The GRE Analytical Writing Section — Basic Format and Skills Tested
The GRE Analytical Writing section is the first timed section of the GRE exam. This section involves two separately timed writing tasks:
- Analyze an Issue
- Analyze an Argument
Here are some additional facts about this exam section:
Sequence: Analytical Writing is the first timed exam section; either writing task can come before the other
Time limit: 60 minutes (30 minutes for each separately-timed task)
Testing format: You use the built-in word processor to compose your essays (handwritten responses are not permitted)
Your ability to articulate, develop and support complex ideas
Your ability to formulate and evaluate arguments
Your ability to maintain a focused, cohesive, and coherent discussion
Your control the English language (word choice and usage) and the conventions of standard written English (grammar and sentence structure)
The "Analyze an Issue" Task (30-minute time limit)
This component is designed specifically to gauge your ability to present a position on an issue effectively and persuasively. Your task is to compose an essay in which you respond to a brief (1-2 sentence) statement involving an issue of general intellectual interest. You'll be directed to consider more than one perspective, to adopt a position on the issue, and to develop and support that position. The testing system will select your Issue prompt randomly from a large pool.
The "Analyze an Argument" Task (30-minute time limit)
This component is designed specifically to gauge your critical-reasoning and analytic (as well as writing) skills. Your task is to compose an essay in which you analyze a paragraph-length argument — but not to present your own views on the argument's topic. The testing system will select your Argument prompt randomly from a large pool.