The analytical writing section is somewhat different than the other two sections of the GMAT. First of all, the analytical section is scored separately from the verbal and quantitative sections. In addition, the writing section is not presented in multiple choice format. Rather, test takers are asked to explore their opinion of an issue or evaluate the strength and effectiveness of a presented argument. Finally, the analytical writing section is scored by a human and an essay grading application. Because scoring is somewhat subjective, as there is no right or wrong answer, the computer score and the human score are compared. If there is a significant discrepancy, the human scorer will make the final determination. Scores on the writing section range from between 0 to 6, and the test taker is required to write two pieces, with 30 minutes allotted for each one.
Question Type 1-Analysis of an Issue
In this first question, an issue will be presented, usually in point/counterpoint format. For example, the importance of protecting the environment may be stated, but the economic impact of such measures may also be stated. The test taker will often be asked which position they agree with more. Then, they must write a persuasive essay to explain their choice and their reasoning. Most of the subjects will be topics that individuals will be familiar with, so there is no need to worry about having a highly sophisticated knowledge of the subject matter in order to do well on this section. Test takers can incorporate personal viewpoints, experiences, and observations into their essay to support their position. Structure is also important, and the essay should be presented in a grammatically correct format. Essays are scored on expression, organization, effective use of supporting evidence, and the correct usage of the conventions of the English language.
Question Type 2-Analysis of an Argument
In this question type, rather than develop an argument about an issue, the test taker is presented with an argument. It is not necessary for the test taker to express their own views on the subject. Rather, they are analyzing the argument itself. The effectiveness of the evidence used to construct the argument should be discussed, and any faulty reasoning or unreasonable assumptions identified. Suggestions for strengthening the argument may also be included. Like the first question type, essays are scored on writing style (expression, organization), the strength of the points presented in the essay, and the correct use of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other elements of the English language.