The Graduate Record Exam or GRE helps colleges determine your ability to complete graduate level work. The entire exam contains three sections covering analytical writing, quantitative and verbal skills. The analytical writing section contains two essays requiring you to analyze an issue and an argument. The issue portion of the analytical writing section demonstrates your ability to support your ideas with logical reasoning and relevant examples in a concise manner.
The first section of the GRE contains the analytical writing section. You won't know the subject matter before you take the test. Questions focus on current news events and other general topics that don't require specific knowledge of a field. The essay graders want to see that you can form an opinion about a topic you might not have specialized knowledge in and provide specific examples to support your position. One possible question might ask you to explain whether you feel grades are a valid way of evaluating a student's success.
There is no required word count for the essay. Essays must provide enough detail and support to express your opinion and provide support for the issue. Most essays include at least four sections -- the introduction, two or three supporting paragraphs and a conclusion. The introduction states your opinion and perhaps recounts a personal experience related to the issue. The body presents support for your opinion with each paragraph considering a different piece of evidence. The conclusion usually contains a final example that helps to tie the entire essay together to effectively support your position.
The essay does not require perfect grammar. The graders focus on your ability to present an opinion in a logical manner. Provided you organize your essay and offer effective examples, you should score well. Grades range from 0 to 6 in half-point increments. Focus on providing compelling arguments and spend time on grammar and spelling only if you review your essay and uncover no issues with logic and coherence. The analytical issue portion of the test provides 30 minutes to formulate an opinion, outline and write your essay.
You can read about the instructions for the issue task ahead of time. The issue asks you to give your opinion and reasoning about an issue. Once you explain your opinion, you must support that opinion based on six possible instructions: point out scenarios that affect the statement, explain the impact of an adopted proposal, address reasons and examples that might challenge your opinion, address your view and an alternate viewpoint, provide the reasoning behind a claim, or address potential consequences of a proposal.
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