Last Updated: March 08, 2021

GRE - Analytical Writing section (AWA)

The Graduate Record Examination, better known as the GRE, is one of the most common standardized tests for students completing their undergraduate degrees. It is much like the SAT or ACT exams that are required to gain entry into undergraduate programs. The difference is that the GRE is not for students to gain entry into undergraduate programs but to enter post-graduate programs. This is a test that gives equal importance to quantitative reasoning along with language skills when exams like SAT or ACT focus only on the proficiency of language that the student has.

GRE scores are considered as a pointer that can supplement undergrad grades and provides the student an increased chance of getting admission in the college of their choice, be it even business or law, along with the recommendation letter and other qualifications the student might offer. It is available in more than 160 countries around the world and ETS also offers the option of giving the test at home if there are no computer-based test centers in that area. The three sections in the exam are Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.

AWA Scoring

The AWA is scored on a six-point scale, with six being the highest possible score that can be achieved; the lowest possible score is a zero. The scoring range is displaying in half points, meaning it starts at the lowest, zero, and rises by 0.5 of a point until a six (the highest) is reached.

If a student receives a zero, it means the essay was completely off-topic or if it was not legible. A six is described as a well-articulated essay that addresses the issue at hand and strongly supports the stance on the issue with clear, understandable facts.

The markers that are measured for scoring are: The student has the option of deciding whether or not to send their scores on the test day after viewing the scores. They can send their most recent score or all the scores they have received in the last 5 years. Students can also choose to decide what to do with their scores after the test day. They can send additional score reports for a fee if they apply online. The schools the student chooses will only be able to view the scores that have been selected by the student and the scores are valid for a total of 5 years which gives people ample time to ponder over their future.

AWA Score Chart

Score LevelGeneral Description
5.5-6Essay is insightful; provides reasons and examples to support claims; has complex ideas; sentence variety and vocabulary
4.5-5Essay deals with complex ideas; well-organized; uses diverse vocabulary; has minor inaccuracies that do not affect meaning.
3.5-4Essay analyzes ideas; is organized; has control on sentence structure; lacks clarity.
2.5-3Essay has limited development; no organization; has decent sentence structure but lacks clarity.
1.5-2Essay is not organized; bad sentence structure; lacks development in content.
0.5-1Essay is fundamentally flawed; incoherent; grammatically inaccurate.
0Essay is unrelated to the topic; is indecipherable; attempted in a foreign language.
NSNo text produced for evaluation.

AWA Average Score

In the AWA section, any score above 4 is considered to be great for procuring admissions. A 4 or 4.5 are decent grades depicting the efficiency the student has in language and in organizing content. A 3.5 is also a passable grade as long as the student performs better in the other sections to increase overall scores in GRE. Any score below 3 will imply that the student is not well-equipped in using the language and that the student has a lot to improve.

Time Management in AWA

Managing time to write the essay after reading the text provided is the most difficult part of taking the AWA writing task. The order that is recommended for the best time managing experience is to follow RITE which is a mnemonic for Read, Ideate, Type, and Edit. But when these steps are followed, it is essential that the student spends only a specific amount of time for each of these steps.

AWA Prep Tips

The general tips that are followed for AWA are:


About GRE - Complete Information


GRE Quantitative



GRE Verbal


GRE Analytical Writing