4 GRE Writing Examples To Explore Before Test Day

Are you preparing for the GRE? Check out the GRE writing examples to learn in our comprehensive guide.

If you apply for graduate school, you will likely have to take the GRE (graduate record examination) General Test. This test measures verbal reasoning, critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills. It has several portions, but the writing portion requires the test taker to complete two essays with slightly different topics and focuses. You may need to take the GRE if you graduate and want to go to business, or law school requires it as part of your admissions process. If you have not yet chosen a school, taking the GRE test will ensure you are ready to apply to the school you end up choosing. 

The GRE writing section is broken down into two different sections. The first is an analytical writing task. It asks the reader to read about an issue, then analyzes a potential solution for that issue. The second is the argumentative essay portion. It asks the reader to build an argument for or against a particular decision. Test takers get a separate score for each writing sample, and a 6.0 is a perfect score. Only about 1% of the students who take the GRE will get a perfect score in the writing section.

When grading these essays, graders look at different things. For the analytical issue task, the grader wants to see:

  • The writer forms explicit, thoughtful opinions.
  • The arguments are logical, with supportive examples.
  • The writer can use strong vocabulary.

For the argument essay portion, the grader wants to see:

  • The writer clearly understood the argument.
  • The ideas are cohesive and organized.
  • They can support their opinion using clear arguments.

For both essay types, the grader wants to see that the writer follows the specific instructions in the prompt and can write using adequate vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. As you prepare for the GRE essay, be willing to invest some time in practice tests. However, for the writing portion, your GRE prep should focus on improving your writing, grammar, and overall analytical skills. Writing clearly on a topic with organized sentences and arguments will help you stand out when you apply to grad school, so spend some time preparing well for this portion of the GRE.

1. Cooperation vs. Competition – Analyze an Issue Essay

GRE Writing Examples: Analyze an issue essay

One type of essay you will see on the GRE exam is the GRE issue essay. This essay gives you a chance to show off your analytical writing skills.

Here is an example essay prompt:

“The best way for a society to prepare its young people for leadership in government, industry, or other fields is by instilling in them a sense of cooperation, not competition.”

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, address the most compelling reasons or examples that could be used to challenge your position.”

The student who responded to this essay took a personal approach to the response. To see the complete response to this essay, look at page 108 of this PDF.

In the first paragraph, the writer says:

“Whenever people argue that history is a worthless subject or that there is nothing to be gained by just “memorizing a bunch of stupid names and dates,” I simply hold my tongue and smile to myself. What I’m thinking is that, as cliche as it sounds, you do learn a great deal from history (and woe to those who fail to learn those lessons). It is remarkable to think of the number of circumstances and situations in which even the most rudimentary knowledge of history will turn out to be invaluable.”

The thesis statement comes in the last line of the first paragraph, where the writer says:

“I would have to agree that the best way to prepare young people for leadership roles is to instill in them a sense of cooperation.”

The writer continues throughout each of the body paragraphs o support this point. Finally, in conclusion, the writer says:

“Getting to be President of the United States or the managing director of a corporation might require you to win some battles, but once you are there, you will need diplomacy and people-skills. Those can be difficult to learn, but if you do not have them, you are likely to be a short-lived leader.”

The writer does not explicitly discuss cooperation in this conclusion, but it is implied. This essay earned a good GRE score because it was well thought out, supported each point sufficiently, and had a strong conclusion and introduction. The writing is also solid, with brief paragraphs and transitions between sentences that help the reader enjoy it.

2. Course Choices in Universities – Analyze an Issue Essay

Not all essay prompts for the GRE are lengthy. For example, one prompt for the analyze the issue task stated:

“Universities should require students to take courses only within those fields they are interested in studying.”

Then, the prompt asks the writer to take a stand on this issue and explain that stand.

A good-scoring essay for this prompt would start like this:

“Some people believe that universities should put stringent policies in place that require students to take courses only within a chosen field of study, thus harshly limiting the breadth of knowledge that they are able to study. Concentrating on only one field is important in terms of developing expert knowledge and specialization, but it is also crucial that the student hone a well rounded knowledge of the nature of the world so that their field of specialization is accented with courses from outside disciplines as well.

It is for this reason that I believe that students should focus their study on a specific field yet also be allowed and encouraged to accent and expand their specialized knowledge by sampling courses from other areas of specialty as well.”

After that, the student would use body paragraphs to explain their points further. The conclusion may state:

“Overall, it is best that universities allow their students to take courses outside of their chosen course of study in order to diversify their palate of knowledge.”

You can see the entire essay here.

3. Should a Park Use Funds to Clean up a River? Analyze an Argument Essay

You may have to choose a position on an argument in another GRE essay type. The GRE argument essay requires you to defend that argument with logic throughout the body paragraphs solidly.

An argument task is not difficult if the essay prompt gives you enough information. For example, in this GRE argument essay prompt, the question sets up the scenario of a dirty riverfront that runs through town, then asks the reader to examine the arguments in the scenario to determine if there are any assumptions, and the implications of those assumptions were unwarranted.

A high-scoring sample essay that does this well starts with this thesis statement:

“It is easy to understand why city residents would want a cleaner river, but this argument is rife with holes and assumptions, and thus, not strong enough to lead to increased funding.”

The writer then uses the body paragraphs to explain their position and poke holes in the initial paragraph statement. For example, one body paragraph opens like this:

“Citing surveys of city residents, the author reports city residents’ love of water sports. It is not clear, however, the scope and validity of that survey.”

Here, the writer clearly shows a fault in the original writer’s argument, an essential ability on the GRE test.

In the conclusion, the writer says:

“However, this author’s argument is not likely significantly persuade the city government to allocate increased funding.”

This final sentence reiterates their thesis statement in a different way, and the preceding paragraphs summarize the main points of the essay. You can see the full example here.

4. Should a Corporation Choose a Specific City for Its Headquarters? Analyze an Argument Essay

Here is another writing prompt for the analysis an argument essay format:

“SuperCorp recently moved its headquarters to Corporateville. The recent surge in the number of homeowners in Corporateville prove that Corporateville is a superior place to live then Middlesburg, the home of SuperCorp’s current headquarters. Moreover, Middleburg is a predominately urban area and according to an employee survey, SuperCorp has determined that its workers prefer to live in an area that is not urban. Finally, Corporateville has lower taxes than Middlesburg, making it not only a safer place to work but also a cheaper one. Therefore, Supercorp clearly made the best decision.”

A good GRE sample essay would start something like this:

“The author of the argument concludes that Supercorp has made the best decision in moving its headquarters to Corporateville. However, that conclusion is based on a number of inadequately supported assumptions. Without further information, we do not have sufficient evidence to determine whether the author’s conclusion is valid.”

The writer would then argue what additional evidence is needed through the body paragraphs. The conclusion could be simple, like this:

“Ultimately, unless the assumptions are addressed, the author’s argument that Supercorp made the best decision in moving fails to be convincing.”

To read the rest of the essay, visit this page.

FAQ About GRE Essay Examples

How do I write a good GRE essay?

To write a strong GRE essay, you need to:
1. Carefully read the prompt and directions.
2. Analyze your position, then brainstorm the different stances to take.
3. Choose a position to argue, then find reasons for it.
4. Choose a potential concession point.
5. Write the essay.
6. Perfect it through proofreading.
Remember, clearly thought-out ideas are essential for this test, but good grammar, punctuation, and spelling are also essential. So give yourself time to do that critical proofreading at the end of the test.

What is the best GRE essay format?

When completing the GRE analytical writing section, aim for essays that are five to six paragraphs in length. The introductory paragraph should outline your points and state your thesis on the argument topic. Then, use the boy paragraphs to back up that thesis. Finally, write a conclusion reiterating your points and thesis to draw your conclusion.

How many words are in a good GRE essay?

According to the Princeton Review, an ideal length for the GRE essay is 500 to 600 words.

If you’re still stuck, check out our general resource of essay writing topics.

When editing for grammar, we also recommend taking the time to improve the readability score of a piece of writing before publishing or submitting