Tips & Tricks to Ace the GRE Analytical Writing Section


Anyone preparing for the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section of the test knows that writing an essay for a timed test is more difficult than writing an essay for a college assignment. If English is not your first language, the GRE AWA score may get more attention, regardless of the type of program to which you apply. Grad schools sometimes use the GRE AWA score as a measure of your ability to express ideas in written English.

Some graduate schools clearly specify the minimum GRE AWA requirement, and it is best to check these requirements beforehand. A good GRE score (Quant + Verbal) with a low GRE AWA score can adversely affect your chances of admission.

Investing some time regularly for GRE AWA preparation will help you avoid last-minute challenges before your actual GRE written test. Too many GRE test takers tend to leave the AWA preparation till the last minute – for obvious reasons, this is not an ideal way to prepare.

How to Improve Analytical Writing Skills for GRE? It is important to note that writing for the GRE AWA does not require you to have formidable GRE writing skills, nor does it require in-depth knowledge of the topics. In addition, essays with flowery writing and rhetoric aren’t always the best essays for a top GRE AWA score.


Types Of Writing Tasks In GRE Analytical Writing

The Analytical Writing section on the GRE exam has one writing tasks: GRE Issue Task. A candidate gets 30 minutes to complete task. Candidates preparing for the GRE have a plethora of course materials, tests, essay topics and sample answers available at their disposal. The GRE program has published an entire pool of GRE analytical writing tasks from which the test tasks are selected.

In the Issue Task, the candidate is required to respond and analyze a general statement, the themes of which could be related to politics, education, or culture. The candidate is expected to evaluate the issue, consider all the complex undertones that come with it, and develop an argument with reasons and examples. An example of the GRE Issue Task could be:

‘Scientists and other researchers should focus their research on areas that are likely to benefit the greatest number of people.’

An example of the Issue Task could be:

Milk and dairy products are rich in vitamin D and calcium – substances essential for building and maintaining bones. Many people, therefore, say that a diet rich in dairy products can help prevent osteoporosis, a disease that is linked to both environmental and genetic factors and that causes the bones to weaken significantly with age. But a long-term study of a large number of people found that those who consistently consumed dairy products throughout the years of the study have a higher rate of bone fractures than any other participants in the study. Since bone fractures are symptomatic of osteoporosis, this study result shows that a diet rich in dairy products may actually increase, rather than decrease, the risk of osteoporosis.


How To Attempt GRE Analytical Writing Section?

How to write a GRE essay? Both the writing tasks in the Analytical Writing section of the GRE relate to a broad range of subjects — from the fine arts and humanities to the social and physical sciences — but no GRE task requires knowledge of specific content. These tasks require the type of complex thinking and persuasive writing that a university faculty considers necessary for graduate school success.


GRE Analytical Writing Section Scoring

The GRE essays are scored on a scale of 0-6, first by a human reader and then by a computer evaluator called “the e-rater”. If the score given by the human reader doesn’t closely agree with the score given by the e-rater, then the essay is evaluated by a second human reader. In such a situation, the average of both the human reader scores is declared as the final score.


General Tips to Get Started on AWA Preparation for the GRE

Below mentioned are GRE analytical writing tips to help you ace the analytical section on the GRE.


Take Time to Brainstorm the Topic

First think, then write! While attempting either of the AWA essays on the GRE, first understand the key terms, the instructions and then think of a plan for the essay on the scratch paper provided. Once you have planned the essay, don’t deviate from your plan.


Structure Your GRE Essay

Keeping in mind the limited amount of time that you have to brainstorm and type the GRE essay, it is easy to keep a broad structure in mind. Stick to the following standard essay format and keep it simple:

  • introduction
  • body paragraph 1
  • body paragraph 2
  • conclusion


Use  Effective Transitions

A well-written GRE essay requires more than organization into major sections. Transitions are an effective way of connecting ideas and ensuring that your grader knows what’s coming next in your essay, and transition words help the grader to identify concepts between and within the paragraphs.

Some Transitions that you can use are:

  • consider
  • as an example of
  • first of all
  • not only…but also
  • in addition to
  • as a result
  • moreover
  • because

At Manya-The Princeton Review, the AWA classes aim to get you ready with the three elements that are essential for acing the GRE AWA section.

  • organization
  • depth of ideas
  • writing – grammar, style, and vocabulary

Faculty at Manya-The Princeton Review not only helps you in understanding the requirements of GRE essays but also gives you templates that you can follow to get your essay organized, brainstorming tips to develop examples and reasoning and GRE Analytical Writing Tips required for a high score on the GRE AWA.

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7 Essay Writing Tips to Ace the GRE Analytical Writing

A lot of students find the GRE analytical writing assessment quite intimidating. Finishing a GRE essay in just 30 minutes on a general topic might sound like a doable task unless it’s done.

So, how do you deal with these GRE essay? How to start? What to include? How to score more? If these are some of the questions you are asking yourself, these 7 GRE analytical writing tips can help you right away. These GRE AWA tips are also necessary during your GRE online preparation.


1. Patterns, Patterns, Patterns!

Yes, there is a pattern for everything in GRE AWA. So, the first thing that you might want to do before you start with the official exam is to find some GRE sample essays on the ETS website. Then, look at what other students have written to get a sense of how you might incorporate some of those ideas yourself. Of course, no one’s perfect with essays or the topics you come across, so try to develop examples that assure to address the AWA prompts. This will help you in establishing a set cohesion for your essay.


2. Instructions are Everything

You know why students lose marks. Not just because they have lousy writing skills in the GRE exam. Some students who usually ace essays also end up with fewer marks because of naive ignorance during the GRE exam. You need to understand that each essay in AWA comes with a specific set of instructions expected to be followed by the student. So, make sure that before starting the essay, you take some time to understand the GRE AWA’s instructions.

For instance,
Write a response in which you discuss your views on the policy and explain your reasons for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider the possible consequences of implementing the policy and explain how these consequences shape your position.

Although the first line of the instructions is similar, it slowly deviates towards the end by providing additional or rather more specific information that you would require to furnish the essay (remember that the instructions are always in Italic).


3. Hurry! The Time is Ticking

If you aren’t clear about how much time you spend on each paragraph, then the pacing may be entrapped by different thought processes, and you are simply wasting your time. Managing time in the GRE AWA section is one of the most crucial things in the exam, and if you are failing to plan, you are planning to fail. So, ensure that you are well reasoned in providing dedicated time for the required paragraphs. For instance, we asked a student, and here is how he managed his time.

  • Understanding the prompt and directions – 2- 3 minutes
  • Brainstorming and response plan – 3 minutes
  • 20 minutes for the body paragraphs [ Introduction, body of Analysis, and conclusion]
  • 3-4 minutes of proofreading (spell check, grammar check, vocabulary, punctuations, etc.)

You must also note that your typing speed must match with the 20-minute body pacing. That way, you will be able to write the answer quickly.


4. How Long Should GRE Analytical Writing be?

So, the question many students ask is how many words in the GRE essay they are supposed to write. While some say 350, others say 400, 500, and above. So, is there any official limit for GRE AWA? The answer is no. Because there is no official time limit for the essays, you should devote as much time as possible to GRE writing.

However, the more quality content you write, the more marks you get. Because in GRE AWA – it’s Quality + Quantity. So, if one gets high and the other compromises, then the scale also compromises. So, ensure that you balance both Qs, and you are sure to get a good GRE writing score.


5. Your Examples Strengthen the Essay

When you are writing GRE AWA- Analysis of an issue, it’s essential that the examples are concrete to the topic. On the other hand, if the examples are generic and don’t bolster the claims stated in the GRE essay, there is pretty little to wrap both. For instance, let’s look at these two sentences.

A. In the past, humans had to seek out information in many different environments and aspects of life. Now humans can sit in a chair and type anything into a computer and get an answer.

B. During the workday, chances are high that the employee will interact with a computer that processes information on silicon bridges that are .09 microns wide. In addition, upon leaving home, family members will be reached through wireless networks that utilize satellites orbiting the earth. Each of these common occurrences could have been inconceivable at the turn of the 19th century.
Between A and B, which one do you find more specific? The second one, right? While the former addresses the concerns of technology, it doesn’t produce qualitative illustrations. So, this makes the difference between getting a low score and a high score.


6. Rule! – Do Not Disagree With the Argument

In the analysis of an argument, or the GRE argument essay, if you decide to agree with the argument, it’s the first step towards the most significant blunder. Does it mean that you must disagree? That’s untrue, either.

So, what is expected from the analysis of the GRE argument? – Evaluate. You must evaluate the argument and not agree or disagree. By evaluating the argument, the validity and cogency of the argument will be brought up. Your task is to identify the logical fallacies that the author has made in the argument.
You need to evaluate how the argument must be in a position to strengthen with the right evidence. Yet, it doesn’t happen because arguments that appear in GRE AWA are always biased. So, by evaluating the argument, the loopholes become more apparent. In simple words, you need to challenge the argument with your evaluation.


7. Don’t Cheat the Reader

How did you feel about Avengers Infinity War Part 1 when you found out that the ending wasn’t going to be happy? The question that begged everyone” what just happened?” Do you feel that? The same can be said about the GRE AWA essays if you fail to provide a conclusion. Students write and produce excellent quality writing to lose marks because they thought the conclusion wasn’t necessary.

In a way, you lured the reader with your engaging content and cut him or them off. So, if you want to avoid that, make sure that you compose a small conclusion at the end of the essay. This acts as an indicator that you finished your essay with a certain set of assumptions and conclusions.

These are the big 7 GRE essay tips that are sure to take you ahead in your analytical writing on the GRE. With consistent practice from the ETS website, you will surely be able to deliver the best. So instead of preparing for the essays before the exam, make sure that you spend some quality time practicing. This way, you’ll be able to comprehend the topics in advance. This way, you can improve your GRE analytical writing scores. Remember, the more GRE mock tests one takes, the more competent one is.


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How to write a GRE essay?

Writing a GRE essay requires planning, organization, and strong writing skills, here are the general steps to follow:

  • Understand the Essay Prompt
  • Brainstorm
  • Write a Thesis Statement
  • Write the Introduction
  • Write the Body Paragraphs
  • Write a Conclusion
  • Edit & Proofread

How can I improve my GRE essay writing skills?

To improve your GRE essay and writing skills, practice writing essays under timed conditions and seek feedback from others. Read sample essays and analyze what makes them effective and ineffective.

Focus on strengthening your ability to analyze arguments and present your own arguments clearly and effectively. Work on improving your grammar and vocabulary skills to make your writing more concise and effective.

Is analytical writing important in GRE?

Yes, the analytical writing section is important in the GRE exam. It tests your ability to analyze complex arguments and present your own arguments in a clear and effective manner, and can impact your overall score and chances of admission to a graduate program.

What is the scoring system for the GRE essay?

The GRE essay is scored on a scale of 0 – 6, in half-points increments. Two readers score each essay, and the scores are averaged.

How long should my GRE essay be?

Your GRE essay should be long enough to fully address the task requirements and present a clear argument with specific examples and evidence. The recommended length is around 400 – 500 words.

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