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GRE Essays

GRE sets two writing tasks (Analyze an Issue, and Analyze an Argument) collectively called the Analytical Writing Section (or Analytical Writing Measure). The tasks are designed to test critical thinking and analytical writing skills. The essays come first on the test - 30 minutes for the issue and 30 minutes for the argument.

  • You have to type your response. Obviously there is no spell-check or grammar check available.
  • The essays are marked by one human reader and one computer program (e-rater)
  • Scores range from 1-6

Analyze an issue

The first task on the GRE is the discussion of an issue. The topic is intentionally open to interpretation, so that you can marshal your arguments in support of a position. It is rather like a debate. A good essay of this type will give highly specific reasons for a point of view, and back up its thesis with suitable examples. Minor errors in spelling punctuation or grammar will not prevent your getting a good mark - poor logical flow and vagueness will.

For tips on how to structure your essay visit our GRE issue page.

Analyze an argument

The second task on the GRE is the analysis of an argument, which tests your ability to find flaws in apparently logical arguments. It does help if you have a basic familiarity with the terms of logic, so that you can successfully identify the premises and assumptions on which a conclusion rests. Here the mark you obtain is directly linked to your ability to evaluate the logic of the given argument and address the specific instructions you are given. With a little training and practice, this task is actually easier than the issue.

For tips on how to structure your essay visit our GRE argument page.

Additional information

Final points

It is a good idea to get someone to review your essays. Get feedback from a teacher or from someone with good language and logical skills. You will not get a good mark if you write too little. If you think your essays are too short, you can ask your reviewer for ideas on what else you could have included. Essays always need good transitions between paragraphs and good logical flow throughout � someone else could spot where you could have improved the flow.

A few minor lapses in spelling and grammar will not count too much against you, but a mostly error-free response will obviously get a better score.

A score of 4 out of the potential 6 is considered �competent�. While it is nice to be competent, it is worth striving to be �good� or very good�, so put in a little extra effort on this section.

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