GRE Analytical Writing: GRE Essay
In this section, you will be assigned two
topics, the Analysis of Issue and the Analysis of Argument. You will
have 30 minutes for each of them. There is no break between them. About
two weeks after you take the GRE, you will receive a grade from 1 to 6.
The AWA is scored separately from
quantitative and verbal section, but it is rather important to score as
high as possible since the top graduate programs consider it highly
essential for graduate education. So, do not postpone AWA preparation
until the last several days.
The good news is that AWA can be fully
prepared. The test-maker, ETS has published all of its essay topics in
advance. You can easily download them on the websites. To get full
advantage, you should become very familiar with the topic of real essay
1. Visit the ETS website at http://www.gre.org/issuetop.html,
and download the Issue questions.
2. Also download the Argument questions at http://www.gre.org/argutop.html.
3. Quickly read through all of the essay questions. Think about how you
could respond to these essays. If you get time, respond to at least 5
essays for each section.
How essays are scored?
Your essays will be graded by both e-rater
and a human grader. The e-rater is a computer program, designed to
evaluate your writing according to the pre-programmed criteria. If the
computer and human grader differ greatly in their assessments, a second
human is brought into the mix to referee and make the final call. The
final step is to average all four scores (two for each essay and round
the result to the nearest half point. This becomes the AWA score
included on the score report sent to the programs you applied for.
What is a good essay? A good essay will be persuasive in content, well
organized in structure, and clear in English language with, if any, very
few grammar errors.
The E-rater's main impact is to put more
value on highly structured writing and the use of keywords and phrases
that it recognizes. If you do not write your essay in the proper format
for the E-rater it could lead to a lower score. So, be careful for the
following Do and Don't.
• Clearly show your essay organization by
using transitional words or phrases, such as “first”, “finally”,
“therefore”, etc to make your essay highly structured.
• Carefully read our tens of sample responses to Real Essays to get
informed how an E-rater-friendly essay can be.
• Respond to at least five essays each in limited 30 minutes. Make sure
you are able to cover every necessary paragraph on the test day.
• Write an essay like a prose or story.
The E-rater simply doesn’t like this. Rather, your essay should be
logically clear, and succinct in content, more like a summary of
strategy report from McKinsey.
• Never type “threefore” for “therefore”. If you do that, the e-rater
will assume there is no such word.
• Prepare very carefully for each of the 280 questions. There is one
point you should keep in mind. That is, no one can prepare carefully for
everything. Remember, GRE is only one of the criteria that the business
schools consider. (Other factors such as work experience, and
application essays are also very important.)