B School Essays: GMAT Essay Section Guide

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) is how business schools evaluate your writing skills. The AWA section has two 30-minute essay questions, each requiring a completely different stategy.

Present Your Perspective on an Issue (30 minutes)

Here you present your opinion on a controversial issue.

Analysis of Argument (30 minutes)

Here you analyze the reasoning in an argument and find its logical flaws. Before 1999, two human graders would grade your essays. If they disagreed, it went to a third grader. Under the new system, a human and the “E-rater” (a computer program that scans essays) will grade your essay. If the human and E-rater agree on a score, that’s the grade your essay will receive. If they disagree, a second human will grade the essay to resolve any differences.

The computerized grading system pressures human graders to follow the E-rater’s strict standards. Human graders are aware that there is a computer double-checking their work, and they are more likely to follow the E-rater’s strict grading parameters.