The GRE has a section dedicated to analytical writing where you write essay answers to given questions. Two such questions appear in the GRE. The first part of the GRE test is AWA or the Analysis of Writing Assessment. The segment is subdivided into two subparts- “analyze an issue” and “analyse an argument”. AWA is an attempt to test your ability to analyse, critique, examine and write a well-founded essay from different viewpoints. The topics chosen by the examiners test your logical reasoning, understanding and presenting information and perspectives. Very importantly, your reasoning skills are tested here.
In the first task, to analyse an issue, a general and real world GRE Analytical Writing Syllabus issue is taken up and you are asked to discuss it. You can take a side and argue for or against sides. Topics can be from Education, Arts, Government/Politics, Philosophy, Sciences and Technology. Generally, agreeing to the point of view stated in the Issue Essay gives you more to write on. But there are outliers. So, choose your stance wisely. The issue essay is like a school debate where you take a stance, list reasons for the stance and demolish the other side. Conclude strongly. And that’s about it.
In the argument essay, you are already given an argument. And you are asked to analyse how well reasoned the essay is. You need to state what is well founded and what offers scope or doubt. The given argument is made to sound deliberately negative. Your answer essay should contain a critical analysis of the claims stated in the given argument. It is not a good idea to present your own perspectives here. Just stick to a critique. List the reasons as to why the given argument is not valid. And conclude against the author’s point of view. Typically, the author’s point of view will be flawed. That’s how the GRE argument essays are and you will have lots of points to write. So, as much as you can, attack the author’s argument instead of trying to support it. That should give you good scope and a chance at getting a good AWA score.
AWA score is quite important because it gives the universities a good gauging factor on how much of common sense, receptivity and language ease you possess. These are important from the eyes of the admissions desk of universities abroad.
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Download GRE Analytical Writing Syllabus.