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About the GRE Analytical Writing Section


Many years ago the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) very different -- analytical reasoning was tested by multiple choice questions. Scholars disagreed with this approach to assessing analytical thinking and the GRE Analytical Writing Section was born.

What Does the GRE Analytical Writing Section Assess?
The writing section examines your ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively, support your ideas, examine claims and supporting evidence, sustain a focused and coherent discussion, and effectively use the elements of standard written English.


  • Analyze an Issue Task (30 minutes)
    The Analyze an Issue Task presents an opinion on an issue of general interest. Your task is to evaluate the issue, consider its complexities and develop an argument with reasons and examples to support your views. The task is to construct your own logical argument.
  • Analyze an Argument (30 Minutes)
    You are presented with an argument. Your task is to critique the argument and discuss whether it is a reasoned argument by assessing its claims. The task is to critique the argument of someone else.

How is the Writing Section Scored?
Two trained readers assess each essay on a 6-point scale. They use holistic scoring, which means that they assign scores on the basis of the overall quality of your essay in response to the assigned task. If the two scores differ by more an one point, then a third reader is called in. Final scores on the two essays are averaged and rounded up to the nearest half-point to provide a single score for the section. The emphasis is on examining your critical thinking and analytical writing skills rather than grammar.

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