Hey BB.... I agree with you in the sense that I don't think you're AWA score matters for B-school apps, however, do you think it's worth practicing during practice CATs just to build up your mental stamina?
The reason I ask is that right now, I'm doing the CATs but skipping AWA, it's getting pretty hard for me to focus on the last half of verbal. I can imagine with AWA it would be worse. So while it might not be worth studying for the AWA, I think including the AWA as part of practice would be useful to build stamina and mental focus.
You absolutely have to take the AWA section with your tests (at least in the last month before the test).
I am a big believer into not having to waste time on useless things, so the first month as you are prepping for Quant or Verbal, would recommend you take only the Quant or Verbal section of the GMAT.
However, any time you are taking a full test (both sections) - I strongly believe you need to take the entire test with AWA. Need to know how it feels after 4 hrs of pain and suffering - you won't be able to skip AWA on the test.
Founder of GMAT Club
Just starting out with GMAT? Start here... | Want to know your GMAT Score? Try GMAT Score Estimator
Need GMAT Book Recommendations? Best GMAT Books
Co-author of the GMAT Club tests
Have a blog? Feature it on GMAT Club!
GMAT Club Premium Membership - big benefits and savings