Admission Chances for MS in US With Low AWA Scores in GRE

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Raghuram Sukumar GRE 155 Comments

Questions And AnswersWhen we talk about a good GRE score, AWA scores are generally not given much importance. But Indian students and students coming form non native English speaking countries have to make an extra effort to get acceptable scores in this section.

Some frequently asked questions regarding AWA scores can help you understand how important are AWA scores and how much time you need to spare to prepare for this section.

How does my Low AWA score affect my admission chances?

AWA scores are obviously one of the selection criteria for admissions in US Universities. If you score low you have other credentials in your application to compensate for the low scores. Admission chances would suffer if the department/program you are applying to have got an AWA cut off.

What is a good AWA score?

As mentioned above too, most of the Universities do not have an AWA cut off. But yes Universities would expect you to cross a score of 2.5 at least. Other than this you would find many Universities asking for a score of 4.0. But there is nothing hard and fast.

Is AWA score important for engineering program admissions in USA?

For engineering programs, Quantitative scores are most important followed by verbal section scores and AWA scores. But that does not mean you stop working on this section!

Can my TOEFL writing scores compensate for low AWA scores?

Yes to an extent your TOEFL writing section scores can help compensate for the low AWA scores but not for departments/programs which strictly mention their AWA cut off.

Does choice of my program affects importance of AWA scores in admissions process?

Yes like I said before, for engineering aspirants AWA scores may not hold that importance as for students who are going to pursue a program which strongly requires good written and spoken English skills.

Does a retake in GRE is advised to improve upon AWA scores?

Not certainly. I have seen cases where over ambitious students retake their test to improve on AWA scores while their quant and verbal section score takes a dip. Until and unless your AWA scores are abysmal don’t go for a retake. Retake is suggested only in cases with AWA scores less than 2.5.


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  1. Pavan

    Hi,i got 312 in gre(Q-169,V-143) and my awa score is 2.Will my awa score effect to get my admission.I was planning to take Engg Mangement.How much score should i get in Tofel to compensate it.

  2. Marudhu Pandiyan

    I got 293(V-143,Q-150) and 4.5 in awa.
    Can I apply for MS biotechnology in US ?
    Is there any problem in admission? Or should i take gre again?

  3. dwivedi

    Hello ,
    My score is 326 ( V-159 Q-167) AWA-3 TOEFL-103( 27-R,22-S,27-L,27-Writing) .I would like to do phd in health informatics . Pls suggest which universities I should target.

  4. neha

    Hi. I have got 150 in verbal reasoning, 155 in quantitative anlysis, 4.0 in anlytical writing. 110 in toefl. I am interested in pursuing a phd in cancer biology. Please suggest if this is enough or should i retake the gre. Also which schools I can apply.

  5. Beant Kaur

    hlo sir, my gre score is 312. Quant 162 and verbal 150, a/w 3.5. I want to go for postgraduation in management in us in spring 16. What toefl or ielts score you suggest i require for admission in a good university?.

  6. Vardhman

    Hi, My gre score s 300 Q-157, V-143 n AWA-2. Can I get addmission in decent university. I m applying for MS in Structural engineering(Civil). N i will take toefl in nxt month.

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      300 is Average GRE Score and that should help you get into schools. Get 90+ in TOEFL.

      1. Vardhman

        My AWA score s 2. Will it affect in admission process?

        Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone

        —- Raghuram Sukumar wrote —-

          1. Vardhman

            Will I repeat gre or not? I am Confused coz I want a decent college. What should I do SIR

          2. Author
            Raghuram Sukumar

            GRE of 300+ gives you several options.

        1. Akhilesh

          Hiiii srikanth I also got 2 in awa and 305 overall score, I don’t know wat to do, we have similar scores so, please tell me if you know any? I am planning for fall 2016 interested in doing ms in electronics

          1. Author
            Raghuram Sukumar

            You can compensate with high TOEFL score.

  7. Manish

    Hii I got a GRE score of 303(W-157,A-146),expecting 6.5/7 in ielts.I have two years of work experience in core embedded systems company and a very successful project in the undergrad.I have secured 84% in BE and 86% & 89% in 12th n 10th.I am planning to do MS in embedded systems in fall 16.I am planning to apply for NYU poly,RIT,IIT Chicago,Northeastern University,SUNY Buffalo and Arizona State University?Is the list good??plz suggest me safe,moderate n ambitious universities for my profile.Thank u!!

  8. Dr. Sonal

    Hi,
    I took my GRE and scored
    Quant 157
    Verbal 144
    AWA 2.5
    Toefl i scored 94 writing 25
    I want to apply for Public Health programs for fall 2016
    Kindly tell me wat should i do.

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      Next – Find programs that meet your needs and start applying.

      1. Dr. Sonal

        Sir I am thinking for these public health universities
        1. San Deiogo State University
        2. George Mason University
        3. Claremont Garduate University
        4. Loma Linda university
        5. San Fransisco State university
        6. University of Alabany
        7. University of California, Fresno

        Sir should i apply to these university for epidemiology or environmental health program. ??
        Since, My AWA is low 2.5 , will i have any chance of getting accepted in any of the above universities ? I searched abt AWA requirements, but it wasn’t mentioned any where.. Except for SFSU.
        My GRE 301. V 144, Q 157
        Toefl 94. R 21, L 25, S 23 , W 25

        1. Author
          Raghuram Sukumar

          I can’t comment on universities and how they would match your profile by looking at few lines of data about your scores. To work with me, please look at various consulting services I offer.

  9. kola sai srikanth

    sir, i got GRE 308
    quant 160 and verbal 148 but awa is 2
    and i got ielts 7
    iam worried about awa score as iam trying for ms in mechanical engineering
    plzz guied me wheather it is a prblm or not..?
    if awa is a prblm what i need to do iam applying for fall 2016
    plzz reply me as early as possible..
    thank you..

  10. shreyas

    Hello sir ,
    my quant & verbal score is 147 .
    I got a mere 3.5 in AWA.
    I have an aggregate of 78% in engineering ( Mechanical ) . Do i stand a chance to get an admit in any good universities in the US. I am planning to apply for fall 2016. If i retake GRE in January, will it be late to send my applications?

  11. Kishore

    My GRE scores are
    Quants-154
    Verbal – 142
    AWA – 2.5

    Looking for uga PhD program in bio technology. Please advise on my chances or should I retake gre

  12. Vipul

    My gre score is 311(a- 162, v-149,awa-2.5)
    Toefl score -86 (w-21)
    Cgpa-6.97(mechanical)
    2 internships
    1 participation in India-US technology summit & knowledgexpo
    I want to pursue MS in mechanical engineering or automotive engineering
    Shortlisted universities-
    Purdue university
    Clemson university
    Ohio state university
    MTU
    University of south Carolina
    University of Texas Dallas
    Kettering university (I heard that this university is good for automotive engineering )
    If you have any other universities in mind please do inform me

  13. Pranav Mahamuni

    Hello,
    I have got 310 in gre (164 Q, 146 V) but got only 2.5 in AWA.
    Want to pursue MS in mechanical.
    Undergraduate aggregate – 63% (pune university)
    12th – 75%
    10th – 88%
    Internship – 15 days
    Publication – 8
    Conference – 1
    CAD softwares – Catia, UG-NX, Pro- E, Auto cad
    CAE – Hypermesh, (basic knowledge of Ansys)
    Should I retake GRE just because of low AWA score? Or should i proceed with this score? Waiting for my toefl results.

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      You have ample time to apply for Fall 2016. I think you can retake GRE.

  14. varun

    can i get admit in some good univs? or wat shld i do nw? no more time to tak gre for fall 2016, want to apply,as i hav no hope for improving my score

  15. varun

    i have gre of 296,awa-3,toefl of 91,cgpa -7.65,no papers,internship-3 months.
    can u suggest me some relevant univ to do MIS.

  16. sri

    I took test on 7th october of 2015.I got 141 in verbal
    156 in quant
    2.0 in awa.
    i am worrying about my awa score. Can u please tell how does my awa score affects my chances of admission into ms program?

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      Yes, 2.0 is low score. If your TOEFL is above 100 you may be able to get away with low AWA. If not, retake GRE.

  17. AKhil

    I got 330 in GRE (170 Quant, 160 Verbal) but only 3.5 in AWA. WIll it impact my chances of being admitted into top 10 US universities ?

  18. prashanthi

    hello sir,

    I scored 156 in quant , 149 in verbal, total-305 in GRE , but my AWA score is 2.5 which is worrisome. My academic % is 74 untill 6 semesters. My toefl scores are R-25 , L-24, S-26, W-24, total-99. Could you please let me know if my AWA scores would be a problem for my admission into SJSU, PSU, UTA&UTD. Since there is very less time for me to retake GRE as I am applying for fall 2016, I would like to know about this as early as possible. Thanks in advance.

  19. Aditya Prasad Mishra

    Hi Raghuram,
    I need some help from you brother. I have the following profile. I am applying for MS in Computer Science.
    GRE -316
    V-163 Q-153 AWA-3
    CGPI – 7.91/10 Topper – 9
    Work Exp – 4.5 years in product development and analytics.
    International papers – 1
    National papers – 2
    Did research project in image processing and Neural networks.

    I have shortlisted the following universities
    TAMU
    Indiana
    University Of florida
    Virginia Tech
    UC- Irvine
    ASU
    Stony brook

    Please let me know, if you think this list is okay.

    Also, I want to know on the account of my low AWA scores should I give GRE again ?

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      Sorry man, I don’t do profile evaluation. I have courses and products and blog posts that help you learn and do the work.

  20. Tejan Kharangate

    Hi,
    My GRE score is 305(quant-161 verb-144) awa score of 3.0. I also have a TOEFL score of 98(25- writing). I have completed my Bachelor’s degree in electronics and telecommunications with an aggregate of 71% . What are my chances of getting into one of the following universities:
    University of Texas Arlington
    Illinois institute of technology
    Florida institute of technology
    Or any other university that you can suggest.
    Or should I take the GRE again as I am confident of doing better as I was not well on exam day
    Regards,

  21. Modhurika De

    Dear Guide,
    I have a GRE score of 311, AWA 4.5
    TOEFL score of 105
    1 project (1 month)
    1 paper
    CGPA of 9.06
    I am in the Final year of BTech Biotechnology program at VIT University, Vellore.
    I would like to know which colleges I could apply for, for MS Biology/Biotechnology / related fields.
    Warm regards.

  22. Sundar

    Hi,

    My GRE quant is 170, verbal 155, but my AWA score is 3 :(

    I’m doing Electrical Engineering at IIT Delhi, CGPA – 9.5+
    My TOEFL score is 108 (26 in writing)
    I am planning to apply for PhD in top universities (Stanford, UCB…).
    I have good research experience (2 research projects) and intern from Qualcomm Research, San Diego.
    Will my bad AWA score affect my chances of getting an admit?

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      It could affect your chances. But 108 could help you. Retake GRE?

  23. Roshan

    GRE 307 147 V 160 Q AWA 2.5
    GPA 8.64
    9.8 in CS Courses

    TOEFL ~100

    2 Internships
    1 yr Exp in related field

    what are my chances?

    UFL
    U of Utah
    Stony Brook
    U of Texas,Dallas
    Northeasetern University.
    Indiana University Bloomington

    Please review my profile
    Thanks.

  24. Bonjin

    Hi,
    My GRE Is (Q-161 V-155) and awa is 2.5 :(.My cgpa is around 8.24 on 10 and i hold a minor in maths along with major in ece.I am looking for masters in signal processing field.Currently I hold assitantship in IISc.Are IVY a distant dream ?Can i crack best colls in usa?kindly guide me to shortlist univ and show me a way to build a hot sop.

  25. Somya Jain

    Hi,
    My credentials are :-
    -GRE Score : Quants- 156
    Verbal- 147
    AWA- 3
    -GPA-: 8.1
    – One and a half year of work experience in university lab.
    I want to apply for Fall 2016. Is this GRE score enough to get me into a good college for MS in Biotechnology or should I write GRE again?
    Please help me out!

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      Instead of Biotech, look for other specializations. Salary for Biotech is really low to start. $35,000 in some cases.

  26. Somya Jain

    Hi,
    My credentials are :-
    -GRE Score : Quants- 156
    Verbal- 147
    AWA- 3
    -GPA-: 8.1
    – One and a half year of work experience in university lab.
    I want to apply for Fall 2016. Is this GRE score enough to get me into a good college for MS in Biotechnology or should I write GRE again?
    Please help me out!

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      You have Average score. So, you can try for schools around the same.

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