Mission Admission: I Did Well on the GMAT, but My AWA Score Is Low!

Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.

You completed a GMAT prep course, studied hard, and finally “nailed” the exam. However, you later learn that your score on the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), the essay portion of the GMAT, is low. Should you panic?

In short, the answer is no. Although we have always encouraged business school candidates to do the best they can on the AWA, the truth is that we have never been told by an admissions officer—nor, as far as we know, has a candidate ever been told in a feedback session—that the AWA score is a factor in a school’s decisions. Generally, the AWA is not used to evaluate candidates but to detect fraud.

If, hypothetically, you had tremendous difficulty expressing yourself via the AWA essays but wrote like a Pulitzer Prize winner in your application essays, the school would get suspicious and begin to compare the two. Not to worry—the schools are not punitive and are not acting as fraud squads. Your AWA essays are expected to be unpolished, so no one will seek out your file if you did your best in both areas. However, if an enormous discrepancy arises between the two, the AWA serves a purpose.

So, if you did well on the GMAT and have a low AWA score, that is unfortunate, but it will not be the difference in a school’s decision about your candidacy. Rest easy—as long as you truly did write both!

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