AWA is the essay section of the GMAT. It stands for Analytical writing assessment. It judges a student’s thinking ability and the way he is able to communicate it. There are two types of questions asked here – one is analysis of argument and other is analysis of issue. Analysis of issue asks you to give your opinion on the presented issue. You can either support it or go against it. Topics would generally be on business or political issues. It is good to use known facts in your essay. You have to show in your writing that you understand both sides of the issue and then support one. It tests how well balanced you are in your writing. Analysis of an argument questions offers an argument on an issue. You are required to analyze the argument given from the issue. You have to decide how well the argument is reasoned. You can either strengthen the argument or weaken it. You need to find out mistakes or support it along with evidence. Each of this part is of 30 minutes. You are scored from 1 to 6 in this part. A score above 5 is considered a good score. You receive your score along with the GMAT score. Your essay is graded by a human and also by a computerized grader. If both the graders do not agree, your essay is graded by another human.
AWA is the most ignored section of the GMAT. It is taken very casually by most of the students. Aspirants concentrate on verbal and aptitude part but end up completely overlooking the AWA section which is also important. Generally, it is assumed that if one has a decent knowledge of the English language, AWA is not a big deal for him. It certainly helps if you are well versed with English or if you are good at writing. However, you cannot afford to ignore this part. You need to know certain tactics and strategies to master the AWA. There is a method of preparation for every section.
Now, one method to prepare for AWA is to practice sample essays and previous GMAT essays. This has to be done anyway. In addition to this, I would suggest to read newspapers and magazines daily. There are review columns appearing in the editorial section of the newspaper. It is very important to read them thoroughly and write an issue essay and an argument essay based on it. You should use proper structure in your essays and your paragraphs must be connected. For instance, your idea stated in the last paragraph must be used to begin the next paragraph so that the link is formed. If you practice this daily along with sample essays, you will definitely score above 5.5 in your AWA section. You can at least devote twice a week towards your AWA section. You should have practiced more than 30 essays before the day of your GMAT. A score of 4 out of 6 is considered a decent score and obviously you should be able to score that much at the minimum.