How much does AWA matter?

This topic has expert replies
User avatar
Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts
Posts: 165
Joined: 17 Feb 2011
Location: San Diego, CA
Thanked: 14 times
Followed by:9 members
GMAT Score:750

How much does AWA matter?

by sunman » Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:26 am
Hi, my name is Sonny and this is my first time posting here. I'm a Marine Officer and a 2009 alumnus from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign.

After scoring anywhere from 710-770 on the various MGMAT, GMATPrep, and 800score.com CATs over the past 2-3 weeks (I started out scoring in the 610-640 range on Petersons CATs), I've moved on to preparing my AWA skills.

I've historically considered myself a fairly strong writer with a decent depth of vocabulary. I downloaded the GMAtWrite program from MBA.com today and decided to wing it. On both essays, I struggled to finish in time and I scored a two 5's (5/5/5/6, and 5/4/5/5 respectively).

Seeing as how a 5 is a relatively weak score (77th percentile? The "4" in one category is especially embarrassing, especially for a proud Illinois alum), my question is - how much does your AWA score matter to MBA admissions officers? I'm not flipping out yet, as I have two weeks to make improvements, but if I end up scoring 5's again, how much will that damage my prospects of admission to an elite business school, given an otherwise strong GMAT score?

I'd like to believe I'm a pretty strong writer, but 30 minutes is a hell of a time crunch.

Thanks for your help in advance!

Very Respectfully,

Sonny
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has" - Margaret Mead

User avatar
GMAT Instructor
Posts: 1031
Joined: 03 Jul 2008
Location: Malibu, CA
Thanked: 716 times
Followed by:255 members
GMAT Score:750

by [email protected] » Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:29 am
Hey Sonny,

Rest assured - if you're at 5 or better the AWA is absolutely no problem. It's much more a pass/fail exercise than one in which the final score truly matters. Schools use the essays as a quick check of relative communication ability (a 2, for example, would be pause for concern) and often even more as a way to gauge whether your application essays are really your own work (if your "What are your future goals and how will a ____________ degree help you on that path?" essays are Pulitzer-worthy but your AWA score is a 3, that's something that may concern them).

Now, for non-native English speakers the AWA may carry additional weight because schools may have a bit more cause for concern that such students will be prepared for English-communication burden in school. But in that case a 5 is a fantastic score. So really no one should ever be concerned about a 5.

Honestly, the main reason that a 5 is a 77th percentile is because it's just not that hard, at least for college-educated, native English speakers, to turn in a reasonably well-written essay. Even a perfect score is something like the 92nd percentile or so these days.

If you're consistently hitting 5s I wouldn't worry another second about the AWA - your job now is to get in and out of the AWA without wasting too much energy or having to stress about the clock, so that you're fresh and ready to take on the multiple-choice sections, which carry exponentially more weight.
Brian Galvin
GMAT Instructor
Chief Academic Officer
Veritas Prep

Looking for GMAT practice questions? Try out the Veritas Prep Question Bank. Learn More.

User avatar
Legendary Member
Posts: 1079
Joined: 13 Dec 2010
Thanked: 118 times
Followed by:33 members
GMAT Score:710

by bblast » Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:17 am
2 things :

1>awa 5 is 57%.awa 5.5 is 77%. :(

2>I attended a chat with a to tier school adcom last week. There was a guy asking the weight-age of the AWA's cause he had an AWA-4 to match a 720; and the adcom replied they are interested only in the Q and V !!!
Cheers !!

Quant 47-Striving for 50
Verbal 34-Striving for 40

My gmat journey :
https://www.beatthegmat.com/710-bblast-s ... 90735.html
My take on the GMAT RC :
https://www.beatthegmat.com/ways-to-bbla ... 90808.html
How to prepare before your MBA:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upz46D7 ... TWBZF14TKW_

User avatar
Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts
Posts: 165
Joined: 17 Feb 2011
Location: San Diego, CA
Thanked: 14 times
Followed by:9 members
GMAT Score:750

by sunman » Sat Oct 22, 2011 4:06 pm
You guys are seriously awesome. Thanks so much. I'm going to cram a little bit the next two weeks to strive for a 6...but I guess a 5 isn't anything to worry about then.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has" - Margaret Mead

User avatar
GMAT Instructor
Posts: 2193
Joined: 22 Feb 2010
Location: Vermont and Boston, MA
Thanked: 1186 times
Followed by:512 members
GMAT Score:770

by [email protected] » Sun Oct 23, 2011 5:31 pm
The most important thing about the AWA is that you should not allow it impact your performance on the other two sections. You can try to hard on the AWA and find that your Quant and Verbal scores suffer.

You can only focus for so long and you want to save that intense focus for key moments in the quant and verbal.

The reason to practice AWA and to be comfortable with it has less to do with earning that score and more to do with being able to complete those two sections without undue amounts of stress and without tiring yourself in any way.

I recommend that you avoid any "agonizing" while you do the AWA. If you are agonizing then you are using up the part of your brain that focuses. So just let the AWA flow...and get ready for the Main Event. As Brian said, it sounds like you will score fine anyway.

Good Luck!
Veritas Prep | GMAT Instructor

Veritas Prep Reviews
Save $100 off any live Veritas Prep GMAT Course

Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
Posts: 1
Joined: 27 Jun 2013

by chirpybird » Thu Oct 10, 2013 12:07 am
How about AWA-4.0, IR -7 and Q+V -700? Can AWA score really degrade my chances to get into good school, considering I have a decent profile (professonal & educational).

GMAT/MBA Expert

User avatar
Elite Legendary Member
Posts: 10392
Joined: 23 Jun 2013
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Thanked: 2867 times
Followed by:508 members
GMAT Score:800

by [email protected] » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:26 am
Hi chirpybird,

As a general rule, most Business Schools are satisfied if you score a 4.0 or higher on the AWA. If a Test Takers scores below a 4.0, then there's an issue (the Test Taker didn't understand the prompt, didn't follow the instructions or went "off topic" in what he/she chose to write about) and THAT issue can certainly affect one's chances at acceptance. With what you're describing, your AWA is fine and it won't degrade your chances.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
Contact Rich at [email protected]
Image

User avatar
Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
Posts: 3
Joined: 04 Jun 2016

by agrawalankit99 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:27 am
Hi,

I got a 730 in GMAT and 7 in IR. But got only 3.5 in AWA. I am not sure how this happened as I was doing good in my practice attempts. I feel this can partially be attributed to the fact that I got really late for my GMAT because there was huge traffic and surprise roadblocks. So I was convinced I won't be able to give my test, hence I believe in all the anxiety and nervousness I might have done something terrible.

I don't want to re-take the exam because I am not sure how the Q+V will pan out and more importantly I don't have the time as well.

Can anyone please help me understand what I should do?

Ankit

GMAT/MBA Expert

User avatar
Elite Legendary Member
Posts: 10392
Joined: 23 Jun 2013
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Thanked: 2867 times
Followed by:508 members
GMAT Score:800

by [email protected] » Thu Jul 21, 2016 8:43 am
Hi Ankit,

The issue that you're facing will likely depend on a number of different factors, including the Schools/Programs that you plan to apply to, your written application essays and (possibly, if the Schools ask for one) the interview.

Since this is ultimately an Admissions question, you would be best served by speaking with an Admissions Expert about it. There's a Forum full of them here:

https://www.beatthegmat.com/ask-an-mba-a ... t-f40.html

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
Contact Rich at [email protected]
Image