writing a gre essay

15 Tips to Help You Write a GRE Essay

GRE Analytical Writing Assessment consists of two parts, where you have to write an Issue essay and an Argument essay. Both of them test how well you can create a convincing thesis statement and defend it in several paragraphs.

Issue topics require you to explain to which extent you agree or disagree with a given statement. You also need to reason the position you’ve taken and consider the ways in which the statement might be true.

In contrast, argument topics ask you to examine some stated assumptions, explain how the argument is related to them and analyze the logic behind the author’s position. 

How long should a GRE essay be?

There are no official requirements regarding essay length, so you won’t get additional scores for writing more words. Your essay will be assessed from the point of view of its quality, so you should pay special attention to logical reasoning and argument analysis. However, you should aim to include five paragraphs into your paper, which are an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Even though there’s no magic number of words that are going to get you the highest score, the statistics prove that 500 – 600 words seem to be the ideal GRE essay length. 

How to write a good GRE essay? 

  1. Learn the topic types 

GRE essay prompts are created in accordance with the seven main themes: education, technology, arts, cities, government and power, philosophy, and intellectual endeavors. Before taking an exam, you can check sample topics in the mentioned areas so it would be easier for you to address different subjects. If you focus on mastering your approach to various topic types, you are more likely to succeed when sitting an exam. 

  1. Read the prompts thoroughly 

Students typically scam the prompts to the task, glossing over the directions given after them in non-italicized letters. The thing is that you should read them thoroughly in order to directly address the question that is asked and get a higher score. 

  1. Manage time wisely  

Bear in mind that you have a time limit for each GRE exam section, and AWA is no exception. So if you want to make the most of your time, you should plan it ahead. You can do it the following way: 2 minutes to read the task prompt, 3 minutes to brainstorm ideas and create an outline, 20 minutes to write the body paragraphs with examples, 2 minutes for revision and editing, 3 minutes to write an introduction. 

  1. Be clear

Probably, the most important requirement set by examiners is clarity. Your essay must be understandable and well-reasoned. You need to give enough supporting points and examples for the position you take. 

  1. Stick to the structure

Large unstructured blocks of text make an essay unreadable. Therefore, you should divide it into short digestible chunks. If you follow a simple formula ‘introduction + four to six body paragraphs + conclusion’, you have better chances to get a high score. 

  1. Use rich vocabulary

Even though there is no need to add fancy words to get a better score, your vocabulary must be intelligent and relevant. Use appropriate language and mix different sentence structures to keep your writing interesting. 

Writing Tips for Issue Essays

An issue essay is the first task in the GRE writing section, where you have to analyze an issue described in the prompt. 

  1. Identify pros and cons 

This type of essay requires you to take a side on a certain topic, so you should make a list of statements that either support or refute the prompt. To go through this stage fast, you can practice brainstorming and making lists in advance, so you won't spend more than a minute on it. 

  1. Take a certain side

Once you compare the number of pros and cons, you can choose which side to pick. It's important to select an opinion that you can most easily support with arguments and examples. Note that you should formulate it immediately, as a part of your thesis statement. 

  1. Provide examples

If you take a look at the best GRE essay examples, you will notice that they have real-world examples showing why something is true. 

  1. Add relevant reasoning

Relate reasoning back to your thesis explaining why something is true. It’s important to note that your reasoning must be relevant and clear. 

  1. Find a point of concession

Even though you have to take a particular position and support it, the Issue prompt also asks you to consider both sides of the argument. In fact, the GRE analytical writing requires critical thinking, so you need to bring up an opposite argument and discuss it. However, your entire essay still must drive the reader back to your opinion. 

Writing Tips for Argument Essays

This is the second task in the writing section where you need to analyze the argument logically. Before taking your exam, learn about the types of arguments in writing samples and read some information on how to present a good argument.

  1. Determine unjustified assumptions

To analyze an argument properly and get a high score, you first need to reveal what assumptions the author is making in the text. Then explain why they are unwarranted and point out the information missing to admit their validity.

  1. Identify logical fallacies

After finding all the assumptions in the argument, you need to analyze it from the point of view of logical fallacies the author has made. 

  1. Never agree with the argument

You should never agree with the argument presented in the task. In contrast, you must refute the logic in the prompt and explain why it’s weak. 

  1. Choose striking examples

To write a top-scoring essay, it would be enough to use three or four examples from the prompt. You should pick those of them that undermine the writer’s point and support your overall argument. Remember that, unlike the Issue task, this one requires you to reveal flaws only. 

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