Writing on the GMAT™: What Do I Have to Do?

Writing on the GMAT™: What Do I Have to Do?

The GMAT™ includes four sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. While the three reasoning sections are multiple-choice questions and assess a candidate’s ability to think critically, apply logic and reasoning, and problem-solve, the Analytical Writing section requires a multiple-paragraph written response.

In this section of the exam, candidates have 30 minutes to plan and write a thoughtful critique of a given argument. This portion of the test measures a candidate’s ability to not only think critically and analytically, but to express those thoughts in a clear and concise way.

What Will the Analytical Writing Test Look Like?

In the Analytical Writing section, you will be given an argument and then be asked to analyze and critique the validity of that argument. This writing task is not an opportunity for you to add your two cents to the conversation or to offer your own opinion or views on the subject, but rather to read and analyze the argument of another. The writing prompt generally includes a writing situation, whereby the “background” of the argument is provided. For example, “This argument appeared in the editorial section of a monthly business magazine.” In this way, you are given the audience and occasion for the argument to better put it into context and to more effectively evaluate its overall effectiveness. Then the argument is provided and directions are given as to what to include in your analysis of the given argument.

What Am I Supposed to Do?

Directions call for candidates to assess how well-reasoned they find the argument and responses should include an analysis of the argument but also of the reasoning and evidence the author uses to support that argument. Consider the counterarguments that the author either uses but may not effectively rebut or counterarguments the author chose not to address but should in order to make the argument stronger. How effective is the overall argument? In your response, include suggestions for how the argument could be strengthened and what would make it more logically sound and persuasive.

What Should I Look for in the Argument Provided?

As you evaluate the argument, consider these types of questions and address them in your response:

  • Is the argument clear and consistent in its presentation?
  • Are there any weaknesses in the argument?
  • What additional evidence could be used to strengthen the overall argument?
  • Are there any counterarguments the author is ignoring and if not, are the counterarguments rebutted thoroughly and logically?

How Should I Evaluate My Response?

In your own response, consider:

  • Is my writing clear and coherent?
  • Are there places that are too wordy?
  • Is the sentence structure varied and the diction appropriate?
  • Are my examples thoroughly explained and supported?
  • Have I effectively used transitions to guide the reader through my train of thought with regard to this argument?
  • Have I included an effective conclusion to bring the writing to a close?

How Should I Prepare for the Test?

To prepare for the Analytical Writing portion of the GMAT™, consider practicing writing in a timed situation. Being able to allocate time to planning and preparation, writing, and revising is important for writing an effective response. You will need time to evaluate the argument and to plan your response. A quick outline can help you organize your ideas and know what details and examples to include and explain. Be sure to proofread before final submission to ensure that you have provided relevant supporting details and examples and explained their purpose. Check to make sure there are no glaring grammatical mistakes, including spelling and punctuation issues.

You can also find more information about all parts of the GMAT™ Exam at Union Test Prep.

Writing on the GMAT

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