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Intro to AWA

Chris Lele
Lesson by Chris Lele
Magoosh Expert
Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ:  Is there only one human reader now?

Yes, that is correct.  The ETS has since changed who reads and scores the essay.  Your essay will be read and scored by one human grader and one computerized program.

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Welcome to the AWA module, the Analytical Writing Assessment module. In this very first video we're gonna go through the different parts of the AWA. And then we're gonna talk about scoring, and then we're gonna talk about what those scores mean. So first off, let's talk about why the AWA is so important. It's the very first thing you're gonna see when you take the test.

Now you may say, well, that's great, cuz then I can get it over and move on to the other sections. However, how you perform on this part is gonna leave an aftertaste in your mouth. So if you really knock out both essays and do a great job, you're gonna go into the verbal and the math section with a lot of confidence. If you feel flustered and overwhelmed, well, when you're done writing both of these essays, you are not gonna feel like a taking a math or a verbal section.

So it's very important to go in with a lot of confidence. Now, I mentioned a second ago that there were a few essays. And they're 30 minutes each. And it's important to note that if you finish the first essay with say, ten minutes left, those minutes do not carry over to the next essay. We have 30 minutes for each essay, period.

So, what are these two different essays? We have the issue task, and we have the argument task. The first one, the issue task, you have to actually answer a question in the form of an argument. So you create the argument. You back up your answer to the issue question.

With the argument task, you're actually gonna take someone's argument, they've come up with a response. And you have to take that argument apart and critique, show what's wrong with the argument. Now for both the issue and argument task, I'm gonna go onto far greater detail in the upcoming videos.

So, now let's talk about the scoring. The scoring is on a range from zero to six. What that means exactly is that you can get anywhere of course, from zero to six, but more importantly, the increments, you can get 0.5. You could get probably better news, a 5.5. You can get anything in between, you can't get however a 0.4, that is not an increment of a 0.5.

So anything from a zero to a six. Now who's giving you this score? That's the important thing. And there are two human readers, and I'm gonna underline human, because there are other test included where there's not always a human grading you, but sometimes a machine.

So it's important, on the GRE there are two human readers, they are from colleges or universities, they teach there. They usually teach courses that are focused on critical thinking and writing skills. So these are definitely experts who will be reading and critiquing your essay. So, what are they looking for?

Well, they're looking for the big picture. That's what this word holistically means. They're thinking, how compelling was this argument, this essay reading? Did it build its case, did it have a cohesive organization? One set in the flow into the next, etc. And so they're not saying, look, its grammar is really awesome.

I'm gonna give it a two on grammar, and then I'm gonna give it a three on essay organization. I'm gonna add it up together. That is breaking things apart. They are just gonna give an overall impression of your essay based on a number of factors, and that's what the word holistically refers to.

So finally, a little note here about plagiarism. Do not be tempted to take text from GRE sources or from books you're reading, or articles you're reading. And think that if you could sneak them in here, you're on your way to getting a six. They actually have a software, I said there's two human readers, that's for reading.

But, in general, when you are writing, a software is always tracking your words. If it notices that these words match anything out there, even if it's an essay written by another student a few weeks ago. If there are a significant similarity cuz then, you are noted for plagiarism. And that's bad because your score will be rescinded or canceled, and you'll have to pay a full fee.

And that will not be a good thing, of course, so do not be tempted to do it. It will not help you out at all. So, that is a scoring. What does it actually mean now to have a zero or to have a six? And so we're gonna start with the good news. A six, what does that mean?

Well, have insightful analysis and superior language. And so you can even pause a video if you want, and go through each one of these separately. But what you'll notice here is that there is always a slight drop off from positive-positive, to generally positive, to pretty good, to kind of limited, to pretty bad.

There's an organization there too, just irrelevant and confusing. And I even put a zero here because so few people end up getting a zero. A zero means you look at the screen, maybe you pass out from fright. Who knows, but you're definitely not writing anything or if you are, it's just scribbles, gibberish on the keyboard. So, obviously that doesn't apply to most people.

And for the most part, most come around this four level, and that's what you wanna get above. You wanna distinguish yourself and differentiate yourself from more than 50% of the students taking the test. That's why people usually wanna aim for that 4.5 area, right here between four and five on both of the essays.

And that's important to note that the scores are gonna be the average of the issue task and argument task. So if you end up getting five on the issue, four on the argument, you will end up getting 4.5 on the essay. And once again, that would be a good place in terms of scoring better than 50% of people who are taking the GRE.

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AWA Basics