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How to Write an Effective Argument Essay for the GRE

The Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, has three sections. One of those sections measures a student’s analytical writing skills. For this section, students are required to write both an issue essay and an argument essay. GRE graders look closely at the evidence included in a student’s argument essay as well as the organization of all of the various components. Learn what an argument essay is and get some tips on how to write an outstanding one for the GRE.

What Is the GRE Argument Essay?

The argument essay on the GRE requires you to evaluate an argument put forth by an author. Your job is to examine the author’s reasoning and evidence as well as the overall organization of the argument.

Ultimately, you must decide whether the author’s argument is logical. If you decide that the author’s argument is illogical, then you must give specific reasons to support that analysis. For example, you may point out unanswered questions or faulty pieces of evidence in the argument. Alternatively, if you decide that an author’s argument is logical, then you must offer evidence supporting that analysis.

When writing this essay, you should not reveal whether they agree or disagree with the author’s argument. Furthermore, you should not share their views on the subject being discussed. The purpose of this essay is to reveal your skills in analyzing and evaluating an argument, not in presenting your own argument. 

Comparing your practice essays to essays that have gotten good scores is a great way to figure out how to improve

Tips for Writing GRE Argument Essays

There are many useful tips that can help you write an excellent argument essay. GRE test-takers may want to begin by jotting down notes on a scrap piece of paper as they read the author’s argument. The few minutes that you dedicate to taking these notes can ensure that you include all of the important points in the final essay.

You should always read the instructions paired with each GRE argument task before starting to write. Not every argument essay has the same set of instructions – for example, some instructions require you to focus on an author’s assumptions, while others ask that you focus on unanswered questions in the argument. These are just two examples out of many types of instructions given to students tackling the GRE argument essay. It’s also a wise idea for you to draft an outline for the essay before beginning to write it. Following an outline can increase the clarity and organization of an argument essay.

Our GRE courses at Varsity Tutors provide students with the tools and strategies they need to craft a notable argument essay. Our instructors have taken and mastered the GRE, enabling them to pass on valuable tips to students. We offer several tutoring options , including online and in-person instruction, to make GRE preparation as convenient as possible for our busy students.`

Preparing for the Argument Essay

Most students want to do everything they can to write a clear, organized argument essay. GRE prep should include essay-writing practice. You can write a practice argument essay, then dissect it sentence by sentence to make sure it contains all of the necessary elements. As a note, the GRE gives students 30 minutes to write an argument essay, so it’s a good idea for you to time yourself when you complete your practice essays. That way, you know how much time you can spend on making notes, drafting an outline, and writing the essay.

It’s also helpful for you to study essays that received a high score on the GRE. An outstanding argument essay contains vocabulary words that add to the clarity of the writing. You can expand your supply of vocabulary words by reading online articles, newspapers, and magazines. You may want to jot down some words commonly used in these publications. Flashcards are helpful study tools for students who are learning unfamiliar words and their definitions as well.

Our instructors at Varsity Tutors can teach you how to write a GRE argument essay. We offer practical advice and guidance that students can use as they move through the steps of writing a convincing essay. Also, our instructors give valuable encouragement to students to help them have a confident mindset on test day. Contact Varsity Tutors today and let us help you boost your essay-writing skills!

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GRE Analytical Writing Sample Essays



The GRE ® essay section is also referred to as the AWA or the GRE ® Analytical Writing Assessment which experts believe is one of the most neglected sections of the GRE ® test. Most test-takers believe that they can master the section in a few days at the most. A couple of GRE ® sample essays should be sufficient. The outcome is not desirable with an average global score of 4.0 with the Indian score even lower.

GRE ® Essay Sections

This Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) portion is made up of two parts:

  • Issue essays
  • Argument essays

It is aimed at measuring the following:

  • Communicate intricate thoughts distinctly and effectually
  • Back notions with appropriate explanations and illustrations
  • Scrutinize claims and supplementary proof
  • Maintain a well-focused, articulate argument
  • Command the components of standard written English

The structure of the GRE ® essay has been designed to test your ability to write a cogent thesis statement that you must defend over the course of several paragraphs.

  • You are allocated a time limit of 30 minutes to complete each section. The is the first section and the structure of the test does not allow you to skip it and come back to it later.
  • The GRE ® Essay expects you to analyze your critical thinking abilities.
  • This allocated topic is usually a statement that is rather broad in nature.
  • You will be evaluated for your capabilities to reason analytically and to debate the given topic from your perspective.
  • You will need to support your viewpoint with appropriate instances and substantiation and structure your answer according to the precise guidelines that will be associated with the task.
  • It is difficult to understand the requirements of this task without first going through relevant GRE ® sample essays.

How to use this Guide for AWA Passage Writing?

  • There are two ways by which you can make use of this guide not just to improve your essay but also to master essay grading.
  • Begin by taking a look at some of these perfectly scored sample essays.
  • Remember that these samples that you go through will help you understand sentence structures, body paragraphs, etc. You should never ever think of copy-pasting direct sentences when you are writing your test as that will be considered as plagiarism.
  • Use the guide in a manner that helps to incorporate features that help to highlight your position on the issue.
  • The secondary objective of using this guide is to overcome your writing weaknesses in conjunction with essay grading.
  • To ensure that you score high, begin the process with the rubrics for the Issue and Argument Tasks and subsequently zero in on the section that you find most difficult to meet.
  • The idea is for you to identify the areas that you have trouble with the most. By taking adequate GRE ® prep, and going through samples and essay responses from experts, you will be able to overcome these difficulties.

What’s new?

Knowing how to get that perfect score is important. Find out more about GRE ® Score and the grading system.

How does the GRE ® essay work?

  • With two parts to the GRE ® Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), you are allotted 30 minutes for each essay.
  • This is aimed to test your ability to write a thesis statement that is cogent, which you should be able to support with adequate evidence over the course of the essay.

What is the difference between the Issue and Argument essays?

  • A sample topic reads like – “It could be argued that the most important technological breakthroughs have happened by chance and through surprise discoveries. However, others argue that deliberate, well-planned research with specific goals is the only way to ensure technological advancement.
  • 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.”
  • You are expected to respond by analyzing this general statement by taking a stance over a matter that is understandably complex.
  • You may get similar topics encompassing several different areas such as politics, education, or culture.
  • A sample topic reads – “SuperCorp recently moved its headquarters to Corporateville. The recent surge in the number of homeowners in Corporateville proves that Corporateville is a superior place to live then Middleburg, the home of SuperCorp’s current headquarters. Moreover, Middleburg is a predominantly urban area and according to an employee survey, SuperCorp has determined that its workers prefer to live in an area that is not urban. Finally, Corporateville has lower taxes than Middleburg, making it not only a safer place to work but also a cheaper one. Therefore, Supercorp clearly made the best decision.

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 the assumptions and what the implications are if the assumptions prove unwarranted.”

  • In contrast to the Issue essay, the Argument essay will ask the author to dissect the logic behind the stance or position taken by him or her.

Where can I find sample topics?

  • You can log on to the ETS website where they publish pools of Issue and Argument essay topics.
  • These topics have been taken from previous tests.

How are the essays scored?

  • There is an initial human grader of the essay who has received rigorous training to qualify to be a grader.
  • He or she is typically a university literature/writing professor.
  • Additionally, there is an ‘E-rater’ which is an automated essay grader.
  • This system ensures that the human grader has justifiably scored the essays without bias or prejudice.
  • The final score is an average of the two scores and the result rounded off to fit the half point scale.

How does the GRE ® AWA scoring range work?

  • Take a look at the scoring guidelines that will help you understand where you stand with the score that you have received.Compare the essays that you have written with sample essays in order for you to get a sense of what score you might receive for them.
  • Compare the essays that you have written with sample essays in order for you to get a sense of what score you might receive for them.

Is there anywhere I can get my essays graded?

  • You can have someone that you trust give you their honest feedback.
  • Alternatively, ETS offers a service to grade your sample GRE ® AWA essays but that does not give you any feedback, only the score.
  • You can also access forums where you can upload your sample essays to get insights and analysis.

What do the graders look for?

  • When your essays are graded, the three key pillars that graders look for that determine your score are clarity, coherency, and cogency.
  • You must communicate your ideas as clearly as you can which should be logically connected to one another as you transition between sentences and paragraphs.
  • Whatever be your claims, it should be supported by sufficient evidence and examples that are sustainable.
  • Style of writing is important which means you should avoid essay with choppy sentences, bad grammar, misspellings and unsophisticated vocabulary.
  • A typical grader takes 30 seconds to score your essay if he or she is satisfied with clear organization of your information, check if your paragraphs start with a topic sentence and flow into specific examples that support your analysis.

How long does my essay have to be?

  • The substance in your essay is of paramount importance as long as it has been clearly bifurcated into a five-paragraph format including an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • Keep a lookout for your paragraph lengths as long paragraphs minus logical matter will not grab you better scores.

How do I practice for GRE ® Analytical Writing?

  • Practice makes it perfect and it is no different for the GRE ® Analytical Writing Assessment.
  • Get a better command and facility on the language by writing more.
  • Create an outline and brainstorm on your position and think of a relevant example to support your claim.
  • Set aside time to edit your practice essays.
  • Look through tons of approved sample essays and correlate it with the grades that they have received.
  • While grammar is not of top priority as clarity of thought, it still holds weight and must be given its due importance in the scheme of things.

How do I improve my grammar and style?

  • You can improve your grammar by going through books such as William Zinsser’s On Writing Well.
  • To improve on your writing style, a book that comes highly recommended is Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.
  • You may consult other resources to complement these books and help in an overall improvement of grammar and style.

Are there any sample essays I can read?

  • Sample Issue Essays from ETS
  • Sample Argument Essays from ETS
  • The essays on the ETS website have been written by students.
  • You can use these essays as benchmarks to assess your own levels of writing.

GRE ® Sample Essays for the Issue Task

ETS provides brief information about an issue of common interest and tells the test taker to evaluate and analyze it. The candidate is required to essentially develop a sound argument for the issue and support it with examples.

ETS Essay Pool for Issue Essays (1 to 10):

The GRE ® Issue essay is similar in structure to the classic 5-paragraph short essay. You can go through the following links for familiarizing yourself with GRE ® sample essays pertaining to the Issue task.

  • GRE ® Issue Essay-1: "We learn through direct experience; to accept a theory without experiencing it is to learn nothing at all."
  • GRE ® Issue Essay-2: "Laws should not be rigid or fixed. Instead, they should be flexible enough to take account of various circumstances, times, and places."
  • GRE ® Issue Essay-3: "People are too quick to take action; instead, they should stop to think of the possible consequences of what they might do."
  • GRE ® Issue Essay-4: "It is possible to pass laws that control or place limits on people's behavior, but legislation cannot reform human nature. Laws cannot change what is in people's hearts and minds."
  • GRE ® Issue Essay-5: "Success in any realm of life comes more often from taking chances or risks than from careful and cautious planning."
  • GRE ® Issue Essay-6: "Originality does not mean thinking something that was never thought before; it means putting old ideas together in new ways."
  • GRE ® Issue Essay-7: "It is always an individual who is the impetus for innovation; the details may be worked out by a team, but true innovation results from the enterprise and unique perception of an individual."
  • GRE ® Issue Essay-8: "The study of an academic discipline alters the way we perceive the world. After studying the discipline, we see the same world as before, but with different eyes."
  • GRE ® Issue Essay-9: "If people disregard the great works of the past, it is because these works no longer answer the needs of the present."
  • GRE ® Issue Essay-10: "As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more complex and more mysterious."

GRE ® Sample Essays for the Argument Task

The GRE ® Argument Essay asks you to change perspective from the one you had for the Issue Essay. Your essay should be about 5-6 paragraphs in which you will criticize an argument, describe how it could be improved, and reiterate that it is overall weak and unconvincing.

ETS Essay Pool for Argument Essays (1 to 10):

Take a look at the following sample argument essay topics:

  • GRE ® Argument Essay-1: "Seven years ago, homeowners in nearby Brookville community adopted a set of restrictions on how the community's yards should be landscaped and what colors the exteriors of homes should be painted. Since then, average property values have tripled in Brookville. In order to raise property values in Deerhaven Acres, we should adopt our own set of restrictions on landscaping and house painting."
  • GRE ® Argument Essay-2: "Of the two leading real estate firms in our town, Adams Realty, and Fitch Realty, Adams is clearly superior. Adams has 40 real estate agents. In contrast, Fitch has 25, many of whom work only part-time. Moreover, Adams' revenue last year was twice as high as that of Fitch and included home sales that averaged $168,000, compared to Fitch's $144,000. Homes listed with Adams sell faster as well: ten years ago, I listed my home with Fitch and it took more than four months to sell; last year when I sold another home, I listed it with Adams, and it took only one month. Thus, if you want to sell your home quickly and at a good price, you should use Adams."
  • GRE ® Argument Essay-3: "A jazz music club in Monroe would be a tremendously profitable enterprise. Currently, the nearest jazz club is 65 miles away; thus, our proposed club, the C Note, would have the local market all to itself. Plus, jazz is extremely popular in Monroe: over 100,000 people attended Monroe's jazz festival last summer, several well-known jazz musicians live in Monroe, and the highest-rated radio program in Monroe is 'Jazz Nightly,' which airs every weeknight. Finally, a nationwide study indicates that the typical jazz fan spends close to $1,000 per year on jazz entertainment. It is clear that the C Note cannot help but make money."
  • GRE ® Argument Essay-4: "Mesa Foods, a manufacturer of snack foods that currently markets its products within a relatively small region of the country, has strong growth potential. Mesa enjoyed a 20 percent increase in profits last year, and its best-selling product, Diabolique Salsa, has had increased sales over each of the past three years. Since Omni Inc. is interested in reaching 14-to-25-year-olds, the age group that consumes the most snack food, we should buy Mesa Foods, and concentrate in particular on marketing Diabolique Salsa throughout the country."
  • GRE ® Argument Essay-5: "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 on-the-job accidents is fatigue and sleep deprivation among workers. Therefore, to reduce the number of on-the-job accidents at Alta and thereby increase productivity, we should shorten each of our three work shifts by one hour so that our employees will get adequate amounts of sleep."
  • GRE ® Argument Essay-6: "Previous experience has shown that our stores are most profitable in areas where residents are highly concerned with leading healthy lives. We should, therefore, build our next new store in Plainsville, which has many such residents. Plainsville merchants report that sales of running shoes and exercise clothing are at all-time highs. The local health club, which nearly closed five years ago due to lack of business, has more members than ever, and the weight training and aerobics classes are always full. We can even anticipate a new generation of customers: Plainsville's schoolchildren are required to participate in a 'fitness for life' program, which emphasizes the benefits of regular exercise at an early age."
  • GRE ® Argument Essay-7: “In Megalopolis, the number of law school graduates who went to work for large, corporate firms declined by 15 percent over the last three years, whereas an increasing number of graduates took jobs at small, general practice firms. Even though large firms usually offer much higher salaries, law school graduates are choosing to work for smaller firms most likely because they experience greater job satisfaction at smaller firms. In a survey of first-year students at a leading law school, most agreed with the statement that earning a high salary was less important to them than job satisfaction. This finding suggests that the large, corporate firms of Megalopolis will need to offer graduates more benefits and incentives and reduce the number of hours they must work.”
  • GRE ® Argument Essay-8: "Given that the number of people in our country with some form of arthritis is expected to rise from 40 million to 60 million over the next twenty years, pharmaceutical companies that produce drugs for the treatment of arthritis should be very profitable. Many analysts believe that in ten years Becton Pharmaceuticals, which makes Xenon, the best-selling drug treatment for arthritis, will be the most profitable pharmaceutical company. But the patent on Xenon expires in three years, and other companies will then be able to produce a cheaper version of the drug. Thus, it is more likely that in ten years the most profitable pharmaceutical company will be Perkins Pharmaceuticals, the maker of a new drug called Xylan, which clinical studies show is preferred over Xenon by seven out of ten patients suffering from the most extreme cases of arthritis."
  • GRE ® Argument Essay-9: "In the next mayoral election, residents of Clearview should vote for Ann Green, who is a member of the Good Earth Coalition, rather than for Frank Braun, a member of the Clearview town council, because the current members are not protecting our environment. For example, during the past year, the number of factories in Clearview has doubled, air pollution levels have increased, and the local hospital has treated 25 percent more patients with respiratory illnesses. If we elect Ann Green, the environmental problems in Clearview will certainly be solved."
  • GRE ® Argument Essay-10: "Two years ago, our consultants predicted that West Egg's landfill, which is used for garbage disposal, would be completely filled within five years. During the past two years, however, town residents have been recycling twice as much aluminum and paper as they did in previous years. Next month the amount of material recycled should further increase since charges for garbage pickup will double. Furthermore, over ninety percent of the respondents to a recent survey said that they would do more recycling in the future. Because of our residents' strong commitment to recycling, the available space in our landfill should last for considerably longer than predicted."

Issue Essay 1: Technology and Human Ingenuity

The topic assigned here is: “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 true and explain how these considerations shape your position.”

  • The essay on this specific issue prompts the author to take a position instead of deterring their ability to reason about how technology will stimulate the human race to reach greater goals in life.
  • The sample essay looks at a number of possible avenues by which it strikes the right chord with the GRE ® essay rubric criteria to attain that perfect score.
  • The primary rubric criteria are the way in which the author adopts an insightful and clear stance on the given issue in the essay.
  • Over the entire course of the essay, the author articulates his or her position about the possibilities of embracing new technology as opposed to being fearful of it.
  • Paragraph 1: The author recognizes the fact that “technology has revolutionized the world.”
  • Paragraph 2: The author elucidates the thinking behind the declaration in the prompt - “The assumption is that an increased reliance on technology negates the need for people to think creatively to solve previous quandaries”.
  • Paragraph 3: The author refutes the rationale that was deliberated in paragraph 2, writing that “reliance on technology does not necessarily preclude the creativity that marks the human species.”
  • Paragraph 4: The author progresses with her counterclaim one step further, stating that “technology frees the human imagination.”
  • Paragraph 5: The author additionally cultivates the notion from Paragraph 4, stating “By increasing our reliance on technology, impossible goals can now be achieved.”
  • Paragraph 6: This final paragraph successfully ends the essay with a fully expressed thesis that also computes to what went before: “There is no need to retreat to a Luddite attitude to new things, but rather embrace a hopeful posture to the possibilities that technology provides for new avenues of human imagination.”
  • The author’s clear-cut rationalizations of her opinion and logic augment the lucidity of her position, while the nuanced content of the position itself establishes perception into the issue.

Issue Essay 2: Cooperation Vs. Competition

The topic assigned here is: “The best way for a society to prepare its young people for leadership in government, industry, or other fields is by instilling in them a sense of cooperation, not competition.”

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 or examples that could be used to challenge your position.

  • The author of this sample Issue essay has decided on a position on the issue by siding with the cooperation and not competition which is the preferred value to inculcate in young adults in preparation for government
  • The last line of the first paragraph “I would have to agree that the best way to prepare young people for leadership roles is to instill in them a sense of cooperation,” makes a clear declaration that absolutely fulfills the first part of the criteria.
  • The conclusion, particularly the last two sentences reiterates this stance.
  • Just being clear on your stance alone will not help you achieve that perfect score as you need to complement it with demonstrable insights into the core issue.
  • In the second part, the author takes on a two-pronged approach in order to answer the essay question as opposed to just clarifying how cooperativeness spearheads optimistic results in government, industry, and other fields and competitiveness results in negative consequences.
  • In the opening and closing paragraphs, the author makes this position even more categorical.
  • The following rubric criteria deal with how successfully the author fosters his standpoint with examples and reasoning, for example, by reviewing the downsides of competition.
  • Opening with general perceptions of human behaviors at school and the office to present his argument, the author then deftly segues into precise instances of competitiveness gone bad.
  • Each illustration is used by the author to drive his point down deeper with a final round off that competitiveness can help people only up to a certain point, but the price is that it is also “damaging and in due course quite disparaging.”
  • The logical interlinking of notions through paragraphs is the third parameter that makes this a perfectly scoring essay.
  • The manner in which the paragraphs are connected, the core focus still remains on the issue.
  • The author’s skill of using accurate language to communicate precise meaning epitomizes the author’s grasp of the language.

Argument Essay 1: Mason City Riverside Recreation

The topic assigned here is: “In surveys, Mason City residents rank water sports (swimming, boating, and fishing) among their favorite recreational activities. The Mason River flowing through the city is rarely used for these pursuits, however, and the city park department devotes little of its budget to maintaining riverside recreational facilities. For years there have been complaints from residents about the quality of the river’s water and the river’s smell. In response, the state has recently announced plans to clean up Mason River. The use of the river for water sports is therefore sure to increase. The city government should for that reason devote more money in this year’s budget to riverside recreational facilities.

  • The outcome of the survey is binding and demonstrative.
  • The explanation of why Mason River is not being used is by reason of its smell and contamination.
  • Getting rid of the contamination in the river will help free you from the smell thus leading to more residents using it.
  • The author recognizes the supposition that complaints point to countless people wanting to use the river and scrutinizes it by interpretation across potential situations other than the one exhibited in the prompt.
  • The understanding comes from the information that the exact opportunities deliberated by the author are exceedingly believable alternative clarifications for the facts that would transform the validity of the prompt’s assumption.
  • The outcome of her assessment concludes that there are unsatisfactory data to back the theory that Mason River is not used due to its smell and contamination.
  • The author of this sample GRE ® essay accomplishes the prerequisites of a textbook scoring Argument essay is by delivering wide-ranging support for each of her key points.
  • All through the essay, the author is able to illuminate accurately why every single assumption made is challenging by sourcing instances that exactly validate her argument.
  • What makes this sample Argument essay achieve a perfect score is how it has been organized logically, with clear transitions between ideas.
  • The author of this GRE ® essay sample is able to meet the first part of this requirement with a simple five-paragraph organizational structure: an introduction, one paragraph for each assumption discussed, and a conclusion.
  • Additionally, an Argument essay must be detailed and actual in its argument of notions, with minimum errors that the author successfully met with using purposeful language to efficiently and clearly get her point across.

Argument Essay 2: Super Screen Movie Advertising

The topic assigned here is: “According to a recent report from our marketing department, during the past year, fewer people attended Super Screen-produced movies than in any other year. And yet the percentage of positive reviews by movie reviewers about specific Super Screen movies actually increased during the past year. Clearly, the contents of these reviews are not reaching enough of our prospective viewers. Thus, the problem lies not with the quality of our movies but with the public’s lack of awareness that movies of good quality are available. Super Screen should, therefore, allocate a greater share of its budget next year to reaching the public through advertising.”

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 first aspect of the essay examines how it successfully the content recognizes and assesses the portions of the argument that bears a close resemblance to the demands of the task.
  • As part of the conclusion, there are many queries that Super Screen is answerable to prior to making use of this advertising director’s plan.
  • There is a need to closely look into the actual numbers for viewership and positive reviews and ascertain the relationship that their target audience has with movie reviewers and establish how their target audience feels about their movies.
  • The author strikes on the three key points that should be taking into consideration prior to reaching an agreement with the advertising director’s plan: viewer and review numbers, audience reactions to reviews, and whether or not reviews are a useful metric by which to measure movie success.
  • An example that the author puts forward in relation to a particular argument can be found in the third paragraph of this GRE ® essay sample.
  • The paragraph begins by asserting the question that requires an answer – “What the number of positive reviews was and how it compared to pass reviews?”
  • Subsequently, post this preliminary recognition of the question, the author also justifies how responding this question would have an influence on the effectiveness of the recommendation: “If the increase in positive reviews was from 1% to 2%, allocating more money to advertising to emphasize this fact is likely to have less impact than if the money were instead budgeted towards improving film quality.”
  • The author of the GRE ® essay sample fulfills the requirement of sustaining every question she elevates the argument in the prompt by presenting how its reaction would shape the recommendation.
  • The author has also developed and connected notions in a clear and logical fashion.
  • The organization of this GRE ® argument essay sample facilitates in accomplishing this by steering the author’s views into an introduction, four body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • A perfect-scoring Argument essay must make use of complex and precise language, with few errors that the author of this essay has achieved.

Introduction – GRE ® Analytical Writing Sample Essays

Just like your verbal and Quant sections, you need tons of practice to master the essay section too. Go through these GRE ® sample AWA and response essays that will help test your ability.

Essay Response Score 6

The statement linking technology negatively with free thinking plays on the recent human experience over the past century. Surely there has been no time in history where the lived lives of people have changed more dramatically. A quick reflection on a typical day reveals how technology has revolutionized the world. Most people commute to work in an automobile that runs on an internal combustion engine. During the workday, chances are high that the employee will interact with a computer that processes the information on silicon bridges that are .09 microns wide. Upon leaving home, family members will be reached through wireless networks that utilize satellites orbiting the earth. Each of these common occurrences could have been inconceivable at the turn of the 19th century.

The statement attempts to bridge these dramatic changes to a reduction in the ability for humans to think for themselves. The assumption is that increased reliance on technology negates the need for people to think creatively to solve previous quandaries. Looking back at the introduction, one could argue that without a car, computer, or mobile phone, the hypothetical worker would need to find alternate methods of transport, information processing, and communication. Technology short circuits this thinking by making the problems obsolete.

However, this reliance on technology does not necessarily preclude the creativity that marks the human species. The prior examples reveal that technology allows for convenience. The car, computer, and phone all release additional time for people to live more efficiently. This efficiency does not preclude the need for humans to think for themselves. In fact, technology frees humanity to not only tackle new problems but may itself create new issues that did not exist without technology. For example, the proliferation of automobiles has introduced a need for fuel conservation on a global scale. With increasing energy demands from emerging markets, global warming becomes a concern inconceivable to the horse-and-buggy generation. Likewise, dependence on oil has created nation-states that are not dependent on taxation, allowing ruling parties to oppress minority groups such as women. Solutions to these complex problems require the unfettered imaginations of maverick scientists and politicians.

In contrast to the statement, we can even see how technology frees the human imagination. Consider how the digital revolution and the advent of the internet have allowed for an unprecedented exchange of ideas. WebMD, a popular internet portal for medical information, permits patients to self-research symptoms for a more informed doctor visit. This exercise opens pathways of thinking that were previously closed off to the medical layman. With increased interdisciplinary interactions, inspiration can arrive from the most surprising corners. Jeffrey Sachs, one of the architects of the UN Millenium Development Goals, based his ideas on emergency care triage techniques. The unlikely marriage of economics and medicine has healed tense, hyperinflation environments from South America to Eastern Europe.

This last example provides the most hope in how technology actually provides hope for the future of humanity. By increasing our reliance on technology, impossible goals can now be achieved. Consider how the late 20th century witnessed the complete elimination of smallpox. This disease had ravaged the human race since prehistorical days, and yet with the technology of vaccines, free-thinking humans dared to imagine a world free of smallpox. Using technology, battle plans were drawn out, and smallpox was systematically targeted and eradicated.

Technology will always mark the human experience, from the discovery of fire to the implementation of nanotechnology. Given the history of the human race, there will be no limit to the number of problems, both new and old, for us to tackle. There is no need to retreat to a Luddite attitude to new things, but rather embrace a hopeful posture to the possibilities that technology provides for new avenues of human imagination.

  • Rater Commentary for Essay Response — Score 6
  • The instances are convincing, have been developed with careful thought are logically aligned and well supported.
  • The transitions within ideas and paragraphs are smooth.
  • With a complex and varied sentence structure, the essay adheres to all standard norms of written English, i.e., grammar, usage, and mechanics.
  • Even though there are periodic errors visible, the essay still meets all the requirements thus attaining 6 which is the top GRE ® score for analytical writing.

Essay response score 5

Surely many of us have expressed the following sentiment, or some variation on it, during our daily commutes to work: "People are getting so stupid these days!" Surrounded as we are by striding and strident automatons with cell phones glued to their ears, PDA's gripped in their palms, and omniscient, omnipresent CNN gleaming in their eyeballs, it's tempting to believe that technology has isolated and infantilized us, essentially transforming us into dependent, conformist morons best equipped to sideswipe one another in our SUV's.

Furthermore, hanging around with the younger, pre-commute generation, whom tech-savviness seems to have rendered lethal, is even less reassuring. With "Teen People" style trends shooting through the air from tiger-striped PDA to zebra-striped PDA, and with the latest starlet gossip zipping from juicy Blackberry to teeny, turbo-charged cell phone, technology seems to support young people's worst tendencies to follow the crowd. Indeed, they have seemingly evolved into intergalactic conformity police. After all, today's tech-aided teens are, courtesy of authentic, hands-on video games, literally trained to kill; courtesy of chat and instant text messaging, they have their own language; they even have tiny cameras to efficiently photo-document your fashion blunders! Is this adolescence, or paparazzi terrorist training camp?

With all this evidence, it's easy to believe that tech trends and the incorporation of technological wizardry into our everyday lives have served mostly to enforce conformity, promote dependence, heighten consumerism and materialism, and generally create a culture that values self-absorption and personal entitlement over cooperation and collaboration. However, I argue that we are merely in the inchoate stages of learning to live with technology while still loving one another. After all, even given the examples provided earlier in this essay, it seems clear that technology hasn't impaired our thinking and problem-solving capacities. Certainly it has incapacitated our behavior and manners; certainly, our values have taken a severe blow. However, we are inarguably more efficient in our badness these days. We're effective worker bees of ineffectiveness!

If technology has so increased our sense of self-efficacy that we can become veritable agents of the awful, virtual CEO's of selfishness, certainly it can be beneficial. Harnessed correctly, technology can improve our ability to think and act for ourselves. The first challenge is to figure out how to provide technology users with some direly-needed direction.

  • Rater Commentary for Essay Response — Score 5
  • The strengths and weaknesses of this essay are clearly evident in the language used.
  • While some of the flowery representations do have a powerful impact, at times the descriptions are awkwardly placed, with the comparisons often being stressed.
  • The author has used complex vocabulary and syntax consistently – “Surrounded as we are by striding and strident automatons with cell phones glued to their ears, PDA's gripped in their palms, and omniscient, omnipresent CNN gleaming in their eyeballs, it's tempting to believe..."
  • Too much reliance on abstractions in the essay has not borne the desired effect as it lacks appropriate reasoning.
  • On the whole, the essay demonstrates credible ideas with examples with thoughtful analysis, taking an overall complex approach to the issue, thus earning a score 5.

Essay Response Score 4

In all actuality, I think it is more probable that our bodies will surely deteriorate long before our minds do in any significant amount. Who can't say that technology has made us lazier, but that's the keyword, lazy, not stupid? The ever-increasing amount of technology that we incorporate into our daily lives makes people think and learn every day, possibly more than ever before. Our abilities to think, learn, philosophize, etc. may even reach limits never dreamed of before by average people. Using technology to solve problems will continue to help us realize our potential as a human race.

If you think about it, using technology to solve more complicating problems gives humans a chance to expand their thinking and learning, opening up whole new worlds for many people. Many of these people are glad for the chance to expand their horizons by learning more, going to new places, and trying new things. If it wasn't for the invention of new technological devices, I wouldn't be sitting at this computer trying to philosophize about technology. It would be extremely hard for children in many poorer countries to learn and think for themselves without the invention of the internet. Think what an impact the printing press, a technologically superior machines at the time, had on the ability of the human race to learn and think.

Right now we are seeing a golden age of technology, using it all the time during our everyday lives. When we get up there's instant coffee and the microwave and all these great things that help us get ready for our day. But we aren't allowing our minds to deteriorate by using them, we are only making things easier for ourselves and saving time for other important things in our days. Going off to school or work in our cars instead of a horse and buggy. Think of the brainpower and genius that was used to come up with that single invention that has changed the way we move across this globe.Using technology to solve our continually more complicated problems as a human race is definitely a good thing. Our ability to think for ourselves isn't deteriorating, it's continuing to grow, moving on to higher though functions and more ingenious ideas. The ability to use what technology we have is an example.

  • Rater Commentary for Essay Response — Score 4
  • Developing a clear position, the author presents appropriate reasons to hold true and explain in support of the issue.
  • The point on technology usage is supported with relevant concepts that show how it enables users to access data and information and their potential that users would not normally have access to.
  • The ‘golden age’ point has also been appropriately supported by the basic description of our technologically saturated social condition.
  • Paragraph 3 on coffee pots to the benefits of technology to cars does showcase that the overall development and organization of this essay does live through the rare bouts of misdirection.
  • The essay seamless flows from one idea to another but often only scratching the surface level of the core issue rather than probing in-depth.
  • Taking the analysis further, the author creates a marked distinction between the essay and the level 3 response that supports the idea of technology advancing to help progress human thinking abilities, drawing an intelligent parallel between the promise of the modern sophisticated technology (computer) and the actual "impact" of equally "promising" and pervasive technologies of the past (printing press).
  • The reason why this essay has received a score of 4 as the language meets the expectations and the author has demonstrated a satisfactory control over it.
  • Overall, the mistakes are minor in nature and do not really hinder with the clarity of the notions being presented.

Essay Response Score 3

There is no current proof that advancing technology will deteriorate the ability of humans to think. On the contrary, advancements in technology had advanced our vast knowledge in many fields, opening opportunities for further understanding and achievement. For example, the problem of debilitating illnesses and diseases such as Alzheimer's disease is slowing being solved by the technological advancements in stem cell research. The future ability to grow new brain cells and the possibility to reverse the onset of Alzheimer's is now becoming a reality. This shows our initiative as humans to better our health demonstrates the greater ability of humans to think.

One aspect where the ability of humans may initially be seen as an example of deteriorating minds is the use of the internet and cell phones. In the past humans had to seek out information in many different environments and aspects of life. Now humans can sit in a chair and type anything into a computer and get an answer. Our reliance on this type of technology can be detrimental if not regulated and regularly substituted for other information sources such as human interactions and hands-on learning. I think if humans understand that we should not have such a reliance on computer technology, that we as a species will advance further by utilizing the opportunity of computer technology as well as the other sources of information outside of a computer. Supplementing our knowledge with internet access is surely a way for technology to solve problems while continually advancing the human race.

  • Rater Commentary for Essay Response — Score 3
  • The author has been able to transcend beyond the superficial strata of the core issue.
  • How technology has advanced overall human know-how in multiple domains and the way forward is to supplement the usage to “surely a way for technology to solve problems while continually advancing the human race."
  • However, the author has failed to offer sufficient evidence to support this point.
  • Point two is where the author has created an outline by citing the need for regulation/supplementation and cautions of the flipside of depending on technology heavily which is vague and restrictive - "Our reliance ... can be detrimental. If humans understand that we should not have such a reliance ... we will advance further."
  • Much of the second paragraph is filled with loosely connected generalizations which need more groundwork.
  • Some minor language errors are also present in this essay. However, the author’s meaning and implications are clear, thus earning this essay a score of 3.

Essay Response Score 2

In recent centuries, humans have developed the technology very rapidly, and you may accept some merit of it, and you may see a distortion in society that occurred by it. To be lazy for humans in some meaning is one of the fashion issues in these days. There are many symptoms and reasons for it. However, I can not agree with the statement that technology makes humans be reluctant to think thoroughly.

Of course, you can see the phenomena of human laziness along with developed technology in some places. However, they would happen in specific conditions, not general. What makes human to be laze of thinking is not merely technology, but the tendency of humans that they treat them as a magic stick and a black box. Not understanding the aims and theory of them courses the disapproval problems.

The most important thing to use thechnology, regardless of the new or old, is to comprehend the fundamental idea of them and to adapt suit tech to tasks in need. Even if you recognize a method as an all-mighty and it is extremely over-spec to your needs, you can not see the result you want. In this procedure, humans have to consider as long as possible to acquire adequate functions. Therefore, humans can not escape from using their brains.

In addition, the technology as it does not vain automatically is created by humans. Thus, the more developed tech and the more you want a convenient life, the more you think and emit your creativity to breakthrough some banal method sarcastically.

Consequently, if you are not passive to the new tech, but offensive to it, you would not lose your ability to think deeply. Furthermore, you may improve your ability by adopting it.

  • Rater Commentary for Essay Response — Score 2
  • This essay is no better than a score 2 simply because of the language used.
  • Serious errors in grammar, only specific moments of clarity, sentence mechanics and usage of terms minus meanings contribute to this.
  • If one were to overlook the obvious flaws, the author has made an effort to respond to the prompt - "I can not agree with the statement that the technology makes humans be reluctant to thinking thoroughly."
  • However, the author has not been successful in his assertion of - "Not understanding the aims and theory of them [technology] courses the disapproval problems" and "The most important thing to use the technology ... is to comprehend the fundamental idea of them."
  • Overall, the essay presents a badly inconsistent but not essentially lacking in an endeavor to produce and sustain its statements.

Essay Response Score 1

Humans have invented machines but they have forgotten it and have started everything technically so clearly their thinking process is deteriorating.

  • Rater Commentary for Essay Response — Score 1
  • The author’s manner of using significant terms from the prompt "technically" (technologically), "humans," "thinking" (think) and "deteriorating" (deteriorate) clearly demonstrates that the essay is topic and offers evidence of understanding.
  • It also shows the author’s inability to create an appropriate response that is in adherence to the instructions and guidelines provided - ("Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement above and explain your reasoning for the position you take."
  • The language used also demonstrates that the essay is no better than a level 1 as the sentences formed are not coherent.

6 Tips for a Perfect-Scoring GRE ® Essay

Go over these fundamental pointers that should help you get that perfect score on your four GRE ® essays.

  • The common factor in all perfect-scoring GRE ® sample essays is an introduction and a conclusion.
  • Ideally, you need to introduce the core ideas in the first few lines, not necessarily a paragraph and ensure that you wrap them up at the end of the essay.
  • It is imperative that the author states their position on the issue clearly.
  • While you may scrape through a vague standpoint in an Argument essay and still score a 4.0, the same approach will not work in an Issue essay where you may just get a 3.0.
  • Regardless of the essay type or prompt, in order to get that perfect score, you will need to include a statement that clarifies your position and the extent to which you agree or disagree with it.
  • From the sample essays and their analysis, one aspect that is clearly identifiable is the need for the author to concentrate on relevant support for any claims or statements being made.
  • It is always more persuasive if the essay demonstrates claims that have been backed up by sufficient evidence than just making general points.
  • Therefore, going backward, if you are unable to find sufficient support for your arguments, then in all probability, that is a sign that you need to rethink your position or draw inspiration from another part of the argument that will withstand critique.
  • The communication of your notions and ideas and the support that you provide transcends polished writing, perfectly worded or spelt essays.
  • Issues that have been clearly-explained with compelling examples, evaluations and assessments by cutting through the heart of the argument is bound to get a higher score in comparison to imprecise essays that have been skillfully crafted.
  • A key factor in any of the essays getting a high score is a seamless and smooth transition of ideas between paragraphs that have been linked at multiple levels.
  • Even ideas within paragraphs should have linguistic transition levels.
  • All of the GRE ® essay samples adhere to the basic standard five paragraph routine that includes an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion.
  • The ETS website states, “You are free to organize and develop your response in any way you think will enable you to effectively communicate your ideas about the issue.”
  • But having your essay organized across these five paragraph formats it will save you the time of having to figure out a new organizational strategy for every essay you write.
  • And the more consistently you stick to a simple (but clear) organizational structure, the faster you’ll get at it until organizing your thoughts logically comes as second-nature.

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GRE Argument Essay Template and Sample Argument Essay

  • April 6, 2023

gre argument essay

The second essay you’ll have to write when you sit down to take the GRE is the GRE Argument Essay. It’s only 30 minutes and can be a bit of a challenge…

So you need a strong game plan.

But should you really worry about the essays since they don’t factor into your quantitative and verbal scores?


We tell our students that while the essay scores may not be of importance to graduate programs, the ease of writing them should be important to you. The Analysis of an Issue and Argument essays are the first sections of the GRE. You don’t want to go into them frazzled and anxious. You definitely don’t want to finish them feeling like you could have done better. Unfortunately, this anxiety will carry into the rest of the test and NOT pave the road to earning your best GRE score.

To help you relax into the essays and the rest of the test, we’re sharing the exact template and sample essay we show our GRE students. Before you take a look, read these tips on how to practice with them.

GRE Argument Essay Practice Tips

gre issue essay template and sample

1. Words to use in every argument essay are in blue on the template.

You want to have these transitions and links well practice so that you can use them automatically on the test. Obviously, this essay is HIGHLY dependent on the one provided in the prompt, so much of what you write is unique to the question.

2. Your GRE argument essay should be 4 or 5 paragraphs depending on the question.

Some questions ask you to evaluate another opinion, discuss a disadvantage, or give an opposing viewpoint. Therefore, you need another body paragraph to respond to that part of the prompt.

3. The sample GRE argument essay is directly from ETS, so don’t copy the essay.

Think about how your examples and reasons can be used to respond to the prompt.

PEEL means Point – Example – Explanation – Link. The blue in the sample essay shows how well the body paragraphs conform to the PEEL writing format.

5. Always outline your essay first.

It is very obvious to a trained reader when students don’t outline their essays first. You just have to jot down your opinion and reasons or examples in a quick list. This quick outline will help keep you focused and make your writing more cohesive.

6. Check out the full list of GRE argument essay prompts .

You shouldn’t write essays for each prompt (there are a lot). However, you should read over the whole list looking for differences in the ways questions are asked. Then, pick 10 prompts to practice outlining. Of those 10, pick 5 essays to write fully.

7. For extra practice, work on the parts, rather than the whole.

Just write an introduction, a body paragraph, or a conclusion for some of the essay prompts. After outlining, of course. This type of focused writing will improve the individual parts of the essay, resulting in an entire essay that is much better overall. You don’t have to write the parts for the same essay. Switch it up!

8. When you write a full essay, do it in 30 minutes.

Practice the way you are going to perform. By the time you write your second full essay, you should be writing in only 30 minutes. Set a timer and type the essay on the computer without using spell check or Grammarly. Ideally, you will write the essays when you do a full-length GRE practice test . It’s important to develop stamina for the full 4-hour test.

GRE Argument Essay Template

In the argument provided [or letter or memorandum] , the author asserts that [his recommendation or proposal]. The author’s argument does not make a persuasive case for [goal of the argument]. This argument lacks sufficient logical reasoning and appropriate evidence, and thus, is not strong enough to [goal of the argument].

First, write your first reason that the argument is not sound here. For example, put your example of the assumptions the argument depends on here. You can use quotation marks if you directly reference the text. Explain your example with consideration of the stated and unstated assumptions. To strengthen her argument, the author would benefit from add the link to your thesis about the argument here.

In addition, write your second reason that the argument is not sound here. For instance, put your example here. Explain your example with consideration of the stated and unstated assumptions. Unless add specific link to the argument, it can not be used to effectively back the author’s argument.

[You may need another paragraph depending on what the prompt asks you to do.]

The conclusion should consist of a restatement of the argument goal, a restatement of your thesis, and a closer. The location of these in the paragraph will be different based on how you choose to write it.  

GRE Argument Essay Sample Prompt

In surveys, Mason City residents rank water sports (swimming, boating and fishing) among their favorite recreational activities. The Mason River flowing through the city is rarely used for these pursuits, however, and the city park department devotes little of its budget to maintaining riverside recreational facilities. For years there have been complaints from residents about the quality of the river’s water and the river’s smell. In response, the state has recently announced plans to clean up Mason River. Use of the river for water sports is therefore sure to increase. The city government should for that reason devote more money in this year’s budget to riverside recreational facilities.

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 the assumptions and what the implications are if the assumptions prove unwarranted.

Sample GRE Argument Essay

[Restatement of the given argument] In the argument provided, the author asserts that the Mason City government ought to devote more money to riverside recreational facilities. [Your thesis] The author’s argument does not make a cogent case for increased resources based on river use. [Overview of reasons related to goal] This argument is rife with holes and assumptions, and thus, not strong enough to lead to increased funding.

[First reason] Citing surveys of city residents, the author reports city resident’s love of water sports. It is not clear, however, the scope and validity of that survey. [Example] For example, the survey could have asked residents if they prefer using the river for water sports or would like to see a hydroelectric dam built, which may have swayed residents toward river sports. [Explanation] The sample may not have been representative of city residents, asking only those residents who live upon the river. The survey may have been 10 pages long, with 2 questions dedicated to river sports. We just do not know. [Link] Unless the survey is fully representative, valid, and reliable, it can not be used to effectively back the author’s argument.

[Second reason] Additionally, the author implies that residents do not use the river for swimming, boating, and fishing, despite their professed interest, because the water is polluted and smelly. [Explanation] While a polluted, smelly river would likely cut down on river sports, a concrete connection between the resident’s lack of river use and the river’s current state is not effectively made. Though there have been complaints, we do not know if there have been numerous complaints from a wide range of people, or perhaps from one or two individuals who made numerous complaints. [Link] To strengthen his/her argument, the author would benefit from implementing a normed survey asking a wide range of residents why they do not currently use the river.

[Third reason] Building upon the implication that residents do not use the river due to the quality of the river’s water and the smell, the author suggests that a river clean up will result in increased river usage. If the river’s water quality and smell result from problems which can be cleaned, this may be true. [Example] For example, if the decreased water quality and aroma is caused by pollution by factories along the river, this conceivably could be remedied. But if the quality and aroma results from the natural mineral deposits in the water or surrounding rock, this may not be true. [Explanation] There are some bodies of water which emit a strong smell of sulphur due to the geography of the area. This is not something likely to be afffected by a clean-up. Consequently, a river clean up may have no impact upon river usage. [Link] Regardless of whether the river’s quality is able to be improved or not, the author does not effectively show a connection between water quality and river usage.

[Closer] A clean, beautiful, safe river often adds to a city’s property values, leads to increased tourism and revenue from those who come to take advantage of the river, and a better overall quality of life for residents. [Restatement of the given argument/goal] For these reasons, city government may decide to invest in improving riverside recreational facilities. [Restatement of thesis] However, this author’s argument is not likely significantly persuade the city goverment to allocate increased funding.

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PrepScholar GRE Prep

Gre prep online guides and tips, how is the gre essay scored.

argument task essay gre

Your GRE Writing score is a kind of cyborg measurement that averages together both human and machine ratings and melds them into an Analytical Writing score on a scale of 0-6. But how does a human grade the essay? Is the computer grader trustworthy?

In this article, we’ll explain the details of the GRE essay scoring process and the rubrics used by the human graders to derive your two essay scores.

Feature image credit: Seems Legit – panel 3 of 6 /used under CC BY-SA 4.0 /Cropped and resized from original.

GRE Writing Scores: A Roadmap

The GRE essay scoring process is a little complicated because it involves both human and computer graders . Each essay (analyze an issue and analyze an argument) is first graded by a trained human grader on a scale of 1-6. The scale used for essay scoring is holistic, which means you won’t automatically get points off after a certain number of errors. Instead, you’ll be graded on the overall quality of your essays.

Your essay is next sent through the e-rater , which is described on the GRE website as “a computerized program developed by ETS that is capable of identifying essay features related to writing proficiency.” The e-rater program likely grades essays on quantifiable metrics like level of vocabulary difficulty, sentence structure, length of essay (word count and number of paragraphs), and so on. Because it’s pretty difficult to write a program that can judge an essay based on content, it’s possible you could fool the e-rater with a long off-topic essay that uses high-level vocabulary.

But that’s where the human essay graders come in. If the human and computer graders “closely agree,” then the average of their two scores is the score you receive for that essay task. However, if the two scores do not “closely agree, ” then a second human is brought in to grade and the final score is the average of the two human-assigned scores . So if you tried to sneak an off-topic essay by the e-rater, it would be caught by the human grader and a second human grader would be brought in. Even if the human grader scored your essay way higher than the e-rater, you’d still end up with two human graders.

After both of your essays have been scored by e-rater and human grader(s), your overall GRE Writing score is then calculated. To get this number, your scores on the Issue and Argument task are averaged together to give you a final Analytical Writing score on a scale of 0-6 (with 0.5 increments). For instance, if you got a 4/6 on the Issues essay but a 5/6 on the Argument essay, your total GRE Analytical Writing score would be 4.5.

Quick side note: we've created the world's leading online GRE prep program that adapts to you and your strengths and weaknesses. Not sure what to study? Confused by how to improve your score? We give you minute by minute guide.

You don't NEED a prep program to get a great GRE score. But we believe PrepScholar is the best GRE prep program available right now , especially if you find it hard to organize your study schedule and don't know what to study .

Click here to learn how you can improve your GRE score by 7 points, guaranteed .

GRE Essay Scoring: Issue Task

The Analyze an Issue task on GRE Writing asks test takers to read a statement about an issue, take a position, and develop and support that position with evidence and reasoning. For your essay to score highly, you’ll need a clear thesis statement presenting your point of view and multiple examples that back up your claims . How well you accomplish this task dictates how well you’ll do on the Issue essay.

Fortunately, ETS is very up front about what specific benchmarks Issue essays need to meet to reach each score level. Below, I’ve listed the descriptions for 6-, 4-, and 2-scoring Issue essays.

As the above table shows, the holistic GRE Writing score is arrived at by assessing an essay’s quality across many different dimensions: analysis, ideas, development, support, organization, vocabulary & sentence structure. The guiding principle that is used to differentiate between different score levels across all areas, however, is precision .

The more precise you are in formulating an opinion on the issue, in developing and supporting your thinking, in organizing your thinking, and in choosing your words to convey your thinking, the better GRE Writing score you’ll get.

precision/used under CC BY-SA 2.0/Cropped, color-adjusted, and resized from original.

GRE Essay Scoring: Argument Task

The GRE argumentative essay task requires test takers to read an argument and analyze it. The specifics of how this analysis should be done varies from task to task (read more about the eight different kinds of argumentative essay prompts in this article ), but basically you’ll have to evaluate the position or recommendation put forward and decide whether or not it’s reasonable .

Below are the different characteristics of essays scoring a 6, 4, or 2 on the Argument task . As you go through, you may notice some similarities between it and the rubric for the Issue task.

Again, as with the Issue task, the main dimension that separates different score points for the GRE Argument task is level of precision . Instead of being judged on precision in formulating an opinion on an issue, your essay will be judged on precision in analyzing and explaining your analysis of the given argument. Similar to the Issues essay, however, high-scoring Argument essays will still need to demonstrate precision in ideas, development, support, organization, and vocabulary.

You shouldn't number them, but you do have to make sure your ideas are clearly organizedOrganized/used under CC BY-SA 2.0/cropped and resized from original.

How Are GRE Writing Scores Evaluated by Grad Schools?

Now that you understand how the GRE essay scoring works, the question becomes how much grad schools care about GRE Writing scores. The near-unanimous answer, based on the number of schools and programs I researched, seems to be a resounding “not much.”

If schools really want applicants to have specific test scores, they’ll list GRE Writing score cutoffs on their websites (more about what a good GRE Writing score is here ). For the most part, though, as long as you get a 4.0 or above, you’ll be fine, even for the most competitive programs. Find out more about how your GRE score plays into graduate school admissions here .

Grad school!/used under CC BY 2.0/cropped and color-adjusted from original.

What’s Next?

Want to learn more about how scoring works on the GRE? Try our complete guide to GRE scoring . If you took the old GRE, you can follow our instructions to learn how to convert your old GRE score to its equivalent new GRE score .

Hoping for more essay-specific scoring advice? We tell you how to get a perfect six on the Issue and Argument essays here .

Need some quick tips to boost your GRE Writing score? Then you should be sure to read our collection of the best strategies and tips to improve your score here .

Ready to improve your GRE score by 7 points?

argument task essay gre

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

argument task essay gre

Intro to Argument Task (Was On GRE Before Sept. 22, 2023)

Chris Lele

Frequently Asked Questions

This lesson only applies to the current GRE through September 21, 2023. On September 22, 2023, the GRE will change and become shorter. One of the key changes is that the Argument Essay will no longer be a question on the exam.

For more about other changes to the exam, please see the lesson " The New, Shorter GRE on Sept 22, 2023 ."

Q. Is it possible for Magoosh to evaluate my practice essays?

A. Unfortunately, we don't offer an essay review service! If you have any general questions about approaches to writing or structuring essays, feel free to let us know and we'd be happy to help.

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Logical Fallacies

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Analyzing an Argument When Taking the GRE

Sandipan Mukherjee

  • July 21, 2021
  • Career Guidance , Essay Writing , Study Tips

Of the two GRE writing sections, the argument essay demands the most of test-takers by testing their abilities to analyze reason and logic. When gearing up for the GRE writing sections , future graduate students need to prepare for both the  Issue Task  and the Argument Task. As the essay writing service , KingEssays assumes that the latter, however, requires more preparation, because this section exists to test students’ abilities for deconstructing a fallacious argument. And if they’re not used to doing so, this can prove to be a harrowing task.

What is the GRE Argument Essay?

The GRE Argument Task is a writing section in which test-takers have presented a declaration of some kind, often in the form of office memos, press-release-type statements, and other statements that come to some conclusion too abruptly or with many logic flaws.

All prompts will ask test-takers whether or not they find the argument “well-reasoned” or not. While it seems this question allows some room for “yes, I find it well-reasoned,” there will usually be at least 3 or 4 major flaws in the logic within the statement presented.

After considering the prompt, test-takers must write out – in a sound and well-organized fashion – how the speaker of the statement has misled his or her audience. Because this requires a bit of pre-writing thinking, it’s important not to jump in writing before working out what to say.

How to Write the GRE Argument Essays?

First and foremost, the test-taker must carefully read the prompt that’s presented to him. Prompts will always be making claims that, on the surface, make a bit of sense. However, once the test-taker has read through it, he must identify the logic flaws (again, 3 or 4 of them).

This is where pre-writing comes in. Since there are only 30 minutes allotted to this task, this portion shouldn’t take up more than 3 minutes or so, so there’s enough time to construct the essay and proofread it at the end. The test-taker should jot down all the argument flaws, and try and keep the points and counter-points organized.

Here’s a sample prompt from the GRE Argument Task:

  • “Our nation’s new college graduates will have better success obtaining jobs if they do not pursue advanced degrees after graduation. After all, more than 80 percent of State X’s undergraduate students are employed full-time within one year after they graduate, while less than half of State X’s graduate-level students find employment within one year after receiving their graduate degrees.”

Go through sentence by sentence, if that helps. In this argument, the speaker automatically assumes that State X is representative of the nation as a whole, which is a generalization that may jump to an irrational conclusion. Motivation from a state-to-state basis could be different, too, between graduates and undergraduates.

This argument is susceptible to unreliable statistic samples, which is a common logic problem in GRE argument essay prompts . The architects of the GRE are looking for students who can deconstruct an argument and find its flaws.

Other Types of Argument Flaws

There are many other kinds of argument flaws that students can run into in the GRE Argument Task section.

  • Unreliable polling techniques
  • Weak analogies
  • Correlation vs. cause and effect (calling something a cause or an effect when there is an only correlation)
  • Over-generalizing
  • Drawing a too-broad conclusion
  • Circular reasoning
  • Reliance on vague or ill-defined terminology

These are only a few logic flaws test-takers may run across when taking the GRE. It’s important to practice finding flaws in arguments before going in to take the test because, without practice, this skill will not come easily. With a bit of GRE writing preparation, that high score of 6 should come a lot more easily.

The Issue Essay

Taking the GRE is stressful enough for most, simply with the thoughts of the “math” and verbal sections. However, with the bonus of two timed writing sections, it’s enough to stress out the most stoic of students. But really, it isn’t just the math and verbal sections students should prepare for, but also the writing sections.

GRE Writing Sections

Two separate sections are designed to test the taker’s writing ability, line of reasoning, and effective and practical use of logic. These sections are scored differently than the rest of the test, with a maximum score of 6. The two sections aren’t always presented in the same order, so prepare to be flexible.

One essay is the argument task. In this section, test-takers are presented with a single prompt. This prompt often takes the form of some sort of memo or news-type article, and the claims presented within are riddled with fallacies. The test-takers job is to pull apart the fallacious arguments and explain why they’re unreasonable. Only 30 minutes are allotted to this assignment.

The second section, the one that will be discussed in further detail, is the issue task essay. Here, test-takers are presented with two prompts to choose between, both making certain statements that are easily arguable (much like entry-level college writing exams). The student’s job is to choose one of the two prompts, pick a side to present, and write. This section takes up to 45 minutes.

GRE Writing: Issue Task Essay

The first item at hand when approaching the issue task section is to read – carefully – the prompts that are given. Remember, there will be two separate prompts for this section (versus the singular prompt in the argument task section), so read both of them over and commit to one as soon as possible.

A typical prompt might look like this:

  • Present your perspective on the issue below, using relevant reasons and/or examples to support your views: What most human beings want to attain is not knowledge, but certainty. Gaining real knowledge requires taking risks and keeping the mind open – but most people prefer to be reassured rather than to learn the complex and often unsettling truth about anything.

So, the first order of business is choosing aside. Is it easy or difficult to agree with the statement? Unlike the other GRE writing section, this essay is asking for opinion but doesn’t care what that opinion is, as long as it’s well structured and argued.

Outlining and quick prewriting can potentially make or break a GRE writing score. Once the test-taker chooses aside, it’s a good idea to write down all thoughts on the subject, and try to group them in some reasonable organizational form. The GRE reviewers aren’t too concerned with specific types of organization, just that the format used is logical.

After taking a minute or two outlining his initial thoughts in response to the prompt he chooses, the test-taker should then begin to write, spending the majority of his time on the body itself, not so much the introduction and conclusion. These two paragraphs are important, but if time is running out, it’s better to have a fully developed body with a sub-par intro and conclusion than a great intro and conclusion and messy body.

Finally, don’t neglect to proofread. The people who will be reviewing the essays won’t be too concerned with typos and typing-too-quickly mistakes; they will be concerned if the misuse of grammar deeply affects the readability of the essay.

Buy a Good GRE Help Book/Program

Even the strongest writers would be wise to prepare for the writing portion of the GRE. There is too much to outline in a single article, so a good investment for any GRE-takers is a preparation book or computer program. Some are better than others, but the most important thing to look for is that it works for the test-taker. So try a few out, pick one, and get studying.

The writing sections of the GRE can be extremely stressful, especially if the test-taker plans to apply to a school that weighs the writing score heavily. Remaining calm is key when tackling these sections, so be sure to study beforehand, gain some pre-test confidence, and then dominating the essays will be like second nature.

We hope you found this article insightful.

Thank you for being patient and staying with us till the end.

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