GRE WRITING ASSESSMENT

 

Description of the Writing Assessment
The GRE Writing Assessment consists of two analytical writing tasks:
 
 
*a 45-minute "Present Your Perspective on an Issue" task
*a 30-minute "Analyze an Argument" task
 
You will be given a choice between two "Issue" topics. Each states an opinion on an issue of broad interest and asks you to discuss the issue from any perspective(s) you wish, so long as you provide relevant reasons and examples to explain and support your views.
 
You will not have a choice of "Argument" topics. Instead, the computer will present an argument for you to analyze. The "Argument" task presents a different challenge from that of the "Issue" task: it requires you to critique a given argument by discussing how well reasoned you find it. You will need to consider the logical soundness of the argument rather than to agree or disagree with the position it presents.
 
Thus, the two tasks are complementary in that one requires you to construct your own argument by taking a position and providing evidence supporting your views on the issue, whereas the other requires you to critique someone else's argument by assessing its claims and evaluating the evidence it provides.
 
 
 
How the Test Is Scored
Each essay is holistically scored on a 6-point scale according to the criteria indicated in the GRE Writing Assessment scoring guides. Holistic scoring means that each essay is judged as a whole: readers do not separate the essay into component parts and award a certain number of points for a particular criterion or element such as organization, sentence structure, or language. Instead, readers assign scores based on the total quality of the essay, considering all of its characteristics in an integrated way. Excellent organization or poor organization, for example, will be part of the readers' overall impression of the writing and will therefore contribute to the score, but organization, as a distinct feature, has no specific weight.
 
GRE readers are college and university faculty experienced in teaching writing or writing-intensive courses.  All GRE readers have undergone careful training, passed stringent GRE qualifying tests, and demonstrated that they are able to maintain a high degree of scoring accuracy.
 
To ensure fairness and objectivity in scoring
 
 
--essays will be randomly distributed to the readers
--all identifying information about the test takers will be concealed from the readers
--each essay will be scored by two readers
--readers will not know what other scores an essay may have received
--the scoring procedure requires that each essay receive identical or adjacent scores from two readers; any other score combination will be adjudicated by a third GRE reader
 
To prepare for the GRE Writing Assessment, or for any other essay test, you should be sure to review the criteria by which your work will be judged.  To review the GRE scoring criteria click on the Scoring Guides below.
 
 
SCORING GUIDE FOR PRESENT YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON AN ISSUE
GRE ESSAY SCORING GUIDE: PERSPECTIVE ON AN ISSUE SCORE
 
6    A 6 paper presents a cogent, well-articulated analysis of the complexities of the issue and demonstrates mastery of the elements of effective writing.
 
      A typical paper in this category
 
--develops a position on the issue with insightful reasons and/or persuasive examples
--sustains a well-focused, well-organized discussion
--expresses ideas clearly and precisely
--uses language fluently, with varied sentence structure and effective vocabulary
--demonstrates superior facility with the conventions (grammar, usage, and mechanics) of standard written English but may have minor flaws
 
5    A 5 paper presents a well-developed analysis of the complexities of the issue and demonstrates a strong control of the elements of effective writing.
 
      A typical paper in this category
 
--develops a position on the issue with well-chosen reasons and/or examples
--is focused and generally well organized
--expresses ideas clearly and well
--uses varied sentence structure and appropriate vocabulary
--demonstrates facility with the conventions of standard written English but may have minor flaws
SCORING GUIDE FOR ANALYZE AN ARGUMENT
GRE ESSAY SCORING GUIDE: ANALYZE AN ARGUMENT SCORE
 
6     A 6 paper presents a cogent, well-articulated critique of the argument and demonstrates mastery of the elements of effective writing.
 
A typical paper in this category
 
--clearly identifies important features of the argument and analyzes them insightfully
--develops ideas cogently, organizes them logically, and connects them with clear transitions
--effectively supports the main points of the critique
--demonstrates control of language, including diction and syntactic variety
--demonstrates facility with the conventions of standard written English but may have minor flaws
 
5    A 5 paper presents a well-developed critique of the argument and demonstrates good control of the elements of effective writing.
 
A typical paper in this category
 
--clearly identifies important features of the argument and analyzes them in a generally thoughtful way
--develops ideas clearly, organizes them logically, and connects them with appropriate transitions
--sensibly supports the main points of the critique
--demonstrates control of language, including diction and syntactic variety
--demonstrates facility with the conventions of standard written English but may have occasional flaws

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