Can I skip AWA and IR Section in GMAT?

Well, we all are aware about the GMAT test constituents: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Integrated Reasoning (IR), Verbal Reasoning (VR) and Quantitative Aptitude (QA). Yet, the another known fact is the GMAT score is the average score of quant and verbal out of 800 and the score of AWA and IR are mentioned separately on the score-sheet. Often students ponder to skip the AWA and IR sections of the GMAT. With this write-up we have tried to introduce you with the importance and consequences of skipping these two sections.

What is AWA section?

In a nutshell, AWA section asks you to finish one essay based on the Analysis of an Argument within the stipulated time of 30 minutes. The score is gauged on a scale of 0-6 with an increment of 0.5 mark. The assessment of the essays are done by two ways: (i) by automated system which involves an essay scoring engine, have the capacity to evaluate the essays in more than 50 linguistic and structural factors; (ii) by manual readers. In case of discrepancy of more than one mark between the automated and manual reader, then expert reader is responsible to mitigate the difference and reward the essay genuinely.

What is Integrated Reasoning?

The Integrated Reasoning (IR) is a non-adaptive test section. The

Integrated Reasoning questions are designed to resemble problems you will encounter in business school and in your career. The Integrated Reasoning section is the only section of the GMAT that gives you access to an onscreen calculator — but don’t be tempted to over-rely on the calculator; IR questions are designed to test complex reasoning far more than simple computation.

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Format: 12 questions, some with multiple parts
  • Tests ability to solve complex problems using data from multiple sources

Your IR score does not count toward your 200–800 total score. You receive a separate IR score from 1 to 8. The Integrated Reasoning section consists of four different question types:

However, that raises another question: if the IR score does not figure as heavily as the Quantitative and Verbal scores do with business schools, how should you prioritize it in your GMAT prep?

JUST HOW ‘IMPORTANT’ IS AN IR SCORE? NO ONE REALLY KNOWS FOR SURE

Kaplan, however, didn’t measure exactly what “important” means. By and large, schools pay the most attention to the overall GMAT score, with greater emphasis placed on the quant side. The total GMAT score, which ranges from 200 to a high of 800, does not include the IR score which is separate. A recent survey by Poets&Quants of MBA admission consultants found that the overall GMAT is getting more weight than ever in admission decisions. The consultants estimated that GMAT scores account for more than a fifth of the weight—21.7%—in business school admission decisions, with nearly 16% given to the total score and an additional 6% to the quant score breakdown.

After a GMAT score, the consultants believe the following parts of an MBA application are most important: essays (14.5%), admission interviews (12.1%), undergraduate GPAs (10.3%), recommendation letters (7.6%), employer prestige (7.3%), college or university attended (5.9%), and extracurricular involvement (5.7%).

Far less significant, believe the consultants, are such factors as the number of years of work experience (4.7%), a candidate’s industry background (3.1%), international experience (3.0%), undergraduate major (2.4%), or fluency in other languages (1.4%). How an IR score fits into this mix is uncertain. Still, the latest responses collected by Kaplan represent quite a turnaround from previous surveys.

  1. AWA and IR scores are the snapshot of critical and analytical thinking skills

Remember that admissions committees are subjective. Now some may respect your decision to skip the AWA in order to conserve energy for the remainder of the test, but others may judge that someone who skips the AWA has a poor work ethic. Remember, you’re applying to Business School.

Also, the score will remain in the system for 5 years and you never know what you might need your scores again for. What if you decide to reapply to business school, apply for a scholarship, or have a potential employer that asks for your GMAT scores?

If you skip them, you will be given a score of 0. The schools will definitely notice this, will want an explanation, and may discount your GMAT score because they know you didn’t spend an hour writing essays first (as everyone else did).

So, as Eric said, don’t skip them. Work on beating the average (about a 4, so aim for a 4.5) but don’t use the necessary brainpower to get a 6 – that will just tire you out for the rest of the test.

Many schools look at the AWA as a “checklist” kind of item: they’re looking for a minimum score and, if you don’t hit that minimum, you’re almost certainly going to get rejected regardless of your other qualifications (unless you provide an excellent reason for your AWA problems).

Further, if you’re applying to very competitive programs, the AWA could very well be a tiebreaker. Schools with 2000+ applicants almost certainly will see someone with similar work experience, GPA and 200-800 score to you. If that person is similar to you except for AWA, then the AWA could decide who gets in.

You’re applying to a competitive graduate program – do you really want the ad comm to see a big fat zero on anything?

Generally, admissions committees use the essay scores to judge whether or not you actually wrote your application essays to the school. If you write a fantastic admissions essay filled with prose worthy of a Pulitzer but get a 2.0 AWA score, the admissions committee’s going to be suspicious.

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