Analytical Writing Section of the Gre

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An Introduction to the Analytical Writing Section of the GRE® General Test

August 2010

This publication includes a description of the GRE Analytical Writing section, strategies for each task, scoring information, scoring guides, score level descriptions, a sample test, and essay responses with reader commentary.

Table of Contents

Overview of the Analytical Writing Section Preparing for the Analytical Writing Section Test-Taking Strategies for the Analytical Writing Section How the Analytical Writing Section is Scored Present Your Perspective on an Issue Task Understanding the Issue Task Understanding the Context for Writing: Purpose and Audience Preparing for the Issue Task Deciding Which Topic to Choose The Form of Your Response Sample Issue Topic Strategies for this Topic Essay Responses and Reader Commentary Analysis of an Argument Task Understanding the Argument Task Understanding the Context for Writing: Purpose and Audience Preparing for the Argument Task How to Interpret Numbers, Percentages, and Statistics in Argument Topics The Form of Your Response Sample Argument Topic Strategies for this Topic Essay Responses and Reader Commentary Sample Test Scoring Guides Score Level Descriptions

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Overview of the Analytical Writing Section
The analytical writing section measures your critical thinking and analytical writing skills. It assesses your ability to articulate and support complex ideas, analyze an argument, and sustain a focused and coherent discussion. It does not assess specific content knowledge. The analytical writing section consists of two separately-timed analytical writing tasks: • • a 45-minute "Present Your Perspective on an Issue" task a 30-minute "Analyze an Argument" task

You will be given a choice between two Issue topics. Each states an opinion on an issue of broad interest and asks you to discuss the issue from any perspective(s) you wish, so long as you provide relevant reasons and examples to explain and support your views. You will not have a choice of Argument topics. The Argument task presents a different challenge from that of the Issue task: it requires you to critique a given argument by discussing how well reasoned you find it. You will need to consider the logical soundness of the argument rather than to agree or disagree with the position it presents. The two tasks are complementary in that one requires you to construct your own argument by taking a position and providing evidence supporting your views on the issue, whereas the other requires you to critique someone else's argument by assessing its claims and evaluating the evidence it provides.

Preparing for the Analytical Writing Section
Everyone—even the most practiced and confident of writers—should spend some time preparing for the analytical writing section before arriving at the test center. It is important to review the skills measured, how the section is scored, scoring guides and score level descriptions, sample topics, scored sample essay responses, and reader commentary. The topics in the analytical writing section relate to a broad range of subjects—from the fine arts and humanities to the social and physical sciences—but no topic requires specific content knowledge. In fact, each topic has been field-tested 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 topic and could easily discuss it. The topic elicited the kinds of complex thinking and persuasive writing that university faculty consider important for success in graduate school. The responses...
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