Argument topic: Woven baskets characterized by a particular distinctive pattern have previously been found only in the immediate vicinity of the prehistoric village of Palea and therefore were believed to have been made only by the Palean people.
Recently, however, archaeologists discovered such a “Palean” basket in Lithos, an ancient village across the Brim River from Palea.
The Brim River is very deep and broad, and so the ancient Paleans could have crossed it only by boat, and no Palean boats have been found.
Thus it follows that the so-called Palean baskets were not uniquely Palean.
The Argument, by contrast, asks you to dissect the logic behind a position.
But your essay is not just one sentence with a clearly expressed idea; it is a set of ideas that should logically connect to one another. Next you want to provide convincing evidence to back up your thesis.
You can throw in some vague example, but doing so means your essay will probably lack cogency.
Develop an example that cogently reinforces your thesis is key to a high essay score.
There are some other factors that play into the human grader’s assessment.
Style is important; an essay with choppy sentences and unsophisticated vocabulary will be awarded a lower score, all other things being equal, than an essay with mature syntactical development and GRE-level vocabulary deployed felicitously. Even though the graders doesn’t set out to nitpick at grammar, as soon as you make the tiniest mistake, he or she will notice.
The GRE essay section, also known as the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), is actually comprised of two essays: the Issue and the Argument. Both test your ability to formulate a cogent thesis statement, which you must defend over the course of several paragraphs.
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take.
In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position The Issue essay asks you to respond to and analyze a general statement like the ones above, which relate to politics, education, or culture.
Essentially, you are taking a position on a complex matter.
For some examples: ETS has released an entire pool of Issue topics, which is a great resource!
What exactly does it mean to get a 0.0, or for that matter a 6.0 on GRE Analytical Writing?
Well, a 0.0 means you fell asleep, your forehead planted firmly on the keyboard, an endless series of gobbledygook forming on screen.
A 6.0 is a consistently insightful and well-crafted essay, running a good 80-plus lines. For me to really answer that it would take at least several pages, including example essays.
You may think I’m jesting with the 0.0, but really I’m not: those essays are deemed “Ungradeable.” Hence, very few students end up getting a 0.0, or, for that matter, a score below a 2.0. Instead, have a look at the scoring guidelines on ETS. People have tried, apparently, but nobody at ETS will provide feedback (apparently, the “E-rater” has not yet evolved to this level of sophistication). Over the years, I’ve seen many students asking for feedback on the forums (urch.com, thegradcafe.com) and munificent souls (usually GRE test takers with strong writing skills) provide insightful analysis.
Indeed, the vast majority of students fall between a 3.0 and a 5.0. Or, to really get a sense of how the scores work, have a look at a few sample essays. While that may not sound all that reassuring, remember that this feedback is free of charge and there really isn’t much else out there in terms of essay feedback.
If the “E-rater’s” score differs by more than one point (on the half point scale) from the human grader’s score, your essay is sent to another human grader, the master grader–who, presumably, resides in an even darker room.
Your final score is the average of the two essays, rounded up to the nearest .5.
At least for now, HAL has not completely taken over — the “E-rater” serves only as a check on human error.
That is not to say that one day the two human graders will emerge from their dark rooms as anachronisms (as far as GRE essay grading goes).
Let’s hope that such a day never comes, the day in which admission to a top-notch grad school hangs in the precarious balance of a robot grader.
The position is provided in a paragraph, and thus requires a little more reading than the Issue task. Deep in a dark room far, far away resides a poor soul who must sort through an interminable stack of GRE AWA essays.
In a mere thirty seconds, that person must award a score from a 0.0 – 6.0, based on 0.5 increments.
The grader is typically a university literature/writing professor who, according to ETS, has undergone rigorous training in order to qualify. This next part sounds a little nefarious — so hold onto your seats.
Over the course of the last decade or so, ETS has developed–and it would say refined–the “E-rater”, an automated essay grader.
While it may seem that HAL, the diabolical talking computer from Stanley Kubrick’s , has been unleashed to wreak grading havoc on your essays, the “E-rater” is only used as a second “grader” to ensure that the human grader isn’t napping at the job.
You may even want to compare them to any mock essays you’ve written, to get a rough sense of where you would score. More creative ideas on how to get your essay graded here.
ETS has full descriptions of what an essay of each score looks like on its Score Level Descriptions page. While there is no better teacher than feedback, having someone give you an honest critique of your essay is difficult. Let us know if you have any others, we’d love to hear them!
🙂 The graders look for the three C’s: clarity, coherency, and cogency.
First off, you must express your ideas in a clear manner.
If you jumble your words, or simply throw in unnecessary words, doing so compromises clarity.