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

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.


  1. Vipul

    My gre score is 311(a- 162, v-149,awa-2.5)
    Toefl score -86 (w-21)
    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
    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

  2. Pranav Mahamuni

    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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 ?

  7. 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.

  8. 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
    University Of florida
    Virginia Tech
    UC- Irvine
    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.

  9. Tejan Kharangate

    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

  10. 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.

  11. Sundar


    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?

  12. 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?

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

    Please review my profile

  13. Bonjin

    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.

  14. Somya Jain

    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.

  15. Somya Jain

    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.

  16. Dhaval Thakkar

    my gre score is 293 and AWA – 2.0 ielts -6.5 so can i got arlington state university taxsas..?

  17. Radha

    I’ve taken my GRE few days back. And scored
    Verbal: 151
    Quant: 152
    AWA: 3

    Could you please suggest a few good universities to apply for Business Analytics program. And is this score adequate to apply?

  18. Raghu Yelugam

    I have 2.5 in AWA and 322 ( verbal – 152 and quant – 170 ) in other sessions, should i retake test?

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      What is your TOEFL Score? You may be able to use high TOEFL score for low AWA score.

      1. Raghu Yelugam

        Yet to appear for TOEFL, and what score should I target, like a figure that can be said atleast.

          1. Raghu Yelugam

            target: “do the ostensibly impossible but plausible ” 😀

  19. keerthi

    My GRE score – 312
    Quant – 165
    Verbal – 147
    AWA – 3.0
    I am from CSE.I am the topper of my branch and 2nd for the entire 2015 batch.I have decent participation in extra curriculars. worked in IEEE student body and similar things for 2-3 years.I have 1year of work experience as a software developer(a java based product)
    What are my chances of getting into top 30 universities for ms in us?

  20. keerthi

    My GRE score – 312
    Quant – 165
    Verbal – 147
    AWA – 3.0
    I am from CSE.I am the topper of my branch and 2nd for the entire 2015 batch.I have decent participation in extra curriculars. worked in IEEE student body and similar things for 2-3 years.I have 1year of work experience as a software developer(a java based product).

    What are my chances of getting into top 30 universities?

  21. Siddhartha kwatra

    Hi sir thank you for the amazing post. Sir My gre score is 305 (quant=162, verbal=143) and awa of 2.5 should I retake gre exam for M.S in electrical enginneering from sunny buffalo. My toefl score is 98 and scored 27 in writing section.Studied from panajab university and good academics 73%. Please help me sir.

  22. nj


    I have got a score of 321(170-q ,151 – v, 3-awa) .I want to apply for MS in CS. Will the awa score hinder my chances of getting a good university ?

  23. Gurkanwal Singh


    My GRE scores are as follows
    Verbal: 156 :/
    Quant: 170 :)
    AWA: 3.5 :(

    My current GPA is approx 3.4 (out of 4). I also have 6 months work ex in an MNC. I am targeting colleges in top 30. Can you give me some inputs whether i should retake the GRE to compensate my low AWA score? If no, how much should i score in TOEFL so as to have a compensatory effect? I have my TOEFL 20 days from now.

      1. xeonzion

        Hi Mr. Raghuram,

        I scored 321 (Q:170, V:151) and AWA: 3 in GRE; 107 in TOEFL (26+) in each section. I’m from IIT Roorkee. Did EE with GPA of 8.4/10 and have 14 months work ex as Software Developer; want to pursue MS in CS. What cader of universities can I get into with this score? Should I retake GRE on account of my low AWA score?

        1. Amol

          GRE Score: Q-168, V-157, AWA-3
          TOEFL: yet to be taken
          Acads: 72.33% (Distinction in Mumbai Univ)
          2 Projects
          1 conference publication(IEEE)
          I presented the paper in the conference
          Master Diploma in Product Design and Analysis from CADD Centre
          I want to pursue MS in Industrial Engineering.Can i get into any of the top 15 Univ ? If not then which Univ should i aim for ? Also, should i consider re-taking the GRE

          1. Author
            Raghuram Sukumar

            You have good score. Top 15 requires very good SOP and LOR.

          2. Amol

            Should I consider re-taking the GRE because of low AWA scores ?

      2. keerthi

        My GRE score – 312
        Quant – 165
        Verbal – 147
        AWA – 3.0
        I am from CSE.I am the topper of my branch and 2nd for the entire 2015 batch.I have decent participation in extra curriculars. worked in IEEE student body and similar things for 2-3 years.I have 1year of work experience as a software developer(a java based product).

        What are my chances of getting into top 30 universities into cs branch?

  24. giridhar

    my gre score is 308
    but i got low AWA score 2.5
    I want to do MS in computer science. Can I apply with this score or should i take the test again ?

      1. giridhar

        thank you Mr. Raghuram Sukumar. It would be great if you can suggest me some universities.(toefl not given but I am confident that I can secure around 100)

  25. Rishikesh

    My GRE Score is 318(Q : 170; V : 148; AWA : 3.5) I was wondering whether low scores in Verbal and AWA will hurt my chances in my application for ms in civil engineering

  26. Naveen Agrawal

    planing for Fall 16 MS+PhD integrated,GRE 329(Q-170,V-159),I got only 3 in AWA ,should I retake GRE for getting admitted into a good well funded program.

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      Hello Naveen – 329 is wonderful score? Why don’t you apply for PhD directly?
      For Fall 2016, you still have time to retake GRE. When do you plan to take the test?

      1. Naveen Agrawal

        I am not intending to take GRE again but will it be required if I need admission in a well funded program of chemical engineering PhD in U.S.

          1. Naveen Agrawal

            I haven’t taken the TOEFL yet,but is it possible to compensate AWA by TOEFL,also I have 1 publication in reputed journal.will it be sufficient to compensate.

          2. Author
            Raghuram Sukumar

            Aim for 100+ in TOEFL. Let me know if can help you with Admission Strategy for you.

  27. Swapnil

    My GRE score is 311(Q-162 v-149)/ awa-3.0 I wish to apply MS in Electrical Engineering whose min requirement is GRE -304 and awa-3.5. I am in dilemma , since my awa is less than that required, so if whether it would be futile if I apply to it?

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      I think 3.5 will get into most schools. What is your TOEFL score?

  28. Sailaja A


    My GRE score is
    170- Quant
    161- Verbal
    AWA -3.5 :(

    I have got 8+ years of work experience in the same field where I want to pursue my MS (Electronics Engineering).
    My Academics are strong enough (Topper throughout with few medals as well).
    Secured awards in my work as well.

    With this background, Can I hope for IVY League Universities? Please advise if I need to re-take GRE?

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      Hey, you should try for Ivy. What matters is your entire application package and factors. How you project yourself is that maters for Ivy. If you need help with Admission Strategy, let me know.

  29. meghjeet vartak

    I hav given my gre got 293 with awa 3
    For less gre score i took it again and got 303(Q160 /V143) awa 2
    Now whn i hav gre decent score it all wentlow in awa.
    Accads 56%
    Mechanical eng.
    What to do..if i take gre again i m sure i cant get gre 303….. :-(
    Shud i apply?

  30. murali


    I got a gre score of 307( v-147, q-160) awa-3.0 , my GPA- 8.76 what are the chances of getting an admission for spring -2016.

    Any thing regarding this issue will help me a lot

  31. murali


    I got gre score of 307( v-147, q-160) awa-3.0 , my GPA- 8.76 what are the chances of getting an admission for spring -2016.

    Any thing regarding this issue will help me a lot

  32. rishika

    I got 140 in verbal, 160 in quant and 2.0 in awa. I am applying for Wake forest university of north carolina and Greensboro university. So shoul i retake the test because of low awa?

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      AWA is low. You should re-take and try for 310+

  33. mallikarjunasastryt

    Sir, I have a gre score 314( v153, q161) AWA 3, from NIT W, Cgpa: 7.1, industry exp 1 year. Mechanical engineering. How good you think my changes would be?

    1. Author
      Raghuram Sukumar

      Good score. Admission depends on how well you an market yourself via application package.

  34. Naveen


    I scored 146 in verbal and 156 in Quant. My AWA score is 2.5. My academic CGPA is 8.52 . Should I retake GRE?? because of low AWA. I am applying for SJSU, CSU East Bay, CSU Sacramento and Sunny buffalo. Please help me out as time is running out for me to apply for fall-2015.
    Would like to here you from you soon.

  35. Mayur Vira

    My GRE Score is 308 (Q154 V154) AWA 4.0 & TOEFL socre is 92, opting for CS, My agrregate in Engg is pretty low at 56%. Realistically what are my chances of getting into decent colleges or should I take a re examination since my quants section is low

  36. Kunal Shah

    My gre score is 308( Q=162, V=146 and awa=2.0 )
    is it worth applying to the universities, or should I retake gre?
    before AWA score was in my hand I had shortlisted following uni.:
    ASU, UTD, Sunny buffalo, IUB, sjsu, san diego, syracuse
    but now I am really confused.
    any suggesion……

  37. Karthik

    My gre score is 309(awa-2.5 quant-160,verbal-149)
    acads 72%(6 sems)
    ece dept
    what are my chances with san jose state univ,texas tech univ,uncc(charlette),SUNY buffalo
    plzzzz sir

  38. Rakesh

    Hi My gre score is 311( Q-163, V-148 and AWA- 3.0)…

    what are my chances?

  39. Sriahreendra

    my gre score 323(quant 166 verb-157)toefl111(writng-24 rest -29) but my awa is 3,0 should i retake gre
    my cgpa -7.99 nit warangal ece

  40. nikhil

    hey i got 325 in gre with 4.5AWA..what are my chances for top 20 colleges?

  41. roja

    Hiii…my gre score is 294(verbal-139,quant-155 and AWA-2)…is awa score hurts me in applying universities??anyone plz suggest me…..

  42. Rib

    Hii!! I got a 320(V 157 Q 163) and 3 in AWA..Should i retake my exam on account of my low AWA score :'(. Thanks.

      1. Rib

        Thanks a lot for your reply. But, getting into top 30 Computer Science based university is not possible with the current AWA score right?

      2. Rib

        What should be my line of action if my aim is to get into top 30 computer science based university? Should I give a reexam on account of the low AWA but there are chances that my verbal and quant score take a dip, or should I try to minimize the effect of my low AWA( by writing a good SOP and possibly a good toefl score) Thanks.

        1. Raghuram Sukumar

          Why don’t you take TOEFL and take it from there.

          It’s possibility for GRE score to go down as well. But, in that case you need to report both scores.

  43. deekshith

    Hi my awa is 2.0 , gre 305 excellent academic credentials what sre my chances

  44. Anusha

    Under grad CGPA-8.5
    Work experience- 3yrs
    Opting for MIS in good universities. What do you suggest?

  45. vamsi

    Hi,I have got 295 in gre(verbal 142,quant 153) and awa 2.5.I want to do ms in computer sciences in good colleges.will i get.should i retake the test?

  46. anil kumar

    i have got 300 in GRE (quants-157,verbal-143) ,but with a low analytical writing score of 2 ,and i have got 7 in ielts . so is there any chance of getting admitted in moderate universities . please help me so that i could proceed forward.

  47. rahul

    :( quant is 155 and verbal is 137 awa – 2 im completely blank donno what to do plz help me. any chances to get an admission?

      1. deepthi.raavi

        i had score in gre (verbal-138 & quant-147) and awa 2. i am retaking my test .what is the score i should get in gre and in awa and how much should i score in ielts to get admission into good schools in u.s? pls help me……
        and when is the deadline for fall 2014 intake in universities with scholarships?

  48. ADI

    I Got 300in gre 152 verbal 148 in quant awa yet to come AWA 2.5.tofel 96 UG i have 58% (3 backlog).Can i go with this score

  49. arun

    I have a GRE Score of 311 ( Q:162, V:149) but AWA is 2.5
    TOEFL score is 95 ( Writing : 24). I have 2.5yrs of experience now.
    I am applying for MS in Embedded System. Will I face any problems because of Low AWA.

  50. Ankit

    My GRE score is 305 with Q-161 ,V-144,but AWA 2.5.
    So are there any chances of me getting in colleges like ASU , NCSU etc.
    PLS do reply, and thanks in advance.

  51. shivam gupta

    My credentials are as follows:-
    college- NIT
    Toefl-105 (writing-26, speaking-20)
    Gre- quant-166
    awa- 3 :(
    what are my chances in Carnegie mellon??

    1. Your well wisher

      I think that your high toefel score (eps. your writing skills) coupled with a good Academic record will compensate the deterrent effect of your low awa score.

  52. Chetan Khurana

    Hi My gre score is 309( Q-162, V-147 and AWA- 2.5)…
    I am afraid because of low awa score. Will it be hurdle for me to get into good universities like ASU, USC, NEU, UTD???

    1. suresh_adi

      Hi All….Plz plz help me out…
      GRE Q(160)…V(145) and AWA(2.5)..
      Whether my AWA is too low for looking out MS in CS????

  53. Nishant

    Hi Sir. I recently took GRE exam and scored 304( 158 quants and 146 in verbal). I have a year of work ex and 70 % undergrad score. I am applying for MS in ECE for fall 2014 for universities like Stony Brook, Buffalo SUNY University of North Carolina. Should i retake the exam or let it be so.

  54. Saurabh

    I got AWA score 2.5 with Verbal- 147 and Quant- 168
    I’m from NIT and my GPA is 7.00
    I’m not focusing on top university, but I want good scholarship.
    Can I get scholarship with this score.

  55. ramya

    i took the gre old pattern in 2011. i got
    now i planned to go…
    with these score can i get an admission

  56. rahul

    hi hsb,
    i got 289 q152 and v 137 and awa 1.5 is there any chance of getting admin to universities

  57. rahul

    last time i wrote gre i got 289(q-152,v137) and awa 3.0 …………..this time i got 310(q-157,v 153) and i think my awa was very poor and i think i will get around 1.5 or 2.0 what should i do .this they any chance of getting adms into univsty and does it effect my visa also ……plz suggest me

  58. Prince


    my gre qyants is 154..
    gre verbal is 143….
    Awa is 1.5…..

    where i have to post this query…. i reallly don’t have any idea can you please guide me where is that forum section……for evaluation of my profile…..

    1. HSB Counselor

      Hi Prince, For suggestions on Universities you can apply to post your query in the forums section under appropriate thread.
      We would be happy to guide you moving ahead!

  59. Deepiga

    My gre score is 309 with qa – 156 , va -153, awa – 3. Where do i stand? Is it good to secure an admission for ms in computer science eng.

    1. HSB Counselor

      Hi Deepiga,
      Yes your scores are good and you can apply for admissions in to MS CS programme. For University selection and shortlisting you can post your profile details in the forums section.
      Good day!

  60. jenny

    I have got 156 in Verbal, 165 in Quant, but 3.0 in AWA. Is there still a chance for me to apply to Ms. Operation Research Degree, or even MFE in Columbia Engineering department? Should I retake the GRE?

    1. HSB Counselor

      Hi Jenny, GRE score is not the only admission criteria. In order to comment upon your admission chances we need to know your other profile details such as academics, your work experience, and such relevant details.
      Operations Research otherwise is a competitive programme to get in and you need a strong Mathematics background for the same.
      In order to know appropriateness of your profile for the concerned programme share as much details as possible.
      All the best!

  61. ASHISH

    @ Raghu :
    Hey Raghu could you please uoload/send Top 30
    Universities GRE codes list

  62. Princess

    Quant- 155
    Want to apply fr ms in biotechnology or microbiology.
    Is it enough score or should I reappear.

    1. HSB Counselor

      Yes the GRE scores are on a lower side. Admissions into Biological Sciences programs are quite tough. In case you have had a good research experience in bachelors, you can apply with current scores. Otherwise my advice would be to retake test, back your profile with some good research projects and then apply.

  63. rajarshi ray

    if you have a consistent reading habit then it becomes very easy to score in this area. i got 3.5 without any preparation.

    1. piyush

      i got 3.0 in awa and 306 in gre …. i have to retake gre or this score is good enough for an average college, MS in computer science engineering…

      1. HSB Counselor

        Your GRE score looks good. Share your individual section scores for better assessment. For profile evaluation and suggestions on Universities you can apply to, post your query in the appropriate thread in the forums section.

        1. piyush

          my gre qyants is 158..
          gre verbal is 148….
          Awa is 3.0…..

          where i have to post this query…. i reallly don’t have any idea can you please guide me where is that forum section……for evaluation of my profile…..

          1. HSB Counselor

            Hi Piyush,
            Post it in the forums section under an appropriate thread. Your scores are otherwise decent enough to apply for Fall admissions.

            All the best!

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