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GMAT AWA Example Essay

Magoosh 2

See an ideal sample argument essay presented for this AWA prompt. 

In the previous post, I demonstrated some brainstorming and identified six objections to this argument.  I then selected three of them as the basis of the essay that follows.  This is one way to go about writing the essay.

Introductory paragraph:

In a memo to the president of Omega University, the music department chair argued that the university should expand the music-therapy program.  This argument is substantially flawed.  The argument presents inconclusive information, offering dubious support, and from this draws unreasonably far-reaching conclusions. 

First main paragraph:

The evidence cited involves ambiguous language.  For example, the argument asserts that the symptoms of mental illness are "less pronounced" after a group music-therapy sessions.  Of course, calm music will have a soothing effect on almost anyone, but can this be considered a legitimate treatment for the mentally ill? Presumably, the benefits of music therapy are neither as powerful nor as long-lasting as those of appropriate medications.  Simply by making the claim that symptoms are "less pronounced", the author has failed to indicate whether the improvement is significant enough to merit any serious investment in this new field. The music chair also cites an "increase" in job openings in the field of music-therapy.  This is another unfortunately indefinite word.  The word "increase" might mean that music-therapy is a wildly burgeoning new field, although nothing suggests that this is the case.  Alternately, the word "increase" might denote, for example, a rise from 60 jobs nationwide last year to 70 this year --- admittedly, this is an increase, although a change across such small numbers hardly would be large enough to warrant any major modifications in a university's programs. 

Second main paragraph:

Having presented such questionable evidence, the music chair then draws a grand sweeping conclusion: the graduates of the university's program will have "no trouble" finding jobs in this field.  Quite rare is the combination of a vibrant professional field and a thriving economy, such that applicants entering this field have "no trouble" finding a job.  Even if there are a plethora of jobs in this mental health niche, how do we know that these jobs would go to recent graduates of Omega University?  Surely practitioners with years of experience, or recent graduates of more prestigious universities, would be preferred for such positions.  Even interpreting the questionable evidence in its most optimistic light, we hardly can expect that this one field will exploded with employment possibilities for Omega graduates.  This conclusion is far too strong, and therefore the request for funding is not well justified. 

Third main paragraph:

This music-therapy program is already in existence, so presumably it has already had graduates leave Omega University in pursuit of employment.  Evidence that all these recent music-therapy graduates found robust job possibilities waiting for them would enormous strengthen the argument.  Curiously, the music-director is silent on this issue.  If we knew the employment statistics of these recent graduates, these numbers would help us to evaluate this argument better. 

Fourth main paragraph:

The music chair draws another untenably strong conclusion when he asserts that expanding this program will "help improve the financial status of Omega University."  When alumni of a university make millions or even billions, and choose to give back in substantial amounts to their alma mater, that undoubtedly strengthens the financial standing of a university.  We don't know the specifics of jobs in music-therapy, but their salaries most certainly do not rival those of hedge fund managers; mental health services are clearly not a field in which practitioners routinely amass remarkable wealth.  Even if the graduates of music-therapy had relatively good job prospects, which is doubtful, having a few more alumni with middle-class to upper-middle class incomes, who, if they choose, may make some modest contributions to, say, the university's annual fund --- this is not an impactful issue in the overall balance sheet of university's total budget.  The claim that these alumni will substantially improve the "financial status" of the university is hyperbolically overstated. 

Concluding paragraph:

This argument is neither sound nor persuasive.   The music director has failed to convey any compelling reasons for Omega University to expend the music-therapy program in his department.

This is a particular long and thorough sample essay, but it gives you an idea of what it takes to get a 6.  In line with the AWA directions, notice that I organized, developed, and expressed my ideas about the argument presented.  I provided relevant supporting reasons and examples --- i.e. I didn't just say, "This is bad," but I provided a cogent and reasoned critique.  Finally, I "controlled" the elements of standard written English: that is to say, (a) I made no spelling or grammar mistakes, (b) I used a wide vocabulary (not repeating any single word too much), and (c) I varied the sentence structure (employing subordinate clauses, parallelisminfinitive phrasesparticipial phrasessubstantive clauses, etc.)  As you write practice essays, check yourself afterwards: is every grammatical form commonly tests on GMAT Sentence Correction present in your practice essay?  That is an excellent standard to use.

How important is it to get a 6 for the AWA?  How important is the AWA section on the GMAT?  As I discuss in that post, the AWA is clearly the least important part of the GMAT, less important than either IR or Quantitative or Verbal, but you can't neglect it entirely.  This sample essay should give you an idea of the standard for which to strive on the Analytical Writing Analysis.

This post was written by Mike McGarry, GMAT expert at Magoosh, and originally posted here.

  1. Mumbi Mumbi

    Dear Mike,
    First of all i would like to acknowledge the good work that you continue to do.Kudos!
    Would it be possible for you to tell me what my score would be in the below essay?


    Parents, if you need a summer camp for your children look no further than Federville Farms. In a recent survey, Federville Farms ranked first in both overall camper satisfaction and in food quality, and second in the variety of outdoor activities. Federville Farms has been family owned and operated for over forty years, so you have nothing to worry about when it comes to your child’s safety, and it employs more Red Cross certified lifeguards than any other camp in the state. If you seek the best camp experience for your children, Federville Farms is the best choice you can make.
    Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.


    The argument above states that’s Federville is the best camping decision that any parent looking to enrol their children to camp should make.The Arthur makes this conclusion based on the overall ranking of the camp site s well as the outdoor activities offered and lifeguards qualifications.The argument is flawed because the Arthur wrongly fully assumes that these attributes are the only attributes considered by parents when selecting camp choices for their children.The Arthur fails to consider other deal braking factors such as;Do parents consider the lessons taught at a camp site important?Is fun and entertainment the only attribute considered when making camp decisions.He also fails to take into consideration the costs that each parent would have to spend for each child as well as the location and security of the camp site.

    Firstly,The Arthur incorrectly assumes that food topping first in overall camper satisfaction and food quality is one of the most important things that parents look for when choosing camp sites.he fails to define what exactly “food quality” is.Does this mean that a child requiring special diet would be catered for or would they have to pay more ?The argument also bases it’s conclusion on the assumption that having Red cross certified lifeguards is an important factor that parents consider.It could be that the security needed around the camp site would require more than just life guards .What if robbers or child abusers were to break into Federville would these lifeguards be competent enough as to deal with them?

    secondly, the Arthur incorrectly assumes that coming second in outdoor activity is a factor that parents would find impressive.He fails to take into consideration that most parents prefer sending their children o camp sites that teach their children life lessons more other than for them to just have fun doing outdoor activities.Also other than these outdoor activities would there be other important lessons taught at Federville for example the importance of a healthy meal, how to protect yourself against a malicious intending person.The Arthur incorrectly assumes than parents take their children to camp sites just to have fun and nothing else.

    Thirdly,The argument in the above article fails to consider and mention what would possible be the most concerning factor to most parents,cost.Most parents would want to know how much exactly they would have to incur in order for their children to attend camp.The Arthur fails to recognize the importance of mentioning the cost implications .Hiring certified lifeguards,serving quality food as well as offering a variety of outdoor activities would cost money. Federville will in-turn pass these costs on to parents enrolling children there.

    The argument above would be improved if the Arthur was to cite the costs implication involved in sending a child to Federville. Also the Arthur should consider several other factors that would be important to parents.If the Arthur was to mention the main activity of the camp.Is it just a fun place for children to hang out or are there other life lessons that children would most definitely benefit from?Without these changes the argument above is implausible and the reasoning flawed.

    Any reply from you will be highly appreciated.

    • Dear Mumbi,
      I’m sorry, but we at Magoosh don’t grade essays. Best of luck to you.

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