How to Write an Impressive GRE Analytical Essay

There are two parts to the GRE Essay section. This section is called the Analytical Writing Assessment, and consists of an ‘Issue’ essay and an ‘Argument’ essay. You will have 30 minutes for each essay, and you should aim to be clear, coherent, and valid in your points. A good score will show graduate schools that you have strong critical thinking skills, English skills, and can make a coherent argument.

Issue Essay

In this type of essay, you will be presented with a general statement or opinion of some sort, related to politics, social issues, or education. You will have to take a stance on whether you agree or disagree with the statement, and explain your reasons for the same.

Argument Essay

The prompt here will be a situation where you will have to analyze the logic shown in the situation. You should evaluate the evidence provided and clearly present your arguments in a coherent fashion.

Grading scale

The essays are scored in a scale of 0 to 6, in 0.5 point increments. Your score will be the average score given by two graders. A zero means your essay did not make any sense, which is equivalent to submitting a blank page. A six means your essay consistently shows excellent arguments, command over the English language, and you were able to dissect the prompt well.

Tips to score well on this section

  • Be structured. Although there is no specific word or page limit for test takers in this section, graders prefer to read a short essay that makes strong arguments, rather than a long essay with weak arguments. Aim to include an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion in your essay. If each paragraph is roughly 200 words, the total should be around 1000 words. Considering you have 30 minutes for each essay, this is enough time to cover your arguments in a reasonable amount of words.
  • Providing examples – be picky about adding examples to your essay. Make sure they are relevant to your argument, and use real life examples whenever you can. It shows that you can think critically and you are aware about cultural, political, and social events.
  • Try not to use first person in your essays, especially in your introduction and conclusion paragraphs.
  • If there are assumptions in the prompt, discuss them and give examples to in support or against.

Practice! There is no substitute for this, as it builds confidence and familiarity with this section.