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GRE Analylitical Writing Section (Essay)

GRE sets two writing tasks (analysis of an issue, and analysis of an argument), collectively called the Analytical Writing Section. The tasks are designed to test critical thinking and analytical writing skills. The essays come first on the test - 45 minutes for the issue and 30 minutes for the argument.

The first task on the GRE CAT is the discussion of an issue. The topic is intentionally open to interpretation, so that you can marshal your arguments in support of a position. It is rather like a debate. A good essay of this type will give highly specific reasons for a point of view, and back up its thesis with suitable examples. Minor errors in spelling punctuation or grammar will not prevent your getting a good mark - poor logical flow and vagueness will.

The second task on the GRE CAT is the analysis of an argument, which tests your ability to find flaws in apparently logical arguments. It does help if you have a basic familiarity with the terms of logic, so that you can successfully identify the premises and assumptions on which a conclusion rests. Here the mark you obtain is directly linked to the number of problems that you identify in the logic, and sensible suggestions you make to evaluate the conclusion. With a little training and practice, this task is actually easier than the issue.

* You have to type your response. Obviously there is no spell-check or grammar check available.
* The essays a marked by one human reader and one computer program (e-rater)
* Scores range from 1-6 (see the ETS scoring guidelines)
* Topics come from the pool of issue and argument topics on the official GRE website
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