Ace the Analytical Writing Section

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GRE Analytical Writing Section

What you need to know

The Analytical Writing section of the GRE exam contains two separately timed essays each 30 minutes in duration:

i. Analysis of an Issue

This task assesses your ability to think critically about a topic of general interest and to clearly express your thoughts about it in writing. Each issue statement makes a claim that you can discuss from various perspectives and apply to many different situations or conditions.

ii. Analysis of an Argument

You are presented with a brief passage in which the author makes a case for some course of action or interpretation of events by presenting claims backed by reasons and evidence. Your task is to discuss the logical soundness of the author's case according to the specific instructions by critically examining the line of reasoning and the use of evidence.

Skills Tested include:

i. Concise, effective communication of ideas

ii. Evaluation of claims and evidence

iii. Use of logical reasoning to support ideas

iv. Standard written English

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How to Prepare for

the Analytical Writing Section

Even the most confident of writers should spend time preparing for the Analytical Writing section of the GRE to understand the skills measured and how the tasks are scored. It may also be useful to review the scoring guides, sample topics, scored sample essay responses and rater commentary for each task.

Therefore, it is also important to budget your time to allow sufficient time to consider the issue or argument and the specific instructions, plan a response, and compose your essay. Although the GRE raters who score your essays understand the time constraints and consider your response a first draft, you still want it to be the best possible example of your writing that you can produce under the testing conditions.

Save a few minutes at the end of each timed task to check for obvious errors. An occasional spelling or grammatical error won’t affect your score, but serious and persistent errors detract from the overall effectiveness of your writing and lower your score accordingly.

Published Topics Pools for Analytical Writing

To help you prepare for the Analytical Writing measure, the GRE Program has published the entire pool of tasks from which your test tasks will be selected. You might find it helpful to review the Issue and Argument pools:

Click on the links below to learn more:

  1. About the GRE General Test
  2. Contact Dr. Donnelly about GRE lessons
  3. Read our students' reviews
  4. How is the GRE scored?
  5. GRE Exam - Section by Section
    1. Verbal Reasoning Section
    2. Quantitative Reasoning Section
    3. Analytical Writing Section

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