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How to Write a Perfect GRE Analytical Writing Essay

This is my area of expertise. Writing a perfect GRE analytical writing essay isn't easy. in fact, it's pretty hard; only 4% of all GRE takers achieve this status. I am one of them. In this article I will explain, step by step, how I achieved a perfect score on the GRE Analytical Writing section, and how you can accomplish the same on the GRE when writing this section of the test.

Step One: read the question in full, at least three times, to understand it carefully. The Analytical writing section of the GRE requires two essays: for the first, you can choose between two topics, and for the second, you get no choice. Regardless of which essay you're writing, read the question.

Step Two: write a true, careful, and complete thesis statement. Remember those from eighth grade? Well, don't be creative, or fancy, or overly erudite. Get to the point. If the question is on changes and continuities with nationalism in the 1700s in France, be sure the thesis is something along the lines of, "In the 1700s in France, nationalism caused changes such as [insert one or two changes], while many continuities such as [insert continuities] balanced the system on the whole, setting the stage for future revolution." Lay out the thesis in the first paragraph, address change and continuity and--most important--give one or two examples of each--all in one sentence, and then stick to it.

Step Three: take the points from your thesis and cover them, one paragraph at a time. Take your first change, explain it, and then back it up with a very specific example, and mention a particular event, author, etc. Do this with continuities as well. Whoever reads or scores your essay will be looking for these points. Don't be vague or general--be as specific as possible. Be sure you have a minimum of 4 examples that are highly specific.

Step Four: include analysis and not just descriptions. It's very easy to just tell a story in your essay, but it is an analytical essay, and you need analysis. Take the information you provide and analyze it. Take it further. Be sure to give two or three very specific, highly analytical sentences.

Step Five: connect your essay to a different field or area. If the essay is on French history, for instance, discuss the impact of French nationalism on the U.S. or the rest of Europe. If the essay is on K-12education in the U.S., link it to higher education. Put the essay in an external context.

Step Six: restate the thesis in a new way, but hit all the main points, in your concluding paragraph. This way, you restate your points and give the thesis as a capstone to the essay.

Step Seven: reread, reread, reread. Be sure the essay covers everything in the thesis, and completely.

That's it! I used this method when taking the GRE last winter and scored a perfect score on that section. If only this method worked for math! Good luck.