When taking the ACT essay section, students have 45 minutes to write a well-reasoned argumentative essay about a given prompt. The new ACT Essay prompts tend to be about “debate” topics — two sides of an issue are presented, with no obviously “right” side. Oftentimes, these subjects carry implications for broader issues such as freedom or morality. Test-takers are expected to convey some stance on the issue and support their argument with relevant facts and analysis.
In addition to some of the more obvious categories, like grammar and structure, students’ essays are also evaluated on their mastery of the English language. One way to demonstrate such mastery is through the correct usage of advanced vocabulary words. Below are 50 above-average vocabulary words sorted by the contexts in which they could most easily be worked into an ACT essay.
Context 1: Factual Support For ACT Essay
These words can easily be used when stating facts and describing examples to support one’s argument. On ACT essays, common examples are trends or patterns of human behavior, current or past events, and large-scale laws or regulations.
- Antecedent – a precursor, or preceding event for something – N
- Bastion – an institution/place/person that strongly maintains particular principles, attitudes, or activities – N
- Bellwether – something that indicates a trend – N
- Burgeon – to begin to grow or increase rapidly – V
- Catalyst – an agent that provokes or triggers change – N
- Defunct – no longer in existence or functioning – Adj.
- Entrenched – characterized by something that is firmly established and difficult to change – Adj.
- Foster – to encourage the development of something – V
- Galvanize – to shock or excite someone into taking action – V
- Impetus – something that makes a process or activity happen or happen faster – N
- Inadvertent – accidental or unintentional – Adj.
- Incessant – never ending; continuing without pause – Adj.
- Inflame – to provoke or intensify strong feelings in someone – V
- Instill – to gradually but firmly establish an idea or attitude into a person’s mind – V
- Lucrative – having a large reward, monetary or otherwise – Adj.
- Myriad – countless or extremely large in number – Adj.
- Precipitate – to cause something to happen suddenly or unexpectedly – V
- Proponent – a person who advocates for something – N
- Resurgence – an increase or revival after a period of limited activity – N
- Revitalize – to give something new life and vitality – V
- Ubiquitous – characterized by being everywhere; widespread – Adj.
- Watershed – an event or period that marks a turning point – N
Context 2: Analysis
These words can often be used when describing common patterns between examples or casting some form of opinion or judgement.
- Anomaly – deviation from the norm – N
- Automaton – a mindless follower; someone who acts in a mechanical fashion – N
- Belie – to fail to give a true impression of something – V
- Cupidity – excessive greed – Adj.
- Debacle – a powerful failure; a fiasco – N
- Demagogue – a political leader or person who looks for support by appealing to prejudices instead of using rational arguments – N
- Deter – to discourage someone from doing something by making them doubt or fear the consequences – V
- Discredit – to harm the reputation or respect for someone – V
- Draconian – characterized by strict laws, rules and punishments – Adj.
- Duplicitous – deliberately deceitful in speech/behavior – Adj.
- Egregious – conspicuously bad; extremely evil; monstrous and outrageous – Adj.
- Exacerbate – to make a situation worse – V
- Ignominious – deserving or causing public disgrace or shame – Adj.
- Insidious – proceeding in a subtle way but with harmful effects – Adj.
- Myopic – short-sighted; not considering the long run – Adj.
- Pernicious – dangerous and harmful – Adj.
- Renegade – a person who betrays an organization, country, or set of principles – N
- Stigmatize – to describe or regard as worthy of disgrace or disapproval – V
- Superfluous – unnecessary – Adj.
- Venal – corrupt; susceptible to bribery – Adj.
- Virulent – extremely severe or harmful in its effects – Adj.
- Zealot – a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals – N
Context 3: Thesis and Argument
These words are appropriate for taking a stance on controversial topics, placing greater weight on one or the other end of the spectrum, usually touching on abstract concepts, and/or related to human nature or societal issues.
- Autonomy – independence or self governance; the right to make decisions for oneself – N
- Conundrum – a difficult problem with no easy solution – N
- Dichotomy – a division or contrast between two things that are presented as opposites or entirely different – N
- Disparity – a great difference between things – N
- Divisive – causing disagreement or hostility between people – Adj.
- Egalitarian – favoring social equality and equal rights – Adj.
Although it’s true that vocabulary is one of the lesser criteria by which students’ ACT essays are graded, the small boost it may give to a student’s score could be the difference between a good score and a great score. For those who are already confident in their ability to create and support a well-reasoned argument but still want to go the extra mile, having a few general-purpose, impressive-sounding vocabulary words up one’s sleeve is a great way to tack on even more points.
To learn more about the ACT test, check out these CollegeVine posts:
Angela is a student at Cornell College of Engineering. At CollegeVine, she works primarily as ACT Verbal Division Manager. She enjoys teaching a variety of subjects and helping students realize their dreams.
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Introduction to GRE Analytical Writing
“Getting to know everything about the writing section on the GRE will not only fetch you a perfect score, but also help you become a better writer”…
Getting a 99 percentile score on either of Verbal and Quant sections on the GRE requires several weeks, if not months, of diligence, patience, practice, and smart prep. But with only a fraction of the hard work you put in for Math and Verbal, and just a few days of practice, you can easily get a 99 percentile score on the AWA section. Plus, getting a 6.0 on the AWA isn’t a regular occurrence, and only about 8000 test takers around the world do it every year. So, if you can be one of those guys, you will be famous not only among your friends, but also among the admissions committees.
Unfortunately, the AWA is the most neglected section on the GRE. Test takers across the world believe that they can easily master AWA in a day or two. And look at what they end up with: The average AWA score of a GRE test taker worldwide is a mere 4.0, and the average AWA score of an Indian test taker is even lower. Now, to most Indian students, getting a 4.0 on the AWA might seem like an impressive feat. But in reality, 4.0 is considered just average in most countries. And on top of it, getting a 6.0 isn’t really as tough as it seems. It is only that you don’t know how.
If you are looking to score a perfect 6.0 on the AWA section, you will have to be a lot more planned than most other students. Just as with the Verbal and Quant sections, mastering the essay section on the GRE requires the same amount of confidence, persistence, and practice. And in addition to all that, you will also need a solid guide that can help you with all the strategies and tips. You will need an AWA Bible, so to speak.
But sadly enough, there isn’t much useful information on the internet about this frequently neglected section. Yes, there are some good articles and sample 6.0 essays that you can get with a simple Google search, but nowhere on the internet is a definitive guide to help you write a 6.0 essay on the GRE. And that is why, we at CrunchPrep, decided to provide you with a complete, advanced guide to scoring a perfect 6.0 on the AWA. And hey, don’t blame us if the 6.0 percentile goes down from 99 to 80 soon.
What is the AWA all about?
The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) portion of the GRE consists of two essays, each of which you will need to write in 30 minutes or less. The two essays you will see on the GRE are, Analysis of an Issue and Analysis of an Argument. These two essays will always come first on your GRE test, no matter what. You cannot simply skip off AWA, move on to the other sections, and come back later. AWA itself is a separate section, and only after you finish writing the two essays can you move on further.
Despite what most students say, you should remember that the AWA only tests how well you can write an essay, and hence measures only your writing abilities. Contrary to popular opinion, the AWA does not analyze your thought process. As long as your essay sounds logical, writing ability is all it measures. We will be discussing more about this in the upcoming sections.
How important is the AWA?
It is a widely known fact that your AWA essay score is not as important as your composite math and verbal score on the GRE, and getting a 5.0 or 6.0 won’t make or break your chances of getting admitted to the university of your choice. Graduate school admissions officers only bother about your AWA score, if it is too low, or significantly lower than their usual class average. Yes, a poor score on the AWA can definitely send up a red flag, and the admissions committee will certainly think twice before letting you in. Sometimes, they even go to the extent of rereading your SOP and LORs, to find out if they were actually written by you or someone else. So, it is rather safe to say that the AWA score is an important enough factor when it comes to admissions.
What is the score range for AWA?
The AWA score ranges between 0 and 6.0, with 0.5 point increments. But what exactly does it mean to get a 6.0, or 4.0 or for that matter, a 0 on the AWA? Well, the scoring system is designed in a way that your responses to each of these essay questions are scored on a 6-point scale, with 6 being the highest score and 1, the lowest. Given below, are the parameters that ETS looks at when grading your AWA essays:
6.0 – Outstanding:
A well-articulated critique of the argument/issue, demonstrating mastery of effective writing, and displaying the following characteristics:
- Clearly identifies and analyzes the most important features of the argument with deep insight.
- Develops cogent ideas, organizes them logically, and connects them properly without sudden transitions.
- Supports the main points of the critique strongly.
- Demonstrates superior control of the English language, including diction, sentence formation, spelling, grammar and syntactic variety used in standard written English.
- Few to no flaws in the essay.
5.0 – Strong
A well-developed critique of the argument, demonstrating good control of writing, and displaying the following characteristics:
- Clearly identifies the important features of the argument and analyzes them thoughtfully.
- Develops ideas clearly, and connects them logically, with appropriate transitions.
- Gives a very sensible support to the main points of the critique.
- Has clear control of language, including diction and syntactic variety
- May have minor flaws like spelling errors, but no major flaws.
4.0 – Adequate
A satisfactory critique of the given argument, demonstrating decent control of writing, and displaying the following characteristics:
- Capable of Identifying and analyzing the main features of the argument.
- Develops and organizes ideas satisfactorily, but some important connections and transitions may be missing.
- Supports the main points of the critique.
- Demonstrates sufficient control of language, but may lack syntactic variety.
- May have many minor flaws or some major flaws.
3.0 – Limited
A satisfactory essay with clearly flawed critique of the argument, demonstrating little control of the elements of writing, and displaying the following characteristics:
- Does not identify or analyze many of the important features of the argument.
- Has limited logical development and no proper organization of ideas.
- Offers support of little relevance and value for points of the critique
- Uses language imprecisely and/or lacks sentence variety
- Contains occasional major errors or frequent minor errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
2.0 – Seriously Flawed
An unsatisfactory essay with serious weakness in analytical writing skills, and displaying the following characteristics:
- Demonstrates no understanding of the main features of the argument.
- Almost no analyses of the main points have been made.
- Does not develop any ideas or is disorganized
- Provides nil to few relevant evidences.
- Has frequent serious problems in the use of language, grammar, spelling, and sentence structure.
1.0 – Fundamentally Deficient
An essay full of fundamental deficiencies in analytical writing skills, and displaying the following characteristics:
- Provides little to no evidence of the ability to understand and analyze the main idea.
- Failure to develop an organized response.
- Contains severe and persistent errors in language and sentence structure
- Has an unusually frequent pattern of errors in grammar, usage, and logic.
- A totally incoherent response.
0.0 – Unscorable
A paper that is totally illegible or obviously not written on the assigned topic. A score of zero is given to responses that come under one of the following cases:
- The responses are off topic.
- The responses are written in a language other than English.
- The responses are a mere copy of the given topic.
- The responses consist only of random keystroke characters.
- No response.
So, it is safe to say that if you write at least a few sentences in English, you will get a score of 1.0. But rest assured, no university under the sun will accept a score that low.
How is the AWA graded?
Each of your AWA essays is scored on a scale of 0 to 6. Two readers will read your Issue essay and assign it a deserving score and two different readers will read your Argument essay and assign it a score. Each grader will award a 6.0 to the top essays and scores of 0 are reserved for essays written on topics other than the one assigned or written in a foreign language. The graders spend about 30 seconds to 2 minutes on each essay, and give it a score based on pre-defined evaluation metrics such as the overall quality of your critical thinking and writing, as mentioned previously. The graders who evaluate the responses are college and university faculty members from various subject matter areas, including higher education.
Once the readers finish grading your essay, the two scores will be averaged to arrive at a final AWA score. If the grades given by the two readers differ by more than a point, a third, highly experienced grader is brought in to resolve the discrepancy (i.e., determine your final score for that essay).
For each essay, your final score is the average of the scores assigned by the two readers or the adjusted score assigned by the third reader.
Here’s how a typical Analytical Writing score might be derived:
If you earned scores of 6 and 5 on the Analysis of an Issue, then your final score for the Issue essay would be the average of these two i.e., (6 + 5) /2 which equals to 5.5 and if you earned scores of 4 and 5 on the Analysis of an Argument, your final score on the Argument essay would be (4 + 5) /2 which equals to 4.5.
Your final AWA score will be the average of your scores on Issue and Argument essays i.e., (5.5 + 4.5) /2 which equals to 5, which will be your final AWA score.
It should be noted that though your AWA scores range from 0 – 6, about 90 percent of all scores fall between 2 and 5. The average score for the AWA section for all the test takers so far is around 4.2.
Your Analytical Writing Assessment scores are computed and reported separately from the multiple-choice sections of the test and have no effect on your Verbal, Quantitative, or Total scores. Your score report however will not include copies of your responses; only scores are sent. You will receive your essay scores approximately 10-15 days after your test date.
What do graders look for in your AWA essays?
Most students think that essay length the only important factor when it comes to AWA scoring. But, in reality, it is not. Of course, it is one of the most important factors, but it isn’t the only factor. You will have to take many other factors into consideration, if you are looking to get anywhere near the perfect score. We have complied a list of all the factors that affect your overall AWA score, so you can be well prepared, while improving your writing skills on those lines.
The 7 Elements Graders Look For:
This is the most important, and also the most fundamental of all factors that the graders judge your essays on. The grader should understand what you are trying to say, by reading once. This makes their job easier, and they will understand that if it can be understood with just a single reading, then your essay has clarity.
As we discussed earlier, the grader can spend a maximum of only two minutes per essay, and it is your duty to make sure your essays have clearly composed ideas, because more often than not, graders do not bother to reread your essay and waste another couple of minutes. Consequently, you will end up with a score much lower than what you actually deserve.
Ask yourselves these two questions when you are writing the essays. What are you trying to say? What’s your main point? These two questions must have solid answers by the time the grader finishes reading the essay. If you think about it, these are the exact same questions you will have to answer, during Reading Comprehension. Just like how you can easily solve a Reading Comprehension question if you have answers to those two questions, graders assessing your essay will also need to find answers to these exact same questions, if you need a perfect score. Substance matters more than any other factor when it comes to your essays. So, make sure you have solid points, and clear logical reasoning that can be easily understood.
You should have seen it coming; structure is the second most important factor on your essays. The way an article is formatted, has a massive impact upon its readability. Your essays should read like a story; something that can be easily understood, and something that has a proper structure and organization. So, it is important that you break up your essay into distinct paragraphs, each with its own meaning and context, while maintaining a smooth transition between one paragraph and the next.
This way, every paragraph reads like a separate story, and the essay graders can easily scan through your entire response easily. Plus, since the transitions are smooth, and there aren’t any sudden twists in your response, it will make the grader’s job a whole lot easier.
So, ideally, you should have a structure in mind before you begin writing the essay. The general structure is to start with an introductory paragraph followed by 3-4 body paragraphs and finish off with a conclusion paragraph. So, you should make sure that there are at least 5-6 paragraphs in your essay, if you want a solid score on the AWA.
3. Sentence Variety
Even though you are writing several paragraphs on the same topic, you should ideally avoid writing similar or same sentences. If you are an avid reader of news, you get the point. No good writer under the sun writes two exactly same sentences in a single essay or article. Consecutive sentences with the same structure and length can sound monotonous and lifeless, and will obviously bore the reader.
Instead of sounding repetitive and boring, use sentence style skillfully. But this doesn’t mean you should rearrange the words, or chance the voice from passive to active or vice versa. It simply means that you should use a different variety of words to mean the same thing.
For example, if you have already written the sentence ‘The most important virtue of a leader is a strong sense of ethics.’, and if you have to use the same sentence at a later point in the essay, you should try and rephrase that same sentence and write something like this: ‘A strong moral framework is paramount for any leader.’ Get the point?
In this way, you should keep varying the sentence structures, flow and rhythm by switching between short and long sentences. You should also make use of transitional and signal words to vary sentence openings and endings.
There has been a longstanding myth among test takers that the GRE really loves heavy vocabulary, and using it on your AWA essays will boost your score. Well, this isn’t true at all. We have seen students with exceptional vocabulary but poor coherence get paltry AWA scores in the past. And we have seen students with great essay scores without using heavy vocabulary.
Like we said earlier, the AWA is not testing how much vocab you have in your arsenal. There’s Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion for that. AWA only tests how logically you can deduce information and write a reasonable critique about an issue or an argument made by someone else. So, don’t buy those myths. As long as you use sensible reasoning, proper grammar and as long as you can defend your point intelligently and use precise vocabulary to convey meaning effectively, you should be alright. It is not needed that you use heavy vocabulary or GRE words.
5. Language and Grammar
Though officially ETS says you may have minor errors in the essay copy, that doesn’t mean you can ignore silly mistakes. Even though the mistakes or errors do not interfere with overall meaning and coherence, you should understand that the time you make your first error on the essay, the grader will notice it, and will be more conscious while reading the rest of the copy. The grader will be even more vigilant to see if there are any visible or obvious blunders that you have made, and this can have a negative impact on your AWA score. So, try and make sure your essay is as spotless as possible, and eliminate all errors before submitting. Take time to proofread your essay, once you finish writing it. Don’t be in a hurry to submit it off and skip to the next section.
Reasoning plays a key role in determining the overall quality of your essay. You should always look to include as many logically compelling reasons as you can to support your stance. One of the most important features about a compelling essay is its ability to convince the reader by means of sound logical reasoning. Anyone who reads your response should be totally convinced of your view point, without having second thoughts. To be able to write such a compelling and well-reasoned copy within 30 minutes would be rather difficult, but you can definitely do it with a lot of practice.
So ideally, you should be able to connect your ideas properly to the central theme or idea of the essay, and convince the reader to agree to your point of view. If the essay doesn’t sound logical or reasonable, you will unfortunately have to pay the penalty, no matter how long the essay is.
In order to make your essay sound reasonable and logically sound, you will obviously need to provide sufficient evidences. If you want to impress the readers, and convince them to agree to your point of view, you will ideally want to provide convincing evidence to back up your thesis. Search for evidences, either direct or implied, and connect them with the essay. You can even create some random examples and evidences, as long as they fit the bill and don’t sound too random. Develop examples that cogently reinforce your thesis is key to a high essay score.
So, those are the 7 most important elements that graders look for in your essays. Make sure you have all these things covered in your essay, and you’re sure to see a perfect score.
Should you skip the AWA section during practice?
This is probably a question that is on the minds of many students. Almost half of the GRE test takers are native English speakers. And these students tend to neglect practicing the AWA section at home, because according to them, it’s not worth investing time on something they are very confident about. But, there are a few vital points that they don’t realize. We’ve observed what students do when they practice for the GRE, how their approaches have affected their scores on test day, and figured out four reasons as to why the AWA section is an extremely important aspect of the GRE exam.
Number 1 Reason Why Practicing GRE AWA is Important: Inflated Scores During Practice:
This is the single most important thing to consider when we talk about the importance of the essay section. Students normally tend to skip the essay section when they take practice tests, so they can directly go to the first section of Math/Verbal. Though this might seem like the obvious choice to you, you should consider the aftereffects before jumping into conclusions.
Think about it. The GRE is not a typical test that you encounter at college or elsewhere. It is a marathon. An intense, 3 hour 45 minute journey, which obviously you aren’t accustomed to. Now, if you skip the essay section during practice, you’ll be forfeiting 60 minutes of the total test time, which means you are going to have to sit for 2 hours and 45 minutes only.
This translates into an inflated overall score during practice, because you are just that much more active than you will be on test day. So, you get accustomed to sitting for 2 hours 45 minutes for the test, and your brain is hardwired to concentrate for that much time only. But, on test day, you still have two more sections to finish after you complete 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Do you get the point? It’s that extra one hour of concentration that requires sudden attention from your brain, which it sadly isn’t ready for. This is exactly why thousands of students score very low on their last two to three sections. They simply aren’t ready for the extra time, because their brains feel tired already. So, if you don’t skip the essay during practice, you’ll be writing in the exact test conditions as on test day, thereby training your brain for the big encounter.
There are a few other important reasons why you should not skip off AWA during practice, and we have discussed them separately.
How Long Should My Essay Be?
The essay graders are aware that you only get 30 minutes to write each AWA essay and they also know that you won’t be able to cover every possible argument, reason and rebuttal. Hence they do not expect you to write a super long detailed analysis of the issue or argument given to you. Remember that most GRE test takers won’t be able to find time to cover everything they would like to cover on the test.
So, how long should your AWA essay be? We see students wondering about this all the time and we know you would like to know about it too. ETS has not spoken out about the ideal length of an essay, and there is no word on the word limit as such. But there seems to be a pattern that appears on GRE sample essays that come along with the ETS official guide to the GRE.
When closely observed, there is a significant increase in the number of words from a 5.0 graded essay and a 6.0 graded essay. The reality is, longer essay is usually better. To analyze further on this topic, we have done a bit of research, and found out an interesting relation between essay length and the final score. If you look at the statistics below, you will have to concur with me. Longer essays usually score better on every essay topic.
If you are a long-essay fan and insist to pen a high scoring AWA essay on the GRE, you should write anywhere between 500-600 words. Don’t ask us why. The research shows that’s how it is, and if it true for a sample of 500 students, it must be true on a larger scale as well.
A column chart with average word count for essays from 500 students
As you can see, the longer the essay, the higher the grades. Notice that a 5+ point essay has length exceeding 500 words. Another interesting fact is, it seems as if 600 is an upper limit for word count. If you go beyond 600 words, you can see how the scores go down. This isn’t surprising, though. Almost no student on this planet can write a perfect 800 word essay under pressure in 30 minutes. If someone is shooting for a high word count, they are surely sacrificing on quality. So, it’s safe to say that 500-600 is what you should be looking at.
If you’d like to know more about the GRE essay length, we’ve done a separate post on that. Go check it out now.
Categorization of GRE Essay Topics
The most fascinating thing about the GRE essay section is that each and every essay topic that shows up on the real test is already published on the official ETS website. This may sound crazy because giving out the questions in advance is totally unnatural. By knowing the topics beforehand, you can prepare sample responses for all those topics and on the test day, all you need to do is just reproduce your sample response. Isn’t that a great advantage for you? You can get a perfect 6.0 score very easily!
But there’s a catch! You were expecting a few, aren’t you?
Well, there are close to 200 topics in all – far too many to practice responses in advance. Also, practicing each of these topics is not advisable as it is going to take a lot of time and effort and there is no point in mugging them up. You could as well spend this time on learning some math or vocabulary. However, there’s a good news. Just scanning through these two lists of essay topics will give you an excellent idea of the types of issues and arguments that show up on test day.
Now, most of the topics that show up on the GRE Essay section can be broadly grouped into five categories. I made things a bit easy for you and listed those five categories below. Take a look.
- Sciences and Technology
So, next time when you practice writing an essay response, make sure you write at least an essay from each of these categories.
How do I get ideas for the essay?
This is most likely the second most frequently asked question in our support mails by students around the world. It’s because a large number of issue and argument prompts on the official essay pool are hard to understand correctly. And when you don’t understand something, how can you write about that something?
So, what can you do about to solve this problem? Here are a couple of things you should work on:
If you were asked to write about a topic from out of nowhere, you would struggle for ideas. But when you already know that there could only be five categories from which your essay topics can show up, then you can turn the table in your favor. You should keep a few related examples for each one of these categories (i.e. education, arts, politics, technology, philosophy) as they will be handy and save you precious time on the test day.
Also, the essay prompts are full of obscure vocabulary and hence are hard to comprehend. Since, every essay prompt that could appear on the GRE is openly accessible on the official ETS website, you should give them a read through. While reading, you should also make note of all the unfamiliar words and later learn them. Learning these new words will ensure that you understand the topic well or at least allow you to take a very good guess.
How to get your essays graded?
Believe it or not, one of the most frequent questions that we receive from students around the world, is how they can get their essays graded. That is a good question, actually. Given the fact that there are so many practice tests for the GRE where you get your Math and Verbal sections graded, there is not even one practice test in the entire world that can grade your AWA score for you. If you are wondering why, it is because it is not at all easy to grade your essay instantaneously.
Think about it. Even on the test day, you will only receive your Math and Verbal scores, but not the AWA score. ETS itself takes about 7-10 days to give you an official report of your AWA score. It is that difficult to assess an essay. Plus, it is required that a human grader reads and grades your essays, if you want an accurate score. Which is obviously impossible if you are taking a practice test at home.
So what can one do? Is there no way to get your AWA essays graded? Well thankfully, there are quite a few options that you can consider. We’ve listed down all the available options, and it is up to you to decide which of them you want to choose.
5 Ways to Get Your AWA Essays Graded
ETS Score It Now!
The ETS Score It Now, is a great feature available for you to get your essays graded. For a small amount of $13 dollars, the ETS Essay Grader will grade two of your essays. You can submit any two of your essay responses, and the software will get back to you with a graded score of your AWA. Now, for most students around the world, and especially for those from the developing world, $13 is quite a lot of money.
And that is probably the reason why most students don’t even know that such a facility is available. We must agree, that even we at CrunchPrep have never used the service ourselves, or know any student who has, simply because we did not need to. Our expert tutors, on the other hand, have been grading student essays for free for a long time now. But nevertheless, we’re pretty sure that the ETS Score It Now feature will get you an accurate score, because well, it’s ETS who developed it.
And there is one more downside with this feature. The score is all you get, when you submit your essays. No feedback. Now, you would expect that ETS would give you some valuable tips to improve your score, but unfortunately, that $13 you spend is only going to get you a couple of numbers from ETS. So, unless you don’t need feedback, you are really not improving on the essay, and you have money to spend, you should definitely try and consider some other alternatives to this service offered by ETS.
Friends, Family, and Experts
Yes. However unbelievable it might seem, your friends can sometimes help you get better marks. They can help you identify the mistakes you did not find obvious enough, and you also get an outsider’s opinion on your essays, and therefore on your points of view. Now, even though your friends might be untrained, or unaware of the GRE AWA grading system, having a second pair of eyes look at your writing can be really beneficial to finding your flaws. Plus, you receive feedback then and there, right on your face, and it is sometimes the easier way to learn.
But before you let your friends or family judge your essays, you should tell them beforehand that you only had 30 minutes to write your essay, and so they should not expect you to write an award-winning piece. You should also tell them to pay attention to, and then judge you on the following aspects of your essay: structure, logical flow of ideas, and persuasiveness of examples. They should ideally not be looking for impressive words or sentence framing, but it is just an added bonus.
If however, you are too shy to ask your friends or family, try asking an experienced professor at your college, preferably a professor in linguistics or someone who is really good at formal, written English language. These professors not only give you an accurate assessment of your essays, but will also give you valuable insights as to where exactly you can improve your writing skills.
When you don’t have access any professors or wise friends who can help you evaluate your AWA essays, the best option you are left with, is you. Self-evaluation, though most of the time not recommended, can be a really useful option for you. There are hundreds of mock essays on the internet, and with a simple google search, you can get access to various essays for the GRE. Even the ETS website has a few sample answers for essays, and the same questions have sample answers which are purposefully written to mirror a 6.0, or a 5.0 level essay, for example.
So, if you can compare your response with those on the internet, you can roughly estimate whether your answer is closer to the 4.0 or the 5.0 sample. If you can do this a lot of times, you will begin to see a definite pattern, which can help you estimate your average AWA score. Also, most mock essays usually have an explanation at the end, which explain why they have been given their respective scores. This really helps you see if your essay is lacking in similar ways.
This sounds rather difficult, and it actually a really complex and time taking process, which is why you should try and take this approach as a last measure; if you cannot find any other alternative helpful enough.
If you are an internet geek, you would probably agree that sometimes, internet strangers are really helpful in nature. There are many GRE forums like Urch, PaGaLGuY, etc, where you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of GRE experts and aspirants, who wouldn’t mind lending a hand. Thousands of GRE aspirants visit these forums every single day, and if you can post your essay and ask for some feedback, more often than not, someone will provide you with the necessary assistance. While this someone may or may not be an expert, it often helps to have a second opinion from someone in your niche.
Alright. We’ve saved the best for the last. GMATAWA.com is probably the most fantastic resource out there, when it comes to grading your essays. It was developed to grade GMAT AWA essays, but rest assured, there’s not much difference between GMAT and GRE AWA essays. The basic structure of essays is the same everywhere, and this website is really helpful in grading your essays.
The grading happens instantaneously, and as soon as you submit your essay, you will receive a composite AWA score, along with various metrics on which your essay has been graded. We, at CrunchPrep, assure you that, other than ETS Score It Now, this is probably the most accurate AWA rater you will see, and you can expect a similar AWA score on your exam as well. So, make full use of this feature, and assess your writing strengths and weaknesses. However, you should remember that the website allows you to grade only 10 essays per email address, so choose wisely which essays you will be sending.
So, those are the five ways that you can get your AWA scores graded. Most often, more than one of the resources mentioned above will definitely be helpful to you. And by the way, remember this: Only two things can make you a better writer – Practice, and Feedback.