The GRE Analytical Writing section tests a candidate’s critical thinking and analytical writing skills. A good score in the AWA indicates that the candidate can effectively articulate and support complex ideas, construct and evaluate arguments, and conduct focused and coherent discussions. It is crucial for every test taker, even the most skilled writers, to spend some time preparing for the Analytical Writing measure before taking the test.
At least one trained rater scores each Analytical Writing essay using a six-point scale. Afterward, the e-rater engine scores it by identifying features of writing proficiency through a computerized process developed by ETS. Whenever the human scorer and e-rater scores closely match, the final score is the average of the two scores. If not, then another human score will be obtained.
Read more: GRE Analytical Writing Section
Scoring a 4.0-5.0 on the GRE Analytical Writing is considered good, and a 5.5 or 6.0 is considered exceptional.
The published topic pools for the Analytical Writing measure are as follows:
- Issue Topic Pool. This pool contains all the possible Issue topics for the AWA section of the GRE. The test taker will be presented with one Issue topic from the pool when they take the test.
- Argument Topic Pool. This pool contains all the possible Argument topics for the AWA section of the GRE. The test taker will be presented with one Argument topic from the pool when they take the test.
The complete pools of the two Analytical Writing topics are available on the official website of the ETS for test-takers to review.
The list of test-taking strategies for the Analytical Writing section can be found below:
- The strategies, sample topics, and essay responses of each task of the section should be reviewed before answering the GRE. Studying the scoring guides will also be helpful for test-takers to understand how essays are evaluated.
- Test-takers should budget their time well. Within the 30-minute time limit for both tasks, they must have enough time to consider the issue/argument and the particular instructions, plan a response and compose their essays.
- At the end of each timed topic, test-takers have to spend some time checking for obvious errors. A few spelling or grammar errors won’t affect their score, but repeated and serious errors might affect the score.
GRE test takers may follow these tips or strategies to improve their Analytical Writing scores.
The following are the evaluation criteria for the GRE Analytical Writing section:
- Content. The test-taker should be able to support their reasoning with sound references and examples that are cogent, persuasive, and relevant.
- Organization. The test-taker should be able to present their ideas in an organized way.
- Language. The scorers also take the diction and sentence structure into account when evaluating the essays.
- Grammar. The test-taker must also observe proper grammar and punctuation.
Students should focus on the content and organization as these are the essential areas among the four.
It is important to read the topic and prompt carefully for the first two minutes. The next 2-4 minutes should be dedicated to reading the prompt a second time to make sure that the test-taker fully understands it. This is also the time to provide examples and points. Using the points you had in mind, spend 15 minutes typing the first draft. Spend 5-6 minutes rearranging and re-organizing points in the essay. Spend 3 minutes reviewing the essay and correcting any obvious errors.
A sample timeline of how to allocate time to answering the analytical questions can be found below.
- The first two minutes should be spent understanding the topic and prompt carefully.
- The next 2-4 minutes should be allotted to reading the prompt again so that the test-taker fully understands it. This is also the time to list examples and points.
- 15 minutes should be spent typing up the first draft by using the points that came to mind.
- Spend 5-6 minutes rearranging and re-organizing points in the essay.
- The last 3 minutes should be spent reviewing the entire essay and checking obvious errors.
Only 30 minutes of time allotment is given to each of the Analytical Writing tasks (30-minutes for the Issue task and another 30-minutes for the Argument task).
The points should be written and arranged from the least to the most important. This way of organizing will help build a rising tension that will make the essay more persuasive and allow the writing to have a strong rather than a weak finish.
The following are the general GRE Analytical Writing assessment tips test-takers can follow:
- Identify the different AWA topic types.
- Read the instructions carefully.
- Observe time management.
- Stick to the essay length recommended by ETS.
Test takers can practice these guidelines by working through some prompts available on the official GRE website.
The GRE writing tips for the Issue essay are as follows:
- Make pros and cons statements.
- Take a side.
- All reasoning should be connected to the thesis.
- Give a concession point.
The Issue essay is the first essay the GRE test-taker will see. Students will be required to analyze a prompt, then write a response that agrees or disagrees with it.
The GRE writing tips for the Argument essay can be found below:
- Determine the assumptions.
- Look for logical fallacies.
- Do not agree with the argument presented on GRE.
- Be careful when selecting examples.
The second essay the test-taker will have to complete on the GRE is the Argument essay. This essay requires the tester to examine a logical argument and analyze it.
The top 5 GRE Analytical Writing tips for 2021 are the following:
- Know the different types of topics. The seven categories of GRE Analytical Writing essay topics include: Cities, Arts, Education, Government and Power, Intellectual Endeavors, Technology, and Philosophy. Students may review all possible essay topics on the official website of ETS.
- Read the specific directions that come with the AWA task. The test-takers must read the instructions thoroughly because each prompt in the Issue, and Argument tasks has specific directions.
- Manage time well. The test-takers are only given 30 minutes for each Analytical Writing task. Hence, they should know how to manage their time well.
- Don’t compromise the length of the essay. The length of essays should be adhered to as stipulated by the ETS since only a well-structured essay would qualify for a high score and provide depth to the reader.
- Prepare well for the GRE Analytical Writing. There are available topic pools published on the official website of the ETS for test-takers who want to practice for the GRE Analytical Writing.
These are essential tips that candidates can follow in order to do well in the Analytical Writing section of the test.
Sample Issue and Argument tasks are available from the ETS website. Test-takers can also find sample essay responses that include a comment from the rater explaining how the writing meets the criteria for a particular score from the same website.
Yes, there are test prep companies that offer GRE Analytical Writing courses. Free online resources are also available for test-takers to improve their GRE writing performance.
The list of top GRE prep course providers that can help test-takers improve their GRE Analytical Writing Score is as follows:
- Magoosh GRE
- Princeton Review GRE
- Target Test Prep GRE
- Kaplan GRE
These GRE test prep providers offer courses that cover all the GRE topics, including Analytical Writing.
Read more: Best GRE Prep Course
Yes, there are available GRE books that provide samples, tips, and strategies in preparation for Analytical Writing.
The following are the best books to buy in preparation for the GRE Analytical Writing:
- ETS Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test
- GRE Analytical Writing – Solutions to the Real Essay Topics – Book 1 and 2
- Manhattan Review GRE Analytical Writing Guide
- GRE Analytical Writing Bible: Solutions to the Real Essay Topics
- On GRE Analytical Writing II – Issue Topics that Matter: Issue Pool Solved
GRE test takers can buy Kindle and printed versions of these books on Amazon.
Read more: GRE Books