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GRE Analytical Writing Basics

When preparing for their GRE, the students forget about two important tasks “Analyze an Argument Task” and “Analyze an Issue Task.” Facing them on the test day, the students may get nervous and, thus, fail the test. We assure you that underestimating these tasks is a huge mistake. No matter what great writing skills you have, it is necessary to practice your GRE analytical writing skills before the test day. The GRE writing section is pretty challenging but we guarantee that following the efficient suggestions provided in our guide, you will be able to enhance your competence.

How to Write a GRE Issue Essay?

First, we recommend you to look through GRE analytical writing samples to find out how such an essay should be written, structured, and formatted. Pay attention that the issue assignment will present an issue statement (s) along with the specific prompt telling how to respond to this specific issue.

Here is an example:

To be a good leader, a person should influence their followers.

Write a detailed response in which you will agree or disagree with this claim and explain your reasoning by giving real-life examples. When answering this prompt, make sure to indicate the ways in which this statement might or might not be true and tell how these considerations define your own position.

  1. First and foremost, you need to select the angle and stick to it. The good thing about GRE analytical writing is that you can choose any angle since your writing is opinion-based. For instance, when examining the particular issue, you can:
  • agree with it;
  • disagree with it;
  • agree with the issue partially;
  • demonstrate the validity of the issue with the help of strong evidence;
  • agree with some points but refute the rest of the statement.
  1. Second, create a plan. Remember that you have only 30 minutes for answering your prompt. Thus, you need to use your best writing skills to make your writing as clear and concise as possible. Jumping from one idea to another, you will not be able to write a coherent response. Therefore, we recommend you to take a minute to create an outline that will help you put your ideas in the right order. Make sure to include the key ideas, arguments, and examples in your outline.
  2. Third, write your answer. When writing your response, make sure to keep your target audience in mind trying to answer the questions that may appear in their heads. Do not try to write your answer perfectly because you will have an opportunity to revise it a bit later. For now, try to focus on the writing process itself.

How Long Should a GRE Essay Be?

There is no clear requirement regarding the length of the GRE response. If your essay if six-paragraph long, it does not mean that you will automatically receive a good grade and, on the contrary, if your essay is just three paragraphs long, it does not mean that it will bring you a failing grade. However, at the same time, having a good topic, you will find it rather challenging to develop it only in three paragraphs.

Usually, your response should follow the common essay structure. These paragraphs are as follows:

  1. An opening paragraph (an introduction);
  2. First body paragraph;
  3. Second body paragraph;
  4. Third body paragraph;
  5. A concluding paragraph.

The main rule you should remember about GRE writing is that a high grade will not necessarily help you get admitted to the top graduate program but a failing result will definitely reduce your chances of getting a positive decision.

GRE analytical writing helps evaluate the student's critical thinking skills. Also, it evaluates the student's capability to communicate and support the ideas with strong and reasonable evidence, design and test good arguments, as well as get engaged in the intelligible and clear discussion on the specific issue.

What Are the Main Components of GRE Analytical Writing?

The GRE analytical writing measure includes two unique tasks:

  • - An “Analyze the Argument” task (30 minutes);
  • - An “Analyze the Issue” task (30 minutes);

An “Analyze the Argument” task requires a thorough analysis of a specific argument according to a precise instruction. In particular, you need to evaluate the argument instead of telling whether you agree or disagree with it.

An “Analyze the Issue” task aims to present an objective opinion on some issues. For instance, you can be asked to address some political, economic, social, or historic issue. To address the prompt well, you need to consider all the nuances of your topic and develop your argument supporting it with a good rationale.

It should be noted that these two tasks always complement each other. Thus, you need to put maximum attention and dedication to each of them.

What Is a Good Analytical Writing Score GRE?

Although the GRE analytical writing measure consists of two separate tasks, there is a single score for them. Basically, the test assesses the student’s analytical skills, which means that it aims to evaluate the combination of critical thinking skills (the ability to reason and support the multi-faceted ideas with strong evidence), good grammar, and writing mechanics.

The scores are usually reported in half-point increments and range from 0 to 6. Thus, the score ranging from 5.5 to 6 is very good. However, at the same time, it gives no guarantee that it will help the student get accepted.

At the same time, the score under 3.0 will bring some problems since it shows that the writing and analytical skills of the student are not good enough. This flaw can influence your ability to build the arguments correctly. Also, it indicates the poor organization of your ideas, as well as the ability to build the sentences correctly. Actually, such a low analytical writing GRE score is the red flag for the admission officers showing that you will not fit the rigorous school environment of the particular educational institution.

Below, you will find the common scores you can receive along with their detailed characteristics:

  • 5.5. This score is excellent. It means that your essay is in-depth and insightful demonstrating a thorough understanding of the sophisticated concepts and theories. Also, your essay is written in an appropriate language;
  • 4.5. This score is rather good. The essential difference between this score and the excellent one lies in the depth of analysis. Also, the structure of your sentences is more simple.;
  • 3.5. This is also the acceptable score but it is not as good as the previous two. It means that your answer is adequate and satisfactory enough.
  • 2.5. This score is worse than the previous results, but still, it is ok. It tells that you have shown the general writing competence but your response was not good enough. Perhaps, the analysis is too shallow or the ideas are mixed.
  • 0.5. This score is very low, which means that your response was off-topic, confusing, or irrelevant.
  • This is the lowest score that shows that you failed to address the prompt given.

How Should One Incorporate GRE Analytical Writing

The GRE has three major sections, which are as follows:

  • Quantitative reasoning;
  • Verbal reasoning;
  • Analytical writing.

However, this does not mean that you should dedicate 1/3 of the time allowed on quantitative reasoning. You may wonder how the admission officers decide which essay should be evaluated by 5.0 score and which one deserves 4.0. Both scores are considered good enough. The fundamental difference between these two scores is in the depths of the writer's understanding of the topic.

On GRE quant and GRE verbal, the higher is the better, however, when it comes to GRE Analytical Writing, the higher the score the student gets, the better. However, considering that the difference between 4.0 and 5.0 is not very big, this is all about “are you above 3.0?” Thus, if you have 3.5, you are definitely ok and there is nothing to worry about.

The best way to treat your GRE analytical writing preparation is as follows:

  1. Above the average score (4.0+). If you have a score of 4.0 and higher, you can limit the amount of time on the writing practice and invest this time into other sections of the GRE. Remember that good planning is the integral requirement for getting academic success;
  2. Average score (ranging from 2.5 to 3.5). If you have this score, you need to spend some time on the GRE Analytical Writing preparation. However, there is no reason for concern or intense training;
  3. Below average score (less than 2.0). As it was already noticed, such a low score will raise the red flag for the admission officers. Therefore, the student needs to spend a considerable amount of time on the preparation.

In other words, when going your analytical writing GRE preparation plan, you should take your score into consideration. For instance, if you are scoring 4.0 and more, you can jump to the preparation for other sections of your GRE test. However, if your score is lower than 3.5 you need to demonstrate your best qualities to improve it and prove that you really deserve to get accepted to the specific educational institution.

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