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The Analytical Writing Section requires you to respond to two essay questions within 60 minutes. The first section, Present Your Perspective on an Issue (30 minutes), asks that you discuss the complexities of an issue and take a position on the problem. The second section, Analyze an Argument (30 minutes), asks that you evaluate an argument or critique a line of reasoning. You are not required to agree or disagree with the argument, but you must clearly point out the strengths and weaknesses in the argument.


ETS has an official Web site, www.gre.org, where you can view the pool of topic questions from which the questions on your test will be randomly drawn. It is helpful to review this list of questions, but do not try to write a sample essay for each topic because the list of topics is much too extensive. Moreover, the wording of the question on the test may be altered, so it is best just to become familiar with the kind of topics and arguments you will be required to address. The more familiar you are with the material that will be on the test, the more prepared and confident you’ll be on test day.


You will type your essay on a computer using a very basic word processor. The Analytical Writing Section starts with a tutorial that shows how the word processor works. You may write your essay on the computer or on paper supplied at the center. However, handwritten essays can take up to six weeks to be scored. After completing the Issue section, you may move on to the Argument section. There is no break between sections, and, once you exit either section, you cannot return, even if you finish with time remaining.

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