The analytical writing section is one of the three parts of the GRE. Students are asked to write two different types of essays for this section. These essays reveal a student’s ability to understand what an author is conveying, organize ideas in a logical way, use specific examples to support their ideas, and write in a clear, concise manner. Let’s examine how to prepare for analytical writing, GRE essay tips, and more:
The Analytical Writing Section on the GRE
Students are required to write an issue essay and an argument essay for the GRE. For the issue essay, students must read a statement about a familiar topic. Then, they write an essay explaining whether they agree or disagree with the statement. Students should use specific examples to support their position.
For the argument essay, students must read and analyze an argument put forth by an author. Then, they write an essay proving that the argument is either logical or illogical based on specific examples from the text – the argument essay does not ask the student to agree or disagree with the author’s statement. It’s important for students to read the specific instructions that accompany both the issue and argument essays on the GRE.
Writing Practice Essays
There are several things students can do to prep for this section of the GRE. Analytical writing practice is very helpful for students who want to become more adept at creating both types of essays. It’s a good idea to start the process by making an outline that highlights the important points that a student wants to include in an essay. Then, a student can refer to the outline to stay on track while writing.
Students are given 30 minutes to write each of the essays for the GRE. Analytical writing practice should include using a timer to make sure that a student can finish writing an essay in the allotted amount of time. Of course, a student must factor in the time it takes to read the author’s statement, create an outline, and complete the essay itself. Getting the timing right can take some of the stress out of writing the essays on test day.
Examine Successful GRE Essays
Along with writing practice essays for the GRE, analytical writing preparation should include reading essays that received high scores on the exam. Students can look at the various components of these essays as well as how they are organized to get an idea of what test graders are looking for.
Some students may find it beneficial to use a high-scoring essay as a guide as they practice writing their own issue and argument essays. For many students, it’s useful to see the arrangement of ideas in these high-scoring essays. Often, students who write these successful essays follow a very simple outline that any student can use.
Learning New Vocabulary Words
Another important part of GRE analytical writing preparation is learning how to use appropriate words to get a point across in an essay. Students can expand their vocabulary by reading newspaper and magazine articles to become familiar with commonly used words and their definitions. Some students make flashcards to help them learn these new vocabulary words. In addition, a student has the opportunity to read well-crafted sentences in these types of publications.
Students can also benefit from looking at the vocabulary words used in essays that received high scores on the GRE. Even if students don’t use all of these newly-learned words in their GRE essays, they may use them in future assignments and papers written for graduate school courses. In short, it’s always beneficial for a student to add to their supply of vocabulary words.
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But the fun doesn’t stop there. This thesis statement also serves as an appropriate conclusion. By definition, a thesis statement provides a summary of the main point of the essay. Remember that the conclusion of any passage, argument, claim, or essay can be found by asking, “What’s the point?” So once you’ve crafted that thesis statement, shuffle the language a bit and you have a conclusion.
Here’s an example intro paragraph from a sample analytical writing essay: “The author concludes that the current problem of poorly trained teachers will soon be remedied. As evidence he describes a state proposal that will require teachers to take courses in education and psychology prior to being certified. However, this argument is flawed because its conclusion relies on assumptions for which the author does not supply supporting evidence.”
Notice that thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph. Now, take a look at the concluding statement of the same sample essay: “In its current state, the argument relies too heavily on unsupported assumptions to be convincing.”
If you prefer to have a two-sentence conclusion, you can add, “Without additional supporting evidence, the conclusion cannot be accepted.” And there you have one solid point—your thesis—that serves two purposes.
So remember your analytical writing directions: objective critique, no opinion. The “point” of your essay must be objective, critical, and correct, and once you’ve identified this thesis statement, you also have a conclusion ready to go.