, rounded off to the nearest half point.
There are two types of Analytical Writing Assessment tasks:
1. The Analysis of an Issue essay tests your ability to critically and clearly express your thoughts and opinions about a topic of general interest. There is no right way to approach each topic. Your job is to effectively argue your own opinion on the matter in question.
2. The Analysis of an Argument essay includes a brief passage in which a problem is presented. In 30 minutes, your job is to carefully read the passage, look at the given evidence, and evaluate the author's argument.
Both types of essays expect you to explore some complexities of the topic, to take a position, and to demonstrate critical reasoning abilities. The questions will not require you to have any pre-existing knowledge of the subject or any specific business training or experience. Some topics may relate to business, but others will be about areas of general interest or current events and issues.
The most important thing your essay must do is take a position. Even if you are not entirely sure that you would always agree with that position, take a position. You are not deciding on an irrevocable course in life, you are writing an essay to be assessed on the basis of how well it is written. Support your position with examples organized in a logical order; restate your position in a conclusion. Remember that there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, just well written or poorly written ones. Don't try to guess what the graders' feelings about the issue might be so you can agree. Take a position upon which you can develop examples and supportive arguments. Make it a specific position; don't try to be too broad: it is much easier to put together ideas about banning automatic assault rifles than it is to discuss the use or misuse of firearms in general.
The second most important thing your essay needs is good organization. Stop and plan before you begin writing. Place your arguments or examples in the most logical order and provide reasonable transitions between them. Usually, three examples are enough.
Finally, you need to concentrate on writing an effective introduction and conclusion. Your opening sets the stage and draws the reader in; your conclusion clinches your point and leaves your argument fresh in the graders' minds when they assign a score.