GMAT – AWA is one tricky bastard

February 10, 2013

Coming Wednesday will be the day of the test, and I am starting to look forward to it. Not because I think I will do particularly well, more because I just want to have it over with. When I started with studying it was fun. You do some questions and after a while you get the hang of it. Your scores improve and it becomes fun to be able to “crack” the harder questions. Almost like you are outsmarting the creators of the question.

The red and blue book are the ones I used the past week.

The red and blue book are the ones I used the past week.

But in the last weeks it is starting to become a bit boring. I am still making some silly mistakes and my scores are not really improving anymore. The last week I went through the “blue and green” GMAC books which mainly consist of loads of test questions.

Since the start of studying I monitored the exact amount of minutes I studied for the test and I kept track of how well I scored on practice questions. The reading comprehension and critical performance is going pretty well; I am able to answer about 90% of the questions from the GMAC books correctly. Data sufficiency and problem solving are a lot harder already with scores around 75-80%. The good news is that these scores could be higher if I am really concentrating on the questions and not answering them too quickly when I think I know the correct answer. These questions are filled with answers that seem right but are too easy to be right.

My progress in answering test questions. In red the results of the red book, in blue the results of the blue and green books. At least there is upward trend.

My progress in answering test questions. In red the results of the red book, in blue the results of the blue and green books. At least there is an upward trend.

My main point of concern is sentence correction. As you can see in the table above I am just answering about two-thirds of these questions correctly. The main reason for this should be obvious; I am not a native English speaker.

This past week I also started with the online content of “The Princeton Review”. Here you can practice online tests that are simulations of the real test. I think this is a good way of preparing for the actual test because you will get used to the computer format and the amount of time the test will take. To my shock my scores were not that well; first practice test I scored a mere 570 and the second and third both resulted in a 620 score.

Screenshot of the Princeton Review online content

Screenshot of the Princeton Review online content

This was also the first time I tried out the AWA – Analytical Writing Assessment. Here you have 30 minutes to write an analysis of an issue and 30 minutes to write an analysis of an argument. In the study books they showed great examples and when you read through them it does not seem hard to make. But when I started to write it all went so slow. First I do some brainstorming but not much is coming out. After that I start typing but when I finish the second paragraph I only have like 5 minutes left. So I quickly write a conclusion and try to edit my writing to get rid of the biggest mistakes. Looking back at what I wrote I must say I am not really happy; there is not much depth in the analysis and it is too short. When I compare this with the examples in the book I can hardly imagine someone being able to write such a piece within 30 minutes without having seen the questions up front. It appears this AWA is still one tricky bastard I need to crack in the coming days. 

For questions/remarks you can contact me at: eric@stuckinthailand.com

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