The GRE ® General Test
One test for graduate, business and law school
Select a step to learn more about your GRE ® General Test journey.
Overview of the Analytical Writing Measure
Analytical writing measure (beginning september 22, 2023).
The Analytical Writing measure of the GRE General Test administered beginning September 22, 2023, assesses your critical thinking and analytical writing skills by assessing your ability to:
- articulate and support complex ideas
- construct arguments
- sustain a focused and coherent discussion
It doesn’t assess specific content knowledge.
The Analytical Writing measure consists of a 30-minute “Analyze an Issue” task. This task presents an opinion on an issue and instructions on how to respond. You’re required to evaluate the issue, consider its complexities and develop an argument with reasons and examples to support your views.
You’ll use a basic word processor developed by ETS to type your essay responses. The word processor contains the following functionalities: insert text, delete text, cut-and-paste and undo the previous action. Tools such as a spellchecker and grammar checker are not available.
Analytical Writing Measure before September 22, 2023
The Analytical Writing measure of the GRE General Test administered before September 22, 2023, assesses your critical thinking and analytical writing skills by assessing your ability to:
- construct and evaluate arguments
The Analytical Writing measure consists of two separately timed analytical writing tasks:
- The "Analyze an Issue" task presents an opinion on an issue and instructions on how to respond. You’re required to evaluate the issue, consider its complexities and develop an argument with reasons and examples to support your views.
- The "Analyze an Argument" task requires you to evaluate an argument according to specific instructions. You’ll need to consider the logical soundness of the argument rather than agree or disagree with the position it presents.
The two 30-minute tasks are complementary. The Issue task requires you to construct your own argument, while the Argument task requires you to evaluate someone else's argument.
Preparing for the Analytical Writing measure
Everyone — even the most practiced and confident of writers — should spend time preparing for the Analytical Writing measure to understand the skills measured and how the tasks are scored. It may also be useful to review the scoring guides, sample topics, scored sample essay responses and rater commentary for each task.
The tasks in the Analytical Writing measure relate to a broad range of subjects — from the fine arts and humanities to the social and physical sciences — but don’t require specific content knowledge. Each task has been tested by actual GRE test takers to ensure that it possesses several important characteristics, including the following:
- GRE test takers, regardless of their field of study or special interests, understood the task and could easily respond to it.
- The task elicited the kinds of complex thinking and persuasive writing that university faculty consider important for success in graduate school.
- The responses were varied in content and in the way the writers developed their ideas.
Published topic pools for the Analytical Writing measure
To help you prepare for the Analytical Writing measure, the GRE Program has published the entire pool of tasks from which your test tasks will be selected. You might find it helpful to review the Issue and Argument pools:
- Issue Topic Pool (PDF)
- Argument Topic Pool (PDF)
Test-taking strategies for the Analytical Writing measure (in the General Test beginning September 22, 2023)
- Before taking the GRE General Test, review the strategies, sample topics, sample essay responses with rater commentary, and scoring guide for the task. This will give you a deeper understanding of how raters evaluate essays and the elements they're looking for in an essay.
- It is important to budget your time. Within the 30-minute time limit, allow sufficient time to consider the issue and the specific instructions, plan a response, and compose your essay. You want your essay response to be the best possible example of your writing that you can produce under the testing conditions.
- Save a few minutes at the end of the timed task to check for obvious errors. An occasional spelling or grammatical error won’t affect your score, but serious and persistent errors detract from the overall effectiveness of your writing and lower your score accordingly.
How to Use the GRE Essay Pool for Effective Practice
The GRE includes a unique component called the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), where test-takers are currently required to write two essays: the Issue Essay and the Argument Essay. With the upcoming changes to the GRE in September 2023, students will no longer be required to write the Argument Essay.
To prepare effectively for this section, it’s essential to practice with various essay topics. ETS, the organization that administers the GRE, provides an extensive pool of essay topics for both the Issue Essay and the Argument Essay . In this article, we will explore how to use the GRE essay pool for effective practice and enhance your essay-writing skills.
How to Train with the GRE Essay Pool:
- Track Your Journey : Keep records of your practice essays and the improvements you make over time. Seeing your progress can be a great motivator!
The GRE essay pool is like your personal training ground. Use it to hone your writing skills, get comfortable with different essay prompts, and build confidence. Remember to pay attention to structure, organization, and effective use of evidence, and develop your own unique writing style. With enough practice using the GRE essay pool, you’ll be ready to ace the AWA section of the GRE.
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PrepScholar GRE Prep
Gre prep online guides and tips, 328 official gre essay topics to practice with.
ETS has published the complete pool of 328 GRE essay topics which will ever appear on the Analytical Writing section of the test. While these collections of prompts provide unparalleled Analytical Writing practice, some test takers may find the sheer number of possible essay topics to be a bit overwhelming.
In this article, we’ve assembled over 60 official GRE essay topics for both the Issue and Argument tasks and used them to illustrate the 14 different kinds of GRE writing prompts you could see on test day. With this expert analysis, you’ll know how to tackle any GRE essay prompt that comes your way.
feature image credit: Female Typing /used under CC BY 2.0 /Resized and cropped from original.
GRE Essay Topics Pool: How It Works
ETS has publicly listed all the essay topics that will ever appear on the GRE for both the Analyze an Issue and the Analyze an Argument Analytical Writing tasks.
There are 152 different possible GRE essay topics in the GRE Issue pool and 176 different GRE essay topics in the GRE Argument pool , which means it’s unlikely you’ll run out of official prompts to practice with. And while there’s only a 1/328 chance that one of the GRE writing prompts you practice with ends up being on the test, that’s still better odds than if you practiced with non-official prompts, especially if you end up using a lot of practice prompts.
Each set of GRE essay topics can further be broken down by the specific task you’re asked to complete in your answer . We’ll start by looking at the six different possible GRE Issue essay topics.
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GRE Issue Pool
Each Analyze an Issue essay topic “consists of an issue statement or statements followed by specific task instructions that tell you how to respond to the issue” (source: ETS ). The specific words used for the topics might be a little different on the test, but in general what you see in the GRE issue pool is what you’ll get.
ETS also warns test takers that there might be some mix-and-matching of different issues with different task instructions among the prompts , so don’t skip over the prompt if you recognize the issue; it’s possible that you’ll have written about the issue before in response to a different task.
The specifics of the task you’re asked to do differ depending on the prompt, but the core of all the Issue tasks is this one question: Do you agree or disagree with this (statement, view, claim, conclusion, recommendation, policy) and/or its basis?
There are 152 different pairings of issues and tasks in the GRE issue pool. Among these GRE essay topics, however, there are actually only six tasks you’ll be asked to perform , and not all tasks are equally common.
Below, we’ve analyzed these six GRE essay prompts. In addition to presenting each task as it will appear on the GRE , we’ve also determined the likelihood of the task showing up on the test and provided a sampling of the issues that you might see paired with the task.
Issue Task 1: Agree/Disagree With a Statement
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.
What they’re really asking : Explain your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with a given statement .
Number of topics in the GRE issue pool on this task : 54/152 ( 35.5% )
Examples of the statements to be analyzed
- To understand the most important characteristics of a society, one must study its major cities.
- In any field of inquiry, the beginner is more likely than the expert to make important contributions.
- There is little justification for society to make extraordinary efforts – especially at a great cost in money and jobs – to save endangered animal or plant species.
- Unfortunately, in contemporary society, creating an appealing image has become more important than the reality or truth behind that image.
- Government officials should rely on their own judgment rather than unquestioningly carry out the will of the people whom they serve.
- The best test of an argument is the argument’s ability to convince someone with an opposing viewpoint.
- If a goal is worthy, then any means taken to attain it are justifiable.
- The primary goal of technological advancement should be to increase people’s efficiency so that they have more leisure time.
- We can learn much more from people whose views we share than from people whose views contradict our own.
- Any leader who is quickly and easily influenced by shifts in popular opinion will accomplish little.
- True success can be measured primarily in terms of the goals one sets for oneself.
Issue Task 2: Agree/Disagree With a Recommendation
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.
What they’re really asking : Explain your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with a recommendation for a course of action .
Number of topics in the GRE issue pool on this task : 24/152 ( 15.8% )
Examples of the recommendations to be analyzed
- Governments should focus on solving the immediate problems of today rather than on trying to solve the anticipated problems of the future.
- College students should be encouraged to pursue subjects that interest them rather than the courses that seem most likely to lead to jobs.
- Scientists and other researchers should focus their research on areas that are likely to benefit the greatest number of people.
- Nations should suspend government funding for the arts when significant numbers of their citizens are hungry or unemployed.
- Educators should base their assessment of students’ learning not on students’ grasp of facts but on the ability to explain the ideas, trends, and concepts that those facts illustrate.
Issue Task 3: Agree/Disagree With a Claim
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.
What they’re really asking : Explain your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with a claim .
Number of topics in the GRE issue pool on this task : 25/152 ( 16.4% )
Examples of the claims to be analyzed
- Universities should require every student to take a variety of courses outside the student’s field of study.
- It is no longer possible for a society to regard any living man or woman as a hero.
- Critical judgment of work in any given field has little value unless it comes from someone who is an expert in that field.
- In most professions and academic fields, imagination is more important than knowledge.
- Nations should pass laws to preserve any remaining wilderness areas in their natural state.
Issue Task 4: Which view aligns with your own?
Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both of the views presented.
What they’re really asking : Explain which two views you most agree with and back it up with reasoning.
Number of topics in the GRE issue pool on this task : 18/152 ( 11.8% )
Examples of the views to be analyzed
- Some people believe it is often necessary, even desirable, for political leaders to withhold information from the public. Others believe that the public has a right to be fully informed.
- Some people claim that you can tell whether a nation is great by looking at the achievements of its rulers, artists, or scientists. Others argue that the surest indicator of a great nation is, in fact, the general welfare of all its people.
- Some people believe that corporations have a responsibility to promote the well-being of the societies and environments in which they operate. Others believe that the only responsibility of corporations, provided they operate within the law, is to make as much money as possible.
Issue Task 5: Agree/Disagree With a Claim and Its Basis
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim and the reason on which that claim is based.
What they’re really asking : Analyze an issue by explaining your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with not just the claim, but the reason on which the claim is based .
Number of topics in the GRE issue pool on this task : 19/152 ( 12.5% )
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- Claim: When planning courses, educators should take into account the interests and suggestions of their students.Reason: Students are more motivated to learn when they are interested in what they are studying. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim and the reason on which that claim is based.
- Claim: Any piece of information referred to as a fact should be mistrusted, since it may well be proven false in the future.Reason: Much of the information that people assume is factual actually turns out to be inaccurate.
- Claim: Imagination is a more valuable asset than experience.Reason: People who lack experience are free to imagine what is possible without the constraints of established habits and attitudes.
- Claim: Knowing about the past cannot help people to make important decisions today.Reason: We are not able to make connections between current events and past events until we have some distance from both.
Issue Task 6: Explain Your Views on a Policy
Write a response in which you discuss your views on the policy and explain your reasoning 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.
What they’re really asking : Explain your stance on a policy .
Number of topics in the GRE issue pool on this task : 12/152 ( 7.9% )
Example of a policy to be analyzed
- In any field – business, politics, education, government – those in power should be required to step down after five years. Write a response in which you discuss your views on the policy and explain your reasoning 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.
GRE Argument Pool
For the Argument task on the GRE, you’ll be asked to read a short passage containing an argument and then analyze that argument according to instructions.
As with the Issue task, there might be some very slight variations in wording between the way the tasks are written on the test as compared to the way they are online , but for the most part what you see online is what will be on the GRE. Similarly, there may be some arguments that are repeated across prompts in the GRE Argument pool, but they’ll each be followed by a different task, so it’s important to read the entire essay prompt (including the task) before beginning your analysis .
There are some commonalities across all of the essay prompts on the GRE Argument pool page, even beyond the fact that every task asks you to look at some kind of argument and analyze it. Of the 176 possible Argument topics , there are just eight different tasks you’ll be asked to perform, and of those eight tasks, numbers 3, 4, 6, 8 below are all basically different ways of asking you to “evaluate this stance and explain why you’ve determined whether or not it has a reasonable basis.”
Below, we’ve presented each of the eight GRE writing prompts as they will appear on the exam, figured out how likely the task is to show up , and given some examples of arguments you might be asked to analyze.
Argument Task 1: Evaluate an Argument and Evidence
Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.
What they’re really asking : Discuss how different, specific evidence could weaken or strengthen the argument.
Number of topics in the GRE argument pool on this task : 52/176 ( 29.5% )
Examples of the arguments to be analyzed
- The following appeared in a letter from a firm providing investment advice to a client. “Homes in the northeastern United States, where winters are typically cold, have traditionally used oil as their major fuel for heating. Last year that region experienced twenty days with below-average temperatures, and local weather forecasters throughout the region predict that this weather pattern will continue for several more years. Furthermore, many new homes have been built in this region during the past year. Because of these developments, we predict an increased demand for heating oil and recommend investment in Consolidated Industries, one of whose major business operations is the retail sale of home heating oil.”
- The following appeared in a memorandum from the manager of WWAC radio station. “To reverse a decline in listener numbers, our owners have decided that WWAC must change from its current rock-music format. The decline has occurred despite population growth in our listening area, but that growth has resulted mainly from people moving here after their retirement. We must make listeners of these new residents. We could switch to a music format tailored to their tastes, but a continuing decline in local sales of recorded music suggests limited interest in music. Instead we should change to a news and talk format, a form of radio that is increasingly popular in our area.”
- Three years ago, because of flooding at the Western Palean Wildlife Preserve, 100 lions and 100 western gazelles were moved to the East Palean Preserve, an area that is home to most of the same species that are found in the western preserve, though in larger numbers, and to the eastern gazelle, a close relative of the western gazelle. The only difference in climate is that the eastern preserve typically has slightly less rainfall. Unfortunately, after three years in the eastern preserve, the imported western gazelle population has been virtually eliminated. Since the slight reduction in rainfall cannot be the cause of the virtual elimination of western gazelle, their disappearance must have been caused by the larger number of predators in the eastern preserve.
- The following appeared in a recommendation from the president of Amburg’s Chamber of Commerce. “Last October the city of Belleville installed high-intensity lighting in its central business district, and vandalism there declined within a month. The city of Amburg has recently begun police patrols on bicycles in its business district, but the rate of vandalism there remains constant. We should install high-intensity lighting throughout Amburg, then, because doing so is a more effective way to combat crime. By reducing crime in this way, we can revitalize the declining neighborhoods in our city.”
- The following appeared in a memo from the vice president of Butler Manufacturing. “During the past year, workers at Butler Manufacturing reported 30 percent more on-the-job accidents than workers at nearby Panoply Industries, where the work shifts are one hour shorter than ours. A recent government study reports that fatigue and sleep deprivation among workers are significant contributing factors in many on-the-job accidents. If we shorten each of our work shifts by one hour, we can improve Butler Manufacturing’s safety record by ensuring that our employees are adequately rested.”
- The following appeared in a letter to the editor of Parson City’s local newspaper. “In our region of Trillura, the majority of money spent on the schools that most students attend – the city-run public schools – comes from taxes that each city government collects. The region’s cities differ, however, in the budgetary priority they give to public education. For example, both as a proportion of its overall tax revenues and in absolute terms, Parson City has recently spent almost twice as much per year as Blue City has for its public schools – even though both cities have about the same number of residents. Clearly, Parson City residents place a higher value on providing a good education in public schools than Blue City residents do.”
- 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.
- The following appeared in a memo at XYZ company. “When XYZ lays off employees, it pays Delany Personnel Firm to offer those employees assistance in creating resumes and developing interviewing skills, if they so desire. Laid-off employees have benefited greatly from Delany’s services: last year those who used Delany found jobs much more quickly than did those who did not. Recently, it has been proposed that we use the less expensive Walsh Personnel Firm in place of Delany. This would be a mistake because eight years ago, when XYZ was using Walsh, only half of the workers we laid off at that time found jobs within a year. Moreover, Delany is clearly superior, as evidenced by its bigger staff and larger number of branch offices. After all, last year Delany’s clients took an average of six months to find jobs, whereas Walsh’s clients took nine.”
- An ancient, traditional remedy for insomnia – the scent of lavender flowers – has now been proved effective. In a recent study, 30 volunteers with chronic insomnia slept each night for three weeks on lavender-scented pillows in a controlled room where their sleep was monitored electronically. During the first week, volunteers continued to take their usual sleeping medication. They slept soundly but wakened feeling tired. At the beginning of the second week, the volunteers discontinued their sleeping medication. During that week, they slept less soundly than the previous week and felt even more tired. During the third week, the volunteers slept longer and more soundly than in the previous two weeks. Therefore, the study proves that lavender cures insomnia within a short period of time.
Argument Task 2: Examine Assumptions and Implications
Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions, and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.
What they’re really asking : Discuss assumptions made in the argument and how the argument would be strengthened or weakened if the assumptions are wrong .
Number of topics in the GRE argument pool on this task : 50/176 ( 28.4% )
- Nature’s Way, a chain of stores selling health food and other health-related products, is opening its next franchise in the town of Plainsville. The store should prove to be very successful: Nature’s Way franchises tend to be most profitable in areas where residents lead healthy lives, and clearly Plainsville is such an area. Plainsville merchants report that sales of running shoes and exercise clothing are at all-time highs. The local health club has more members than ever, and the weight training and aerobics classes are always full. Finally, Plainsville’s schoolchildren represent a new generation of potential customers: these schoolchildren are required to participate in a fitness-for-life program, which emphasizes the benefits of regular exercise at an early age.
- The following was written as a part of an application for a small-business loan by a group of developers in the city of Monroe. “Jazz music is extremely popular in the city of Monroe: over 100,000 people attended Monroe’s annual jazz festival last summer, and the highest-rated radio program in Monroe is ‘Jazz Nightly,’ which airs every weeknight. Also, a number of well-known jazz musicians own homes in Monroe. Nevertheless, the nearest jazz club is over an hour away. Given the popularity of jazz in Monroe and a recent nationwide study indicating that the typical jazz fan spends close to $1,000 per year on jazz entertainment, a jazz music club in Monroe would be tremendously profitable.”
- The following appeared in a letter to the editor of a journal on environmental issues. “Over the past year, the Crust Copper Company (CCC) has purchased over 10,000 square miles of land in the tropical nation of West Fredonia. Mining copper on this land will inevitably result in pollution and, since West Fredonia is the home of several endangered animal species, in environmental disaster. But such disasters can be prevented if consumers simply refuse to purchase products that are made with CCC’s copper unless the company abandons its mining plans.”
- Humans arrived in the Kaliko Islands about 7,000 years ago, and within 3,000 years most of the large mammal species that had lived in the forests of the Kaliko Islands had become extinct. Yet humans cannot have been a factor in the species’ extinctions, because there is no evidence that the humans had any significant contact with the mammals. Further, archaeologists have discovered numerous sites where the bones of fish had been discarded, but they found no such areas containing the bones of large mammals, so the humans cannot have hunted the mammals. Therefore, some climate change or other environmental factor must have caused the species’ extinctions.
- The following appeared in a memo from the vice president of marketing at Dura-Sock, Inc. “A recent study of our customers suggests that our company is wasting the money it spends on its patented Endure manufacturing process, which ensures that our socks are strong enough to last for two years. We have always advertised our use of the Endure process, but the new study shows that despite our socks’ durability, our average customer actually purchases new Dura-Socks every three months. Furthermore, our customers surveyed in our largest market, northeastern United States cities, say that they most value Dura-Socks’ stylish appearance and availability in many colors. These findings suggest that we can increase our profits by discontinuing use of the Endure manufacturing process.”
- When Stanley Park first opened, it was the largest, most heavily used public park in town. It is still the largest park, but it is no longer heavily used. Video cameras mounted in the park’s parking lots last month revealed the park’s drop in popularity: the recordings showed an average of only 50 cars per day. In contrast, tiny Carlton Park in the heart of the business district is visited by more than 150 people on a typical weekday. An obvious difference is that Carlton Park, unlike Stanley Park, provides ample seating. Thus, if Stanley Park is ever to be as popular with our citizens as Carlton Park, the town will obviously need to provide more benches, thereby converting some of the unused open areas into spaces suitable for socializing.
- While the Department of Education in the state of Attra recommends that high school students be assigned homework every day, the data from a recent statewide survey of high school math and science teachers give us reason to question the usefulness of daily homework. In the district of Sanlee, 86 percent of the teachers reported assigning homework three to five times a week, whereas in the district of Marlee, less than 25 percent of the teachers reported assigning homework three to five times a week. Yet the students in Marlee earn better grades overall and are less likely to be required to repeat a year of school than are the students in Sanlee. Therefore, all teachers in our high schools should assign homework no more than twice a week.
- The following appeared in a memo to the board of directors of Bargain Brand Cereals. “One year ago we introduced our first product, Bargain Brand breakfast cereal. Our very low prices quickly drew many customers away from the top-selling cereal companies. Although the companies producing the top brands have since tried to compete with us by lowering their prices and although several plan to introduce their own budget brands, not once have we needed to raise our prices to continue making a profit. Given our success in selling cereal, we recommend that Bargain Brand now expand its business and begin marketing other low-priced food products as quickly as possible.”
- The following is a recommendation from the personnel director to the president of Acme Publishing Company. “Many other companies have recently stated that having their employees take the Easy Read Speed-Reading Course has greatly improved productivity. One graduate of the course was able to read a 500-page report in only two hours; another graduate rose from an assistant manager to vice president of the company in under a year. Obviously, the faster you can read, the more information you can absorb in a single workday. Moreover, Easy Read would cost Acme only $500 per employee — a small price to pay when you consider the benefits. Included in this fee is a three-week seminar in Spruce City and a lifelong subscription to the Easy Read newsletter. Clearly, Acme would benefit greatly by requiring all of our employees to take the Easy Read course.”
Argument Task 3: Evaluate a Recommendation and Its Basis
Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.
What they’re really asking : Discuss the different, specific questions that would need to be answered to determine how reasonable the recommendation is.
Number of topics in the GRE argument pool on this task : 24/176 ( 13.6% )
- The following appeared in a memo from a vice president of Alta Manufacturing. “During the past year, Alta Manufacturing had thirty percent more on-the-job accidents than nearby Panoply Industries, where the work shifts are one hour shorter than ours. Experts believe that a significant contributing factor in many accidents is fatigue caused by sleep deprivation among workers. Therefore, to reduce the number of on-the-job accidents at Alta, we recommend shortening each of our three work shifts by one hour. If we do this, our employees will get adequate amounts of sleep.” Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.
- Since those issues of Newsbeat magazine that featured political news on their front cover were the poorest-selling issues over the past three years, the publisher of Newsbeat has recommended that the magazine curtail its emphasis on politics to focus more exclusively on economics and personal finance. She points to a recent survey of readers of general interest magazines that indicates greater reader interest in economic issues than in political ones. Newsbeat ‘s editor, however, opposes the proposed shift in editorial policy, pointing out that very few magazines offer extensive political coverage anymore. Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.
- The following appeared in an article in the Grandview Beacon . “For many years the city of Grandview has provided annual funding for the Grandview Symphony. Last year, however, private contributions to the symphony increased by 200 percent and attendance at the symphony’s concerts-in-the-park series doubled. The symphony has also announced an increase in ticket prices for next year. Given such developments, some city commissioners argue that the symphony can now be fully self-supporting, and they recommend that funding for the symphony be eliminated from next year’s budget.” Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.
- Twenty years ago, Dr. Field, a noted anthropologist, visited the island of Tertia. Using an observation-centered approach to studying Tertian culture, he concluded from his observations that children in Tertia were reared by an entire village rather than by their own biological parents. Recently another anthropologist, Dr. Karp, visited the group of islands that includes Tertia and used the interview-centered method to study child-rearing practices. In the interviews that Dr. Karp conducted with children living in this group of islands, the children spent much more time talking about their biological parents than about other adults in the village. Dr. Karp decided that Dr. Field’s conclusion about Tertian village culture must be invalid. Some anthropologists recommend that to obtain accurate information on Tertian child-rearing practices, future research on the subject should be conducted via the interview-centered method.
Argument Task 4: Evaluate Advice and Questions
Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the advice and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the advice.
What they’re really asking : Discuss the different, specific questions needed to determine if the advice and the argument it’s based on are reasonable .
This task is pretty much the same as task 3; the main difference is in the way the prompt is worded (as advice vs. a recommendation being given).
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Number of topics in the GRE argument pool on this task : 2/176 ( 1.1% )
Examples of the advice to be analyzed
- The following appeared in a newsletter offering advice to investors. “Over 80 percent of the respondents to a recent survey indicated a desire to reduce their intake of foods containing fats and cholesterol, and today low-fat products abound in many food stores. Since many of the food products currently marketed by Old Dairy Industries are high in fat and cholesterol, the company’s sales are likely to diminish greatly and company profits will no doubt decrease. We therefore advise Old Dairy stockholders to sell their shares, and other investors not to purchase stock in this company.”
Argument Task 5: Evaluate a Recommendation’s Likely Results
Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation is likely to have the predicted result. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.
What they’re really asking : Discuss specific questions and information that would be needed to show the recommendation would have the expected outcome .
Number of topics in the GRE argument pool on this task : 21/176 ( 11.9% )
- The following appeared in a letter from the owner of the Sunnyside Towers apartment building to its manager. “One month ago, all the showerheads on the first five floors of Sunnyside Towers were modified to restrict the water flow to approximately one-third of its original flow. Although actual readings of water usage before and after the adjustment are not yet available, the change will obviously result in a considerable savings for Sunnyside Corporation, since the corporation must pay for water each month. Except for a few complaints about low water pressure, no problems with showers have been reported since the adjustment. Clearly, restricting water flow throughout all the twenty floors of Sunnyside Towers will increase our profits further.”
- The following memorandum is from the business manager of Happy Pancake House restaurants. “Butter has now been replaced by margarine in Happy Pancake House restaurants throughout the southwestern United States. Only about 2 percent of customers have complained, indicating that 98 people out of 100 are happy with the change. Furthermore, many servers have reported that a number of customers who ask for butter do not complain when they are given margarine instead. Clearly, either these customers cannot distinguish butter from margarine or they use the term ‘butter’ to refer to either butter or margarine. Thus, to avoid the expense of purchasing butter and to increase profitability, the Happy Pancake House should extend this cost-saving change to its restaurants in the southeast and northeast as well.”
- The following memo appeared in the newsletter of the West Meria Public Health Council. “An innovative treatment has come to our attention that promises to significantly reduce absenteeism in our schools and workplaces. A study reports that in nearby East Meria, where consumption of the plant beneficia is very high, people visit the doctor only once or twice per year for the treatment of colds. Clearly, eating a substantial amount of beneficia can prevent colds. Since colds are the reason most frequently given for absences from school and work, we recommend the daily use of nutritional supplements derived from beneficia. We predict this will dramatically reduce absenteeism in our schools and workplaces.”
- The following appeared in an e-mail sent by the marketing director of the Classical Shakespeare Theatre of Bardville. “Over the past ten years, there has been a 20 percent decline in the size of the average audience at Classical Shakespeare Theatre productions. In spite of increased advertising, we are attracting fewer and fewer people to our shows, causing our profits to decrease significantly. We must take action to attract new audience members. The best way to do so is by instituting a ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ program this summer. Two years ago the nearby Avon Repertory Company started a ‘Free Plays in the Park’ program, and its profits have increased 10 percent since then. If we start a ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ program, we can predict that our profits will increase, too.”
Argument Task 6: Evaluate a Prediction and Its Basis
Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the prediction and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the prediction.
What they’re really asking : Discuss the specific questions that need to be answered to determine how reasonable the prediction and its basis are .
Number of topics in the GRE argument pool on this task : 14/176 ( 8.0% )
Examples of the predictions to be analyzed
- The following appeared in a memorandum from the manager of KNOW radio station. “Several factors indicate that KNOW radio can no longer succeed as a rock-and-roll music station. Consider, for example, that the number of people in our listening area over fifty years of age has increased dramatically, while our total number of listeners has declined. Also, music stores in our area report decreased sales of rock-and-roll music. Finally, continuous news stations in neighboring cities have been very successful. We predict that switching KNOW radio from rock-and-roll music to 24-hour news will allow the station to attract older listeners and make KNOW radio more profitable than ever.”
- The council of Maple County, concerned about the county’s becoming overdeveloped, is debating a proposed measure that would prevent the development of existing farmland in the county. But the council is also concerned that such a restriction, by limiting the supply of new housing, could lead to significant increases in the price of housing in the county. Proponents of the measure note that Chestnut County established a similar measure ten years ago, and its housing prices have increased only modestly since. However, opponents of the measure note that Pine County adopted restrictions on the development of new residential housing fifteen years ago, and its housing prices have since more than doubled. The council currently predicts that the proposed measure, if passed, will result in a significant increase in housing prices in Maple County.
Argument Task 7: Discuss Alternative Explanations
Write a response in which you discuss one or more alternative explanations that could rival the proposed explanation and explain how your explanation(s) can plausibly account for the facts presented in the argument.
What they’re really asking : Discuss alternative explanations that would reasonably explain the evidence discussed in the argument.
Number of topics in the GRE argument pool on this task : 11/176 ( 6.3% )
Examples of the explanation and argument to be analyzed
- The following appeared in a memo from the director of a large group of hospitals. “In a controlled laboratory study of liquid hand soaps, a concentrated solution of extra strength UltraClean hand soap produced a 40 percent greater reduction in harmful bacteria than did the liquid hand soaps currently used in our hospitals. During our recent test of regular-strength UltraClean with doctors, nurses, and visitors at our hospital in Worktown, the hospital reported significantly fewer cases of patient infection (a 20 percent reduction) than did any of the other hospitals in our group. The explanation for the 20 percent reduction in patient infections is the use of UltraClean soap.”
- There is now evidence that the relaxed pace of life in small towns promotes better health and greater longevity than does the hectic pace of life in big cities. Businesses in the small town of Leeville report fewer days of sick leave taken by individual workers than do businesses in the nearby large city of Masonton. Furthermore, Leeville has only one physician for its one thousand residents, but in Masonton the proportion of physicians to residents is five times as high. Finally, the average age of Leeville residents is significantly higher than that of Masonton residents. These findings suggest that the relaxed pace of life in Leeville allows residents to live longer, healthier lives.
Argument Task 8: Evaluate a Conclusion and Its Basis
Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be addressed in order to decide whether the conclusion and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to the questions would help to evaluate the conclusion.
What they’re really asking : Discuss the specific questions that need to be answered to determine if the conclusion and its basis are reasonable .
Examples of conclusions to be analyzed
- A recent sales study indicates that consumption of seafood dishes in Bay City restaurants has increased by 30 percent during the past five years. Yet there are no currently operating city restaurants whose specialty is seafood. Moreover, the majority of families in Bay City are two-income families, and a nationwide study has shown that such families eat significantly fewer home-cooked meals than they did a decade ago but at the same time express more concern about healthful eating. Therefore, the new Captain Seafood restaurant that specializes in seafood should be quite popular and profitable.
GRE Essay Prompts: 3 Terrific Tips
No matter which of the GRE essay topics you encounter on test day, the following tips will help you prepare.
#1: Keep Strict Timing
When you’re working on practice GRE writing prompts, make sure you stick to a strict 30-minute time limit for each Analytical Writing prompt.
If you need to build up to writing within this time limit, you can start out by giving yourself extra time and then working your way down to 30 minutes. However, try not to only practice with extra time , or you’ll be unprepared for the real GRE Analytical Writing essays.
#2: Type Your Essays
To get the best practice for the computer-based GRE, you should write all your practice essays on a computer .
If possible, use the simple word processor in the PowerPrep Test Preview Tool or practice tests to do every practice essay. You’ll need to get used to the lack of spellcheck and familiar shortcuts or features of your own word processor that you might not realize how often you use, like select all, copy, cut, paste, or undo; it’s surprising to find how much not being able to use CTL+A to select all or CTL+V to paste can affect your writing and editing speed.
Even if you’re not writing about the GRE essay prompts given in PowerPrep, you can still use the text box and timer in the test preview tool or one of the practice tests to write practice essays on other prompts . Just be sure to save your essay into a separate document on your computer so you can go back and read and score it afterwards.
#3: Grade Your Essays
Once you’ve written your practice Issue and Argument essays, score them by using the essay rubrics and by comparing your writing to the sample essays ETS provides at each score point .
The rubrics for the Issue essay and the Argument essay are similar when it comes to the importance of clarity of writing and adherence to standard English grammar, spelling, and punctuation; they only really differ when it comes to assessing the specifics of the issue or argument analyses. You can try using the rubric yourself on your own essays and determine where on the rubric your essay fits; alternatively, you can see if you can find a GRE buddy who is willing to grade you and give you feedback based on the rubric, since it’s sometimes easier to be objective about someone else’s work.
While the rubrics are useful as guidelines for what to include in your essays, however, it can be difficult to envision what a perfect scoring essay might look like from the laundry list of qualities alone. That’s why the best way to learn what makes a difference between different essay scores is studying examples of high-scoring essays, analyzing what they do well, and finding the differences between them and lower-scoring essays on the same topic . We do this analysis for you in our articles on how to get a perfect 6 on the GRE Issue essay and Argument essay .
The object of grading your essays is not to feel bad that you didn’t live up to the ideals of a perfect essay score but instead to zero in on your weak spots so you can improve. Whether it’s disorganized writing, running out of time (and so not finishing your essay), insufficient analysis, or some other issue entirely, identify the main issues with your essay, then focus your practice on improving those areas.
Looking for more great advice to increase your GRE AWA score? Read our article on GRE essay tips and strategies .
Want to find out more about what’s on the essay rubrics? We have a complete guide to how the GRE essays are scored here .
Learn more about what’s on the GRE and what a good GRE score is .
Ready to improve your GRE score by 7 points?
Author: Laura Staffaroni
Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel and fulfill their college and grad school dreams. View all posts by Laura Staffaroni
GRE Writing Prompts: Your Guide
Many students preparing for test day are apprehensive about the GRE Analytical Writing essay. After all, there is no way to know exactly which GRE Writing prompts test-takers will see. So, understandably, students worry that there is no way to be fully prepared for all of the possible GRE essay topics that could pop up.
In that respect, however, GRE essay questions are no different from any other type of GRE question you may encounter. After all, you can’t predict exactly which Quant or Verbal concepts will be tested on any given GRE, or what the exact topics discussed in Reading Comprehension passages will be.
Nevertheless, there is still much we can learn about what we’ll face in GRE Quant and Verbal . And, we can still adequately prepare ourselves for whatever may come our way in those sections on test day. The same goes for GRE Writing topics. In fact, in some ways, we have even more information about what we’ll face in GRE essay prompts.
So, breathe a sigh of relief! There is plenty you can learn about the GRE essay topics, so that you go into your exam well-prepared. To help with that preparation, this article will discuss key aspects of the GRE essay prompts and Analytical Writing topics. We’ll also look at some real examples of AWA prompts.
Here is what we’ll cover:
What is gre analytical writing, how many writing prompts are on the gre, the basics of gre essay topics, gre issue topics, using the ets issue topics pool, gre issue tasks: example 1, gre issue tasks: example 2, gre writing prompts: key takeaways, what essays are on the gre, are you only given one prompt per gre essay, how long should gre essays be, can i skip writing on gre test day, is it hard to get a 4 on gre writing, is a 5.0 on gre writing good, what’s next.
To start, let’s review what the GRE Analytical Writing section consists of and what it asks you to do.
The first section you’ll see on the GRE is Analytical Writing. The GRE Analytical Assessment (AWA) prompts you to write an essay, which you have 30 minutes to complete. So, you’ll spend the first half-hour of your exam on Analytical Writing.
Your basic job in GRE Analytical Writing is to write a logically organized essay that demonstrates the following:
- critical thinking and logical reasoning skills
- an ability to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively
- basic English grammar and spelling skills.
You’ll write your essay using the basic word processing program within the GRE test platform. The program features common functions such as delete , undo , cut , and paste .
However, since your own grammar and spelling skills will factor somewhat into the GRE essay scoring, the program does not feature automated spelling or grammar check.
There is no automated spelling or grammar check in GRE Analytical Writing.
Now that we know what the Analytical Writing section is, let’s discuss the basics of GRE Analytical Writing prompts. We’ll start with how many essay prompts you’ll see.
One of the first questions I hear from students who are just learning about GRE Writing prompts is, “How many essay prompts are you given on the GRE?”
Some of this confusion comes from the fact that there used to be 2 essay tasks on the GRE: Analyze an Argument and Analyze an Issue. However, as of September 22, 2023, when the new GRE test (aka the shorter GRE) was released, there is no longer an Argument task in AWA.
So, the Analytical Writing section includes only 1 essay task: the Analyze an Issue task. Let’s discuss what that task requires you to do.
In GRE Analytical Writing, there is only 1 essay task, Analyze an Issue.
The GRE Issue Essay
The Analyze an Issue task, commonly known as the GRE Issue essay, presents a statement of opinion. Your job is to write a response to that opinion.
The opinion may be presented in a single statement that is 1 or 2 sentences long. Alternatively, it may be presented as a 1-sentence “claim” followed by a 1-sentence “reason,” in which the “claim” is the opinion and the “reason” is the reasoning underlying the opinion.
In either case, following the presented opinion, there will be instructions on how to respond to it — that is, what your essay should discuss or accomplish. (We’ll look at some examples of GRE Issue essay prompts shortly.)
Importantly, whether you agree or disagree with the opinion presented in the prompt does not affect your essay score. In other words, there is no “right answer.”
Rather, you should choose whatever position allows you to craft the most logical, coherent, and convincing essay possible. Your position should demonstrate sound reasoning and analysis, and you should be able to support your position with examples.
The GRE Issue essay presents an opinion that you must respond to in your essay.
Now that we understand what the GRE Issue essay is, let’s discuss the topics GRE writing prompts involve.
Let’s start with the good news: GRE Writing topics do not require you to have particular subject matter knowledge. So, there won’t be any GRE Issue topics for which you’re at a disadvantage because you don’t have experience in a certain field of study.
All the information you need to write an effective response to a GRE Issue prompt will appear in the prompt, be common knowledge, or be things you happen to know and can use in your essay.
All the information you need to write an effective response to a GRE Issue prompt will appear in the prompt or be common or incidental knowledge you can draw upon.
That said, there are a few GRE essay themes or broad categories that GRE AWA topics tend to fall into. Let’s take a look.
Broadly speaking, topics for GRE Analytical Writing fall into a few general categories:
- government and politics
- society and culture
- education and research
- human nature
Remember, you will not need specialized knowledge of any of these GRE Issue categories. But how might GRE Issue essay prompts cover these topics? Well, a GRE Issue prompt might present an opinion about one of the following, for example:
- a type of program that governments should or shouldn’t fund
- a way that scientists should conduct their research
- a procedure that colleges should follow to benefit their students
- the effect of certain technologies on some aspect of society.
Of course, those are just a few examples. You’ll be happy to know that, regardless of the topic covered or how it’s covered, the opinions presented in GRE Writing prompts will not be expressed in highly technical terms or using obscure references.
Rather, they will be much like opinions you might hear during routine conversations with friends or colleagues, hear on a podcast or opinion segment on the news, or read in a newspaper editorial.
GRE essay themes include government and politics, society and culture, education and research, technology, and human nature.
Now, let’s explore an often-discussed subject among students investigating the GRE essay topics: the ETS Pool of Issue Topics.
The GRE Published Pool of Topics
You may be surprised to learn that the ETS writing prompts that can appear on the GRE are publicly available. In other words, there is a list of possible essay questions for GRE General Tests. This list is called the Pool of Issue Topics, and it features actual GRE Analytical Writing prompts that have in the past and could in the future appear on the test. You can view the GRE Issue essay topic pool PDF online here .
Now, when some people hear that a list of GRE essay topics is readily available online, they make it their mission to pore over every inch of that list. Here’s the thing: there are dozens of sample GRE essay questions in the Pool of Issue Topics. (In total, the GRE essay topics pool is nearly 40 pages long.) So, it is neither practical nor necessary to read through all of the GRE AWA writing prompts in order to be prepared for test day.
Furthermore, it is certainly a waste of your time to attempt to memorize the AWA sample prompts. For one, the wording you see in prompts in the GRE Writing Issue Pool may vary slightly in prompts on your actual exam.
Secondly, you’ll need to carefully read the prompt you see on test day regardless of how many GRE sample prompts you’ve read before. So, please don’t make the mistake of spending your valuable study time trying to commit the GRE list of essay topics to memory.
Let’s discuss how you should use the GRE Issue Pool.
You may be wondering how to most effectively make use of having so many sample GRE Issue topics at your fingertips. First, it is worthwhile to read through some of the prompts in ETS’s GRE Pool of Issue Topics to get a feel for how GRE essay prompts are worded and the ways they cover topics.
Then, as your GRE essay practice in preparation for test day, you should randomly select a few sample GRE essay questions to write responses to. Before you write those practice essays, you may want to check out these GRE writing examples , which feature sample essay responses with scores and reader commentary. You also may want to have a look at the GRE scoring rubric for Analytical Writing , to see the essay characteristics that are associated with different scores.
Now, let me make one important point clear: it is not a wise use of your time to attempt to write responses to every prompt in the GRE Analytical Writing pool, for the following 3 reasons:
- You do not need anywhere near such a large amount of practice to be able to write a high-scoring GRE essay. So, in writing so many practice essays, you will waste valuable study time you need for other sections of the test.
- You will burn yourself out on essay-writing by the time test day rolls around.
- After writing so many essays, even if you recognize the prompt you see on test day, you almost certainly will not remember how you responded to it in your practice essay.
Practice writing responses to a few GRE Writing sample prompts from the ETS Issue Pool online, but don’t go overboard.
Now, let’s look at a couple of GRE Writing prompt samples from the ETS Issue Pool.
Example GRE Essay Questions
To get a feel for what to expect in the Analytical Writing section, let’s review a couple of example essay questions from the GRE Writing Issue Pool. You can find these GRE essay examples in the PDF linked above.
Some people believe that the purpose of education is to free the mind and the spirit. Others believe that formal education tends to restrain our minds and spirits rather than set them free.
Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both of the views presented.
Notice the format of the question: first, an opinion is presented. Below that opinion, we see a few italicized lines of instructions on how to respond to the presented opinion. This format is standard for GRE Issue essay prompts.
Notice also that, while we can say that the topic of the prompt is “education,” a test-taker would not need any particular knowledge of education practices or policies in order to write an effective response.
In other words, a person of any background can form an opinion about the “purpose of education.” Forming that opinion does not require having specialized knowledge or training.
Let’s look at another example from the GRE list of essay topics.
Leaders are created by the demands that are placed on them.
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.
Notice that the language in the instructions in the prompt above is similar in some ways to that in the first prompt, though not exactly the same. If you scan the GRE Writing examples in the ETS Issue pool, you’ll notice some common language among many of the prompts.
However, there are several variations of instructions that could appear in GRE Issue prompts. So, it’s imperative that you always read the instructions in a prompt very carefully. It would be a mistake to skim or read only part way through a prompt because you recognize the wording, and thus assume you know what the instructions are asking you to do.
Always read through the entirety of the instructions in a GRE essay prompt, even if the instructions look similar to ones you’ve seen before!
Now that we’ve done some GRE practice writing prompts, let’s wrap up with the key takeaways from this article and answer some common questions about GRE Analytical Writing.
- GRE Analytical Writing is the first section you’ll see on your test.
- The Analytical Writing section features 1 essay prompt, Analyze an Issue, which you have 30 minutes to complete.
- Your essay should demonstrate critical thinking and logical reasoning skills, clear and effective communication of your ideas, and basic English grammar and spelling skills.
- The GRE Issue essay presents a 1-2 sentence opinion that you must respond to. Whether your response agrees or disagrees with the presented opinion does not affect your essay score.
- You do not need specialized subject knowledge to effectively respond to GRE essay prompts.
- The pool of Issue topics GRE tests can feature is available online. That list features actual ETS GRE Writing prompts.
- Review and practice some of the example GRE essay questions in the ETS Issue Pool to get accustomed to GRE essay challenges and refine your GRE writing strategies.
- Do not attempt to memorize all of the GRE Issue essay prompts or determine how to address each GRE Writing question in the topic pool.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Let’s answer a few common questions about GRE Analytical Writing.
As of September 22, 2023, there is 1 essay task on the GRE, the Analyze an Issue task.
There is only 1 prompt per GRE essay. So, you will see only 1 prompt on any given GRE test.
There is no minimum or maximum word count required for the GRE essay. So, conceivably, you could write a high-scoring essay that is 350 words or one that is 600 words. There is no magic number.
That said, in order to effectively develop and support your ideas in a well-organized essay, you’ll need an intro and a conclusion paragraph, plus 2 or 3 paragraphs in between to present and elaborate on your main points. So, we’re looking at a 4-5 paragraph essay.
Now, each paragraph does not have to be overly long; good GRE essays should certainly prioritize quality over quantity. But, in many cases, you may find that 400 words is not quite enough to properly respond to a GRE essay prompt.
Think about it: a 4-paragraph essay (the minimum you’ll need) that is 500 words is only 125 words per paragraph. Those aren’t very long paragraphs!
So, shoot for quality over quantity, but realize that in general, you may need more like 500-600 words to write a cohesive and complete GRE essay.
For the vast majority of GRE test-takers, the answer to this question will be NO. Most graduate schools want applicants submitting GRE scores to have taken the entire GRE, not just parts of it.
So, unless you’ve confirmed that your desired programs don’t consider Writing scores, you should absolutely complete the Analytical Writing section.
For more on this topic, check out our article on the importance of the Analytical Writing score .
A 4.0 is currently a 56th percentile score in GRE Analytical Writing. Note that the mean GRE writing score is currently just under 3.6. So, a 4.0 is slightly better than average. And, generally speaking, schools consider 4.0 a “good” score, though of course each program will have its own standards.
In any case, considering that nearly half of all people who take the GRE are able to score 4.0 or higher on Analytical Writing, I’d say that it isn’t particularly hard to earn that score.
Of course, if you don’t do any Analytical Writing preparation, or you go into your exam without writing strategies in place, scoring 4.0 could be quite hard. So, the answer to whether any particular score on the GRE is “hard” to earn will always be somewhat relative.
A 5.0 is currently a 91st percentile score in GRE Analytical Writing and is generally considered an excellent score. After all, that score would put you in the top 10% of all GRE test-takers.
To read more about how graduate schools view different Writing scores (and other GRE section scores), check out our article on what a good GRE score is .
Looking for GRE essay templates and expert AWA preparation tips and rhetorical strategies? The Target Test Prep GRE Course fully prepares you to dominate any GRE essay question you see on test day. Check out the course for 5 days for just $1 !
You also may be interested in these strategies for combating boredom in Reading Comprehension and these myths about the GRE Verbal section .
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How to Write a Great GRE Argument Essay
When you take the GRE , you’ll have to write two essays : an Issue essay and an Argument essay. In your GRE Argument essay, you’ll get to demonstrate how well you can understand, analyze, and evaluate an argument. Here are ten GRE Argument essay tips you should know.
Fact #1: It doesn’t matter who is right
Fact #2: you'll have just 30 minutes for the gre argument essay, fact #3: graders will not pore over your essay, fact #4: quality matters, but so does quantity, fact #5: the prompt will tell you everything you need to know.
Make sure you read the prompt two or three times. You’ll want to make sure you truly understand it. Pay attention to what evidence is provided, what is stated in the prompt, and what is claimed by the author. A great way to identify fallacies is to determine what the author has assumed, and then try to explain why that assumption may be wrong. Here are four things to look for:
- Lack of evidence to support an assumption : You’ll want to mention this dearth in your essay—and note the type of information that would strengthen the argument.
- Non-specific language : Does the author make generalizations without providing specifics? You will want to point that out!
- Jumping to conclusions : Most Argument prompts will jump to conclusions at least once. As you read each sentence in the prompt, look for the author’s reasoning. If you can’t find a clear line of argument, you should note that the author has jumped to conclusions.
- Data values : Just because the author provides numbers doesn’t mean they’re necessarily objective or even true. Consider—and discuss within your essay—the reliability of any data, or data collection methods, that are presented in the prompt.
Fact #6: Structure will save you
After you read the prompt, brainstorm the logical fallacies you want to address. Then, choose your top three or four, and formulate a brief outline before you start your essay. There is nothing worse than having to stop writing your essay to come up with new ideas, so you’re going to want to follow a strict organizational format. Here’s a good general template to keep in mind:
- Intro : This should consist of three or four sentences in which you provide an overview of all the fallacies you plan to address.
- Fallacies : Each should get its own indented paragraph. You’ll want to discuss it in detail, and you may even opt to quote from the prompt in making your case.
- Suggestions for improving the prompt argument : Time-permitting, you’ll ideally want to include a paragraph in which you detail how the author could make a stronger case.
- Conclusion : As short as the introduction, this should summarize your body paragraphs (the fallacies and suggestions) and tie up any loose ends. Don’t skip this part! Even if you only have time for a single sentence, write one. An essay without a conclusion will almost certainly receive a lower score than one that is finished.
Fact #7: Clear writing is key
Fact #8: you’ll get one combined score for both essays, fact #9: you don’t have to be perfect to earn a perfect score, fact #10: you can plan ahead.
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GRE essay topics | 4 most valuable tips with examples!
Will you be appearing for gre soon if yes, then you must know these tips to score well in the essay section. we also have a list of examples to give you a better idea of how to create your answers. keep scrolling for help on gre essay topics, table of contents, write practice essays, pick actual selective instances, prevent using individual references , make firm assertions while concluding, list of gre analytical writing assessment topics, analyze an issue task | sample , template for the gre issue task, analyze an argument | sample, template for gre argument task, key takeaways.
The GRE essay topics, including those on the issue task, are so diverse that there appears to be no particular pattern in the GRE we’ve seen. There are debates about fixed terms for leaders, moralizing about job training, philosophical musings regarding work and motivation, and rumors that scandals can benefit society. Despite such a diverse range, the issue essays fall into several buckets or categories of GRE essay topics.
The GRE analytical writing segment contains two types of questions-
- Analytical writing evaluation.
- Examine an argument.
Candidates have 30 minutes to respond to each question.
Points to consider while writing a GRE essay
A perfect score of 6 on the GRE’s issue essay can improve your chances of admission to graduate school! Here are 4 pointers to help you get that perfect 6 on your issue essay.
You can prepare for the GRE by researching AWA prompts and practicing writing a handful of them within the 30-minute time limit. Setting up test-like situations and getting to work is the only way to become comfortable with time constraints.
Don’t be too broad! Theoretical arguments are easily debunked. The simple counter to any “what if” argument is to question whether the hypothetical scenario ever would occur. You can select from a broad range of topics, such as personal experience, pop culture, background, sports, publications, current events, politics, etc.
Overall, you must stop writing the issue essay in the first person. Using phrases like “I believe” or “in my opinion” adds unnecessary words because the reader knows the problem essay is marked from your point of view.
Being direct eliminates the possibility of misunderstandings or misinterpretations. Make strong, declarative statements to avoid confusion on the GRE issue essay. Many GRE students are unsure what to write in their conclusion. Introduce the opposing viewpoint, demonstrating that you are aware that some individuals do not agree with you.
The GRE essay comprises GRE Analyze an Issue task and Assess an Argument topic. Candidates must write an essay in which they must respond to a short statement on a topic of general interest. This task assesses candidates’ capability to think critically about a topic of personal interest and convey their thoughts in writing.
Candidates taking the exam would be given a conceptual approach that can be viewed from a variety of perspectives. They would be instructed to take a stand on the subject and to develop and promote that stand. The GRE analytical writing examples are provided with each GRE AWA topic to help test takers understand the essay format. You can also refer to certain books to improve your vocabulary.
GRE essay topic | Analyze an Issue task
GRE-Analyze an Issue task comes with a scenario that may contain a statement/ a claim/ a claim + reason/ 2 or more sides/views of an issue. Each of these will be followed by an instruction. Make sure you create a proper plan before attempting this task.
There are different topics for this task according to the instruction types, as shown in the table.
Follow the outline below to make the 30-minute AWA writing task easy:
- 1 minute: Begin by reading the prompt carefully at least twice to understand the given context.
- 3 minutes: The next few minutes should be on brainstorming ideas for your essay. Think in terms of a four-paragraph structure: a thesis/introduction, two main body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
- 24 minutes: In these 24 minutes, focus on writing a 400-500 word essay with the points you brainstormed. The essay can be written in four paragraphs.
- 2 minutes: The last 2 minutes should be se aside to check and edit your task. Here, you should focus on final editing and proofreading and try not to add any new content to your essay. Make sure to read your essay at least twice, and correct any grammar and spelling mistakes as you read.
As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate.
Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold and explain how these considerations shape your position.
The below template will help you structure your content better and score well on the task.
Paragraph 1 | Introduction
You can start the first paragraph with a relevant quote or proverb. Then paraphrase the given statement and give a response to the statement. Also, provide a preview of your reasons in 1 sentence.
Paragraph 2 | Main body paragraph 1
Write the primary reason in the first line. Explain the reason in a sentence or two. You can use an example from your knowledge or experience and explain it by including as many vivid details as possible.
Paragraph 3 | Main body paragraph 2
Write your second reason in this paragraph and explain the reason in a sentence or two. You can write an example here too, while including proper details about the same.
Paragraph 4 | Conclusion
To conclude, restate the thesis and the two reasons mentioned in paragraphs 2 and 3.
GRE essay topic | Analyze an Argument task
The second section of the GRE analytical writing or essay topic is Analyze an Argument. Candidates must write about one of the provided GRE essay topics in which they must analyze a paragraph-length argument from a pool of concerned topics. They are not, however, necessary to display their perspectives on the topic of the debate.
This task tests students’ ability to comprehend, analyze, and think critically about a variety of issue topics. The assertions will be introduced in a short paragraph that expresses the author’s point of view or case. Candidates must determine and evaluate whether it is logically sound.
You can follow the below outline for the 30- minute task:
- 1 minute: Start the question by reading the passage carefully. Analyze the reading passage to separate the main conclusion from the supporting premises.
- 4 minutes: Spend these 4 minutes brainstorming and generating ideas for your task.
- 23 minutes: Write your task in these 23 minutes.
- 2 minutes: As mentioned above, set this time aside for final editing and proofreading.
The following appeared in a memorandum written by the chairperson of the West Egg Town Council.
“Two years ago, consultants predicted that West Egg’s landfill, which is used for garbage disposal, would be filled within five years. During the past two years, however, the town’s residents have been recycling twice as much material as they did in previous years. Next month the amount of recycled material — which includes paper, plastic, and metal — should further increase since charges for pickup of other household garbage will double. Furthermore, over 90 percent of the respondents to a recent survey said that they would do more recycling in the future. Because of our town’s strong commitment to recycling, the available space in our landfill should last for considerably longer than predicted.”
Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.
Here’s a template for you to plan your writing better and ace this section.
Start by restating the author’s conclusion, i.e., his opinion. Then, summarize the facts or proposals the author provided that led him to his conclusion–and identify them, especially as evidence. In the last sentence, state clearly that the argument is flawed. (There is no need to list the specifics of your three examples in your thesis.)
You need to write 4-6 sentences in this paragraph. Start by identifying a primary assumption and giving examples of evidence that would be unlikely to be true, weakening the conclusion.
Main Body Paragraph 2: In this paragraph, write another assumption or flaw in the author’s reasoning and show how more evidence could undermine the argument. Make sure you are writing at least 4-6 sentences.
Paragraph 4 | Main body paragraph 3
Here, focus on explaining the terminology used by the author and explain it in 4-6 sentences.
Paragraph 5 | Conclusion
To conclude, restate the original thesis. State that the argument has too many flaws and that the author has more work to do. Remember, you do not have to fix it but just state it.
- The GRE essay section is an important aspect of the test that students must focus on. It is always good to prepare by appearing for some mock essay tests and analyzing your strengths and weaknesses.
- The GRE Analytical Writing essay topics, including those for the issue task, come from such a diverse range of fields that no discernible pattern can be found in the GRE writing prompts.
- Candidates must compose an essay in which they have to interact with a short statement on a topic of common concern.
We hope you found this blog on “GRE essay topics” informative. Reach out to us if you have any doubts, and don’t forget to comment below and share your thoughts!
Liked this blog? Read next: GRE analytical writing | Here’s all you need to know!
Q1. What kinds of essays appear on the GRE?
Answer- When taking the GRE, you will be required to write two essays: an issue essay and an argument essay.
Q2. How many GRE essay subjects are there?
Answer- There are 152 potential GRE essay topics in the GRE problem pool and 176 possible GRE essay topics, mostly in the GRE argument pool, so you won’t run out of formal prompts to practice with.
Q3. Do GRE AWA topics come up again and again?
Answer- Yes! They ask a question from their huge question bank again and again. If any of your friends decided to take their GRE a few days before you, you might see some of their questions repeated on your exam.
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