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The One Stop Blog for Analytical Writing GRE: Score and Practice

The GRE is conducted and evaluated by the Educational Testing Agency, or ETS, based in New Jersey. Most of the universities in the United States and Canada and several universities in Europe and Australia. Students must register themselves for taking the exam once on the official website of ETS.

analytical writing gre

It is a computer-based test with a total of 6 sections, which consists of Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQ’s) that need to be answered in approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes. The scores for the GRE test are valid for up to 5 years from the date when it is taken.

As already stated, the test is quite pricy. So, students need to make sure that they analyze well before going ahead with attempting the GRE. If one wants to buy official GRE guides, one can purchase them separately from the application itself. Several online resources are available at a much lower cost to the candidates to assist them with their GRE preparation. Some of these materials are available online for free of cost. So, it is recommended that students research well before getting started with the GRE preparation.

The GRE Analytical Writing section tests your critical thinking and analytical writing skills. The 30 minutes timed tasks are assigned separately. The first 30-minute task is the “Analyse an Issue” task, and the other 30-minute task is the “Analyse an Argument task”.

Overview of the AWA GRE

awa gre

Analytical Writing GRE assesses your ability to articulate and support myriad complex ideas, construct arguments, defend them, and sustain a focused and coherent discussion. It does not assess specific content knowledge but rather is a wholesome task which checks your versatility.

The first 30-minute task, i.e., “Issue task”, presents an opinion on a topic related to general interest followed by specific instructions on responding to that issue. Students must evaluate the issue, consider its different complexities and develop a problem-specific argument with reasons and examples to support their views.

The other 30 minutes, i.e., “Argument task”, requires students to evaluate an argument given in the question according to specific instructions. They will need to consider the argument’s logical soundness rather than agree or disagree with the position it presents. Here, the agreement is not much of a concern, but the basis of the argument holds more value.

The two tasks of the two questions are complementary. One requires you to construct your argument based on your judgement by taking a position of your own and then providing evidence supporting your views on an issue. The other task requires you to evaluate someone else’s argument by assessing its claims and evaluating the evidence it holds.

A basic word processor developed by ETS is used by the students appearing for the test. The basic word processor here contains the functionalities such as “insert text”, “cut-and-paste”, “delete text”, and “undo action”. Tools such as a grammar checker and spell checker are not available for use.

Preparing for Analytical Writing GRE

analytical writing gre

Many students are very confident about their writing skills as they’d have done various content writing internships earlier in their life, in college days. In their overconfidence, they ignore the importance of GRE analytical writing practice during their preparation. Due to this laxity in their behaviour, they pay the price in the exam by not being able to tackle the analytical writing section properly as they were out of practice.

Even the most practised writers should spend some time preparing for the Analytical Writing GRE. This GRE analytical writing practice will help you immensely before arriving at the test centre. It is important to understand all the skills measured and how the tasks are scored in the exam. It is also suggested to review the sample topics, scoring guides, and scored sample essay responses.

Important Characteristics

The tasks in the AWA GRE relate to a broad range of subjects — from the fine arts to the social and physical sciences — but no task requires knowledge of any specific content. The test makers team finalize each task in the GRE. It must include some important characteristics like:

  • Regardless of their field of study, the test takers should take the task and could easily respond to it.
  • The task should bring out complex thinking and persuasive writing that university faculty consider important for success in any graduate school the student is willing to apply.
  • The responses were different in content and in the way the writers developed their ideas.
  • It propelled the students to think differently and frame their ideas in their unique ways.

So, it would be best if you were very vigilant about how you go about your preparation. You might want to take coaching or help from some expert or want to rely on yourself and prepare. You might choose anyway, but be sure to be fully prepared by the time of the test. Writing practice takes some time, and you should choose your exam date accordingly.

Published Topic Pools for Analytic Writing GRE

analytical writing gre

To be fully prepared for the AWA GRE, you need to familiarise yourself with the entire pool of tasks from which all student’s test tasks are selected. The GRE program has published the entire pool of tasks on its official website. You might find these helpful to review the Issue task and Argument task here.

Issue Task Pool

Argument Task pool

Test-Taking Strategies for the Analytical Writing GRE

It is really important to take the GRE analytical writing practice tests before attempting the actual GRE exam. Taking tests in a particular schedule cannot be emphasised much; they will help you improve upon your mistakes and make you think analytically. You need to follow certain strategies, or you can make your strategies depending on your preparation level. The test should not be a surprise to you on exam day as it will create havoc otherwise. Students must be prepared well in advance, take as many tests as possible, and become familiar with the test pattern.

You need to focus on the strategies and how they can suit you and your personality. Never try to copy someone else’s strategy if you are uncomfortable implementing it in your preparation phase. Every person has his unique way to learn and memorize study materials.

Here are some tips about the AWA GRE and how you should go about it

  • Before taking the GRE, review the strategies, sample topics, essay responses for both of the tasks mentioned. Also, review the score guide for each task. This exercise of reviewing will give you a deeper understanding of how essays are evaluated and the elements they’re looking for in an essay.
  • It is really important to value your time well during your preparation phase. Within the 30 minutes for the Issue task, you will need to divide your time properly to consider the issue properly. The specific instructions are given, along with plan a suitable response and compose your essay well. Within the other 30-minute time limit for the Argument task, you will need to give sufficient time to consider the argument given and the specific instructions along with it, plan a proper response and compose your essay on the same lines. Although the GRE test scorers who score your essays understand the time constraints under which you write, you still want it to be the best possible example of your writing that you can produce under the testing conditions.
  • Save 4-5 minutes at the end of each timed task to check for obvious human errors. Although an occasional spelling or grammatical error will not affect your score, serious and persistent errors will detract from the overall effectiveness of your writing and lower your score accordingly.

As they say, practice makes the man perfect. So, here are some ways to take the test to help you improve your AWA GRE score.

analytical writing gre

Remove GRE anxiety

The first and most important advantage of taking GRE test sample tests is that you will be able to accustom yourself to the anxiety and pressure of the exam day. It is a very underrated advantage, but it is of utmost value. With no anxiety about performance and a clearer mind, you will be able to perform better and secure a decent score to get admitted to your desired university.

Strategic guessing

Practising GRE questions will help you handle your panic about an unknown question in hand. When you read a question, and you’re unsure of the correct answer, you’ll learn not to panic. Learning the process of elimination will be quite impactful during your GRE preparation. Here, you will eliminate as many incorrect answers as you can. Even if you don’t identify the correct answer with certainty with the help of elimination, you’ll increase your odds of guessing correctly.

GRE Test paper includes questions where doing estimation is beneficial rather than making a complete series of calculations. For instance, you will eliminate some of the answer choices just because of a quick estimation. This technique is very useful in multiple-choice questions, which is this exam’s pattern. This elimination technique will help you gain a lot of leverage over others and lead to less time consumption while attempting the answers in the examination.

Plan GRE practice exams properly

At the beginning of your GRE preparation, you need to take your first practice test to gauge what you need to work upon in your preparation. You can decide your study plan accordingly, i.e., you want to take your exam after 3-months or 6-months. Plan accordingly.

If you plan to work on a 3-month GRE study plan, you should take six more full-length practice tests after the first GRE sample test online. Take GRE practice tests to measure your progress, become more familiar with the test’s timing and format. After each test, invest a few hours in reviewing the answer explanations. In this way, you will expand your knowledge base that will prove to be beneficial in your entire GRE preparation.

Review every question and every answer choice

Standardised tests are made up of exam-based patterns. It would be best to recognise the patterns by reviewing the GRE test sample questions and your answers. During your test analysis, consider the following parameters:

  • Please focus on what question types did you perform well?
  • Areas of the exam which were most difficult for you to attempt?
  • For all the incorrect answers selected, what traps did you fall into while attempting questions?

It will help if you research to a certain extent in these respective areas, as discussed above because only then you’ll be able to improve upon your score.

Properly analyse your test experience

It would be best if you considered the following into consideration.

Were you nervous during the exam?

Were you surprised by the exam format?

Did you feel anxious?

Were there sections you didn’t complete and were not able to even read the questions?

Take some time to reflect on your GRE test sample and use this self-analysis of your exam as a basis to learn more about the exam itself so that you can perform better the next time you take the exam. Then you need to develop a personal strategy for controlling your pacing and attacking every section of the exam. Remember, there is no need to take the questions present in each section in a particular order. Become familiar with the exam tools, and learn how to harvest easy points. It would help if you prioritised different question types that will aid in turning weaknesses into strengths.

Plan your studies well in advance

Experts highly recommend that it’s crucial to organise your study plan in a particular way. It includes focusing first on sections where you struggled the most and then remembering to check the frequency of each question type. You don’t need to master everything to score well in the GRE, so pick your battles smartly. Statistics don’t matter, for example, unless you require more than a 160 in Quantitative. Focus your energy on high-yield areas of the exam, then return to other areas if you still have time before test day. Remember to alternate your Verbal and Quantitative prep.


Thus, if you plan to attempt the GRE exam, it’s important to practise the GRE test samples as much as you can from the resources available online. Your concepts related to the Analytical Writing GRE section are crystal clear, which will help you improve your score. At the same time, you need to prioritize to devote time to indulge yourself in fun related activities during the whole process of preparation. You need to remain confident throughout the entire process of taking the GRE Analytical writing test and believe in yourself and your preparation. See GRE in the bigger picture and not just as one single test. Just make sure that you do not miss your college classes and activities, as these are some of the best years of your life. Have fun with your friends and build a positive environment around yourself. Also, you must remember that your GRE score (or GRE analytical writing score) is just one part of your application. After all, almost every school looks at an applicant’s overall profile and not just their GRE scores. So, study smart and excel in your GRE!

Know Your Author
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Rohit Rajaram
Study Abroad Expert
Rohit is a results-driven individual with a strong background in Education Mentorship, Program Management and Business Development. Holding a Master's degree in Management from ESCP Business School in Paris, Rohit combines academic excellence with extensive industry experience. Throughout his career, Rohit has consistently delivered exceptional results, driving sales, increasing turnover, and achieving targets. Known for his strategic acumen, Rohit formulates and executes successful business strategies, enhancing operational quality, customer satisfaction and key bottonline drivers. As the Co-Founder of MiM-Essay, a leading Early Career Degrees application consulting company, Rohit has successfully mentored over 10,000+ students, enabling them to secure admissions in top-ranked schools worldwide with significant scholarships. Under his leadership, the company has maintained high-quality service and exceptional client satisfaction rates. With expertise in analytics, product development and business excellence, Rohit has successfully driven the success of various initiatives. Committed to constant innovation, he is expanding the company's offerings by introducing digital and technology-powered products for comprehensive education solutions.
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