6 Tips for Crafting A High-Scoring GRE Argument Essay
Also check out 6 Tips for Crafting A High-Scoring GRE Issue Essay
The “Analyze an Argument” writing task is one of two essays on the GRE’s Analytical Writing Measure. This task measures your ability to comprehend, analyze, and evaluate arguments.
On this writing task, you’ll read a short passage presenting an argument. Each passage is followed by instructions telling you how to analyze the argument.
These instructions may direct you to discuss what evidence is needed to evaluate the argument, present one or more alternative explanations for the facts presented in the argument, explain questions that need to be answered to determine if a recommendation will have the predicted result, or examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument.
You’re given 30 minutes to complete your essay, and the essay is scored on a 6-point scale. Your writing will receive a 0 if it is off topic or illegible/unreadable. To learn more, visit ETS: Scoring Guide for the Argument Task.
In order to score a 6, your essay must clearly identify important features of the argument and analyze them insightfully, logically organize and connect your ideas, demonstrate appropriate word choice and sentence variety, and indicate facility with standard English conventions. Minor errors will not disqualify you from a perfect score.
Six Tips to Score a 6 on the GRE's Argument Essay
- Practice makes perfect. Before taking the GRE, practice responding to 3-4 sample prompts. This will help you gain confidence and familiarity with the writing task. Be sure that you set a timer for 30 minutes, helping you adjust to the time constraints of the test.
- Spend 5-10 minutes planning/outlining your essay. Before you begin writing, carefully read your passage and take notes. Brainstorm a list of logical fallacies or errors in reasoning in the provided argument. Choose the fallacies that most detract from the argument to address in your response.
- Point out 2-3 logical fallacies in the argument. You don’t need to point out every single flaw in the argument in your essay. Instead, choose 2-3 to focus on. Look for generalizations, misleading data, or other inadequate evidence. Briefly mention each flaw in your introduction, and then devote one paragraph to each in the body of your essay.
- Provide recommendations for strengthening the argument. Instead of simply highlighting flaws in the argument, also explain how these flaws could be corrected. This demonstrates your ability to think critically and form a strong, logical argument.
- Avoid first-person “I” statements. It’s appropriate to use “I” if you’re explaining a relevant personal anecdote or experience. However, you should avoid “I think” or “In my opinion.” This information is obvious and redundant.
- Follow all directions exactly. Ensure that you follow the exact set of directions provided for your passage. Read the prompt carefully, underline key components, and double check that you’ve addressed all parts of the prompt in your essay.
How WriteLab Can Help You Prepare for the GRE Argument Essay
WriteLab’s feedback falls into four categories (clarity, concision, logic, and grammar) that directly correlate with criteria for the “Analyze an Argument” writing task. As you write practice essays, you can run them through WriteLab’s software and receive immediate suggestions for improvement in these areas.
WriteLab’s suggestions appear in the form of both comments and questions. These questions push you to think critically and analytically, improving the strength and logic of your ideas. For example, questions may prompt you to consider adding specific details or evidence to further develop your claims.
The software also helps you identify weak or vague word choice (including passive verbs) and find substitutes to strengthen them.
You’ll learn how to write more succinctly as WriteLab suggests that you delete unnecessary words and revise overly wordy sentences. The software even advises you to vary your sentence structure, a skill that’s specifically mentioned in the GRE scoring guide.
Additionally, you’ll improve your grammar and spelling by reading WriteLab’s suggestions about conventions, which also include thorough and easily understood explanations.
By reading and considering WriteLab’s feedback, you’ll learn to craft more effective essays, leading to a better performance on the GRE’s “Analyze an Argument” writing task.