The Official Guide to the GRE®revised General TestThe book you’re holding is a one-of-a-kind resource: the only GRE guide ...
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IMPORTANTETS makes available free test preparation materials for individuals planning to takea GRE test. POWERPREP II soft...
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TheOFFICIALGUIDEtotherevisedGeneralTestINSIDE LOOK AT THE TEST CHANGESEFFECTIVE AUGUST 1, 2011New York | Chicago | San Fra...
Copyright © 2010 by Educational Testing Service. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the United States Copyrigh...
ContentsHow to Use This Book/CD Package . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .i1 Introd...
4 GRE®Verbal ReasoningPractice Questions 143SET 1. Discrete Questions: Easy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...
7 GRE®Math Review 2071. Arithmetic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ....
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This book/CD package provides a large amount of important information about theGRE revised General Test, the kinds of ques...
STEP 4 Use the Test Preview Tool on the CD-ROMThe Test Preview Tool includes a sample of each of the question types format...
What Are the Main Features of the Revised Test?The GRE® revised General Test is composed of revised Analytical Writing, Ve...
Structure of the TestComputer-Based revised General TestThe computer-based GRE®revised General Test contains six sections:...
Paper-Based revised General TestThe paper-based GRE®revised General Test contains six sections:b two Analytical Writing se...
Test-taking Strategies for the Computer-based TestAnalytical Writing SectionThe Analytical Writing measure of the computer...
soning sections rapidly first, stopping only to answer questions you can answer withcertainty. Then go back and answer the...
compose your essay. Although GRE readers understand the time constraints underwhich you write and will consider your respo...
Understanding GRE ScoringAnalytical Writing MeasureFor the Analytical Writing measure, each essay receives a score from tw...
Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning Measuresof the Computer-based TestYour scores on the Verbal Reasoning and Quan...
Score Reporting TimeframesTypically, scores on the computer-based GRE revised General Test are reported 10 to 15days after...
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Overview of the Analytical Writing MeasureThe Analytical Writing measure assesses your critical thinking and analyticalwri...
Preparing for the Analytical Writing MeasureEveryone — even the most practiced and confident of writers — should spend som...
Analyze an Issue TaskUnderstanding the Issue TaskThe Analyze an Issue task assesses your ability to think critically about...
Understanding the Context for Writing: Purpose and AudienceThe Issue task is an exercise in critical thinking and persuasi...
b think about the claim and instructions in relation to your own ideas and expe-riences, to events you have read about or ...
16GRE Analytical WritingThe Form of Your ResponseYou are free to organize and develop your response in any way that you th...
to use computer technology as proof that thinking ability is not deteriorating. The mereexistence of computer technology, ...
*All responses in this publication are reproduced exactly as written, including errors, mis-spellings, etc., if any.Essay ...
19GRE Analytical Writingworld free of smallpox. Using technology, battle plans were drawn out, and smallpoxwas systematica...
of technological wizardry into our everyday lives have served mostly to enforceconformity, promote dependence, heighten co...
the invention of new technological devices, I wouldn’t be sitting at this computer tryingto philosophize about technology....
Score 3 ResponseThere is no current proof that advancing technology will deteriorate the ability ofhumans to think. On the...
Score 2 ResponseIn recent centuries, humans have developed the technology very rapidly, and you mayaccept some merit of it...
Score 1 ResponseHumans have invented machines but they have forgot it and have started everythingtechnically so clearly th...
Analyze an Argument TaskUnderstanding the Argument TaskThe Analyze an Argument task assesses your ability to understand, a...
b Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to beanswered in order to decide whether the advice and ...
27GRE Analytical Writingmore detailed and technical than the task requires. You will not be expected to knowmethods of ana...
Write down each of these thoughts as a brief note. When you’ve gone as far as youcan with your evaluation, look over the n...
mental strategy or mode of writing. In fact, when GRE readers are trained, they reviewhundreds of Argument responses that,...
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For answers the+official+guide+to+the+gre+revised+general+test

  1. 1. The Official Guide to the GRE®revised General TestThe book you’re holding is a one-of-a-kind resource: the only GRE guide created bythe ETS team that produces the actual exam. This book is uniquely suited to help youdo your best on this challenging test.Here’s what you’ll find inside:b Official information on the GRE revised General Test. Get the facts aboutthe revised test format you’ll encounter starting in August 2011—straightfrom ETS.b ETS’s own test-taking strategies. Learn valuable hints and tips that canhelp you get your best score.b Authentic GRE questions in the revised test format. Practice with real testquestions created by the test-makers.b Real full-length GRE practice test. Sharpen your skills with an actual test inthe revised format.b POWERPREP II software on CD-ROM: Experience an actual computer-basedGRE revised General Test.Welcome toAbout ETSAt nonprofit ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwideby creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educa-tional institutions, and government agencies by providing customized solutions forteacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary, andpost-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis, andpolicy studies. Founded in 1947, ETS develops, administers, and scores more than50 million tests annually — including the TOEFL®and TOEIC®tests, the GRE®testsand The Praxis Series™ assessments—in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000locations worldwide. For more information, visit www.ets.org
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  3. 3. IMPORTANTETS makes available free test preparation materials for individuals planning to takea GRE test. POWERPREP II software is available for individuals planning to takethe computer-based GRE revised General Test, and the Practice Book for the Paper-basedGRE revised General Test is available for individuals planning to take the paper-based test.The information about how to prepare for the revised General Test, test-taking strategies,question strategies, etc., that is included in the free test preparation is also included inthis Guide. The Guide also provides you with additional sets of practice questions andan additional full-length practice test with explanatory materials.For more information about the GRE revised General Test, freeGRE test preparation materials, and other GRE products and services,please visit the GRE website atwww.ets.org/greInquiries concerning the practice test questions in this bookshould be sent to the GRE testing program atGRETestQuestionInquiries@ets.org
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  5. 5. TheOFFICIALGUIDEtotherevisedGeneralTestINSIDE LOOK AT THE TEST CHANGESEFFECTIVE AUGUST 1, 2011New York | Chicago | San Francisco | Lisbon | London | Madrid | Mexico CityMilan | New Delhi | San Juan | Seoul | Singapore | Sydney | TorontoGRE®
  6. 6. Copyright © 2010 by Educational Testing Service. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication maybe reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.ISBN: 978-0-07-170054-2MHID: 0-07-170054-4The material in this eBook also appears in the print version of this title: ISBN: 978-0-07-170052-8,MHID: 0-07-170052-8.All trademarks are trademarks of their respective owners. Rather than put a trademark symbol after every occurrence of a trademarked name, we use names in an editorialfashion only, and to the benefit of the trademark owner, with no intention of infringement of the trademark. Where such designations appear in this book, they have beenprinted with initial caps.McGraw-Hill eBooks are available at special quantity discounts to use as premiums and sales promotions, or for use in corporate training programs. To contact a representa-tive please e-mail us at bulksales@mcgraw-hill.com.TERMS OF USEThis is a copyrighted work and The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (“McGrawHill”) and its licensors reserve all rights in and to the work. Use of this work is subject tothese terms. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act of 1976 and the right to store and retrieve one copy of the work, you may not decompile, disassemble, reverseengineer, reproduce, modify, create derivative works based upon, transmit, distribute, disseminate, sell, publish or sublicense the work or any part of it without McGraw-Hill’s prior consent. You may use the work for your own noncommercial and personal use; any other use of the work is strictly prohibited. Your right to use the work maybe terminated if you fail to comply with these terms.THE WORK IS PROVIDED “AS IS.” McGRAW-HILLAND ITS LICENSORS MAKE NO GUARANTEES OR WARRANTIES AS TO THE ACCURACY, ADEQUA-CY OR COMPLETENESS OF OR RESULTS TO BE OBTAINED FROM USING THE WORK, INCLUDING ANY INFORMATION THAT CAN BE ACCESSEDTHROUGH THE WORK VIA HYPERLINK OR OTHERWISE, AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOTLIMITED TO IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. McGraw-Hill and its licensors do not warrant orguarantee that the functions contained in the work will meet your requirements or that its operation will be uninterrupted or error free. Neither McGraw-Hill nor its licen-sors shall be liable to you or anyone else for any inaccuracy, error or omission, regardless of cause, in the work or for any damages resulting therefrom. McGraw-Hill hasno responsibility for the content of any information accessed through the work. Under no circumstances shall McGraw-Hill and/or its licensors be liable for any indirect,incidental, special, punitive, consequential or similar damages that result from the use of or inability to use the work, even if any of them has been advised of the possibilityof such damages. This limitation of liability shall apply to any claim or cause whatsoever whether such claim or cause arises in contract, tort or otherwise.
  7. 7. ContentsHow to Use This Book/CD Package . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .i1 Introducing the GRE®revised General Test 1What Are the Main Features of the Revised Test? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1Structure of the Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2Preparing for the Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3Test-taking Strategies for the Computer-based Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4Test-taking Strategies for the Paper-based Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5Understanding GRE Scoring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 GRE®Analytical Writing 11Overview of the Analytical Writing Measure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11Preparing for the Analytical Writing Measure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12General Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12Analyze an Issue Task . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13Analyze an Argument Task . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25GRE Scoring Guide: Analyze an Issue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37GRE Scoring Guide: Analyze an Argument . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39Score Level Descriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 413 GRE®Verbal Reasoning 43Overview of the Verbal Reasoning Measure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43Verbal Reasoning Question Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
  8. 8. 4 GRE®Verbal ReasoningPractice Questions 143SET 1. Discrete Questions: Easy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145SET 2. Discrete Questions: Medium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150SET 3. Discrete Questions: Hard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155SET 4. Data Interpretation Sets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161Answer Keys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164Answers and Explanations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166Practice Questions 53SET 1. Discrete Questions: Easy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54SET 2. Reading Comprehension Questions: Easy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56SET 3. Discrete Questions: Medium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60SET 4. Reading Comprehension Questions: Medium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63SET 5. Discrete Questions: Hard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68SET 6. Reading Comprehension Questions: Hard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71Answer Keys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75Answers and Explanations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 775 GRE®Quantitative Reasoning 107Overview of the Quantitative Reasoning Measure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107Quantitative Reasoning Question Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108Using the Calculator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129Mathematics Conventions for the Quantitative Reasoning Measureof the GRE revised General Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1336 GRE®Quantitative Reasoning
  9. 9. 7 GRE®Math Review 2071. Arithmetic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2082. Algebra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2223. Geometry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2484. Data Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2638 Authentic GRE®Practice Test 303Section 1: Analytical Writing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 304Section 2: Analytical Writing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306Section 3: Verbal Reasoning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309Section 4: Verbal Reasoning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 318Section 5: Quantitative Reasoning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 329Section 6: Quantitative Reasoning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 337Evaluating Your Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 345Answer Key . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 347Score Conversion Table . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 351Percentile Ranks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 353Analytical Writing Sample Responses and Reader Commentaries . . . . . . . . 355Section 1: Analyze an Issue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .355Section 2: Analyze an Argument . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .362Answers and Explanations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 369Section 3: Verbal Reasoning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 369Section 4: Verbal Reasoning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 383Section 5: Quantitative Reasoning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 398Section 6: Quantitative Reasoning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 415
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  11. 11. This book/CD package provides a large amount of important information about theGRE revised General Test, the kinds of questions it includes, and the knowledge andskills that it measures. The book and CD-ROM will help you:b Familiarize yourself with the test format and the test question typesb Identify the test-taking skills you most need to focus onb Review the math topics you need to know for the testb Check your progress with Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoningpractice questionsb Practice your test-taking skills using actual GRE testsThe following six-step program has been designed to help you make the best use of thisbook and CD-ROM.STEP 1 Learn About the GRE revised General Test FormatChapter 1 of this book provides official information about the structure of the GRErevised General Test. Read this chapter to learn about the different test sections, thenumber of questions in each section, and the section time limits. You’ll also findvaluable test-taking strategies from ETS and important information about how the testis scored.STEP 2 Study the Different GRE Question TypesChapters 2, 3, and 5 of this book describe the types of questions you’ll encounter inthe three sections of the GRE revised General Test. Chapter 2 describes the AnalyticalWriting section, which requires you to write essays in response to prompts that youwill be given. Chapter 3 describes the Verbal Reasoning question types. Chapter 5describes the Quantitative Reasoning question types. In each case, you will learn whatthe questions are designed to measure, and you will get tips for answering each ques-tion type. You will also see samples of each question type, with helpful explanations.STEP 3 Practice Answering GRE Verbal and Quantitative ReasoningQuestionsChapters 4 and 6 offer sets of practice Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoningquestions in the format of the GRE revised General Test. The question sets arearranged in order of increasing difficulty, from easy through medium to hard. Answerthe questions in each set, then read through the explanations to see which test topicsyou found most challenging. Look for patterns. Did specific question formats give youtrouble? When did you need to guess at the answer? Use your results to identify yourweaknesses and to sharpen your test-taking skills.How to Use ThisBook/CD Package
  12. 12. STEP 4 Use the Test Preview Tool on the CD-ROMThe Test Preview Tool includes a sample of each of the question types formatted as theywould be on the actual computer-based test. The Tool also contains the Help screens,the Review screen, the word-processing software for the Analytical Writing section, andthe on-screen calculator, so that you can become familiar with all of the features of thecomputer-based GRE revised General Test.STEP 5 Review GRE Math TopicsChapter 7 provides a review of math topics tested in the GRE revised General TestQuantitative Reasoning sections. You do not necessarily need to tackle every topic inthe review, or to work through the review in the order in which it is presented. Skiparound if you like, but remember to focus on the topics that you know give you trouble.Each section of the review ends with practice problems that you can use to see howwell you have mastered the material. If you get a problem wrong, go back into thereview section and re-read the corresponding instructional text.STEP 6 Take the Practice TestsOnce you have completed your review, get ready for the real exam by taking theauthentic GRE Practice Tests in Chapter 8 of this book and on the CD-ROM. When youtake each test, try to simulate actual testing conditions. If you are taking the test inChapter 8, sit in a quiet space, time yourself, and work through as much of the test astime allows. If you are taking the test on the CD-ROM, each test section will be timedfor you. You’ll gain experience with the test format, and you’ll learn to pace yourself sothat you can earn your highest score in the time allowed.Please Note: for users of the CD-ROMIf you need screen magnification or selectable colors to take the computer-based GRErevised General Test, you can download a special version of ZoomText software fromthe GRE website at www.ets.org/gre/powerprep2.
  13. 13. What Are the Main Features of the Revised Test?The GRE® revised General Test is composed of revised Analytical Writing, VerbalReasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning measures. Each of the measures hasbeen revised to better focus on skills that are necessary for success in graduateschool.b The Analytical Writing measure asks you to provide more focused responses toquestions, to more accurately demonstrate your skill in directly responding tothe task presented.b The Verbal Reasoning measure places a greater emphasis on higher cognitiveskills, as a truer, deeper assessment of your ability to understand what you readand how to apply your reasoning skills.b The Quantitative Reasoning measure tests the same basic mathematical con-cepts, but includes more data analysis and more real-life scenarios, to bettergauge your skills.The revised General Test delivers a friendlier, more flexible test-taking experience.Now you will be able to edit or change your answers, and skip questions, all within asection, and more—giving you the freedom to use your own personal test-takingstrategies. In addition, a calculator is available on the Quantitative Reasoning measureto reduce the emphasis on computation.The GRE revised General Test is offered on computer throughout the year on acontinuous basis in the United States, Canada, and other regions of the world. Paper-based administrations are offered in areas of the world where computer-based testingis not available.For the most up-to-date information about the GRE revised General Test, visit theGRE website at www.ets.org/gre.Introducing the GRE®revised General Testg Learn how the test has been been revisedg Review basic information on the structure of thetest, test preparation, and scoringYour goalsfor thischapter11
  14. 14. Structure of the TestComputer-Based revised General TestThe computer-based GRE®revised General Test contains six sections:b an Analytical Writing section with two tasks, which always comes first inthe testb two Verbal Reasoning sectionsb two Quantitative Reasoning sectionsb one unscored section, typically a Verbal Reasoning or Quantitative Reasoningsection, that may appear at any point in the testQuestions in the unscored section are being tried out either for possible use infuture tests or to ensure that scores on new editions of the test are comparable toscores on earlier editions.An identified research section may be included in place of the unscored section.The research section will always appear at the end of the test. Questions in this sectionare included for the purpose of ETS research and will not count toward your score.The Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and unidentified/unscored sectionsmay appear in any order; therefore, you should treat each section as if it counts towardyour score.The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures are section-level adap-tive. The computer selects the second section of a measure based on your performanceon the first.The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures allow you to previewother questions within the specific section on which you’re working, review questionsyou’ve already answered, and change your answers.Typical Computer-Based revised General TestTotal testing time is 3 hours and 45 minutes, including the unscored section. The direc-tions at the beginning of each Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sectionspecify the total number of questions in the section and the time allowed for the sec-tion. For the Analytical Writing section, the timing for each task is shown when thetask is presented.Section Number of Questions TimeAnalytical Writing 2 separately timed writing 30 min. per task(1 section) tasksVerbal Reasoning Approximately 20 questions 30 min. per section(2 sections) per sectionQuantitative Reasoning Approximately 20 questions 35 min. per section(2 sections) per sectionUnscored* Approximately 20 questions 30–35 min. per sectionResearch ** Varies Varies*An unidentified unscored section that does not count toward a score may be included and mayappear in any order.**An identified research section that is not scored may be included, and it will always be at theend of the test.2Introducing the GRE revised General Test
  15. 15. Paper-Based revised General TestThe paper-based GRE®revised General Test contains six sections:b two Analytical Writing sections, which always come first and second in the testb two Verbal Reasoning sectionsb two Quantitative Reasoning sections.Typical Paper-Based revised General TestTotal testing time is approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes. The directions at the begin-ning of each section specify the total number of questions in the section and the timeallowed for the section.Section Number of Questions TimeAnalytical Writing 1 writing task per section 30 min. per section(2 sections)Verbal Reasoning Approximately 25 questions 35 min. per section(2 sections) per sectionQuantitative Reasoning Approximately 25 questions 40 min. per section(2 sections) per sectionUnlike the previous paper-based GRE General Test and the GRE Subject Tests,which use separate answer sheets, the paper-based GRE revised General Test is self-contained: you will enter all responses for the Analytical Writing tasks and the VerbalReasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections in the test book itself. Also, you areallowed to use a basic hand-held calculator on the Quantitative Reasoning sections.The calculator will be provided to you at the test site; you may not use your own calcu-lator. Information about using the calculator to help you answer questions appears inthe free Practice Book for the Paper-based GRE revised General Test, which is available atwww.ets.org/gre/revised/prepare.Preparing for the TestPreparation for the test will depend on the amount of time you have available and yourpersonal preferences for how to prepare. At a minimum, before you take the GRE®revised General Test, you should know what to expect from the test, including theadministrative procedures, types of questions and directions, approximate number ofquestions, and amount of time for each section.The administrative procedures include registration and appointment scheduling,date, time, test center location, cost, score-reporting procedures, and availability ofspecial testing arrangements. You can find out about the administrative procedures forthe revised General Test in the GRE®Information and Registration Bulletin. Informa-tion is also available online at www.ets.org/gre/revised/bulletinandforms.Before taking the revised General Test, it is important to become familiar with thecontent of each of the measures. In this publication, you’ll find information specific toeach measure of the test. You can use this information to understand the type of mate-rial on which you’ll be tested and the question types within each measure.It is also important to spend some time preparing for the Analytical Writing sectionby reviewing the skills measured, scoring guides and score level descriptions, sampletopics, scored sample essay responses, and reader commentary.3Introducing the GRE revised General Test
  16. 16. Test-taking Strategies for the Computer-based TestAnalytical Writing SectionThe Analytical Writing measure of the computer-based revised General Test uses an ele-mentary word processor developed by ETS so that individuals familiar with a specificcommercial word processing software do not have an advantage or disadvantage. Thissoftware contains the following functionality: insert text, delete text, cut and paste, andundo the previous action. Tools such as a spelling checker and grammar checker arenot available in the ETS software, in large part to maintain fairness with those exami-nees who must handwrite their essays at paper-based administrations.It is important to budget your time. Within the 30-minute time limit for each task,you’ll need to allow sufficient time to think about the topic, plan a response, and com-pose your essay. Although GRE readers understand the time constraints under whichyou write and will consider your response a first draft, you will still want to producethe best possible example of your writing.Save a few minutes at the end of each timed task to check for obvious errors.Although an occasional typographical, spelling, or grammatical error will not affectyour score, severe or persistent errors will detract from the overall effectiveness of yourwriting and lower your score.Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning SectionsThe questions in the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures have avariety of formats. Some require you to select a single answer choice; others requireyou to select one or more answer choices, and yet others require you to enter anumeric answer. Make sure when answering a question that you understand whatresponse is required. An onscreen calculator will be provided at the test center for useduring the Quantitative Reasoning sections.When taking the computer-based GRE revised General Test, you are free to skipquestions that you might have difficulty answering. The testing software has a “markand review” feature that enables you to mark questions you would like to revisit duringthe time provided to work on that section. The testing software also lets you view acomplete list of all the questions in the section on which you’re working, indicateswhether you’ve answered each question and identifies the questions you’ve marked forreview. Additionally, you can review questions you’ve already answered and changeyour answers, provided you still have time remaining to work on that section.A sample review screen appears at the top of the facing page. The review screen isintended to help you keep track of your progress on the test. Do not spend too muchtime on the review screen, as this will take away from the time allotted to read andanswer the questions on the test.Your Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores will be determined bythe number of questions you answer correctly. Nothing is subtracted from a score ifyou answer a question incorrectly. Therefore, to maximize your scores on the VerbalReasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures, it is best to answer every question.Work as rapidly as you can without being careless. Since no question carriesgreater weight than any other, do not waste time pondering individual questions youfind extremely difficult or unfamiliar.You may want to go through each of the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Rea-4Introducing the GRE revised General Test
  17. 17. soning sections rapidly first, stopping only to answer questions you can answer withcertainty. Then go back and answer the questions that require greater thought, con-cluding with the difficult questions if you have time.During the actual administration of the revised General Test, you may work onlyon one section at a time and only for the time allowed. Once you have completed asection, you may not go back to it.Scratch PaperYou will receive a supply of scratch paper before you begin the test. You can replenishyour supply of scratch paper as necessary throughout the test by asking the test admin-istrator.BreaksThere is a 10-minute break following the third section and a one-minute break betweenthe other test sections. You might want to replenish your supply of scratch paper dur-ing each scheduled break. Section timing will not stop if you take an unscheduledbreak, so you should proceed with your test without interruption once it begins.Test-taking Strategies for the Paper-based TestAnalytical Writing SectionsIn the paper-based revised General Test, the topics in the Analytical Writing measurewill be presented in the test book, and you will handwrite your essay responses in thetest book in the space provided.It is important to budget your time. Within the 30-minute time limit for each sec-tion, you’ll need to allow sufficient time to think about the topic, plan a response, and5Introducing the GRE revised General Test
  18. 18. compose your essay. Although GRE readers understand the time constraints underwhich you write and will consider your response a first draft, you will still want to pro-duce the best possible example of your writing.Save a few minutes at the end of each timed section to check for obvious errors.Although an occasional spelling or grammatical error will not affect your score, severeand persistent errors will detract from the overall effectiveness of your writing andlower your score.During the actual administration of the revised General Test, you may work only onthe particular writing section the test center supervisor designates and only for thetime allowed. You may not go back to an earlier section of the test after the supervisorannounces, “Please stop work” for that section. The supervisor is authorized to dismissyou from the center for doing so.Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning SectionsThe questions in the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures have avariety of formats. Some require you to select a single answer choice; others requireyou to select one or more answer choices, and yet others require you to enter anumeric answer. Make sure when answering a question that you understand whatresponse is required. A calculator will be provided at the test center for use during theQuantitative Reasoning sections.When taking a Verbal Reasoning or Quantitative Reasoning section, you are free,within that section, to skip questions that you might have difficulty answering andcome back to them later during the time provided to work on that section. Also duringthat time you may change the answer to any question in that section by erasing it com-pletely and filling in an alternative answer. Be careful not to leave any stray marks inthe answer area, as they may be interpreted as incorrect responses. You can, however,safely make notes or perform calculations on other parts of the page. No additionalscratch paper will be provided.Your Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores will be determined bythe number of questions you answer correctly. Nothing is subtracted from a score ifyou answer a question incorrectly. Therefore, to maximize your scores on the VerbalReasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures, it is best to answer every question.Work as rapidly as you can without being careless. Since no question carriesgreater weight than any other, do not waste time pondering individual questions youfind extremely difficult or unfamiliar.You may want to go through each of the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Rea-soning sections rapidly first, stopping only to answer questions you can answer withcertainty. Then go back and answer the questions that require greater thought, con-cluding with the difficult questions if you have time.During the actual administration of the revised General Test, you may work only onthe section the test center supervisor designates and only for the time allowed. Youmay not go back to an earlier section of the test after the supervisor announces, “Pleasestop work” for that section. The supervisor is authorized to dismiss you from the cen-ter for doing so. All answers must be recorded in the test book.BreaksThere is a 10-minute break following the second Analytical Writing section.6Introducing the GRE revised General Test
  19. 19. Understanding GRE ScoringAnalytical Writing MeasureFor the Analytical Writing measure, each essay receives a score from two readers usinga six-point holistic scale. In holistic scoring, readers are trained to assign scores basedon the overall quality of an essay in response to the assigned task. If the two scores dif-fer by more than one point on the scale, the discrepancy is adjudicated by a thirdGRE®reader.Otherwise, the two scores on each essay are averaged. The final scores on the twoessays are then averaged and rounded up to the nearest half-point interval. A singlescore is reported for the Analytical Writing measure.The primary emphasis in scoring the Analytical Writing section is on your criticalthinking and analytical writing skills. Scoring guides for the Issue and Argumentprompts are included in this publication, and they are available on the GRE website atwww.ets.org/gre/revised/scoreguides.In 2012, the GRE Program expects to implement e-rater®scoring technology in thescoring process for the computer-based Analytical Writing measure of the GRE®revised General Test. The e-rater scoring engine is a computerized natural language–processing program developed by ETS. After the e-rater program is implemented, infor-mation about it will be available on the GRE website at www.ets.org/gre.Independent Intellectual ActivityDuring the scoring process for the revised General Test, your essay responses on theAnalytical Writing section will be reviewed by ETS essay-similarity-detection softwareand by experienced essay readers. In light of the high value placed on independentintellectual activity within graduate schools and universities, ETS reserves the right tocancel test scores of any test taker when there is substantial evidence that an essayresponse includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:b Text that is similar to that found in one or more other GRE essay responsesb Quoting or paraphrasing, without attribution, language that appears in pub-lished or unpublished sourcesb Unacknowledged use of work that has been produced through collaborationwith others without citation of the contribution of othersb Essays that are submitted as work of the examinee when the words have, infact, been borrowed from elsewhere or prepared by another personWhen one or more of the above circumstances occurs, your essay text, in ETS’sprofessional judgment, does not reflect the independent, analytical writing skills thatthis test seeks to measure. Therefore, ETS must cancel the Analytical Writing score asinvalid and cannot report the GRE General Test scores of which the Analytical Writingscore is an indispensable part.Test takers whose scores are canceled will forfeit their test fees and must pay totake the entire GRE General Test again at a future administration. No record of thescore cancellations, or the reason for cancellation, will appear on their future scorereports sent to colleges and universities.7Introducing the GRE revised General Test
  20. 20. Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning Measuresof the Computer-based TestYour scores on the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures depend onyour performance on the questions given.The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures are section-level adap-tive. This means the computer selects the second section of a measure based on yourperformance on the first. Within each section, all questions contribute equally to thefinal score. For each of the two measures, a raw score is computed. The raw score isthe number of questions you answered correctly.The raw score is then converted to a scaled score through a process known asequating. The equating process accounts for minor variations in difficulty from test totest as well as differences in difficulty among individuals’ tests introduced by the sec-tion-level adaptation. Thus, a given scaled score reflects the same level of performanceregardless of which section was administered and when the test was taken.Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning Measuresof the Paper-based TestScoring of the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures is essentially atwo-step process. First a raw score is computed for each measure. The raw score foreach measure is the number of questions answered correctly in the two sections forthat measure.The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning raw scores are then converted toscaled scores through a process known as equating. The equating process accounts forminor variations in difficulty among the different test editions. Thus, a given scaledscore for a particular measure reflects the same level of performance regardless ofwhich edition of the test was taken.Score ReportingThree scores will be reported on the revised General Test:b a Verbal Reasoning score reported on a new 130–170 score scale, in 1-pointincrementsb a Quantitative Reasoning score reported on a new 130–170 score scale, in1-point incrementsb an Analytical Writing score reported on a 0–6 score scale, in half-point incre-mentsIf you do not answer any questions at all for a measure (Verbal Reasoning, Quanti-tative Reasoning, or Analytical Writing), you receive a No Score (NS) for that measure.Descriptions of the analytical writing abilities characteristic of particular scorelevels are available in this publication on page 41, and on the GRE website at www.ets.org/gre/revised/scoreguides.8Introducing the GRE revised General Test
  21. 21. Score Reporting TimeframesTypically, scores on the computer-based GRE revised General Test are reported 10 to 15days after the test date. However, due to the statistical processes that must take placeafter the revised test is introduced in August 2011, scores from tests taken from Augustthrough October 2011 will be reported beginning in November 2011. If you are apply-ing to a graduate program, be sure to review the appropriate admissions deadlines andplan to take the test in time for your scores to reach the institution.For specific information on score reporting dates for tests administered from Aug-ust through October 2011, visit the GRE website at www.ets.org/gre/scoreschedule.Scores from paper-based revised General Test administrations will be reported upto six weeks after the administration.Score reporting is cumulative. Scores are reportable for five testing years followingthe testing year in which you test. All scores earned during this time will be reported tothe institutions you designate.9Introducing the GRE revised General Test
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  23. 23. Overview of the Analytical Writing MeasureThe Analytical Writing measure assesses your critical thinking and analyticalwriting skills. It assesses your ability to articulate and support complex ideas,construct and evaluate arguments, and sustain a focused and coherent discus-sion. It does not assess specific content knowledge.The Analytical Writing measure consists of two separately timed analytical writingtasks:b a 30-minute “Analyze an Issue” taskb a 30-minute “Analyze an Argument” taskThe Issue task presents an opinion on an issue of broad interest followed by spe-cific instructions on how to respond to that issue. You are required to evaluate theissue, considering its complexities, and develop an argument with reasons and exam-ples to support your views.The Argument task presents a different challenge from that of the Issue task: itrequires you to evaluate a given argument according to specific instructions. You willneed to consider the logical soundness of the argument rather than to agree or disagreewith the position it presents.The two tasks are complementary in that one requires you to construct your ownargument by taking a position and providing evidence supporting your views on theissue, whereas the other requires you to evaluate someone else’s argument by assessingits claims and evaluating the evidence it provides.g Recognize the two types of Analytical Writingtasksg Study examples of each type of writing taskg Learn strategies for responding to the writingtasksg Review actual student responses and ETS readercommentaryYour goalsfor thischapter112GRE®Analytical Writing
  24. 24. Preparing for the Analytical Writing MeasureEveryone — even the most practiced and confident of writers — should spend sometime preparing for the Analytical Writing measure before arriving at the test center. Itis important to review the skills measured and how the section is scored. It is also use-ful to review the scoring guides and score level descriptions, sample topics, scored sam-ple essay responses, and reader 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 no taskrequires specific content knowledge. In fact, each task has been field-tested to ensurethat it possesses several important characteristics, including the following:b GRE test takers, regardless of their field of study or special interests, under-stood the task and could easily respond to it.b The task elicited the kinds of complex thinking and persuasive writing that uni-versity faculty consider important for success at the graduate level.b The responses were varied in content and in the way the writers developedtheir ideas.To help you prepare for the Analytical Writing measure, the GRE Program has pub-lished the entire pool of tasks from which your test tasks will be selected. You mightfind it helpful to review the Issue and Argument pools. You can view the publishedpools at www.ets.org/gre/revised/awtopics.General Strategiesb It is important to budget your time. Within the 30-minute time limit for theIssue task, you will need to allow sufficient time to consider the issue andthe specific instructions, plan a response, and compose your essay. Within the30-minute time limit for the Argument task, you will need to allow sufficienttime to consider the argument and the specific instructions, plan a response,and compose your essay. Although GRE readers understand the time con-straints under which you write and will consider your response a first draft,you still want it to be the best possible example of your writing that you canproduce under the testing conditions.b Save a few minutes at the end of each timed task to check for obvious errors.Although an occasional spelling or grammatical error will not affect your score,severe and persistent errors will detract from the overall effectiveness of yourwriting and thus lower your score.12GRE Analytical Writing
  25. 25. Analyze an Issue TaskUnderstanding the Issue TaskThe Analyze an Issue task assesses your ability to think critically about a topic of gen-eral interest according to specific instructions and to clearly express your thoughtsabout it in writing. Each issue topic makes a claim that test takers can discuss fromvarious perspectives and apply to many different situations or conditions. The issuestatement is followed by specific instructions. Your task is to present a compelling casefor your own position on the issue according to the specific instructions. Before begin-ning your written response, be sure to read the issue and instructions carefully andthink about the issue from several points of view, considering the complexity of ideasassociated with those views. Then, make notes about the position you want to developand list the main reasons and examples that you could use to support that position.It is important that you address the central issue according to the specific instruc-tions. Each task is accompanied by one of the following sets of instructions.b Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or dis-agree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take.In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in whichthe statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considera-tions shape your position.b Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or dis-agree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the positionyou take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific cir-cumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not beadvantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.b Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or dis-agree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure toaddress the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used tochallenge your position.b Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns withyour own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. Indeveloping and supporting your position, you should address both of the viewspresented.b Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or dis-agree with the claim and the reason on which that claim is based.b Write a response in which you discuss your views on the policy and explainyour reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting yourposition, you should consider the possible consequences of implementing thepolicy and explain how these consequences shape your position.The GRE readers scoring your response are not looking for a “right” answer — infact, there is no correct position to take. Instead, the readers are evaluating the skillwith which you address the specific instructions and articulate and develop an argu-ment to support your evaluation of the issue.13GRE Analytical Writing
  26. 26. Understanding the Context for Writing: Purpose and AudienceThe Issue task is an exercise in critical thinking and persuasive writing. The purpose ofthis task is to determine how well you can develop a compelling argument supportingyour own evaluation of an issue and to effectively communicate that argument in writ-ing to an academic audience. Your audience consists of GRE readers who are carefullytrained to apply the scoring criteria identified in the scoring guide for the Analyze anIssue task (see pages 37–38).To get a clearer idea of how GRE readers apply the Issue scoring criteria to actualresponses, you should review scored sample Issue essay responses and reader com-mentary. The sample responses, particularly at the 5 and 6 score levels, will show you avariety of successful strategies for organizing, developing, and communicating a per-suasive argument. The reader commentary discusses specific aspects of evaluation andwriting, such as the use of examples, development and support, organization, languagefluency, and word choice. For each response, the reader commentary points out aspectsthat are particularly persuasive as well as any that detract from the overall effectivenessof the essay.Preparing for the Issue TaskBecause the Issue task is meant to assess the persuasive writing skills that you havedeveloped throughout your education, it has been designed neither to require any par-ticular course of study nor to advantage students with a particular type of training.Many college textbooks on composition offer advice on persuasive writing andargumentation that you might find useful, but even this advice might be more techni-cal and specialized than you need for the Issue task. You will not be expected to knowspecific critical thinking or writing terms or strategies; instead, you should be able torespond to the specific instructions and use reasons, evidence, and examples to supportyour position on an issue. Suppose, for instance, that an Issue topic asks you to con-sider a policy that would require government financial support for art museums andthe implications of implementing the policy. If your position is that government shouldfund art museums, you might support your position by discussing the reasons art isimportant and explain that government funding would make access to museums avail-able to everyone. On the other hand, if your position is that government should notsupport museums, you might point out that, given limited governmental funds, artmuseums are not as deserving of governmental funding as are other, more sociallyimportant, institutions, which would suffer if the policy were implemented. Or, if youare in favor of government funding for art museums only under certain conditions, youmight focus on the artistic criteria, cultural concerns, or political conditions that youthink should determine how — or whether — art museums receive government funds.It is not your position that matters so much as the critical thinking skills you display indeveloping your position.An excellent way to prepare for the Issue task is to practice writing on some of thepublished topics. There is no “best” approach: some people prefer to start practicingwithout regard to the 30-minute time limit; others prefer to take a “timed test” first andpractice within the time limit. No matter which approach you take when you practicethe Issue task, you should review the task directions, thenb carefully read the claim and the specific instructions and make sure you under-stand them; if they seem unclear, discuss them with a friend or teacher14GRE Analytical Writing
  27. 27. b think about the claim and instructions in relation to your own ideas and expe-riences, to events you have read about or observed, and to people you haveknown; this is the knowledge base from which you will develop compelling rea-sons and examples in your argument that reinforce, negate, or qualify the claimin some wayb decide what position on the issue you want to take and defendb decide what compelling evidence (reasons and examples) you can use to sup-port your positionRemember that this is a task in critical thinking and persuasive writing. The mostsuccessful responses will explore the complexity of the claim and instructions. As youprepare for the Issue task, you might find it helpful to ask yourself the following ques-tions:b What precisely is the central issue?b What precisely are the instructions asking me to do?b Do I agree with all or with any part of the claim? Why or why not?b Does the claim make certain assumptions? If so, are they reasonable?b Is the claim valid only under certain conditions? If so, what are they?b Do I need to explain how I interpret certain terms or concepts used in theclaim?b If I take a certain position on the issue, what reasons support my position?b What examples — either real or hypothetical — could I use to illustrate thosereasons and advance my point of view? Which examples are most compelling?Once you have decided on a position to defend, consider the perspective of otherswho might not agree with your position. Ask yourself:b What reasons might someone use to refute or undermine my position?b How should I acknowledge or defend against those views in my essay?To plan your response, you might want to summarize your position and make briefnotes about how you will support the position you’re going to take. When you’ve donethis, look over your notes and decide how you will organize your response. Then writea response developing your position on the issue. Even if you don’t write a fullresponse, you should find it helpful to practice with a few of the Issue topics and tosketch out your possible responses. After you have practiced with some of the topics,try writing responses to some of the topics within the 30-minute time limit so that youhave a good idea of how to use your time in the actual test.It would probably be helpful to get some feedback on your response from aninstructor who teaches critical thinking or writing or to trade papers on the same topicwith other students and discuss one another’s responses in relation to the scoringguide. Try to determine how each paper meets or misses the criteria for each scorepoint in the guide. Comparing your own response to the scoring guide will help you seehow and where you might need to improve.15GRE Analytical Writing
  28. 28. 16GRE Analytical WritingThe Form of Your ResponseYou are free to organize and develop your response in any way that you think will effec-tively communicate your ideas about the issue and the instructions. Your responsemay, but need not, incorporate particular writing strategies learned in English compo-sition or writing-intensive college courses. GRE readers will not be looking for a par-ticular developmental strategy or mode of writing; in fact, when GRE readers aretrained, they review hundreds of Issue responses that, although highly diverse in con-tent and form, display similar levels of critical thinking and persuasive writing. Read-ers will see, for example, some Issue responses at the 6 score level that begin by brieflysummarizing the writer’s position on the issue and then explicitly announcing the mainpoints to be argued. They will see others that lead into the writer’s position by makinga prediction, asking a series of questions, describing a scenario, or defining criticalterms in the quotation. The readers know that a writer can earn a high score by givingmultiple examples or by presenting a single, extended example. Look at the sampleIssue responses, particularly at the 5 and 6 score levels, to see how other writers havesuccessfully developed and organized their arguments.You should use as many or as few paragraphs as you consider appropriate for yourargument — for example, you will probably need to create a new paragraph wheneveryour discussion shifts to a new cluster of ideas. What matters is not the number ofexamples, the number of paragraphs, or the form your argument takes but, rather, thecogency of your ideas about the issue and the clarity and skill with which you commu-nicate those ideas to academic readers.Sample Issue TaskAs people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability ofhumans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate.Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explainyour reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting yourposition, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might nothold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.Strategies for This TopicIn this task, you are asked to discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with thestatement. Thus, responses may range from strong agreement or strong disagreement,to qualified agreement or qualified disagreement. You are also instructed to explainyour reasoning and consider ways in which the statement might or might not holdtrue. A successful response need not comment on all or any one of the points listedbelow and may well discuss other reasons or examples not mentioned here in supportof its position.Although this topic is accessible to respondents of all levels of ability, for anyresponse to receive a top score, it is particularly important that you remain focused onthe task and provide clearly relevant examples and/or reasons to support the point ofview you are expressing. Lower level responses may be long and full of examples ofmodern technology, but those examples may not be clearly related to a particular posi-tion. For example, a respondent who strongly disagrees with the statement may choose
  29. 29. to use computer technology as proof that thinking ability is not deteriorating. The mereexistence of computer technology, however, does not adequately prove this point (per-haps the ease of computer use inhibits our thinking ability). To receive a higher-levelscore, the respondent should explain in what ways computer technology may call for orrequire thinking ability.This topic could elicit a wide variety of approaches, especially considering the dif-ferent possible interpretations of the phrase “the ability of humans to think for them-selves.” Although most respondents may take it to mean problem solving, others, withequal effectiveness, could interpret it as emotional and social intelligence (i.e., the abil-ity to communicate/connect with others). With any approach, it is possible to discussexamples such as calculators, word processing tools such as spell and grammar check,tax return software, Internet research, and a variety of other common household andbusiness technologies.You may agree with the prompt and argue that:b reliance on technology leads to dependency; we come to rely on problem solv-ing technologies to such a degree that when they fail, we are in worse shapethan if we didn’t have them in the first placeb everyday technologies such as calculators and cash registers have decreasedour ability to perform simple calculations, a “use it or lose it” approach tothinking abilityOr you may take issue with the prompt and argue that technology facilitates andimproves our thinking skills, arguing that:b developing, implementing, and using technology requires problem solvingb technology frees us from mundane problem solving (e.g., calculations), andallows us to engage in more complex thinkingb technology provides access to information otherwise unavailableb technology connects people at a distance and allows them to share ideasb technology is dependent on the human ability to think and make choices (everyimplementation of and advance in technology is driven by human intelligenceand decision making)On the other hand, you could decide to explore the middle ground in the debateand point out that while technology may diminish some mental skill sets, it enablesother (perhaps more important) types of thinking to thrive. Such a response might dis-tinguish between complex problem solving and simple “data maintenance” (i.e., per-forming calculations and organizing information). Other approaches could includetaking a historical, philosophical, or sociological stance, or, with equal effectiveness,using personal examples to illustrate a position. One could argue that the value ordetriment of relying on technology is determined by the individual (or society) using itor that only those who develop technology (i.e., technical specialists) are maintainingtheir problem solving skills, while the rest of us are losing them.Again, it is important for you to avoid overly general examples, or lists of exampleswithout expansion. It is also essential to do more than paraphrase the prompt. Pleasekeep in mind that what counts is the ability to clearly express a particular point of viewin relation to the issue and specific task instructions and to support that position withrelevant reasons and/or examples.17GRE Analytical Writing
  30. 30. *All responses in this publication are reproduced exactly as written, including errors, mis-spellings, etc., if any.Essay Responses and Reader CommentaryScore 6 Response *The statement linking technology negatively with free thinking plays on recent humanexperience over the past century. Surely there has been no time in history where thelived lives of people have changed more dramatically. A quick reflection on a typicalday reveals how technology has revolutionized the world. Most people commute towork in an automobile that runs on an internal combustion engine. During theworkday, chances are high that the employee will interact with a computer thatprocesses information on silicon bridges that are .09 microns wide. Upon leavinghome, family members will be reached through wireless networks that utilize satellitesorbiting the earth. Each of these common occurences would have been inconceivableat the turn of the 19th century.The statement attempts to bridge these dramatic changes to a reduction in theability for humans to think for themselves. The assumption is that an increased relianceon technology negates the need for people to think creatively to solve previousquandaries. Looking back at the introduction, one could argue that without a car,computer, or mobile phone, the hypothetical worker would need to find alternatemethods of transport, information processing, and communication. Technology shortcircuits this thinking by making the problems obsolete.However, this reliance on technology does not necessarily preclude the creativitythat marks the human species. The prior examples reveal that technology allows forconvenience. The car, computer, and phone all release additional time for people to livemore efficiently. This efficiency does not preclude the need for humans to think forthemselves. In fact, technology frees humanity to not only tackle new problems, butmay itself create new issues that did not exist without technology. For example, theproliferation of automobiles has introduced a need for fuel conservation on a globalscale. With increasing energy demands from emerging markets, global warmingbecomes a concern inconceivable to the horse-and-buggy generation. Likewisedependence on oil has created nation-states that are not dependent on taxation,allowing ruling parties to oppress minority groups such as women. Solutions to thesecomplex problems require the unfettered imaginations of maverick scientists andpoliticians.In contrast to the statement, we can even see how technology frees the humanimagination. Consider how the digital revolution and the advent of the internet hasallowed for an unprecedented exchange of ideas. WebMD, a popular internet portal formedical information, permits patients to self research symptoms for a more informeddoctor visit. This exercise opens pathways of thinking that were previously closed offto the medical layman. With increased interdisciplinary interactions, inspiration canarrive from the most surprising corners. Jeffrey Sachs, one of the architects of the UNMillenium Development Goals, based his ideas on emergency care triage techniques.The unlikely marriage of economics and medicine has healed tense, hyperinflationenvironments from South America to Eastern Europe.This last example provides the most hope in how technology actually provides hopeto the future of humanity. By increasing our reliance on technology, impossible goalscan now be achieved. Consider how the late 20th century witnessed the completeelimination of smallpox. This disease had ravaged the human race since prehistoricaldays, and yet with the technology of vaccines, free thinking humans dared to imagine a18GRE Analytical Writing
  31. 31. 19GRE Analytical Writingworld free of smallpox. Using technology, battle plans were drawn out, and smallpoxwas systematically targeted and eradicated.Technology will always mark the human experience, from the discovery of fire to theimplementation of nanotechnology. Given the history of the human race, there will beno limit to the number of problems, both new and old, for us to tackle. There is noneed to retreat to a Luddite attitude to new things, but rather embrace a hopefulposture to the possibilities that technology provides for new avenues of humanimagination.Reader CommentaryThe author of this essay stakes out a clear and insightful position on the issue and fol-lows the specific instructions by discussing ways in which the statement might ormight not hold true, using specific reasons and examples to support that position. Theessay cogently argues that technology does not decrease our ability to think for our-selves. It merely provides “additional time for people to live more efficiently.” In fact,the problems that have developed alongside the growth of technology (pollution, polit-ical unrest in oil producing nations) actually call for more creative thinking, not less. Infurther examples, the essay shows how technology allows for the linking of ideas thatmay never have been connected in the past (like medicine and economic models),pushing people to think in new ways. Examples are persuasive and fully developed; rea-soning is logically sound and well-supported.Ideas in the essay are connected logically, with effective transitions used bothbetween paragraphs (“However,” or “In contrast to the statement”) and within para-graphs. Sentence structure is varied and complex, and the essay clearly demonstratesfacility with the “conventions of standard written English (i.e., grammar, usage, andmechanics)” (see Issue Scoring Guide, pages 37–38), with only minor errors appearing.Thus, this essay meets all the requirements for receiving a top score, a 6.Score 5 ResponseSurely many of us have expressed the following sentiment, or some variation on it,during our daily commutes to work: “People are getting so stupid these days!”Surrounded as we are by striding and strident automatons with cell phones glued totheir ears, PDA’s gripped in their palms, and omniscient, omnipresent CNN gleamingin their eyeballs, it’s tempting to believe that technology has isolated and infantilizedus, essentally transforming us into dependent, conformist morons best equipped tosideswip one another in our SUV’s.Furthermore, hanging around with the younger, pre-commute generation, whomtech-savviness seems to have rendered lethal, is even less reassuring. With “TeenPeople” style trends shooting through the air from tiger-striped PDA to zebra-stripedPDA, and with the latest starlet gossip zipping from juicy Blackberry to teeny, turbo-charged cell phone, technology seems to support young people’s worst tendencies tofollow the crowd. Indeed, they have seemingly evolved into intergalactic conformitypolice. After all, today’s tech-aided teens are, courtesy of authentic, hands-on videogames, literally trained to kill; courtesy of chat and instant text messaging, they havetheir own language; they even have tiny cameras to efficiently photodocument yourfashion blunders! Is this adolescence, or paparazzi terrorist training camp?With all this evidence, it’s easy to believe that tech trends and the incorporation
  32. 32. of technological wizardry into our everyday lives have served mostly to enforceconformity, promote dependence, heighten comsumerism and materialism, andgenerally create a culture that values self-absorption and personal entitlement overcooperation and collaboration. However, I argue that we are merely in the inchoatestages of learning to live with technology while still loving one another. After all, evengiven the examples provided earlier in this essay, it seems clear that technology hasn’timpaired our thinking and problem-solving capacities. Certainly it has incapacitated ourbehavior and manners; certainly our values have taken a severe blow. However, we areinarguably more efficient in our badness these days. We’re effective worker bees ofineffectiveness!If technology has so increased our senses of self-efficacy that we can becomeveritable agents of the awful, virtual CEO’s of selfishness, certainly it can be beneficial.Harnessed correctly, technology can improve our ability to think and act for ourselves.The first challenge is to figure out how to provide technology users with some direly-needed direction.Reader CommentaryThe language of this essay clearly illustrates both its strengths and weaknesses. Theflowery and sometimes uncannily keen descriptions are often used to powerful effect,but at other times, this descriptive language results in errors in syntax. See, for exam-ple, the problems of parallelism in the second to last sentence of paragraph 2 (“Afterall, today’s tech-aided teens . . . ”).There is consistent evidence of facility with syntax and complex vocabulary (“Sur-rounded as we are by striding and strident automatons with cell phones glued to theirears, PDA’s gripped in their palms, and omniscient, omnipresent CNN gleaming in theireyeballs, it’s tempting to believe . . . ”). Such lucid prose, however, is often counteredwith an over-reliance upon abstractions and tangential reasoning (what does the factthat video games “literally train [teens] to kill” have to do with the use or deteriorationof thinking abilities, for example?).Because this essay takes a complex approach to the issue (arguing, in effect, thattechnology neither enhances nor reduces our ability to think for ourselves, but can beused to do one or the other depending on the user) and because the author makes useof “appropriate vocabulary and sentence variety” (see Issue Scoring Guide, pages37–38), a score of 5 is appropriate.Score 4 ResponseIn all actuality, I think it is more probable that our bodies will surely deteriorate longbefore our minds do in any significant amount. Who can’t say that technology hasmade us lazier, but that’s the key word, lazy, not stupid. The ever increasing amount oftechnology that we incorporate into our daily lives makes people think and learn everyday, possibly more than ever before. Our abilities to think, learn, philosophize, etc. mayeven reach limits never dreamed of before by average people. Using technology tosolve problems will continue to help us realize our potential as a human race.If you think about it, using technology to solve more complicating problems giveshumans a chance to expand their thinking and learning, opening up whole new worldsfor many people. Many of these people are glad for the chance to expand theirhorizons by learning more, going to new places, and trying new things. If it wasn’t for20GRE Analytical Writing
  33. 33. the invention of new technological devices, I wouldn’t be sitting at this computer tryingto philosophize about technology. It would be extremely hard for children in muchpoorer countries to learn and think for themselves with out the invention of theinternet. Think what an impact the printing press, a technologically superior mackine atthe time, had on the ability of the human race to learn and think.Right now we are seeing a golden age of technology, using it all the time during ourevery day lives. When we get up there’s instant coffee and the microwave and all thesegreat things that help us get ready for our day. But we aren’t allowing our minds todeteriorate by using them, we are only making things easier for ourselves and savingtime for other important things in our days. Going off to school or work in our carsinstead of a horse and buggy. Think of the brain power and genius that was used tocome up with that single invention that has changed the way we move across thisglobe.Using technology to solve our continually more complicated problems as a humanrace is definately a good thing. Our ability to think for ourselves isn’t deteriorating, it’scontinuing to grow, moving on to higher though functions and more ingenious ideas.The ability to use what technology we have is an exampleReader CommentaryThis essay meets all the criteria of a 4-level essay. The writer develops a clear position(“Using technology to solve problems will continue to help us realize our potential as ahuman race”). The position is then developed with relevant reasons (“using technologyto solve more complicat[ed] problems gives humans a chance to expand their thinkingand learning . . . ” and “we are seeing a golden age of technology”). Point 1, “Using tech-nology,” is supported with the simple, but relevant notions that technology allows usaccess to information and abilities to which we would not normally have access. Simi-larly, point 2, “the golden age,” is supported by the basic description of our technologi-cally saturated social condition. Though the development and organization of the essaydoes suffer from an occasional misstep (see paragraph 3’s abrupt progression from cof-fee pots to the benefits of technology to cars), the essay as a whole flows smoothly andlogically from one idea to the next.It is useful to compare this essay to the 3 level essay presented next. Though theyboth utilize some very superficial discussion and often fail to probe deeply into theissue, this writer does, however, take the analysis a step further. In paragraph 2, the dis-tinction between this essay and the next one (the 3 level response) can most clearly beseen. To support the notion that advances in technology actually help increase thinkingability, the writer draws a clever parallel between the promise of modern, sophisticatedtechnology (computer) and the equally substantial/pervasive technology of the past(printing press).Like the analysis, the language in this essay clearly meets the requirements for ascore of 4. The writer displays sufficient control of language and the conventions ofstandard written English. The preponderance of mistakes are of a cosmetic nature(“using technology to solve more complicating problems”). There is a sentence frag-ment (“Going off . . . ”) along with a comma splice (“Our ability . . . isn’t deteriorating,it’s continuing to grow . . . ”) in paragraph 4. These errors, though, are minor and donot interfere with the clarity of the ideas being presented.21GRE Analytical Writing
  34. 34. Score 3 ResponseThere is no current proof that advancing technology will deteriorate the ability ofhumans to think. On the contrary, advancements in technology had advanced our vastknowledge in many fields, opening opportunities for further understanding andachievement. For example, the problem of dibilitating illnesses and diseases such asalzheimer’s disease is slowing being solved by the technological advancements in stemcell research. The future ability of growing new brain cells and the possibility to reversethe onset of alzheimer’s is now becoming a reality. This shows our initiative as humansto better our health demonstrates greater ability of humans to think.One aspect where the ability of humans may initially be seen as an example ofdeteriorating minds is the use of internet and cell phones. In the past humans had toseek out information in many different enviroments and aspects of life. Now humanscan sit in a chair and type anything into a computer and get an answer. Our reliance onthis type of technology can be detrimental if not regulated and regularily substitutedfor other information sources such as human interactions and hands on learning. Ithink if humans understand that we should not have such a reliance on computertechnology, that we as a species will advance further by utilizing the opportunity ofcomputer technology as well as the other sources of information outside of acomputer. Supplementing our knowledge with internet access is surely a way fortechnology to solve problems while continually advancing the human race.Reader CommentaryThis essay never moves beyond a superficial discussion of the issue. The writerattempts to develop two points: that advancements in technology have progressed ourknowledge in many fields and that supplementing rather than relying on technology is“surely a way for technology to solve problems while continually advancing the humanrace.” Each point, then, is developed with relevant but insufficient evidence. In dis-cussing the ability of technology to advance knowledge in many fields (a broad subjectrife with possible examples), the writer uses only one limited and very brief examplefrom a specific field (medicine and stem-cell research).Development of the second point is hindered by a lack of specificity and organiza-tion. The writer creates what might most be comparable to an outline. The writer citesa need for regulation/supplementation and warns of the detriment of over-relianceupon technology. However, the explanation of both the problem and the solution isvague and limited (“Our reliance . . . can be detrimental . . . If humans understand thatwe should not have such a reliance . . . we will advance further”). There is neitherexplanation of consequences nor clarification of what is meant by “supplementing.”This second paragraph is a series of generalizations, which are loosely connected andlack a much needed grounding.In the essay, there are some minor language errors and a few more serious flaws(e.g., “The future ability of growing new brain cells” or “One aspect where the ability ofhumans may initially be seen as an example of deteriorating minds…”). Despite theaccumulation of such flaws, though, meaning is generally clear. This essay earns ascore of 3, then, primarily for its limited development.22GRE Analytical Writing
  35. 35. Score 2 ResponseIn recent centuries, humans have developed the technology very rapidly, and you mayaccept some merit of it, and you may see a distortion in society occured by it. To belazy for human in some meaning is one of the fashion issues in thesedays. There aremany symptoms and resons of it. However, I can not agree with the statement that thetechnology make humans to be reluctant to thinkng thoroughly.Of course, you can see the phenomena of human laziness along with developedtechnology in some place. However, they would happen in specific condition, notgeneral. What makes human to be laze of thinking is not merely technology, but thethe tendency of human that they treat them as a magic stick and a black box. Notunderstanding the aims and theory of them couses the disapproval problems.The most important thing to use the thechnology, regardless the new or old, is tocomprehend the fundamental idea of them, and to adapt suit tech to tasks in need.Even if you recognize a method as a all-mighty and it is extremely over-spec to yourneeds, you can not see the result you want. In this procedure, humans have to consideras long as possible to acquire adequate functions. Therefore, humans can not escapefrom using their brain.In addition, the technology as it is do not vain automatically, the is created byhumans. Thus, the more developed tech and the more you want a convenient life, themore you think and emmit your creativity to breakthrough some banal methodsarcastically.Consequently, if you are not passive to the new tech, but offensive to it, you wouldnot lose your ability to think deeply. Furthermore, you may improve the ability byadopting it.Reader CommentaryThe language of this essay is what most clearly links it to the score point of 2. Amidstsporadic moments of clarity, this essay is marred by serious errors in grammar, usageand mechanics that often interfere with meaning. It is unclear what the writer meanswhen he/she states, “To be lazy for human in some meaning is one of the fashion issuesin thesedays,” or “ . . . to adapt suit tech to tasks in need.” Despite such severe flaws, thewriter has made an obvious attempt to respond to the prompt (“I can not agree withthe statement that the technology make humans to be reluctant to thinking thor-oughly”) as well as an unclear attempt to support such an assertion (“Not understand-ing the aims and theory of them [technology] couses the disapproval problems” and“The most important thing to use the thechnology . . . is to comprehend the fundamen-tal idea of them”). Holistically, the essay displays a seriously flawed but not fundamen-tally deficient attempt to develop and support its claims.(Note: In this SPECIFIC case, the analysis is tied directly to the language. As thelanguage falters, so too does the analysis.)23GRE Analytical Writing
  36. 36. Score 1 ResponseHumans have invented machines but they have forgot it and have started everythingtechnically so clearly their thinking process is deterioating.Reader CommentaryThe essay is clearly on topic, as evidenced by the writer’s usage of the more significantterms from the prompt: “technically” (technologically), “humans”, “thinking” (think)and “deterioating” (deteriorate). Such usage is the only clear evidence of understand-ing. Meaning aside, the brevity of the essay (1 sentence) clearly indicates the writer’sinability to develop a response that addresses the specific instructions given (“Discussthe extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement above and explain yourreasoning for the position you take”).The language, too, is clearly 1-level, as the sentence fails to achieve coherence. Thecoherent phrases in this one-sentence response are those tied to the prompt: “Humanshave invented machines” and “their thinking process is deterioating.” Otherwise, thepoint being made is unclear.24GRE Analytical Writing
  37. 37. Analyze an Argument TaskUnderstanding the Argument TaskThe Analyze an Argument task assesses your ability to understand, analyze, and evalu-ate arguments according to specific instructions and to clearly convey your evaluationin writing. The task consists of a brief passage in which the author makes a case forsome course of action or interpretation of events by presenting claims backed by rea-sons and evidence. Your task is to discuss the logical soundness of the author’s caseaccording to the specific instructions by critically examining the line of reasoning. Thistask requires you to read the argument and instructions very carefully. You might wantto read them more than once and possibly make brief notes about points you want todevelop more fully in your response. In reading the argument, you should pay specialattention tob what is offered as evidence, support, or proofb what is explicitly stated, claimed, or concludedb what is assumed or supposed, perhaps without justification or proofb what is not stated, but necessarily follows from what is statedIn addition, you should consider the structure of the argument — the way in whichthese elements are linked together to form a line of reasoning; that is, you should rec-ognize the separate, sometimes implicit steps in the thinking process and considerwhether the movement from each one to the next is logically sound. In tracing this line,look for transition words and phrases that suggest that the author is attempting tomake a logical connection (e.g., however, thus, therefore, evidently, hence, in conclusion).An important part of performing well on the Argument task is remembering whatyou are not being asked to do. You are not being asked to discuss whether the state-ments in the argument are true or accurate. You are not being asked to agree or dis-agree with the position stated. You are not being asked to express your own views onthe subject being discussed (as you were in the Issue task). Instead, you are being askedto evaluate the logical soundness of an argument of another writer according to spe-cific instructions and, in doing so, to demonstrate the critical thinking, perceptive read-ing, and analytical writing skills that university faculty consider important for successin graduate school.It is important that you address the argument according to the specific instruc-tions. Each task is accompanied by one of the following sets of instructions.b Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to eval-uate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthenthe argument.b Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptionsof the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on theseassumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptionsprove unwarranted.b Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to beanswered in order to decide whether the recommendation and the argument onwhich it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to thesequestions would help to evaluate the recommendation.25GRE Analytical Writing
  38. 38. b Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to beanswered in order to decide whether the advice and the argument on which itis based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questionswould help to evaluate the advice.b Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to beanswered in order to decide whether the recommendation is likely to have thepredicted result. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions wouldhelp to evaluate the recommendation.b Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to beanswered in order to decide whether the prediction and the argument on whichit is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these ques-tions would help to evaluate the prediction.b Write a response in which you discuss one or more alternative explanationsthat could rival the proposed explanation and explain how your explanation(s)can plausibly account for the facts presented in the argument.b Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to beaddressed in order to decide whether the conclusion and the argument onwhich it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to thequestions would help to evaluate the conclusion.“Analyze an Argument” is primarily a critical thinking task requiring a writtenresponse. Consequently, the analytical skills displayed in your evaluation carry greatweight in determining your score; however, the clarity with which you convey ideas isalso important to your overall score.Understanding the Context for Writing: Purpose and AudienceThe purpose of the task is to see how well equipped you are to insightfully evaluate anargument written by someone else and to effectively communicate your evaluation inwriting to an academic audience. Your audience consists of GRE readers carefullytrained to apply the scoring criteria identified in the scoring guide for the Analyze anArgument task (see page 39–40).To get a clearer idea of how GRE readers apply the Argument scoring criteria toactual essays, you should review scored sample Argument essay responses and readercommentary. The sample responses, particularly at the 5 and 6 score levels, will showyou a variety of successful strategies for organizing and developing an insightful evalu-ation. The reader commentary discusses specific aspects of analytical writing, such ascogency of ideas, development and support, organization, syntactic variety, and facilitywith language. For each response, the reader commentary will point out aspects thatare particularly effective and insightful as well as any that detract from the overalleffectiveness of the responses.Preparing for the Argument TaskBecause the Argument task is meant to assess analytical writing and informal reason-ing skills that you have developed throughout your education, it has been designed soas not to require any specific course of study or to advantage students with a particulartype of training. Many college textbooks on rhetoric and composition have sections oninformal logic and critical thinking that might prove helpful, but even these might be26GRE Analytical Writing
  39. 39. 27GRE Analytical Writingmore detailed and technical than the task requires. You will not be expected to knowmethods of analysis or technical terms. For instance, in one topic an elementary schoolprincipal might conclude that the new playground equipment has improved studentattendance because absentee rates have declined since it was installed. You will notneed to see that the principal has committed the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy; youwill simply need to see that there are other possible explanations for the improvedattendance, to offer some common-sense examples, and perhaps to suggest what wouldbe necessary to verify the conclusion. For instance, absentee rates might have de-creased because the climate was mild. This would have to be ruled out in order for theprincipal’s conclusion to be valid.Although you do not need to know special analytical techniques and terminology,you should be familiar with the directions for the Argument task and with certain keyconcepts, including the following:b alternative explanation: a possible competing version of what might havecaused the events in question; an alternative explanation undercuts or qualifiesthe original explanation because it too can account for the observed factsb analysis: the process of breaking something (e.g., an argument) down into itscomponent parts in order to understand how they work together to make upthe wholeb argument: a claim or a set of claims with reasons and evidence offered as sup-port; a line of reasoning meant to demonstrate the truth or falsehood of some-thingb assumption: a belief, often unstated or unexamined, that someone must hold inorder to maintain a particular position; something that is taken for granted butthat must be true in order for the conclusion to be trueb conclusion: the end point reached by a line of reasoning, valid if the reasoningis sound; the resulting assertionb counterexample: an example, real or hypothetical, that refutes or disproves astatement in the argumentb evaluation: an assessment of the quality of evidence and reasons in an argu-ment and of the overall merit of an argumentAn excellent way to prepare for the Analyze an Argument task is to practice writingon some of the published Argument topics. There is no one way to practice that is bestfor everyone. Some prefer to start practicing without adhering to the 30-minute timelimit. If you follow this approach, take all the time you need to evaluate the argument.No matter which approach you take, you shouldb carefully read the argument and the specific instructions — you might want toread them over more than onceb identify as many of the argument’s claims, conclusions, and underlyingassumptions as possible and evaluate their qualityb think of as many alternative explanations and counterexamples as you canb think of what specific additional evidence might weaken or lend support to theclaimsb ask yourself what changes in the argument would make the reasoning moresound
  40. 40. Write down each of these thoughts as a brief note. When you’ve gone as far as youcan with your evaluation, look over the notes and put them in a good order for discus-sion (perhaps by numbering them). Then write an evaluation according to the specificinstructions by fully developing each point that is relevant to those instructions. Evenif you choose not to write a full essay response, you should find it very helpful to prac-tice evaluating a few of the arguments and sketching out your responses. When youbecome quicker and more confident, you should practice writing some Argumentresponses within the 30-minute time limit so that you will have a good sense of how topace yourself in the actual test. For example, you will not want to discuss one point soexhaustively or to provide so many equivalent examples that you run out of time tomake your other main points.You might want to get feedback on your response(s) from a writing instructor, aphilosophy teacher, or someone who emphasizes critical thinking in his or her course.It can also be very informative to trade papers on the same topic with fellow studentsand discuss one another’s responses in terms of the scoring guide. Focus not so muchon giving the “right scores” as on seeing how the papers meet or miss the performancestandards for each score point and what you therefore need to do in order to improve.How to Interpret Numbers, Percentages, and Statistics in Argument TopicsSome arguments contain numbers, percentages, or statistics that are offered as evi-dence in support of the argument’s conclusion. For example, an argument might claimthat a certain community event is less popular this year than it was last year becauseonly 100 people attended this year in comparison with 150 last year, a 33 percentdecline in attendance. It is important to remember that you are not being asked to do amathematical task with the numbers, percentages, or statistics. Instead you shouldevaluate these as evidence intended to support the conclusion. In the example above,the conclusion is that a community event has become less popular. You should askyourself: does the difference between 100 people and 150 people support that conclu-sion? Note that, in this case, there are other possible explanations; for example, theweather might have been much worse this year, this year’s event might have been heldat an inconvenient time, the cost of the event might have gone up this year, or theremight have been another popular event this year at the same time. Each of these couldexplain the difference in attendance, and thus would weaken the conclusion that theevent was “less popular.” Similarly, percentages might support or weaken a conclusiondepending on what actual numbers the percentages represent. Consider the claim thatthe drama club at a school deserves more funding because its membership hasincreased by 100 percent. This 100 percent increase could be significant if there hadbeen 100 members and now there are 200 members, whereas the increase would bemuch less significant if there had been 5 members and now there are 10. Rememberthat any numbers, percentages, or statistics in Argument tasks are used only as evi-dence in support of a conclusion, and you should always consider whether they actu-ally support the conclusion.The Form of Your ResponseYou are free to organize and develop your response in any way that you think will effec-tively communicate your evaluation of the argument. Your response may, but need not,incorporate particular writing strategies learned in English composition or writing-intensive college courses. GRE readers will not be looking for a particular develop-28GRE Analytical Writing
  41. 41. mental strategy or mode of writing. In fact, when GRE readers are trained, they reviewhundreds of Argument responses that, although highly diverse in content and form,display similar levels of critical thinking and analytical writing. Readers will see, forexample, some essays at the 6 score level that begin by briefly summarizing the argu-ment and then explicitly stating and developing the main points of the evaluation. Thereaders know that a writer can earn a high score by developing several points in anevaluation or by identifying a central feature in the argument and developing that eval-uation extensively. You might want to look at the sample Argument responses, particu-larly at the 5 and 6 score levels, to see how other writers have successfully developedand organized their responses.You should make choices about format and organization that you think supportand enhance the overall effectiveness of your evaluation. This means using as manyor as few paragraphs as you consider appropriate for your response — for example,creating a new paragraph when your discussion shifts to a new point of evaluation. Youmight want to organize your evaluation around the structure of the argument itself,discussing the argument line by line. Or you might want to first point out a centralproblem and then move on to discuss related weaknesses in the argument’s line of rea-soning. Similarly, you might want to use examples if they help illustrate an importantpoint in your evaluation or move your discussion forward (remember, however, that, interms of your ability to perform the Argument task effectively, it is your critical think-ing and analytical writing, not your ability to come up with examples, that is beingassessed). What matters is not the form the response takes, but how insightfully youevaluate the argument and how articulately you communicate your evaluation to aca-demic readers within the context of the task.Sample Argument TaskIn surveys Mason City residents rank water sports (swimming, boating, and fish-ing) among their favorite recreational activities. The Mason River flowing throughthe city is rarely used for these pursuits, however, and the city park departmentdevotes little of its budget to maintaining riverside recreational facilities. For yearsthere have been complaints from residents about the quality of the river’s waterand the river’s smell. In response, the state has recently announced plans to cleanup Mason River. Use of the river for water sports is, therefore, sure to increase. Thecity government should for that reason devote more money in this year’s budget toriverside recreational facilities.Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions ofthe argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on the assumptionsand what the implications are if the assumptions prove unwarranted.Strategies for This TopicThis argument cites a survey to support the prediction that the use of the Mason Riveris sure to increase and thus recommends that the city government should devote moremoney in this year’s budget to the riverside recreational facilities.In developing your evaluation, you are asked to examine the argument’s statedand/or unstated assumptions and discuss what the implications are if the assumptions29GRE Analytical Writing

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