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How to Write the GRE Essays

Updated on December 27, 2017
SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

I have been a college teacher and journalist. As a freelance content writer, I research the subject to write without prejudice and malice.


It is a part of standardized Graduate Record Examinations test. The first and the foremost thing needed for the preparation of GRE essay writing is to become well acquainted with, how to handle this section. What type of essays will be there and what is expected to be written.

There are two essays in this section. The first is about the analysis of an issue, and the second deals with the analysis of an argument.

In an analysis of an issue, one topic has to be chosen out of two topics. The question will give a brief opinion on a particular issue, this is to be analyzed and you have to give your own opinion in a logical and convincing manner. The time limit is 45-minutes.

Only one topic is given in analysis of an argument and you have no choice. Critical analysis of the presented argument is needed. Think about the ideas to counter the given views of the author by presenting a genuine and valid observation. Here the time limit is 30 minutes. This section evaluates how you can think and refute the given viewpoint. The subject of topics is common and is about general issues, which need no prior knowledge.

Purpose of GRE Essays

The primary objective of essay section is to judge the insight, which can not be judged properly in any other way. It gives a chance to the examiner to evaluate your understanding, thinking, reasoning, analytical acumen and the ability to present opinions.

This section can not be attempted by rote learning, but by going into the depth of the matter. This is the best tool to judge your capabilities.

Analysis of an Issue section demands logical reasoning with convincing examples; clarity of ideas and focused outlook; well-justified use of sentence structure mixed with good vocabulary; proper use of phrases and idioms; and appropriate similes. Spellings, punctuation, and grammar can be ignored, but not the content which gives an insight into your thinking and speaks about your systematic presentation of thoughts.

Analysis of an Argument looks for the ability to identify the main points of the argument and to oppose them in a convincing way. The criticisms should include evidence, supported by reasoning and proper examples. It must be clear and distinct as a natural outcome. The examiner will find out what you wish to bring home.

Guidelines for Preparation:

Essay writing is an art and like other genres, it needs practice. While writing an essay, gather all available information about the topic. Select the best source for preparation which suits your particular needs and capabilities.

The content of an essay, its structure and language are important. Consider all these aspects because the essay is not judged by separate sections but collectively as a whole.

During the examination, take some time to concentrate, think clearly about the main points. Make up your mind about what you want to write, what exactly you wish or do not wish to be conveyed. Be sure of ‘what’ and the ‘how’ will automatically follow.

A well-phrased essay without meaning and content is useless. Similarly, the arguments must be valid and logical not cynical or irrelevant. Some mistakes will be overlooked if the ideas are strong and clear.

GRE essays test critical thinking and writing skills, but the former has more weight-age. You have to prove that you are intelligent and can think well on issues.

Don’t start writing immediately. Take some time to think about important and valid points to be mentioned. Mention all the points which you have in your mind. Give preference to more important points and write them down first, the less important points will meet the word limit requirement.

Structure of Essay

Keep a rough draft in mind and start with an introduction. Thereafter write two or three paragraphs of actual content. In the end, give a brief conclusion.

Mention the topic in the introduction and put forward the idea, in brief, to prove that you do not have a vague opinion of what you wish to elaborate. This shows that you have a clear and complete understanding of the topic.

Use some quotes, Inciteanecdote or a question to provoke the thought. It makes the introduction attracInvitethe interest of the reader in the very beginning, so that he may become interested in your essay. Don't give over-importance to the introduction, because it is meant to inspire the interest and not to pour out the entire idea. The Ideas should follow logically in the paragraphs.

Body of Essay

After an introduction, convey the entire thought in the next two or three paragraphs. All the different viewpoints should be connected as a whole like a chain in harmony with each other. The well-structured essay has all ideas connected to the previous thought, and one point of argument should lead to the next one.

Each paragraph should have something new and different than the previous paragraph, but the transition should not be abrupt. The paragraphs should not look like unconnected pieces. A new paragraph should be justified with a valid reason for its existence.

Conclusion of Essay

It is as important as an introduction. The conclusion may be very brief but it is an important part of an essay. It should have a separate paragraph and must clearly give the epitome of your viewpoint. Being the last part of the essay, it forms the conclusive and ultimate opinion in the mind of the examiner.

The words should be carefully selected.Drastic and strong opinions should be avoided. It should not reflect that you have lost interest in your essay, and it is just like jumping to the conclusions.

The conclusion should look like a natural outcome of the entire essay. The reader may get an impression that you have deeply considered the different viewpoints before making up your mind. A phrase or quote makes the conclusion attractive with a lasting impression.

Language and Grammer

The language of an essay should be simple and easy to understand.Essay conveys your personal opinions and it should be in simple conversational style, that is in the words which come naturally in your mind.Don’t be pedantic by using synonyms or phrases just to show how well acquainted you are with the language and syntax.

The difficult words having vague meanings do not go well with the examiners and make the essay look formal and ornamental.The examiner should feel that he is listening to you and not reading an academic essay.It does not mean that you are free to be casual.One should be formal and polite. Do not use slang and Informal colloquial language and abbreviations.Avoid humor, cynicism and sarcastic words because it may spoil your essay.

Proper and accurate English grammar is necessary.Take care of grammar and structure of sentences together with proper voice, tense and sense reported speech and subject-verb agreement.The person should be the same throughout the entire essay.Once again remember that the reader should be given the main emphasis.The grammatically correct sentences which fail to convey the meaning are useless.The structure of sentences should be simple and in a case of doubt, do not use long sentences.The sentences varying in length impart freshness to the essay and help to keep the interest of the reader intact.


The only key to becoming a successful essay writer is practice. You must practice writing as many essays, as possible by keeping a record of the word and the time limit. Don't ignore these important points while preparing for GRE essays, otherwise, no matter how well versed you are in writing, you will not be able to successfully handle this section.Therefore select right source for preparation and good luck.

© 2013 Sanjay Sharma


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