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AWA: Is it important?

  AWA: Is it important?

Posted by ian on Wed 27 Aug 08 at 4:08pm

How Important is the AWA?

The AWA is often described as the least important part of the GMAT exam. It is graded on a 0-6 scale, and does not contribute to the overall score out of 800. Business Schools normally report the average GMAT score, on the 800 scale, of accepted applicants, but do not normally report any data about the AWA score. So does the AWA matter? The answer is: it depends where you apply, but most of the time, yes.

A recent GMAC report authored by Kara Owens entitled Use of the Analytical Writing Assessment: Past and Present, presented the results of a survey of 104 Business Schools. Of these, one third 'rarely' or 'never' use AWA scores for admissions decisions. Two thirds use the AWA score at least some of the time, and one fifth of schools 'always' use the AWA score as a component in their admissions decision making. Of note, those schools which receive more than a quarter of their applications from applicants for whom English is not their first language are considerably more likely to consider AWA results- they are at least 'sometimes' used by 76% of these schools for admissions decisions. Depending where you apply, your AWA score may influence your chances of being accepted.

AWA scores are not only used for admissions decisions, however. Roughly 10% of schools use AWA results 'frequently' or 'always' when determining assistantships. Significantly, more than half of all schools use the AWA score to validate a candidate's application essays. If a candidate has strong application essays but a weak AWA result, the application essays may be viewed with suspicion by the school. Undoubtedly this helps schools to identify instances where a candidate has not authored his or her application essays.

Yet another reason to do well on the AWA: Business Schools have the option to read them. In fact, roughly half of Business Schools at least 'sometimes' use the AWA responses as part of admissions decisionmaking, and 6% of schools 'always' use them. The paragraphs you write on the AWA are also at least sometimes used by more than half of all Business Schools to validate application essays, among other things.

So be aware that your AWA may be more important than you have been led to believe. Many schools consider the AWA score, and many will read what you write on the AWA.



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