7 Tips to Improve Your GRE Analytical Writing
GRE analytical writing is aimed to evaluate your critical thinking skills and an ability to express your ideas in an informative and well-developed way, supporting your claims with evidence. In short, the GRE test considers two main skills: your ability to analyze an argument and your ability to analyze an issue. In this article at college-writers.com blog, we are going to tell you about analyzing an issue so that you can create academic papers that are not boring and good enough to bring you a high GRE score.
Analyze an Issue
The Issue Task is aimed to evaluate your ability to develop and support your opinion on a certain issue. The right response to such a task is to either agree or disagree with the issue and to support your point with evidence.
The prompt of the Issue Task will contain a statement and requirements regarding your response. You need to address certain events, facts, and opinions associated with the issue in your response, no matter whether you agree or disagree with the statement.
1. State your thesis
First, your readers should clearly understand your position. Therefore, you should pick a side and stick to your opinion. Be clear about your position and describe it in your thesis statement. The thesis statement must be presented in the very first paragraph.
Don’t worry if your point is too obvious or if your thesis statement appears at the very beginning of your paper, in fact, you may get the highest score (6) if you include your thesis statement in the first sentence. Make sure that you have enough evidence to support your thesis statement.
2. Use the standard structure
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) doesn’t provide any requirements regarding the organization of your writing. However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use any organization patterns at all. You still need to make your paper easy to understand. Thus, let’s move on to the tips on organizing your writing.
3. Organize paragraphs
Once you’ve determined the overall structure of your response, sort your paragraphs logically. Here’s how you can do it:
- Rank your arguments by importance and write them down in this order;
- Do the opposite and sort them from least to most important. This is a good option because such an approach allows you to end your response with the strongest claim. This way, you will increase tension, making your paper more persuasive.
4. Use the standard paragraph structure
Develop the body of your response according to the standard structure:
The topic sentence explains the topic of the paragraph. If you need to respond to the Issue Task, you also can support your point, provide the opposite point, and describe the weaknesses in your opinion. Of course, you don’t need to include all of these in one sentence, just choose things that are meaningful in the context of your point.
For instance, if the issue is an entrance fee in museums in Washington D.C., your topic sentence may state that this fee will make every visit more valuable for visitors.
Development and support
Once you’ve stated your point, you need to support and develop it. You may elaborate on your position, provide evidence to support it with facts, or narrow your topic. The topic sentence should be convincing, and you can make it more convincing if you support your opinion with facts.
For example, if you’re writing about museums, you may address the opposite point, talking about families from far away that visit museums in Washington and pay for tickets in every museum. Therefore, they cannot access the history of our nation easily, overpaying for what is necessary for encouraging patriotism according to the Constitution.
While describing the opposite point, you can better analyze your own point and come up with new arguments. If you consider the issue from different perspectives, it will only help you develop your opinion, strengthening it.
A clincher statement or summary
If you have a body paragraph, a clincher statement or summary are not necessary. The only thing you should do is connect your points, making a transition from one paragraph to another. However, it can help you provide a fresh perspective. Don’t try to make this sentence too informative. Instead, just focus on your main idea and put an emphasis on it.
5. Develop every paragraph
The success of your essay to a large extent depends on how you support your claims. Here are five things that will help you write substantive and properly structured paragraphs.
The best way to support your argument is to provide facts. The main thing is to make sure that you only use proven sources and that your facts are valid. If you’re familiar with your topic, it will be easier for you to select the right information, appealing to your audience’s reason.
Everyone has their own unique perspective. A good way to support your argument is to share your own observations. Of course, this method will be a good choice if you have the necessary life experience. Observations may appeal to both emotions and reason.
You can develop your argument if you approach your topic with authority. You may either provide a direct quote or paraphrase the ideas of an authoritative person. This method may also appeal to your readers’ emotions and reason. However, we recommend that you don’t use emotional appeals too often.
Examples help to illustrate opinions. You can use as many examples as you want, as long as they are directly related to your claims and support them. This method will help you appeal to reason.
A short story can introduce your position while also supporting it with some evidence. If you choose to use this method, make sure to not include more than one anecdote in your essay so that stories won’t distract your readers from the whole work. This approach can help you appeal to emotion and reason.
6. Mind your tone
Although person and tone are not mentioned in scoring rubrics, you still have to think about these important factors. If you want to be more persuasive, be professional and reasonable. Even if you’re too passionate about the topic, don’t be too emotional or informal.
This kind of writing requires a writer to use a third-person perspective. However, sometimes, you might also use the first person, depending on the type of your essay.
For instance, your writing may look strange if you use the third person when talking about yourself. To avoid awkward phrases like “the writer thinks that,” just refer to yourself as “I” or “me.”
7. Add extras if you can
If you have enough time left, you may also add more. The main point is to make your writing substantive, supporting your arguments. Therefore, don’t provide information that cannot contribute to the meaning of your piece. If you have some time left, we recommend that you add the following elements:
It’s not necessary to include an interesting fact or question in your essay, however, such elements can certainly make your essay better and stronger.
Work on your word choice
- Get rid of general words that don’t actually add meaning, such as “great,” “awesome,” “really,” etc. These words are suitable for blog posts and social media but we suggest that you avoid them in academic writing.
- Replace the passive form (“was,” “were”) with active verbs.
- Avoid clichés.
- If you can use more specific words, use them to increase the clarity of your writing. However, don’t use too complicated terms that will make your text harder to read.
Improve the sentence structure
- Use both long and short sentences. If all your sentences are long, reading your essay will be an exhausting task. However, if you choose to only use short sentences, you won’t be able to express complex concepts.
- If you ask your readers questions, it will help you make your writing more engaging.
- You can start your sentences in many different ways. If all your sentences have the same beginning, your writing will be too boring. Use transitions, prepositions, and conjunctions.
8. Create a plan
You have 30 minutes to familiarize yourself with the prompt and provide your response. You may want to read the prompt and get to writing as soon as possible because you have so little time. However, this solution is certainly not the best one. Take about five minutes to plan your response and do pre-writing. It will help you work much more effectively.
Jot down an outline with your main thoughts and think of how you will organize them so that you won’t panic while writing, trying to figure out what you should write next. It will also help you select the best ideas.
Here are the three main steps that will help you prepare for writing your response.
1. Restate your prompt
Formulate the prompt in your own words. It will help you better understand the prompt, and you will also make sure that you don’t misinterpret it. Understanding the prompt is crucial for your essay.
2. Consider both sides of the issue
Think of the arguments of the opposite side and how you’re going to address them.
3. Quick writing
Describe your position in just a couple of sentences. List your reasons for taking a certain side and then list possible arguments of the opposite side. You will have a complete set of reasons from both sides, being able to provide a substantial response.
How Can I Use These Tips?
If now you feel like you will certainly get your 6 for GRE, we have to point out that it’s not that easy. You have to practice, and the more you practice, the better your essay will be. Find some GRE prompts on the internet and apply our tips when writing.
You’ll only have 30 minutes when taking the actual test. Of course, you may need more time if you try to write your first essay, but if you have enough practice, you’ll be able to provide a good response in 30 minutes. The more you write, the faster you do it.
We hope that this article and our tips will help you. Follow our advice, practice, and you will increase your chances to get a high GRE score.