7 Tips for a Perfect GRE Argument Essay

Are you ready to wow graduate schools with your impressive writing and reasoning skills? A perfect score on the GRE Argument Essay (a 6) is a great way to increase your graduate school admissions chances! Here are 7 tips to take your GRE Argument Essay to that perfect score.
[ RELATED: What is a good GRE score? ]

  • Write at least three practice essays.

    There are a few different ways ETS may present the argument, so you want to practice at least three essays to fully prepare yourself. Peer reviews are especially valuable, so ask a friend or colleague for feedback after you complete each essay. You can find official Argument essay prompts here.

  • Point out false generalizations, inadequate evidence, and misleading surveys or statistics.

    The argument presented will ALWAYS have flaws. Look for sweeping statements and faulty conclusions. If data is provided, you can be sure that it is not 100% sound, which you can certainly use to your advantage!

  • Discuss 2-3 specific assumptions that the author makes.

    There may be more than 3 assumptions that the author makes, but you want to take the time to fully discuss 2-3 rather than simply listing out all of the problems you’ve discovered.

  • Provide alternative explanations to the presented argument.

    One of the most compelling ways to undermine an argument is to provide alternative explanations for the assumptions presented. If there are other possibilities that the author didn’t discuss, the argument is fallible.

  • Avoid first-person and self-reference.

    There is no need to include phrases like “I think” or “I believe” since the essay is written from you perspective. As a rule, you do not want to use “I” in your introductory or concluding paragraph.

  • Make strong, declarative statements.

    Be forceful with your language. You want to convey confidence that you have found flaws within the presented argument.

  • Provide specific recommendations for changes that would strengthen the argument.

    Many GRE students find that writing the concluding paragraph can be one of the most challenging parts of the essay. Use the concluding paragraph as an opportunity to point out that the argument could be strengthened if additional data were provided. Be sure to state what specific information would need to be included to bolster the argument.

BONUS: Know how the GRE Analytical Writing Essays are scored

Your GRE essays will be scored by half-point increments, from 0 to 6 (highest). Two graders will score both this argument essay and your issue essay. A third grader will also score your essays if your two initial graders’ scores differ by more than one point. The graders base scores on their overall impression of your essay — holistically — rather than deducting points for specific errors.
The GRE testmaker, Educational Testing Service (ETS) reports a single score—the average of the two essays—rounded up to the nearest half-point. This score makes up the essay portion of your overall GRE score, despite there being two separate essays.
You can read more from ETS on specific score level breakdowns here.