Ask Kate: Does High AWA Make up for Low Verbal on GMAT?

Hi Kate,

Thanks for the detailed post on the scoring and scaling!

I took the GMAT in early May and scored a 680 (Q49, V34, IR6, AWA6). – this is my first attempt

I am a non-native speaker. However, I was surprised with my verbal score because my English skills are pretty good. Also, I am a female candidate from India.

I’m aiming at schools such as Wharton/Kellogg/Stanford/Ross (I intend to do Corporate Stratgy post MBA). Do you think my score will be a problem? Also, does a perfect AWA balance out my average verbal score?

While I dont mind retaking the GMAT, I am going for an international assignment via my company and think I may not be able to focus on the exam.

low verbal balanceHi Ak,

Good work on Quant. The AWA score is considered essentially worthless so no, it won’t balance your verbal score. Six on the AWA is little better than top 50th percentile (at last measure it was 54th).

You probably got the breakdown of your performance – don’t read too much into that, but do take a look. Was one area of verbal particularly weak? My suggestion would be to retake, but don’t sweat hundreds of hours of GMAT problems. Instead, read a a logical reasoning prep text – focus on really, really understanding assumptions and pick up a simple, practical grammar text that has lots of examples. Email me directly and I can send you one of each. You don’t need a heavy duty grammar text – it will cause more harm than good.

The good news is that you will need 1-2 months of reading and re-reading that material and practicing in limited spurts before you’ll be ready to sit. It takes that long for this stuff to really sink in. You can definitely do that while on assignment.

If you were my student, I’d have you retake. You don’t “have to” but it is a really good idea. With great essays and letters you’ll be an okay candidate for 2 of the 4. Your verbal really dinged your overall score. If you do what I suggest your score should move into the 720-730 range. That will be a much better spot for you – you’ll be a great candidate at 2, a decent shot at 1, and “not out of the question” at the last.

All the best!


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