Analytical Writing for the GRE

The Analytical Writing measure of the GRE tests examines the test takers ability to think critically, write analytically, use correct grammar, and mechanics. The Analytical Writing measure is comprised of two independently timed tests: a thirty minute “Analyze an Issue” task and a thirty minute “Analyze an Argument” task. Each task measures examinees’ ability to “articulate and support complex ideas, construct and evaluate arguments, and sustain a focused and coherent discussion.” The tests will not necessarily focus on the examinees’ ability to understand or memorize content, but rather to think critically and write analytically about content.

The Time Allotment for the Analytical Writing Measure

Each of the two tests in the Analytical Writing measure must be completed within 30 minutes. Within each 30 minute test, test-takers will need to read and consider the section’s instructions, plan an appropriate response, and write a successful analytical essay. They will also need to reserve some time to check for and correct obvious errors.

The Scoring of the Analytical Writing Measure

Both of the tests in the Analytical Writing measure of the GRE will be included in one score. The reported score will range from zero (lowest, indicating the response is incomprehensive or invalid) to six (highest, indicating the response is strong, clear, and effective), in half-point increments. Scores will be assigned by one or two trained readers who will assign scores based on the examinee’s overall response to the assigned task. The trained readers are monitored by a computerized program called “e-rater”. If the trained readers’ and e-rater’s assessments align, the human score is used as the final score. If the two scores disagree by a certain amount, a second trained reader assigns a score, and the final score is the average of the two to three human scores.

Some of the characteristics of answers scored at each level (6-0) are as follows: 

Essays with Scores of 6 and 5.5 demonstrate:

Strong development and analysis of complex ideas

Clear topics and main points supported by strong, logical, and persuasive explanations

Strong and consistent focus throughout the paper and strong and effective paper organization

Outstanding use of vocabulary and sentence structures  

Essays with Scores of 5 and 4.5 demonstrate:

Thoughtful analysis of complex ideas

Clear topics and main points supported by logical and thoughtful explanations

General focus throughout the paper and good paper organization

Good use of language and sentence structure with some errors that don’t interfere with meaning

Analytical Writing for the GRE

Essays with Scores of 4 and 3.5 demonstrate:  

Competent analysis of basic ideas

Clear topics and main points supported by relative explanations  

Adequate paper organization

Conveys reasonably clear meaning throughout the paper

Satisfactory use of language and sentence structure with some errors that affect clarity and overall meaning

Essays with Scores of 3 and 2.5 demonstrate:

Some competence to write analytically

Limited analysis and weak paper organization

Weak use of vocabulary and sentence structure with errors that result in vagueness or lack of clarity

Essays with Scores of 2 and 1.5 demonstrate:

Severe weaknesses in writing analytically

Severe lack of analysis and paper development

Poor to non-existent paper structure and organization

Frequent and significant errors in use of vocabulary, the English language, and sentence structure with errors that obscure intended meaning

Essays with Scores of 1 and .5 demonstrate:

Deficiencies in writing analytically

Extremely confusing content, irrelevant points, and little to no paper/idea development

Severe errors in vocabulary, the use of the English language, and sentence structure that result in incoherence

Essays with a Score of 0 demonstrate:

Writing skills that cannot be analyzed because the content disregards the assignment, merely copies information from the assignment, is written in a foreign language, or is otherwise invalid and incomprehensible

To see a more detailed description of the quality of analytical writing required for each score level, visit the GRE’s “Score Level Descriptions for the Analytical Writing Measure.”

 

Research Graduate Program's Standardized Testing Requirements

 

 

Annie Rose Stathes holds a B.A. in International Affairs and an M.A. in Political Science, from the University of Colorado, Denver. She is currently an instructor of writing at Fort Lewis College in Durango Colorado


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