Using time wisely is extremely important for the GMAT AWA. You have just 30 minutes to write a 300-word essay. Given the short time, you may be tempted to dive right in to writing; this is a mistake. If you begin writing immediately, you will find it difficult to follow your critique all the way through without making mistakes in organization. Instead, take time to think about what you will be writing and create an outline first.

Here is a basic breakdown of how to use your time:

1. Dissect argument (3-4 minutes)
2. Select your points (4-5 minutes)
3. Outline (about 1 minute)
4. Type essay (18-20 minutes)
5. Proofread (2-3 minutes)

PART 1: Thinking about the essay

Sample question:

The problem of poorly trained police officers that has plagued New York City should become less serious in the future. The city has initiated comprehensive guidelines that oblige police officers in multiculturalism and proper ways to deal with the city’s ethnic groups.

Explain how logically persuasive you find this argument. In discussing your viewpoint, analyze the argument’s line of reasoning and its use of evidence. Also explain what, if anything, would make the argument more valid and convincing or help you to better evaluate its conclusion.

Step 1: Dissect the argument (2 minutes)

Arguments will typically be structured in one of two ways:

1) conclusion… because…. evidence

2) evidence…. therefore…. conclusion

What is the topic and scope of the argument?

  • Topic: the problem of poorly trained police officers
  • Scope: a given solution, centering on mandatory classes

What is the argument’s conclusion?

  • The problem of poorly trained police officers that has plagued New York City should become less serious in the future.

What’s the evidence?

  • The city has initiated comprehensive guidelines that oblige police officers in multiculturalism and proper ways to deal with the city’s ethnic groups.

How does the argument use its evidence?

  • It uses evidence of multiculturalism training as evidence to conclude that future improvement is likely.

Step 2: Select the points you will make (5 minutes)

Does the argument make any assumptions? That is, are there gaps between evidence and conclusion?

  1. Multiculturalism training will improve the current situation.
  2. The present police force has poor training in multicultural issues.
  3. The current police officers in the field will go back for retraining.

Under what circumstances would these assumptions be valid?

  1. Evidence making it clear that the present police officers have not already had multicultural training.
  2. Evidence showing that multicultural training makes better police officers.
  3. Evidence showing that untrained police officers will not be teaching in the future.

PART 2: Writing the essay

After you’ve analyzed the prompt and decided on your key points, you can begin making an outline and typing your essay. Be sure to leave yourself a few minutes at the end to check for grammar and spelling errors.

Step 3: Organize (1 minute)

Create an outline. You may even sketch it into the pages provided to plan the spatial aspects of your essay. Follow these tips for your outline:

  1. State a clear thesis for the essay.
  2. Make each heading correspond to a paragraph.
  3. Make sure that there are at least five paragraphs.
  4. Make sure that each heading corresponds to a topic sentence.
  5. Be sure that the beginning and ending paragraphs tie the essay together. These should introduce and sum up the main ideas, respectively.

Step 4: Type your essay (20 minutes)

Each paragraph should have a topic sentence, which relates to the central idea of the entire essay.

The content of each paragraph should support the idea in the topic sentence. For each paragraph, give examples to support the idea or explain the idea completely. Make sure you are constantly referring to the central idea and not becoming involved in peripheral arguments.

Step 5: Proofread the essay (2 minutes)

Check for spelling, grammar, and syntax errors. This is also a chance to check the overall flow of your essay and insert transitions where necessary.

Find local GMAT classes & schedules using our database of over 150 cities.