The GRE Analytical Writing section is one of the sections of the exam that tests your analytical writing and critical thinking skills. The section comprises two tasks —Analyse an Issue task and Analyse an Argument. Since writing an essay is highly subjective, getting a stellar score in this section might be difficult. But with consistent practice, nothing is impossible. Hence, through the course of this article, we will provide you some GRE Analytical Writing tips to make your study preparation easier. However, first let’s give you an overview of the AWA section. So, read on!

Analytical Assessment Writing (AWA) Section 

GRE Analytical Writing always appears as the first section in the paper. The Analytical Writing section consists of two tasks as mentioned above — Analyse an Issue task and Analyse an Argument task. The two separate 30 minutes writing tasks in the section aim to measure your critical thinking and analytical writing abilities. The task also tests how well you articulate and support complex ideas, and construct and evaluate arguments. Now let’s take a look at the two tasks that come under the Analytical Writing section. 

  • Analyze an Issue – Analyze an Issue task measures how well you critically think about a topic of general interest and express your thoughts in writing. The issue topic presents a claim that can be discussed from various perspectives or applied to several situations. Your goal is to evaluate the issue, write your opinion on the issue, and provide examples that will support your response. Also, make sure you read the issue topic and the instructions before you start writing a response. 
  • Analyze an Argument – This task tests your ability to comprehend, interpret and evaluate a given argument. It measures how well you express your findings based on these arguments in writing. A short passage where the author makes a case for some course of action or interpretation of events by presenting claims backed by reasons and evidence will be given. Here, your task is to critically examine the reasons the author has presented to support their claim, check the logical correctness of the same, and convey your findings clearly in your writing. 

GRE AWA Scoring Pattern

The Analytical Writing section of GRE is scored on a scale of 0-6, in half point increments. A trained human rater scores the essays in a six-point holistic scale. These raters are trained to assign scores based on the overall quality of your essay. Once the raters give a score to your essay, it is then scored by an e-rater, a computerized program developed by ETS. This e-rater has the capability to identify the essay features related to writing proficiency.

The final score is calculated by taking the average of the two scores (scored by human rater and e-rater). If the scores don’t match, ETS assigns a second human rater to score the essay, and the average of the two human scores are considered as the overall score. Though there are two tasks in the section, a single score is reported for the AWA section.

GRE Analytical Writing Tips

The topics of the tasks in the Analytical Writing measure are related to a broad range of subjects such as humanities, fine arts, social sciences, physical sciences, etc. However, you don’t require knowledge of specific content to express your opinion on an argument or issue based on any of these subjects. ETS gives emphasis on your analytical writing and critical thinking skills rather than on grammar and other elements. 

However, it is important for you to spend some time preparing for the Analytical Writing measure before the test day. This will help you understand the skills measured in the section and the scoring pattern. It is also useful to acquaint yourself with the sample topics, scored practice essays, etc. 

To begin with, here are some tips to help you ace the Analytical writing section: 

  • It is imperative to understand the task thoroughly before you attempt to draft the essay for both the topics. Make sure to allot some time to read and understand the essay. You should at least be able to read the given information twice or thrice before you begin drafting the answer. 
  • Structure is essential while writing your essay. The argument you are trying to make will hold no value if there is no flow and structure to it. Hence, take a minute or two to draft a rough outline of your essay with all important points that you want to focus on. 
  • Make sure each paragraph includes a single focus point. Do not overcrowd the paragraph with too many focus points. This will lead to a lot of clutter in the writing. Hence, make sure the paragraphs are short and precise. 
  • Avoid being the cat on the wall. When you are drafting your essays for both the tasks, avoid taking the middle ground or being diplomatic. The evaluators will expect a strong and opinionated argument, so don’t shy away from voicing your opinion. 
  • Support your arguments. Each argument can be communicated better when you exhaust it with supporting examples. The argument needs to stand on a solid foundation, so provide all the sufficient information you might need to validate your argument. 

GRE Analyze an Issue Tips

The first essay you’ll see in all GRE exams is the Issue essay. Here are some tips on how to go about the GRE AWA Analyze an Issue task. 

  • Choose a side: For the issue essay, you are always asked to either agree or disagree to the issue. Hence, it is important that you choose a side and  state your opinion about the passage presented in the task. Pick any side that you can easily support, and select evidence that supports your opinion.
  • Make sure the examples are relevant to the topic: When adding examples to support your opinion in the essay, you can choose examples from various subjects, such as history, current events, sports, literature or even from personal experience. However, keep in mind that your examples are to prove your point of view, not taking over the essay.
  • Write strong statements – The claim you make as a response to the task must reflect your confidence. Hence, it is important to write clear statements that don’t confuse the readers. Besides, while one of your raters is human, the other is a computerized program, which means, there is a chance of miscommunication. Hence, create bold and direct statements that either support or contradict the issue given in the task.

GRE Analytical Writing Argument Tips

In this section, we will list a couple of tips for the GRE Analytical Writing Argument section in the GRE exam.

  • Avoid first-person reference: While drafting your essay, avoid the usage of “I believe” or “ I think” or even “in my opinion”. It is automatically assumed that the essay will be written from a first person perspective, hence usage of “I” proves to be redundant. 
  • Structure your argument well: The Argument task will have several claims and assumptions. Make it a point to discuss these assumptions, before you move on to criticise it or prove that the argument is flawed. This will lead to a flow in the paragraphs and provide you a premise to begin making your point. 
  • Scan the question for any errors: Since your task would entail arguing the claims made in the Argument section, you have to scan the question several times and make a note of any errors you might find. These errors can be generalisations, data discrepancies, or even inadequate information provided. Identifying these errors will make it a lot easier for you to criticise them and justify your critical analysis.  
  • Provide suggestions: A brilliant way to validate your argument is providing suggestions on how the argument could have strengthened. You can point out the fallacies you have noticed in the argument and suggest alternate ways to replace and revamp the argument. This in turn strengthens your critical voice in the essay, therefore, making it a commendable one. 

We hope these tips for the GRE Analytical Writing section help in your preparation. And, as we have always mentioned, consistent practice will always get you through the exam. So, go on, start practicing, keeping these tips in mind and ace the GRE AWA section. 


  1. What is the average score range of GRE AWA?

The GRE AWA cut-off varies based on the field of study. However, a score of 3.5 is considered as the average score.

  1. How is the AWA section scored?

The score range of the AWA section is 0-6, in half point increments. Your essay will be scored by a trained human rater as well as an e-rater. The average of these two scores will be presented as the final score for AWA. 

  1. Where can I find the sample AWA essays?

The official website of the GRE is the best source for getting sample AWA essays.

Talk to an expert?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *