Wondering what kind of questions are asked in the GRE analytical writing section? This article will provide you with the GRE analytical writing syllabus so you can be better prepared for this section of the GRE exam. Furthermore, this article also provides a few strategies you could incorporate as part of your GRE AWA preparation. So, without further delay, let’s begin to understand the GRE AWA syllabus.

The GRE AWA Syllabus

The GRE analytical writing assessment or GRE AWA is the very first section you will encounter in the GRE test. The GRE analytical writing assessment includes two main sections – analyse an argument and analyse an issue. You will be required to complete both topics in 60 minutes, which means 30 minutes for each topic. If you do not have strong writing and analytical skills and the ability to articulate your arguments cohesively, you might not score well. Hence, let’s get to know both these topics in a little bit more detail to understand how you are evaluated and what you should do to gain a good score.

  • Analyse an Issue 

The analyse-an-issue task requires you to present your opinions or views on a particular issue, based on a broad range of topics of general interest. You are required to present a compelling case and support your arguments with relevant examples. Since the case being presented is such that it can be viewed from various angles and applied to several situations, you will have to use critical thinking skills and express your thoughts clearly. While attempting this task, it is essential to remember there is no right answer to the argument and the evaluators aren’t looking for one. You are assessed on your ability to articulate your arguments and support your evaluation by addressing the instructions specified.  

  • Analyse an Argument

The analyse-an-argument task requires you to evaluate a given argument according to a specific set of instructions. In this task, rather than strengthening or weakening the argument, you will be required to assess the overall soundness of the argument that is being made. When you attempt this task, you should understand that you are required to evaluate the logical soundness of the author’s claims. Hence, it is essential to read the argument more than once and list the points which you will want to mention in your response. Before you attempt this task, it is essential to note the following:

  • Check what is offered as evidence to support the case
  • Note what is clearly stated by the author
  • Lookout for assumptions or claims without proofs
  • Understand what is not being mentioned but the author expects you to understand from what is being stated

In addition to the claims made by the author, you should also lookout for the overall flow of the argument presented. One of the ways to perform well in the analyse an argument section is to check what you are not required to do:

  • You are not expected to discuss the validity of the statement; whether the argument is true or not
  • You are not required to agree or disagree with the claims made by the author
  • You are not required to express your views

You are expected to check the overall soundness of the argument made by the author and demonstrate your ability to think critically and produce a piece of writing which is analytically strong. In short, the analyse-an-argument task is a critical thinking task and hence, demonstrating strong analytical skills by evaluating the argument will help you score better in this section.

Strategizing Your GRE Analytical Writing Preparation

  • To help you practice for your GRE AWA syllabus, ETS has published a pool of topics for both tasks. You can start preparing for this section by choosing a particular topic from the issue topic pool and argument topic pool.
  • Make sure that you time your practice. Since you are required to complete each of the tasks within a 30-minute duration, it is essential you practice writing on various topics to improve your pace.

To conclude, the GRE analytical writing syllabus does not expect you to possess specific knowledge in any particular field. In fact, the topics provided are easy to understand and respond to. The tasks are developed in such a way that it brings out the complex thinking and writing skills that are expected of you in your graduate studies at university or business schools. Hence, the overall purpose of both the topics in the GRE AWA section is to assess your ability to construct your arguments and to evaluate somebody else’s arguments



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