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Starting on 22 September 2023, ETS will begin offering the revised GRE exam. In the revised version of the new shorter GRE, there is ONLY ONE Analytical writing task instead of two. “Analyse an Issue” has remained, while “Analyse an Argument” has been removed.

The GRE Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section gauges how well you can articulate & analyse your thoughts and ideas. The GRE Issue Essay expects you to critically analyse an issue, understand the complexities around it and take a stronger stance. So, if you are gearing up for GRE, we will take you through some effective strategies to ace AWA. 

In this blog: 

  1. What must you do for the GRE AWA Issue Essay?
  2. How to Structure your Issue Essay
  3. Tips to ace AWA Issue Essay
  4. Understanding the GRE AWA Score Evaluation
  5. FAQs Answered!
  6. Conclusion

What must you do for the GRE AWA Issue Essay?

The GRE test-takers are required to attempt a brief statement about a topic of general interest by writing an essay. Your response should include a stand that you take on a complicated issue, while providing logical justifications for it.

  • Read the issue prompt and the instructions. Dissect the issue and understand its nuances.
  • Spend some time to contemplate from various perspectives on the issue. Comprehend the underlying assumptions and what implications it will have. 
  • Make notes on the stance you wish to take.
  • Chalk out the facts, quotes, observations, anecdotes to strengthen your content.
  • Organise your paragraphs with proper transitional phrases. 

Also read: How to create an effective GRE study plan?

How to Structure your Issue Essay

What does it take to qualify as a good GRE Issue essay? An organised persuasive argument, language fluency, use of right choice of words and ability to establish your stand on a complex matter. But, all in 30 minutes? We know, it’s a tough task. 

In order to perform exceptionally well in GRE AWA, keep these tips in mind while writing:

  • Time Management is the key: 

Know how to utilise your 30 minutes

  • Read and understand the prompt (2 minutes)
  • Note down the reasons and examples (5 minutes)
  • Write the first draft and add new points that comes to your mind (15 minutes)
  • Spend time to reorganise the essay, so that it flows logically (6 minutes)
  • Revise and edit for grammatical or spelling errors and typos (2 minutes)

Also read: GRE Score Percentiles: Everything you need to know

  • Argument must be organised:

The best AWAs are when you have a structured essay that has cohesiveness and relevance to each passage.

  • Begin with an introduction by restating the issue and highlight briefly your reasons that you would describe in the upcoming paragraphs. 
  • First body paragraph should state your first reason with relevant examples. Focus on how it supports your thesis. 
  • Second body paragraph should launch your second reason with an example, while using a transition phrase. 
  • Same process of writing in the third body paragraph. Here you can bring a strong counter-argument to your essay and analyse why it is incorrect. This would strengthen your argument as you will not only show your stance as correct but also give reasons why the opposition is incorrect. 
  • Conclude by summarising the topic, the points you made and the position you took in the argument.
  • Explore the complexities of the claim:

  • The content of your essay should support critical thinking and convincing ideas. 
  • Brainstorm on the central issue, think about the reasonable assumptions of the claim. 
  • While making claims do not forget to add examples (real/hypothetical) to strengthen your viewpoint. 
  • After deciding your position to defend, acknowledge the contrary viewpoint and find reasons to defend against those.

Checkout: Avoid these common mistakes on the GRE

Tips to ace AWA Issue Essay 

  1. Prepare on published topic pools.
    Hone your writing from ETS’s published topics. This would boost your articulation and organisation skills.
  2. Stick to the position.  
    As long as you are convinced with your stance, it doesn’t matter which side you are on. 
  3. Keep it real.
    While stating examples, keep it relevant and specific to your argument. Try giving anecdotes as it will enhance your essay.
  4. Make powerful statements.
    Declarative sentences, active language and charged modifiers will boost confidence in your writing.
  5. Refute the opposing position.
    In your conclusion try to refute the other viewpoint while summarising your own argument and concluding on a strong note.   

Suggested Reads: GRE test day tips and strategies

Understanding the GRE AWA Score Evaluation

AWA score ranges from a scale of 0-6, with 0.5 interval. Your GRE AWA score will be evaluated based on how well-focused, well-organised and structured your opinion is. Graders look for convincing arguments with thoughtful examples that support your opinion. Here’s a breakdown of GRE AWA scores:

6 Outstanding
5 Strong
3 Limited
2 Seriously Flawed
1 Fundamentally Deficient
0 Off Topic

FAQs Answered!

  1. How much time do we get to complete the essay?
    You’ll get 30 minutes to complete 1 AWA Issue Essay task.
  2. How many sections and questions are there in GRE AWA?
    1 section, 1 Issue Essay task
  3. What general topics can I expect in the Issue Essay?
    Topics like Education, Government and Power, Technology and Society, Cities, Intellectual and Philosophical Endeavours. 
  4. How long should the GRE Issue Essay be?
    To get a higher score, the essay should have 600-700 words divided into 4-5 paragraphs. 
  5. What is a good AWA score in GRE?
    The average GRE AWA score is 4.5. An above average score is considered a decent one, below that is negligible. But, one should aim to score a 5 or 6.
  6. How to improve my GRE Issue Essay Score?
    Start with brainstorming ideas on various essay prompts (4-5 essay topics). Check how compelling your opinion is, how strongly your examples support, transitions while writing, and your hold on to the grammar. Additionally, you can take expert help with your GRE exam. 


In order to be at the peak of your game, you have to put in all your hard work. To ace this section in GRE, be objective while writing and critiquing the argument. Practice four to five issue topics to develop the essential skills of critical thinking and persuasive writing. Follow a study schedule and join us for GRE preparation. Click here to take a free demo class with Jamboree’s top GRE faculty.

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