The analytical writing section consists of two different essays, an "Analysis of Issue" task and an "Analysis of Argument" task. The writing section is graded on a scale of 0-6, in half-point increments. The essays are written on a computer using a word processing program specifically designed by ETS. The program allows only basic computer functions and does not contain a spell-checker or other advanced features. Each essay is scored by at least two readers on a six-point holistic scale. If the two scores are within one point, the average of the scores is taken. If the two scores differ by more than a point, a third reader examines the response.
The Analytical Writing section of the GRE General Test measures your ability to:
- articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively
- examine claims and accompanying evidence
- support an argument with relevant reasons and examples
- sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion
- control the elements of standard written English (this factor plays a role only to the extent that poor writing skills impede readers' understanding of the argument)
The Analytical Writing section consists of two analytical writing tasks: a 45-minute "Present Your Perspective on an Issue" task and a 30-minute "Analyze an Argument" task.
- The "Issue" task states an opinion on an issue of general interest and asks you to address the issue from any perspective(s) you wish, as long as you provide relevant reasons and examples to explain and support your views.
- The "Argument" task presents a different challenge — it requires you to critique an argument by discussing how well-reasoned you find it. You are asked to consider the logical soundness of the argument rather than to agree or disagree with the position it presents.
- The "Issue" and "Argument" tasks are complementary in that the "issue" requires you to construct a personal argument about an issue, and the "argument" requires you to critique someone else's argument by assessing its claims.
Analytical Writing Section (PDF) — An ETS provided description of the Analytical Writing section, strategies for each task, directions, scoring information, scoring guides, score level descriptions, a sample test and scored essay responses with reader commentary.