GRE is an objective test. That holds true for most part of the test. But the Analytical writing section is subjective and it tests you on several things. AWA or Analysis of an Argument is nothing but an essay question where you are given an argument that might be or not be well reasoned. Your job is to invalidate or validate the argument and its individual components. If you have been writing exams that require detailed answers, you would find the AWA part familiar. It is generally clubbed with the verbal section with regard to preparation for GRE.
It’s not a test of your diction. So, if you can use fancy words, this is not the place to exhibit that. AWA is a test of logical comprehension skills and articulation. If you think the author is wrong in his line of reasoning, you bring that out with your reasons. State them. And use this line of thought to extend your answer to a critique of the given argument.
The AWA score is an indicator of your GRE verbal skills. A great application essay that looks like it’s straight out of the year’s best seller with a pathetic AWA score clearly tells the university that you have asked someone else to write your application essay. So, write your own essays. And prepare yourself for AWA.
Here is a sample argument and question:
The following appeared in the editorial section of a monthly business news magazine: “Most companies would agree that as the risk of physical injury occurring on the job increases, the wages paid to employees should also increase. Hence it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer: they could thus reduce their payroll expenses and save money.”
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 answer to this would be a detailed analysis of how the reasoning in the given argument is. If you think the given reasons are badly thought out, state that with your alternate reasons and conclude effectively. Do not go out of scope of the argument.