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What Is the Definition of Analytical Writing?

gre analytical writing does it matter

As a type of academic writing, analytical writing pulls out facts and discusses, or analyzes, what this information means. Based on the analyses, a conclusion is drawn, and through persuasive techniques, the writer attempts to convince the reader to see her point of view.

According to OnlineSpeechWriting, analytical writing does not just present facts. Instead, the reader discovers what the information means through the writing. When writing an analytical essay, the writer should aim for appropriate brevity, readability, objectivity, a direct tone and text-based evidence. The essayist is expected to share her opinion in the conclusion, but the reader should always know that it is the theory of the author, drawn on facts.


gre analytical writing does it matter

gre analytical writing does it matter


How the GRE Works

You can take the written GRE test on certain dates. But most opt for the computerized version.

For the first two decades of your life, there were few detours on your academic road map . The first stops were preschool and primary school, then middle school and high school. Along the way, there were a variety of standardized tests, placement tests and, of course, the SATs and ACTs . You got better at using your No. 2 pencil to fill in the little circles on the answer sheets. You may even have been tempted to make a random pattern to see if it affected your score.

Each level of school and every test was a step on the journey to the ultimate destination: college. After graduation, you could look forward to a career and no more standardized tests. With your degree in hand, the only classes you planned to take were for personal enrichment, courses like art history and Italian cooking.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to your college diploma: You realized a graduate degree could provide the necessary fuel to compete in the increasingly competitive job market. And inevitably, more school means more standardized tests.

For college students whose career goals are law, medicine or business, LSATs, MCATs or GMATs have always been on the horizon. The test for most other students on their way to graduate school is the GRE, also known as the Graduate Record Examination. For 60 years, the GRE has been their key to graduate school and career advancement.

Since it was developed, the GRE has morphed from a written test to a fill-in-the-circle version, and most recently, to a computerized version. Sections have been added and taken away in the hope of perfecting the exam and providing an accurate measure of analytical and reasoning skills. And in the fall of 2011, the GRE will see the most significant changes in its history.

This article explores the current GRE, the anticipated changes to the test, and what you can do to prepare. First, let's take a look at the basics of the GRE.

GRE Background

Preparing for and taking the gre.

The Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, was first administered in the fall of 1939 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It was the first large-scale attempt to use standardized assessment in higher education [source: McNutt ].

While many things have changed over the past 60 years, the GRE, now administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), continues to be a measure of readiness for general graduate level study. Recently, however, business schools began to accept GRE scores in an effort to diversify and broaden their applicant pool. This is good news for prospective business students as the GRE is both less expensive than the GMAT and it's offered in more locations around the world.

The GRE, like any standardized test, attempts to level the playing field for applicants who come from a variety of backgrounds and who are considering graduate schools across the globe. In fact, each year, more than 670,000 people from 230 countries take the GRE. Americans account for the greatest number of GRE test takers. And in 2009, ETS saw its biggest increase ever in the number of people who sat for the exam, reporting a 13 percent increase among U.S. citizens and a 12 percent increase among Europeans [source: McNutt ].

ETS attributes the overall increase in the number of people taking the GRE to three main things:

Yet, the increase is not only in who is taking the test. ETS has also seen a trend in terms of where the scores are submitted. Additionally, they've found U.S. students are applying to European graduate schools, which are generally less expensive than those in the states and where nearly 70 percent of all programs are taught in English [source: McNutt ].

Now that you know who's taking the test, let's look at what the test measures and how the 2011 version will differ from the current exam.

[source: ETS ]

The GRE is a three-hour exam, comprised of three sections that measure the test taker's readiness for graduate school. In the analytical writing section , the first part of the exam, students have 45 minutes to answer one of two essay questions on an issue and 30 minutes to write an essay critiquing an argument on the given topic. This section measures the ability to think critically and clearly express ideas. It's good to know that all the possible topics for the analytical writing section are listed on the GRE Web site. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of them in the pool and you essentially have no choice on the topics you'll be assigned.

The next two sections, which may be given in any order, are verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning . Verbal reasoning , which measures comprehension and the ability to analyze written material, has 30 questions, and test takers are given 30 minutes to answer them. In the quantitative reasoning section test takers use math skills to solve 28 problems within 45 minutes. Calculators are not permitted.

Two other sections, used for research, may also appear on the exam. They are mandatory, but not scored.

In the early 1990s, when the computer became a tool for taking the GRE, it allowed for adaptive testing on a large scale. As a result, the GRE's verbal and quantitative reasoning sections became adaptive tests, meaning the test questions adapt to your answers. In other words, the difficulty of a question is based on your previous answer. For example, if you answer a moderately difficult question correctly, the next question will be more difficult. If you answer incorrectly, the subsequent question will be easier.

The downside to the adaptive test is that it forces the test taker to answer all questions, so skipping a question or planning to return to a question is not an option. The new GRE, which will debut in 2011, is adaptive by section allowing test takers to move more freely throughout the test sections, skipping difficult questions and returning to them if time permits.

The new, "friendly" test will also eliminate the antonyms and analogy questions in the verbal reasoning section and replace them with reading comprehension questions that require more complex reasoning. In the quantitative reasoning section, the biggest change will be the addition of an on-screen calculator and the downsizing of the geometry section. Developers believe these two changes allow for a more accurate measure of the test taker's understanding of real-life scenarios as opposed to the ability to do quick calculations [source: McNutt ].

Now that you know what to expect on the test, let's get into how to prepare for it and what to expect on your test day.

Offered three times a year in eight disciplines, GRE Subject Tests may be required by graduate schools in addition to or instead of the general GRE. Subject tests include: Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology; Biology; Chemistry; Computer Science; Literature in English; Mathematics; Physics; and Psychology.

From the time you decide to sit for the GRE until you answer the last question, the key to success lies in your planning, preparation and pace. Working backward, you need to determine when you want to enter graduate school. Ask yourself: Do you want to start graduate school in the fall after your college graduation or take time between the two? Once that is determined, lay out a strategy to prepare for the exam and pace yourself.

This is not a test where cramming works.

One approach is to first

take a practice test online to determine the areas you need to strengthen. PowerPrep, free software offered by ETS, includes two free practice tests including scoring of the verbal and quantitative sections. For a small fee, ETS will also score your essays.

Next, register for the test several months in advance of the date you prefer. Fall is the most popular time to take the GRE, in order to meet graduate school admission deadlines. So register early to make sure you get a spot.

Once the date is set and you have a handle on your strengths and weaknesses, choose a test preparation strategy that works best for you. These goal-oriented study methods can help you pace your preparation:

[source: Gradsource ]

There are numerous GRE test preparation resources for sale, or available online at no cost. Additionally, you may consider tutoring, classroom courses or online courses.

ETS strongly encourages test takers to pace themselves during the exam. And taking practice tests throughout the preparation phase helps you know what to expect and establish a familiar rhythm for when your test day arrives. The GRE recommends the following strategies for completing the exam:

After preparing for and taking the GRE, the only thing that stands between you and graduate school is your score. On the next page, you'll learn how the test is scored and the scoring changes being made to the new GRE.

There's an application for just about everything on Apple's iPod Touch and iPhone , so it should come as no surprise that developers have come up with one that can help prepare you for the GRE. "This is GRE" and a companion application, "This is GMAT," contain all kinds of study aids from vocabulary review and practice tests to study tips. The apps are available worldwide for $9.99 [source: PRMac ].

Before you register and study for the GRE, do some research to determine the expectations of your prospective graduate schools. Some schools look at the whole score, while others are interested only in certain parts [source: Gradsource ].

On the current GRE, scores in the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections range from 200 to 800 in 10 point increments. As we have discussed, ETS uses the adaptive test model for these sections, which means some people may answer moderately difficult questions, while others may only answer moderately easy questions. So, how can these sections be scored fairly? ETS uses a complex algorithm, which analyzes:

Because these two sections are scored as the test is being taken, scores are immediately available at the end of the test. Instant gratification sounds good, until you read the fine print, which says that you must decide to accept or reject the results before you see them. If you decide to accept the results, then you can see them immediately. But, suppose you have a bad feeling about your performance on the exam. If you choose to cancel your results, you will never see your score. However, the fact that you canceled your scores will be part of your record [source: Princeton Review ].

The new 2011 GRE will score the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections on a scale of 130 to 170 in one-point increments. In the analytical writing section, the scoring will stay the same. Two experts read and grade your essays on a scale of 0 to 6, with half-point increments. The essay scores are averaged to obtain your final analytical writing grade.

For those who take the online version of the test, scores for all three sections are available 10 to 15 days after the test date. Paper version test results are mailed approximately six weeks after the test is taken.

Finally, at the time of your exam, you may designate up to four schools to receive your scores. The schools will be sent a report including any additional GRE scores you have earned in the past five years. Then it is up to the institution to weigh your GRE results along with your past academic performance and a variety of other factors to determine if you will pursue your next degree from their graduate school.

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Is the Analytical Writing Important in GRE Scoring?

Many students starting their GRE prep ask me, “Is the Analytical Writing important in GRE scoring?”

For a variety of reasons, GRE test-takers often have mistaken impressions about whether the Analytical Writing measure matters and how much it matters. So, in this article, we’ll bust some myths about GRE Analytical Writing and answer the most common questions about the AWA score.

Here are the topics we’ll cover:

What is the gre analytical writing measure, how does analytical writing affect gre scores, consider school ranking, beware the steep drop in the score percentiles, can i skip analytical writing on the gre, a little preparation goes a long way, key takeaways, what’s next.

To start, let’s review what exactly GRE Analytical Writing entails.

The Analytical Writing measure is the first section you’ll see on your GRE . This section contains two essay tasks, each of which you have 30 minutes to complete.

The Issue task asks you to analyze an issue. The essay prompt presents an opinion about a topic of general interest. You’ll have to craft an essay responding to that opinion, with your own reasoning and examples supporting your stance. Whether your response agrees or disagrees with the presented opinion does not affect your essay score. The point is to pick whatever position allows you to craft as logical, coherent, and convincing an essay as possible.

The Argument task asks you to analyze an argument. The argument will be a statement backed up with a justification or followed by a conclusion, either of which is most likely faulty or illogical in some way. Your job is to objectively evaluate the evidence provided in the argument, point out flaws and assumptions in the argument, and back up your analysis using logical reasoning, not your opinion.

Neither of the GRE essays requires you to have particular subject matter knowledge. All of the information you need to write an effective response will appear in the essay prompt, be common knowledge, or be things that you happen to know and can utilize in your essay.

You will write your essays using the basic word processing program provided by the GRE test platform. That program features common functions such as Cut , Paste , Delete , and Undo , but does not feature automated spelling or grammar check.

The Analytical Writing measure contains two essay tasks, each of which you have 30 minutes to complete.

Now that we know what to expect in the GRE Analytical Writing measure, let’s discuss how GRE essays are scored.

The Analytical Writing section is scored separately from the rest of your GRE. In fact, you won’t see your AWA score along with your other scores on test day, because a trained human reader will score your GRE essays, in addition to the computer. So, to allow time for a human to read your essays, you receive your AWA score once your official scores are posted to your account. The score you receive is on a 0-6 scale, in half-point increments.

The Analytical Writing section is scored separately from the rest of your GRE.

Now, when test-takers hear that the GRE Analytical Writing score is separate, generally one of the first questions they ask is, is GRE writing a part of the GRE overall score? The simple answer is no. Your GRE total score reflects your performance in the Quant and Verbal sections of the exam. Since you receive your total score immediately upon completion of your exam, before your essays have been scored, they have no effect on your overall GRE score. (You can get a detailed breakdown of how the GRE is scored here .)

Your total GRE score does not include Analytical Writing.

Because the Analytical Writing score is not factored into the total GRE score, and because test-takers don’t receive their AWA scores on test day, many GRE students assume that the essay score doesn’t really matter. However, depending on the graduate program to which you’re applying, your AWA score may be an important part of how admissions views your GRE scores. Let’s discuss.

Does the Writing Score Matter to Graduate Schools?

Test-takers often mistakenly assume that graduate schools don’t really care about the GRE essay score. The general thinking is that, since the AWA score is not part of the total GRE score, it doesn’t matter.

Furthermore, test-takers applying to programs in certain fields may assume that writing skills are unimportant for those programs. Or they may think that as long as their application essays are well-written, admissions will “already know” that they have writing skills.

It’s true that programs in some fields expect higher AWA scores than others. For instance, even top Engineering programs generally don’t expect AWA scores as high as those that a good Journalism or English program wants to see. That said, even more math-focused programs may look askance at a very low essay score.

So, this begs the question, what is a good Analytical Writing score for the GRE?

What Is a Good Analytical Writing Score on the GRE?

Analytical Writing is no different from the other GRE sections in that particular section scores matter more for some programs than for others.

Let’s take our earlier example of an Engineering vs. Journalism program. The graduate program in Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon, a top 5 Engineering school, reports that the average Writing score of admitted students is 4.0. NYU’s master’s in Journalism program, on the other hand, reports that its students have an average AWA score of 5.0.

Of course, this disparity is no surprise. Advanced writing skills are central to a student’s ability to perform at a high level in a Journalism program. That said, a 4.0 average is still pretty good for a “math-centric” program such as Engineering, right?

In other words, it’s a mistake to assume that, because a program is not centered on verbal or writing skills, any AWA score will do. Would you feel super confident applying to the Mechanical Engineering program at Carnegie Mellon with a 2.5 AWA? A 3.0?

The moral of the story is that it’s always best to research the GRE Analytical Writing score averages at the specific programs you’re interested in. Those averages will tell you how important AWA is for you. If your field of study is more verbal-focused, chances are the AWA score will matter more than if your field is more math-focused. However, even if you’re applying to math-focused programs, assuming that the Writing score doesn’t matter at all is a mistake.

Research the Analytical Writing score averages at the programs you’re interested in to determine how much the Writing section matters for admissions.

Highly ranked programs may require pretty impressive scores in every GRE section.

For instance, UC Berkeley’s graduate program in Psychology, ranked #1 by U.S. News , reports that the 2020 cohort of admitted students had the following average GRE scores: 

It’s difficult to look at those averages and say that the program cares much more about one GRE section vs. another, or that any of the sections isn’t “important.”

Keep this example in mind when researching score averages at your desired programs, because in some cases, you may find data only on GRE Quant and Verbal scores, not AWA scores. In those cases, you’ll want to consider the program rankings. Are you looking at very highly ranked programs that will want to see fairly high scores in every GRE section?

Additionally, you can look for AWA score averages at similarly ranked programs, which will probably have score expectations similar to those of the programs you’re interested in. Furthermore, you can always reach out to admissions at your desired programs to try to get further insight into what kinds of GRE essay scores they look for from applicants.

If AWA score averages aren’t available for your desired programs, look at averages at similarly ranked programs and consider contacting admissions for further insight.

Let’s say you’re not applying to a top-ranked school. Or, you’ve determined that AWA is the least emphasized GRE section for admissions at your desired programs. Even in those cases, you should be aware that there are sharp drops in the percentile rankings associated with AWA scores below a certain point.

Let’s take a look at the latest AWA percentile rankings, per ETS , as of this writing. Note that ETS reports that the average AWA score among all GRE test-takers is 3.6.

Notice that the differences in percentile rankings among the upper scores are not that great. However, as we approach and fall below the average AWA score, the percentile rankings quickly plummet.

So, while the difference between scoring, say, 3.5 and 3.0 may not seem that significant to many test-takers, going from “around average” to a 13th percentile ranking may seem pretty darn significant to admissions.

Given the steep drops we see in percentile rankings associated with below-average AWA scores, I think it’s generally wise to aim for an AWA score of at least 3.5, even for math-focused programs. That way, you avoid those really low percentile rankings.

Remember, you don’t want to give admissions the impression that you didn’t care enough to even try on your GRE essays. And of course, the higher the AWA averages at your desired programs, the higher you should aim.

Generally speaking, test-takers should try to at least hit the worldwide average AWA score of 3.5, to avoid very low percentile rankings.

One very common question I hear from GRE students, particularly those applying to programs that emphasize Quant, is whether it’s OK to skip the Analytical Writing section of the GRE.

For most GRE test-takers, the answer to this question will be no. Most graduate schools want applicants submitting GRE scores to have taken the entire GRE, not just parts of it.

So, unless your desired programs explicitly state that they don’t consider GRE Writing scores, you definitely should not skip AWA. Furthermore, even if a program states on its website that AWA scores are not required or considered, it’s a smart idea to contact admissions directly to confirm that policy. You don’t want an avoidable slip-up such as skipping AWA to cause any problems with your application.

Do not skip the GRE Writing unless you have confirmed with admissions that AWA scores are not factored into admissions decisions.

All things considered, most GRE test-takers have to complete the Analytical Writing section. Furthermore, many (if not most) need to aim for an AWA score that is at least average or better than average.

Fortunately, preparing for Analytical Writing does not have to take a huge chunk out of your GRE prep time. When it comes to the GRE essays, a little preparation goes a long way — even more reason not to neglect AWA! Just taking a few days to do the following could mean the difference between a mediocre AWA score and a top-notch one:

At the end of the day, this relatively small investment of time and effort will be well worth it!

Take a few days to review the GRE essay topic pools that ETS publishes, solidify a basic outline to follow for each essay type, and practice writing an essay or two of each type.

Wondering how much GRE scores matter in general for graduate school? Check out this article for guidance .

You also may be interested in this article about what graduate schools consider a good GRE score . 

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Marty Murray is the Chief Curriculum and Content Architect for Target Test Prep. A test prep veteran who has scored in the 99th percentile on multiple high stakes standardized tests, Marty is known worldwide for his understanding of effective test preparation. At Target Test Prep, Marty has helped thousands of people to achieve their score goals by creating insightful course content and challenging practice questions designed to help people learn just what they need to know to master tests such as the GRE.

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GRE Essay: Why Is the GRE Essay Section So Important?

gre analytical writing does it matter

By Jitta Raghavender Rao • GRE Writing

The GRE Essay section sounds a bit intimidating, right?

Well, a perfect score on the GRE Essay section would need knowledge of obscure vocabulary, impeccable writing skills, and torrents of practice. But hang on for a second; because the GRE essay is more than just a score . It holds a lot more importance than you think. No. I’m not talking about the importance of language or coherence or logic; but the importance of the first ever section that you are going to face on test day.

I want to address some common confusion about the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) portion of the GRE exam. The AWA section involves two essays, and you get 30 minutes for each essay. And if you finish writing your first essay in 20 minutes, you don’t get 40 minutes for the second essay. If you aren’t new to the GRE format, you’d probably know that  the GRE begins with the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) or the GRE Essay section . But, many of you underestimate its importance. You probably think that the GRE essay section is not nearly as consequential as the other sections. Yes, the essays are not part of your total GRE score and are instead scored on a separate scale out of 6.0 in increment of 0.5. Agreed; from the admissions point of view, a difference of 0.5 – 1 point on the GRE Essay doesn’t make or break your chances of getting into your dream school. A 5.0 is almost as good as the 6.0, and unless you score below 4.0 and you are applying to the top schools, you won’t be hurting your chances.

The Big Mistake Most Students Make:

Almost half of the GRE test takers every year are Native English speakers. And these students tend to neglect practicing the AWA section at home, because according to them, it’s not worth investing time on something they are very confident about. But, there are a few vital points that they don’t realize.

We’ve observed what students do when they practice for the GRE, how their approaches have affected their scores on test day, and figured out four reasons as to why the AWA section is an extremely important aspect of the GRE exam.

Reasons Why Practicing GRE Essay is Important:

1. inflated scores during practice.

This is the single most important thing to consider when we talk about the importance of the essay section. Students normally tend to skip the essay section when they take practice tests , so they can directly go to the first section of Math/Verbal. Though this might seem like the obvious choice to you, you should consider the aftereffects before jumping into conclusions.

Think about it. The GRE is not a typical test that you encounter at college or elsewhere. It is a marathon. An intense, 3 hour 45 minute journey, which obviously you aren’t accustomed to. Now, if you skip the essay section during practice, you’ll be forfeiting 60 minutes of the total test time, which means you are going to have to sit for 2 hours and 45 minutes only. This translates into an inflated overall score during practice, because you are just that much more active than you will be on test day.

So, you get accustomed to sitting for 2 hours 45 minutes for the test, and your brain is hardwired to concentrate for that much time only. But, on test day, you still have two more sections to finish after you complete 2 hours and 45 minutes. Do you get the point? It’s that extra one hour of concentration that requires sudden attention from your brain, which it sadly isn’t ready for.

This is exactly why thousands of students score very low on their last two to three sections. They simply aren’t ready for the extra time, because their brains feel tired already. So, if you don’t skip the essay during practice, you’ll be writing in the exact test conditions as on test day, thereby training your brain for the big encounter.

2. The Essay Section is a Great Confidence Booster

Since the essay section is the first thing you will see on test day, it is what makes or breaks your confidence. If you ace this section, it will be a confidence booster for the rest of the exam. You will definitely carry the momentum further into the test. But at the same time, if you don’t do well on this section, the momentum won’t be on your side. The added pressure and the worry that you haven’t done well till then, will have a massive effect on your performance thereon.

3. Very Few Get a Perfect Essay Score

According to  this ETS Report , only 1 percent of all students writing the GRE,  score a perfect 6.0 on the AWA . Which is around 7000 of 700,000 students every year. This statistic alone shows how hard it is to get a perfect essay score. And universities love students who score well in all the sections. They look for students who don’t leave any stone unturned. And it definitely doesn’t make a good impression on you if you have a great GRE score, but a paltry AWA score. So, it goes without saying that you will need lots of practice if you plan to score anywhere close to the perfect figure.

GRE Essay Percentiles

4. sops and essays.

Universities know that most students seek help from consultancies and professional essay writers to help with their Essays and Statements of Purpose. They believe that approaching consultancies makes the entire point behind essays and SOPs moot. Universities know for a fact that if you take help from professional writers, your essays and SOPs don’t sound original, because they all use a basic template that they tweak a little here and there based on your profile, and then send them away. Generally, university admissions committees use your AWA scores to judge whether or not you actually wrote your essays and statements of purpose. If your score is 3.0, for example, but your essays sound brilliant, they would know that you haven’t sent the application on your own. This creates a very negative impression on you, which you don’t want to see happen. Now, it may be true that some admissions committees won’t care as much. But are you willing to take that risk? What if you’re applying to your dream school, that requires you to present every advantage you can? Scoring higher on the GRE but failing to score on the essays doesn’t seem very prudent.

So, make sure you practice thoroughly and score well on the AWA section, so that even if you take help from professional writers, your essays and your AWA score don’t disagree with each other.

All things considered, it’s really not worth taking the risk, and a poor or nonexistent AWA score will not look good to admissions committees.

Now Its Your Turn

So, these are the reasons why you should ditch the idea that GRE Essay section isn’t very important. Start practicing essays right from the beginning, get a perfect 6.0 score, and give yourself some ego boost!

That is what we think about the GRE Essay section. What do you think? Let us know your thoughts about the AWA section in the comments.

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3 Comments to “GRE Essay: Why Is the GRE Essay Section So Important?”

gre analytical writing does it matter

Thank you for sharing this article,this article is veru usefull for me like what is GRE and How Should we prepare For GRE,Why is it Important.Keep on Posting

gre analytical writing does it matter

Yeah, I totally agree with every single word in this article and I’ll start preparing for AWA section from now on!

gre analytical writing does it matter

Having just taken the GRE test, I agree that the essay should not be neglected. It is difficult to adequately prepare for it unless you understand how to construct your answer in format required.

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The GRE writing score is perhaps the most confusing part of your score report. What does it mean? Do schools care about it at all?

In this article, we’ll clarify all of that and explain how you can figure out what a good GRE Writing score is for you. We’ll go over percentiles for the GRE Writing as a whole as well as  average and cut-off scores for grad programs and how you can use all this information to choose a target GRE Writing score.

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How Do You Figure Out What a Good GRE Writing Score Is?

A good GRE Writing score is one that gets you into the program you want to get into. For the most part, graduate schools don’t even really care about applicants having a high GRE Analytical Writing score – it’s more a matter of applicants avoiding elimination because their GRE Writing score is significantly below that of the average applicant for their program .

To figure out where you stand compared to other applicants, the first step is to look at the GRE Writing score percentiles (released by ETS ), shown in the table below.

GRE Analytical Writing: Score Percentiles

We’ve divided the table into different colors based on whether the GRE analytical writing scores would be considered low (0.0-3.0) , average (3.5-4.0) , high (4.5-5.0) , or excellent (5.5-6.0) .

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If your GRE Writing score is a 4.5 or above , you’re in good shape for most graduate programs, compared to all other GRE takers.

GRE Writing Scores and Fields of Study

Another important factor that determines a good GRE Writing score is the field of study you’re interested in pursuing.

Different fields of graduate study vary tremendously in what scores they want to see on GRE Analytical Writing. Programs in engineering and the sciences tend to have lower average GRE Writing scores and score cut-offs, while programs in the humanities, arts, and social sciences tend to have higher ones.

Take a look below at average GRE Writing scores by intended major field , keeping in mind that these aren’t the Writing scores of admitted students, just the scores of test-takers who intended to apply to graduate school in these fields.

The difference between the field with the highest average analytical writing score (Humanities and Arts, 4.0) and the fields with the lowest average analytical writing scores (Undecided, 3.0) is one full point, or two 0.5 score increments. On a measure where the difference between a 3.0 and a 4.0 is 42 percentage points, this is a pretty significant variation – percentile-wise, prospective Humanities and Arts students tend to get way better GRE Writing scores than Engineering students.

More important than the scores of potential grad school applicants, however, are the GRE Writing scores of students actually admitted to various degree-granting programs. Below, I’ve compiled a list of nine different programs from seven different schools around the country.

Admitted Applicant GRE Analytical Writing Scores

The first four schools on the lists have GRE Writing score cut-offs (students must get a minimum of these scores or above), while the last five schools all provide GRE Writing score averages. As you can see, scores vary a little bit among the different subject areas, but for the most part the differences in GRE writing scores among the different programs are negligible.

The biggest difference on this table is between the cutoff score for the MA in Sociology at the University of Houston and scores for other schools that specify a minimum or average GRE Writing score. There are two possible reasons for this discrepancy: the University of Houston program is a master’s program (rather than a doctoral program, like many of the others on the list) and it isn’t as highly ranked as the other programs are in their respective fields.

The takeaway is that even the most competitive grad programs aren’t going to require you to have a 6.0 GRE Writing score; practically speaking, a 5.5 or 6.0 is exceptional, and a 4.5 or 5.0 is all that’s required, even for the highest-ranked of programs.

Determining Your Personal GRE Writing Score Target

It’s possible to get a rough sense of what GRE Writing score you should aim for just by looking at the above assortment of schools – humanities and social sciences want higher scores than engineering/other STEM fields, and Ph.Ds require higher scores than Master’s programs. But when it comes to setting goals for your studying, having a particular score to aim for is always better than ballparking it . And the best way to figure out what a good GRE Writing score for you is to base it off of the scores of schools and programs you’re planning on applying to.

In this next section, we’ll take you through how to find the Analytical Writing GRE score that will get you into grad school.

What’s a Good GRE Writing Score for You: A Step-by-Step Guide

#1: Search “[school or program name] average GRE writing score” or “[school or program name] required GRE writing score”

You may have to check the program website or unofficial message boards if this search does not turn up any promising results. You can also always call the school’s admissions office if you’re particularly worried about it.

#2: If the school doesn’t have information available about the average GRE Writing score, your best bet for estimating what the average GRE Writing score might be is look up the school’s percentiles for other GRE scores and then cross-check these percentiles with the percentiles list for GRE Writing.

For instance, if the average GRE Verbal score is in the 85th percentile, it’s reasonable to expect that the GRE AWA score should also be somewhere around there (which is about a 4.5). You should treat this estimate with a bit more leniency than you’d treat a listed score, however, because of how little weight GRE Writing scores often carry in graduate admissions decisions.

#3a: For schools with minimum required GRE Writing scores : List all the scores for all the programs you’re applying to. The highest minimum score should be your cut-off.

#3b: For schools who provide information about average GRE Writing scores : Average the AWA scores for all the programs you’re applying to.

#4: Average the scores from steps 3a. and 3b. If the cutoff GRE Writing score (from 3a.) is higher than this average, than this should be your target score; otherwise, use the average of the cutoff score and average GRE Writing scores as your personal target Writing score.

Breathe, focus, release/used under CC BY 2.0/Resized from original.

Bottom Line: What’s a Good GRE Writing Score?

Even a perfect 6.0 Writing score is unlikely to offset low Verbal or Quantitative Reasoning scores ; if you’re doing well on the rest of the GRE, you’ll probably do well enough on Writing, but hitting the school’s average GRE Writing score isn’t really going to boost your chances.

Most grad schools don’t care enormously about GRE Writing scores when considering your application, and a 4.5 and above is fine for most programs, even at top schools . As long as your Analytical Writing scores aren’t way out of alignment with the rest of your application, you should be fine.

What’s Next?

Wondering how exactly how your GRE Writing score is calculated? Learn how the GRE essays are scored in this article .

What if your GRE Writing score isn’t quite where it needs to be? Then you’ll benefit from our great tips and strategies to improve it !

Looking for a way to conquer GRE Writing, once and for all? Read our guides on how to get a perfect score on the “Analyze an Issue” and “Analyze an Argument” questions .

Ready to improve your GRE score by 7 points?

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Author: Laura Staffaroni

Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel and fulfill their college and grad school dreams. View all posts by Laura Staffaroni

gre analytical writing does it matter

The GRE ® General Test

One test for graduate, business and law school

Select a step to learn more about your GRE ® General Test journey.

Overview of the Analytical Writing Measure

The Analytical Writing measure of the GRE General Test tests your critical thinking and analytical writing skills by assessing your ability to:

It doesn’t assess specific content knowledge.

The Analytical Writing measure consists of two separately timed analytical writing tasks:

The two 30-minute tasks are complementary. The Issue task requires you to construct your own argument, while the Argument task requires you to evaluate someone else's argument.

You’ll use a basic word processor developed by ETS to type your essay responses. The word processor contains the following functionalities: insert text, delete text, cut-and-paste and undo the previous action. Tools such as a spellchecker and grammar checker are not available.

Preparing for the Analytical Writing measure

Everyone — even the most practiced and confident of writers — should spend time preparing for the Analytical Writing measure to understand the skills measured and how the tasks are scored. It may also be useful to review the scoring guides, sample topics, scored sample essay responses and rater commentary for each task.

The tasks in the Analytical Writing measure relate to a broad range of subjects — from the fine arts and humanities to the social and physical sciences — but don’t require specific content knowledge. Each task has been tested by actual GRE test takers to ensure that it possesses several important characteristics, including the following:

Published topic pools for the Analytical Writing measure

To help you prepare for the Analytical Writing measure, the GRE Program has published the entire pool of tasks from which your test tasks will be selected. You might find it helpful to review the Issue and Argument pools:

Test-taking strategies for the Analytical Writing measure


GRE/MAT & Graduate School Blog

How important is the gre analytical writing measure.

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Fri, Jul 05, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

gre analytical writing does it matter

A high GRE Analytical Writing score won’t help you get admitted to a top graduate program, but a below average score can keep you out of one.

The Analytical Writing measure assesses critical thinking and analytical writing capabilities. It evaluates your ability to communicate and support complicated ideas, design and test arguments, and engage in a clear and intelligible discussion of an issue. It doesn’t assess how much you know about a specific topic.

While an above average score on the Analytical Writing measure is unlikely to really help you with an admissions committee, a below average score can be a big problem. Why? Because a below average score on the Analytical writing measure suggests to a graduate program’s admissions committee that the applicant will have trouble either developing or communicating complex arguments and ideas in writing (one of the core activities you must perform in any graduate program).

In this article, we’ll first provide an overview of the GRE analytical writing measure, then explain how its scored.  Finally, we’ll argue that unless you are scoring below average, you should focus the time and energy of your GRE prep, whether you are working with a GRE tutor or not,  on the GRE quantitative reasoning or GRE verbal reasoning sections.

What are the components of the GRE analytical writing measure?

The Analytical Writing measure consists of two specific analytical writing tasks:

The Issue task presents an opinion on some issue (it could be economic, political, historical, etc.) You are then asked to respond to it. You must evaluate the issue, consider its nuances, and develop an argument, supported by clear rationale and examples, to support your perspective.

The Argument task requires you to evaluate an argument according to specific instructions. You are asked to evaluate the logic of the argument rather than agree or disagree with the position it presents.

The two tasks complement one another in that one requires you to construct your own argument by assuming a position and offering reasons in support of your perspective. The other task asks you to evaluate someone else's argument by evaluating its logic and supporting evidence.

Practice prompts for the GRE Analytical Writing measure

There are a variety of free and low cost ways to prepare for the GRE analytical writing measure. ETS itself publishes free issue topics and argument topics. ETS also offers guidance on effective Analytical writing measure test taking preparation , such as understanding the different task types and objectives in advance, reviewing sampling topics, understanding what is being measured and how responses are scored, and budgeting your time.

However, there are also some low cost materials available on Amazon that go into more detail about what the ETS scoring system is looking for and which provide more structured practice.

Interested in a Free Intro Discussion with an Expert GRE Tutor?

What is a good score on GRE analytical writing measure?

Although the GRE ® Analytical Writing measure consists of two separate tasks, ETS reports a single score. It considers one score more reliable than a score for either task by itself. The test assesses "analytical writing," which essentially means the combination of critical thinking skills (ability to reason, compile evidence in support of a position and communicate multi-faceted ideas), control of grammar, and the “mechanics” of writing (i.e., spelling or flow).

Scores are reported in half-point increments between 0 and 6. As mentioned earlier in this article, a score of 5.5 or 6.0 on the Analytical Writing measure is very good, but it’s unlikely to really “help” your application a whole lot.

However, a score of 3.0 or lower begins to be problematic, because as we’ll see below, it suggests at least one major flaw in your ability to construct and communicate analytical arguments. That flaw could involve your ability to develop an argument, organize ideas, or structure sentences and make effective use of language. But in any case, it indicates that your responses were vague or unclear. And this is a red flag for admissions committees trying to determine if you can succeed in a rigorous graduate school environment.

Below are the scores you might receive:

How should you incorporate GRE Analytical Writing measure practice into your GRE prep?

The GRE has three sections: 1) Quantitative reasoning, 2) Verbal reasoning and 3) Analytical Writing. However, this does not mean that your study plan should allocate 33% of your time to quantitative reasoning, 33% to verbal reasoning, and 33% to Analytical Writing. The impact of increasingly higher quant and verbal reasoning scores are far more “linear” than they are for Analytical Writing.

As your quant or verbal score increases and your overall percentile scores increase from 70% to 75% to 80% to 85%, your admissions chances increase accordingly.  Schools will differentiate between a 70 th percentile GRE quant score and a 90 th percentile GRE quant score. One is just demonstrably better and indicates a higher level of quantitative reasoning skill.

But how is an admissions committee supposed to interpret a score of 5.5 or 5.0 vs. a score of 4.5 or 4.0 on the Analytical Writing measure? Yes, 5.5 is clearly better than 4.0. But a 4.0 clearly indicates you can communicate ideas in writing. There are two entire other sections of the test that measure your logic, critical thinking, and verbal reasoning skills. A 5.5 vs. a 4.0 score just doesn’t score you that many “points” with the admission committee.

This is the sense in which the Analytical Writing scores vs. admissions chances are far less “linear” than they are for the other sections. On GRE quant and GRE verbal, higher is better. On GRE Analytical Writing, of course a higher score is better. But really, it’s more of a “are you above the threshold or not?” with the “threshold” being a score of 3.5. If you are at 3.5+, you are probably OK. But if you are below 3.0, you may have just raised a red flag with the admissions committee.

The best way to think about the GRE Analytical Writing measure, in our perspective, is to put scores into three buckets:

In other words, early on in your GRE prep plan, you should take and score a practice Analytical writing measure essay. If you, right off the bat, are scoring >3.5, you can really deemphasize this relative to other sections of the GRE as you design your GRE study plan. On the other hand, if you are scoring at 3.0 or below, you need to build ample time to work on GRE essays into your GRE prep.

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how important is the analytical writing part of the GRE?

gre analytical writing does it matter

so im assuming that those here don't know the specifics of this program, but im trying to go into a graduate school for clinical psychology, so i needed really good gre scores. i got a 164 verbal in the 94th percentile and a 159 quant in 72 percentile, which i guess is pretty good- i wish math was higher but ill take it

but for the writing section i got a 4 and 59th percentile. how bad is this? should i be worried? i remember reading that the writing wasn't that important so i didn't spend as much time as i probably needed

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I wouldn’t be worried at all.

thank you so much!

Everyone says the writing section is the least important. As long as you have at least a 4, you're fine. I have similar scores to you (165 verbal and 155 quantitative, although a 5.0 on writing). A high writing score might give you a tiny boost in apps but that's about it. My impression is they care way more about your SOP and writing sample.

thank you so much for your advice!

Usually the writing portion is not looked upon with too much significance. That being said, you could reach out to the folks in admissions to get a more definitive answer.

If you do reach out, let us know what they say.

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Should I Skip the GRE AWA?

Imagine making the GRE a three-hour test instead of a four-hour one. All you have to do is skip both AWA essays. And if you already taken the GRE and have scored really well on both essays what is there to lose, right?

The answer is an awful lot, depending on the programs you are applying to. For the most part, skipping the AWA essays may be disastrous. Below are a few points to keep in mind if you are thinking of skipping the AWA portion of the GRE test .

Undercuts your competitiveness

For a moment, imagine your job is to look over applicants. You have a strong program, which you are proud of, and therefore you want only the best candidates.

You have come down to the final slot and are deciding between two candidates. Both have excellent academic credentials and strong letters of recommendations.

Improve your GRE score with Magoosh.

One student has a 336 GRE score , and the other has a 326. The student with the 336 also has another interesting number next to his score: a big fat 0. Well, actually two big fat zeroes, since the AWA Essay score will read as such: 0.0.

The other student, by contrast, has a 6.0. Whom would you select?

The answer is not black and white. Perhaps, the program does not care much about essays, and is focused more on the quant score (in this case GRE 336 wins out).

Nonetheless, there is something about those two zeroes, a certain whiff of…fecklessness. Or is it smugness? Whatever GRE adjective I decide to employ, it is not a positive one. And because I, as an admissions officer, care deeply about my program, I don’t want to let some slacker in. Now, a suddenly highly propitious candidate has become passed over.

Does skipping really help?

Saving your mental juices for the actual test may seem like a reasonable basis for skipping. But will you actually do better on the test by diving into the multiple-choice part right away?

For one, the AWA section can actually help warm up those mental juices. Perfunctorily filling out some personal information only to be suddenly thrown into the GRE tempest can actually be harrowing. Once your “writing” and “critical thinking” brain have come alive in the essay sections, you are ready to begin the multiple-choice sections.

If test fatigue is an issue, remember there are better ways to combat it, instead of skipping the AWA section. For one, you can prep by taking more practice tests at home.

Is my program writing-centric?

If the answer to this question is yes, then the last thing you want to do is skip the AWA. Even if you are not entering a Creative Writing program, many programs—from Economics to the Biological Sciences—still place a strong emphasis on writing. After all, in grad school you will be writing your own papers.

As an admissions consultant, I would be very wary of a 0.0 student. I know that student clearly can write an essay that does better than an 0.0 (short of writing in Swahili, even a few choppy sentences will give you better than a 0.0). Nonetheless, I really won’t know what this student is capable of in a writing context.

Is it a retake?

Some would argue that if you have already score a 6.0 on your first take and only are retaking the test to up your general score, then skipping the AWA is a no brainer. But this isn’t necessarily the case. Again, there isn’t any connection between skipping the AWA and getting a better score.

Also, it is hard to really difficult to discern the impression your 0.0 will have on the person evaluating your report. And with so much at stake, are you really going to gamble on such a thing?

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Chris Lele is the Principal Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard ) at Magoosh. Chris graduated from UCLA with a BA in Psychology and has 20 years of experience in the test prep industry. He's been quoted as a subject expert in many publications, including US News , GMAC , and Business Because . In his time at Magoosh, Chris has taught countless students how to tackle the GRE , GMAT, SAT, ACT, MCAT (CARS), and LSAT exams with confidence. Some of his students have even gone on to get near-perfect scores. You can find Chris on YouTube , LinkedIn , Twitter and Facebook !

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How To Do Well in GRE Analytical Writing?

gre analytical writing does it matter

by Talha Omer, MBA, M.Eng., Harvard & Cornell Grad

Majority of the students preparing for the GRE do not take the analytical writing section (AWA) too seriously since it is not included in the 260 – 340 score range . Moreover a lot of graduate programs do not look at your AWA scores while making admission decision. However a low writing score can hurt your chances of getting into a good graduate program as it will question your analytical ability.

SEE ALSO: Average GRE Scores of Top US Graduate Schools

A lot of students have a misconception that by using  flowery language and arcane vocabulary  they can score well on the GRE analytical writing topics. In reality, the GRE examiners are not looking at how “beautifully” you write your essay or how complex your structure is – it actually measures your critical thinking and analytical skills. The AWA section for the GRE is composed of two parts:

• a 30-minute ‘Analyze an issue’ task • a 30-minute ‘Analyze an argument’ task

Issue topic

On the issue essay you are given a general topic of interest pertaining to anything from education to politics or culture. You are simply required to evaluate the topic, and reason your argument with good examples. The better the supporting example is, the more points you will get. So rather than focusing on the vocabulary or language, you should spend more time on writing good genuine examples to support your argument.

A lot of students are concerned with the type of topic they will have to write on for the AWA. They are mistaken that the topic will determine if they will do well on the GRE AWA i.e. they may have deep knowledge about a certain topic or they may not have any knowledge about it. This concept is wrong – you will not be given any topic for which you need specific or specialized knowledge – topics are very general in nature for which you don’t need subject knowledge.

Argument topic

The Argument task, by contrast, asks you to dissect the logic behind some one else’s argument on an issue. Argument essay complements the issue essay i.e. an issue essay wants you to construct your own argument on an issue, whereas the argument topic requires you to analyze and evaluate another writers stance on a topic. In an argument essay you need to consider the logical soundness of argument rather than simply putting your own stance on the topic.

What should be the length of your essay? This is the first and foremost question that students ask – “how many words should we write for the GRE AWA essay”? In short, words don’t matter – substance does. But I would like to point out that a good essay that completely captures all aspects of the topic would entail a minimum of 500 words. Moreover, you should look for a five-paragraph essay to the least containing an intro, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Paragraph length matters too. Paragraph should contain the stuff that logically flows from your chosen stance. Too small or too long paragraphs must be avoided.

How to Score High on the Analytical Writing?

Even the most practiced and confidant of writers should spend some time preparing for the analytical writing before arriving at the test center. As GRE test takers, we tend to under prepare for the AWA thinking that we can tackle it easily on the test day. However lack of practice and typing over 500 words in 30 minutes can be daunting. So do spend a few hours writing and practicing a range of topics.

Generally, following strategies and tips will help you do well in AWA.

Don’t Repeat Your Ideas

Repeating the same ideas over and over again is the biggest mistake students make. They tend to do this because they think that word limit is important – however it is not. Do not take 500 words as the minimum word limit; its just the average number of words you need to write on all aspects of the topic.

In an attempt to hit the 500 word mark, students start reiterating the same ideas, in case they lack the skill to tackle the topic. Such a strategy will adversely hurt your essay since it becomes frustrating for the examiner to see the same thoughts multiple times. Therefore avoid repetition – if you don’t have much to write on then stop rather than repeating. Stopping will gain you more marks than repeating ideas.

Read Quality Sample Essays Frequently

By reading sample essays, you will get a deep understanding of what ETS is looking for. You will be able to evaluate your own essays. You can start off with a sample ‘3’ essay and move progressively to a perfect ‘6’ score essay. ETS has provided a few AWA graded sample essay’s along with the examiner’s critique.

Write on 5-8 Topics at least

There is no alternative to practice. By constant writing, you’ll be able to write with more fluency and command. You’ll find it easier to express your submerged ideas. Moreover you will be able to tackle the time pressure as well – writing on a challenging issue or argument in less than 30 minutes is difficult. Therefore practice AWA as much as you can before the test day.

Get Your Essays Reviewed by Someone

Asking someone on reading & editing your practice essays will apprise you of your mistakes. Since you won’t have any time on editing and reviewing your essay on the test day, it is better to correct your common mistakes while you are preparing for the GRE AWA. It is always a good idea to ask someone (preferably an expert GRE tutor) to review and critique your essays. Asking an amateur to do that for you may result in no improvement at all if not even worse performance.

Improve your Grammar, Spellings & Punctuation

ETS explicitly states that they are looking for quality and clarity of thought and not grammar. Even though readers are not meticulously looking for grammar, as soon as you make the tiniest mistake, they will notice and it can take your score down. You can get a perfect score with an error or two, but minor grammatical errors (faulty pronouns, subject/verb agreement) can mar the quality of your essay. So do focus on your grammar & spellings. A well reasoned essay that is riddled will such basic errors will not portray a good impression of your hard work. Hence work on these minute aspects of your essays.

Finally, just remember that the AWA game may not be the interesting sections of the GRE, but doing good in it can make a big difference in how your GRE scores are interpreted.

GRE Sequence Questions (All Possible Q’s to appear on the Exam)

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How to Write a Great GRE Argument Essay

writing a GRE essay

When you take the GRE , you’ll have to write two essays : an Issue essay and an Argument essay. In your GRE Argument essay, you’ll get to demonstrate how well you can understand, analyze, and evaluate an argument. Here are ten GRE Argument essay tips you should know.

Fact #1: It doesn’t matter who is right

Fact #2: you'll have just 30 minutes for the gre argument essay, fact #3: graders will not pore over your essay, fact #4: quality matters, but so does quantity, fact #5: the prompt will tell you everything you need to know.

Make sure you read the prompt two or three times. You’ll want to make sure you truly understand it. Pay attention to what evidence is provided, what is stated in the prompt, and what is claimed by the author. A great way to identify fallacies is to determine what the author has assumed, and then try to explain why that assumption may be wrong. Here are four things to look for:

Fact #6: Structure will save you

After you read the prompt, brainstorm the logical fallacies you want to address. Then, choose your top three or four, and formulate a brief outline before you start your essay. There is nothing worse than having to stop writing your essay to come up with new ideas, so you’re going to want to follow a strict organizational format. Here’s a good general template to keep in mind:

Fact #7: Clear writing is key

Fact #8: you’ll get one combined score for both essays, fact #9: you don’t have to be perfect to earn a perfect score, fact #10: you can plan ahead.

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  1. What's Up with the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment?

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  1. What Is a Good GRE Score?

    For most schools and fields, a good GRE score falls at the 80th percentile, or 159 verbal and 161 quantitative. Some programs accept scores as low as the 60th percentile: 154 verbal and 155 quantitative.

  2. What Is the Definition of Analytical Writing?

    As a type of academic writing, analytical writing pulls out facts and discusses, or analyzes, what this information means. Based on the analyses, a conclusion is drawn, and through persuasive techniques, the writer attempts to convince the ...

  3. How the GRE Works

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  4. Is the Analytical Writing Important in GRE Scoring?

    Does the Writing Score Matter to Graduate Schools? ... Test-takers often mistakenly assume that graduate schools don't really care about the GRE

  5. To what extent does the AWA section in the GRE matter?

    No, AWA or Analytical Writing Analysis is not added with GRE score. It is a separate section which has its own cut off for every university. Hope this helps

  6. Why Is the GRE Essay Section So Important?

    Yes, the essays are not part of your total GRE score and are instead scored on a separate scale out of 6.0 in increment of 0.5. Agreed; from the admissions

  7. What's A Good GRE Writing Score? A Bad GRE Score?

    For the most part, graduate schools don't even really care about applicants having a high GRE Analytical Writing score – it's more a matter

  8. GRE General Test Analytical Writing Overview

    Everyone — even the most practiced and confident of writers — should spend time preparing for the Analytical Writing measure to understand the skills

  9. GRE Essays: Should I Care?

    Why don't people think the essays matter? · Some schools/programs do care about the essay score. · Some schools/programs care that you reach a

  10. How Important is the GRE Analytical Writing Measure?

    A high GRE Analytical Writing score won't help you get admitted to a top graduate program, but a below average score can keep you out of one.

  11. how important is the analytical writing part of the GRE?

    Everyone says the writing section is the least important. As long as you have at least a 4, you're fine. I have similar scores to you (165

  12. Should I Skip the GRE AWA?

    Some would argue that if you have already score a 6.0 on your first take and only are retaking the test to up your general score, then skipping

  13. How To Do Well in GRE Analytical Writing?

    Moreover a lot of graduate programs do not look at your AWA scores while making admission decision. However a low writing score can hurt your chances of getting

  14. How to Write a Great GRE Argument Essay

    ETS, the test makers of the GRE, aren't interested in finding out whether you think the author is right. Instead, they