GRE AWA Continued...
In the analysis of an argument you have options to choose from regarding the topic and the stand you take; whereas in the analysis of an issue, you don't have much choice. Firstly you don't have a topic choice and secondly you don't have the perspective choice. In this question only one argument will be given and you have to compulsorily analyze that. When you start with the question read the argument casually for the first time, just to get an approximation of what the argument is about and what the author is trying to say. When you reread the argument, do it very critically. Look out for the loopholes in the flow of ideas, explanations, examples, assumptions, inferences and conclusions. Here you will have to sideline your personal views as you don't have to "present your perspective". When you read the argument very carefully you will automatically notice how it fails to convince the reader. Make a mental note of the points which you observe. If you have practiced sufficiently for this type of question then critical analysis should not be a big problem. Here you have to think of the major flaws in the claim and the minor ones as well. The major flaws would mean the flaw in the central idea of the argument. Analyze what assumptions, examples and data the writer has taken into consideration. Think of what the obvious conclusion should be and what the writer's interpretation is. Explain these points first of all. Then you must step wise analyze the flow of thought of the writer and the illustrations he has cited; give alternative explanations which are more logical and the relevant counterexamples, wherever possible. Remember that in this question you have chances of ignoring the structure of your essay, since you get swayed by the analysis part. This question does not just measure how logically you analyze but also how well you present your views. Hence keep in mind that this question too requires that your ideas are presented in a well organized and logical manner.
Have no doubts of whether the AWA requires practice or not. It certainly requires a good amount of preparation. The best way to prepare for this section would be to write as many essays as possible. Firstly have a lucid understanding of how your essay responses are supposed to be. Then you should get hold of a number of essay questions with sample responses. Go through them in detail and you will not only understand how you must write but also how you must not write. You could download a PDF file from the official website of ETS www.ets.org which has details about this section. These sample essays are a good source of information about the AWA and there is mention about the scoring as well in the PDF. For practice try to get your hands on some good AWA review. Take up one type of question of this section at a time, finish practicing it and then go on to the next. It is ideal to take the analysis of an issue first as it gives you practice of presenting your own views. Thus you get into the habit of writing and systematically organizing ideas. Then you can move on to the analysis of an argument questions. This part of the section is more difficult and for obvious reasons. Here you have to use more of logic for the criticism and you can only do justice to the criticism if you have a good control over language. After you write the essays you should get them checked by someone. In fact it will be ideal to prepare with a friend. Your response for analysis of an issue can be used as a question for analysis of an argument by your friend, and vice-versa. Otherwise you can approach your school teachers for help. Remember that each person has a distinct style of writing and you must explore your writing skills. The examiners will go through a number of responses and most of them will consist of similar points. The examiner will obviously get attracted to a style of writing that stands out. You can try to be creative in your presentation, but don't ignore the guidelines of a good essay completely. Stick to the conventions and experiment within limits. Though the section is meant to test how you have developed your analytical writing abilities over years of education, you can considerably hone your skills and increase your scores with practice.
The AWA is scored on a six point scale. A score less than 2.5 means that the examinee has erratic analytical and writing skills and this score would do you no good. A score ranging from 2.5 to 3 is still acceptable and anything higher than 3 is considered good. Score 6 is of course difficult to attain, being the ideal score. Nonetheless it is not impossible. With regular practice and determination you too can get a very good score in this section.
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