The AWA was previously omitted from the GMAT Online exam, but recently became a permanent option. Source: Ina Fassbender/AFP

When the pandemic unfolded, universities across the world scrambled to shift to online learning. In response to the pandemic, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) made the GMAT Online exam a permanent solution following COVID-19-related health concerns. GMAC owns and administers the GMAT.

The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is a standardised, multiple-choice, computer-based and computer-adaptive exam. It is developed to provide and test how prepared an applicant is for academic work on a graduate level, and is required for admission and graduation of business programmes, most notably MBAs. Together with work experience, academic records and other supporting materials, a high score on the GMAT can positively impact and improve your chances of getting into the business school of your choice.

The test itself is broken down into four parts which applicants are given a period of time to complete: verbal, quantitative, integrated reasoning, and analytical writing assessment (AWA). The AWA section tests your ability to think critically and critique an argument in one 30-minute essay. You’re given a score from 0-6.

The AWA was previously omitted from the GMAT Online exam but recently became a permanent option for the online test. If you’re curious about how you can ace the AWA section, here are some tips to help you achieve your goals.

Tips to ace the AWA section in GMAT


The key to not being flustered during the AWA section of the GMAT is to be well prepared. Source: Frederick Florin/AFP

Practice and prep

It helps to go over past questions as much as possible before taking the real thing. Doing timed practice tests will help you pace yourself during the exam to avoid penalties from missed questions. Purchasing a GMAT study guide could be helpful as it contains plenty of sample tests for you to practice on. This will help you to improve your confidence and ultimately, stand a better chance of securing a good score.

Read and comprehend

In order to score well for the AWA section, you’ll need to have a line of reasoning and use evidence to back up your argument. Before starting, take a few moments to evaluate the question and plan a side of an issue to argue on in order to create a fully developed and organised response. Don’t fret about picking the “right side of an issue” to argue on — pick one and support your argument well.

Follow a structure

AWA essays are best when they’re structured as it gives the examiner a clear idea of what you’re writing about. This also provides you with a clear framework on how you plan to get your points across. Here’s a simple breakdown of what to put into your essay:

  • Introduction: State the argument, point out its faults and present your views that will be discussed in the rest of the essay.
  • First and second paragraph: Insert a strong topic sentence for each paragraph, then critique the argument and support your views with evidence.
  • Third paragraph: Throw in a few questions for the argument will show an absence of information, weakening the argument further.
  • (Optional) Fourth paragraph: State information that you feel would have strengthened the argument but is absent.
  • Conclusion: Recap the flaws you’ve presented and diplomatically explain how they could be remedied to present a stronger argument.

Pace yourself

Make sure you leave enough time for you to reread your response and make revisions. Time yourself when doing mock tests to keep yourself paced during the real thing. Remember that you only have 30 minutes to finish this section, so the key to not being flustered is to be well prepared.