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Analysis of an Argument Essay on the GMAT

Students often ask me how to write an effective “Analysis of an Argument” essay on the AWA portion of the GMAT, and how to know if their attempts on practice tests are good.

Well for starters, you have to know what the test-makers are looking for and how to break down a logical argument in the first place. I teach the basics of logical reasoning in my GMAT courses (how to identify assumptions, how to strength/weaken arguments, etc.), since that’s an important part of doing well on GMAT Critical Reasoning questions. And of course those skills translate perfectly to the Argument Essay as well.

But then even once you know how to evaluate a logical argument, how do you know if the essay you’ve written about a particular prompt is worthy of a high score?

One of the most useful ways is by reading sample essay responses of varying score levels. That makes as plain as day the difference between a 6.0-level essay and, say, a 4.0-level essay.

Now, there’s just such an illustration in the GMAT Official Guide Analytical Writing Assessment chapter. The book provides a sample essay prompt and three essay responses — one that would have received a score of 6.0, one that would have received a score of 4.0, and one that would have received a score of 2.0. Getting familiar with the differences will help you with your own essays, to be sure.

Okay, so that’s helpful. But what if you want more examples?

Here are two other sources of sample Argument Essay prompts and template responses that you can use as a guide when answering similar essay topics on test day:

  1. The GMAC website at mba.com provides a few tips about the AWA section and a sample prompt with a 6.0-level response. You can review it here: https://www.mba.com/exams/gmat/about-the-gmat-exam/gmat-exam-structure/analytical-writing-assessment.
  2. You may be interested to note that the GRE also has an essay section, and one of the essays students are expected to write on the GRE is almost identical to the GMAT Analysis of an Argument essay. Fortunately for you, the ETS has done a much better job of providing information about that particular essay on their website. Indeed, they provide a sample argument prompt with six different responses of varying scores, with expert commentary. I think you’ll find it very helpful as you prepare for GMAT AWA section. You can get to the GRE’s take on the Argument Task here: https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare/analytical_writing/argument/sample_responses.

I hope you find this helpful. Oh, and one of the services I provide to students who have registered for one of my comprehensive GMAT prep courses is that I review the essays they write on their practice tests and provide personalized feedback. I’d love to be able to do the same for you and hope you’ll choose to partner with us! You can check out our online GMAT course options and choose the one that’s right for you, here: https://www.dominatethegmat.com/video-purchase/.

Questions? Comments? Please post them below. We’re here to help!