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It can be confusing, sorry for that. The reason people don't often mention the AWA section, is because the AWA is scored in a different manner than the Verbal and Quantitative sections; the 200-800 score you receive will have nothing, in fact, to do with your AWA, which will score between 0.0 and 6.0 in half-point increments.
People obsess on the GMAT score without the AWA for two reasons. First, they often only see a requirement for a GMAT score, which naturally drives attention to it. Unfortunately for some, the AWA can trip up a promising student if it is out-of-line with the rest of the GMAT. For instance, even a 700+ GMAT can be worrisome if the AWA is 3.0 or lower, because it would indicate that the student might have difficulty expressing ideas and conversation in class, which would lead to lower class grades, a definite obstacle to Admission attractiveness.
Fortunately, while I recommend some practice for the AWA, it really is a simpler mission than a top Verbal score, and much easier than a perfect 'Quant' score. You basically need three things to ace the AWA;
1. Good length, so you can show you are touching all the bases and addressing the issues in detail, not just brushing the surface;
2. Good order, addressing the topic in proper sequence and with a logical structure; and
3. Readibility, because no one likes to read a dry, boring essay.
I got a 6.0 on my AWA by following those three rules. Jot down some notes you want to say, put them in order that presents your argument then supports it, and write in a light conversational tone that is enjoyable if you were the guy who had to read it.
The most valuable thing about the AWA, to me at least, is that if you can put together a good short essay in 30 minutes under the pressure of the GMAT, then you should feel good about your ability to produce a winning essay with your application. Also, once you are in class that same ability will help you stand out in expressing your points and observations.
If you cannot write in a clear and concise manner you should not be attending B-school. Thus, there is no preparation needed for the AWA section.
Although I think that you are correct in that you should be able to write well already, I think that it is important to at least practice writing the essays in the 30 min. allotted for each. I just want to make sure that I am able to divide my time properly for brainstorming, writing, and proofreading.
Check out this awesome article about Anderson on Poets Quants, http://poetsandquants.com/2015/01/02/uclas-anderson-school-morphs-into-a-friendly-tech-hub/ . Anderson is a great place! Sorry for the lack of updates recently. I...