How to write an Effective Essay for GRE exam?

How to write an Effective Essay for GRE exam?

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is one of the very important tests that is required for students across the globe who aspire to pursue higher studies like master’s and doctoral programs in United States. It is a computer based examination that is a conducted in more than 160 countries with about 700 test centers that operate throughout the year 6 to 7 lakhs of students appear for this test every year.

The GRE score that is valid for 5 years, plays a key role in the admission in to the college and the stream that one wishes to choose. It is a standardized test that is intended to measure the abilities of all graduates in tasks of general academic nature and not specific to their specialization. The main aim of the examination is to measure the verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. Education Testing Service (ETS) that started in 1949 administers the test.

The total duration of the test is 3 hours 45 minutes and the scoring is point based. The Analytical writing section will comprise of two tasks – ‘analyze an issue’ and ‘analyze an argument’ with a time limit of 30 minutes each. This section carries 6 points with 0.5 point increment system. This particular section measures the analytical writing and critical thinking skills of the students with specific emphasize on the ability to articulate and express the ideas clearly.

Issue Task:

The topics would be of general interest that can be discussed from different perspectives and applicable to various situations. As per the format of the examination, the issue is followed by set of specific instruction as to what is expected from the candidate to analyze. The evaluators observe the ability to develop and support the viewpoints, use of examples and proficiency in language. Some of the sample topics are,

• A nation should require all of its students to study the same national curriculum until they enter college.

• The well-being of a society is enhanced when many of its people question authority.

• Laws should be flexible enough to take account of various circumstances, times, and places.

Argument Task:

A brief passage on the course of action or interpretation of the events by the author will be presented and a specific set of instructions will given to direct the students on what need to be analyzed. This particular task assesses ability to understand, analyze and evaluate arguments and to clearly convey evaluation in writing. Some sample topics are,

• "In a laboratory study of liquid antibacterial hand soaps, a concentrated solution of Ultraclean produced a 40 percent greater reduction in the bacteria population than did the liquid hand soaps currently used in our hospitals. During a subsequent test of Ultraclean at our hospital in Workby, that hospital reported significantly fewer cases of patient infection than did any of the other hospitals in our group. Therefore, to prevent serious patient infections, we should supply Ultraclean at all hand-washing stations throughout our hospital system."

• "Two years ago, the nearby town of Ocean View built a new municipal golf course and resort hotel. During the past two years, tourism in Ocean View has increased, new businesses have opened there, and Ocean View's tax revenues have risen by 30 percent. Therefore, the best way to improve Hopewell's economy—and generate additional tax revenues—is to build a golf course and resort hotel similar to those in Ocean View."

Key aspects to work on for an analytical writing test in GRE:


Preparation is very important for any competitive examination and frame up the strategies to present your own style. The ETS website gives a vast list of issue and argument topics for the students. Practice writing short and crisp essays that show your deep knowledge & understanding on the subject. Quoting examples and real time situations make the essay interesting.

Budget your time:

The time limit is 30 minutes within which one has to understand the topic, frame-up the essay and present it in an effective & meaningful essay. Plan for few minutes as to list down aspects you would like to emphasize on before venturing into the topic and execute it. The evaluators also understand the limitation on the time and consider your essay as a first draft. Hence present the best possible write-up that gives an understanding about your writing skills.

Take time for self correction:

The GRE test is conducted on a computer using a word program that is specially designed by the ETS which does not contain a spell check or any other grammar correction advanced tools. One need to come out of the impression that computer would highlight the errors and pay attention to spellings & grammar. Simple errors occasionally do not impact in the overall scoring but persistent & severe errors would really matter in the evaluation.

The Analytical writing section of GRE proves the focused approach and demonstrates the critical thinking of students while responding directly to the given topic. Practice, planning and presentation are the key for achieving good score in GRE and obtain admission in the best institutions in US.
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