The Analytical Writing section of the GRE requires you to write two essays—one will be an analysis of an issue and the other will be an analysis of an argument. You will have 30 minutes for each essay.

Try your hand at these GRE essay prompts, and read our explanations for what makes a great GRE essay. We pulled these sample questions from our book Cracking the GRE and from our GRE prep course materials.

The Issue Essay

The Issue Essay of the GRE requires you to present your opinion on the provided topic.

Issue Topic

You will be given a brief quotation that states or implies an issue of general interest and specific instructions on how to respond to that issue. You will have 30 minutes to plan and compose a response in which you develop a position on the issue according the specific instructions. A response to any other issue will receive a score of zero.

"True beauty is found not in the exceptional but in the commonplace."

Write an essay in which you take a position on the statement above. In developing and supporting your essay, consider instances in which the statement does and does not hold true.

A high-scoring Issue essay accomplishes four key tasks: (1) considers the complexities of the issue; (2) supports the position with relevant examples; (3) is clear and well organized; (4) demonstrates superior facility with the conventions of standard written English.

Make sure that you respond to the specific instructions and support your position on the issue with reasons and examples drawn from such areas as your reading, experience, observations, and/or academic studies.

The Argument Essay

The Argument Essay of the GRE asks you to examine and critique the logic of an argument.

Argument Topic

You will be given a short passage that presents an argument, or an argument to be completed, and specific instructions on how to respond to that passage. You will have 30 minutes to plan and compose a response in which you analyze the passage according to specific instructions. A response to any other issue will receive a score of zero.

The director of the International Health Foundation recently released this announcement:

"A new medical test that allows the early detection of a particular disease will prevent the deaths of people all over the world who would otherwise die from the disease. The test has been extremely effective in allowing doctors to diagnose the disease six months to a year before it would have been spotted by conventional means. As soon as we can institute this test as a routine procedure in hospitals around the world, the death rate from this disease will plummet."

Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on the assumptions and what the implications are if the assumptions prove unwarranted.

A high-scoring Argument essay accomplishes these tasks: (1) clearly identifies and insightfully analyzes important features of the argument; (2) develops ideas clearly and logically with smooth transitions; (3) effectively supports the main points of the critique; (4) demonstrates superior facility with the conventions of standard written English.

Note that you are NOT being asked to present your own views on the subject. Make sure you that you respond to the specific instructions and support your analysis with relevant reasons and/or examples.


Want more practice?

Take a GRE practice test with us under the same conditions as the real thing. You'll get a personalized score report highlighting your strengths and areas of improvement.

Start a Free Practice Test