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

By Raghuram Sukumar GRE 75 Comments Edit

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. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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+

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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……

  12. 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

  13. Rakesh

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

    what are my chances?

  14. 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

  15. nikhil

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

  16. 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…..

  17. 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.

  18. deekshith

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

  19. Anusha

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

  20. 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?

  21. 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.

  22. 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?

  23. 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

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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????

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. ramya

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

  31. rahul

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

  32. 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

  33. 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!

  34. 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!

  35. 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!

  36. ASHISH

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

  37. 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.

  38. 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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