Mastering GRE Essay Scoring: A Step-by-Step Guide
As an international student contemplating taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) , you may be curious about how the essays on the test are scored. The GRE is a standardized exam that numerous graduate programs employ to gauge the preparedness of applicants for advanced academic studies. One of the exam’s sections is the Analytical Writing section, which includes two assignments: the Issue task and the Argument task. Two human graders score each task on a scale of 0 to 6, in half-point increments. The final score for each task is the average of the two grades. Additionally, this article will serve as a GRE prep guide, providing valuable information on how to approach the Analytical Writing section of the exam.
Overview of the GRE essay scoring guide
The GRE essay guide for the Analytical Writing section provides a rubric that the graders use to evaluate the essays. The rubric consists of four main categories:
1. Response to the task: This category assesses the extent to which the essay addresses the task and presents a clear position or thesis. Essays that fail to address the task or lack a clear thesis will score low in this category.
2. Development and support: This category assesses the extent to which the essay provides strong and relevant evidence to support its position. Essays that lack sufficient evidence or fail to connect the evidence to the thesis will score low in this category.
3. Organization: This category assesses the extent to which the essay is well-organized and easy to follow. Essays that lack clear transitions between paragraphs or fail to present a coherent argument will score low in this category.
4. Language use and conventions: This category assesses the extent to which the essay demonstrates a command of standard written English and appropriate use of grammar and syntax. Essays that contain frequent errors in grammar, punctuation, or syntax will score low in this category.
The two graders each assign a score to the essay in each of these categories, and the final score for each essay is the average of the two scores. The overall score for the Analytical Writing section is the average of the scores for the two essays.
GRE score guide for the essay
The GRE essay is scored on a 6-point holistic scale. Here’s what each score range means:
A score of 6 represents a well-crafted, well-articulated essay that demonstrates mastery of the elements of effective writing. Papers in this category:
- Clearly identify important points and analyze them insightfully.
- Develop ideas cogently, organize them logically, and connect them with clear transitions.
- Effectively support main points.
- Demonstrate control of language, including diction and syntactic variety.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the conventions of standard written English, but may have minor flaws.
Score: 5 or 5.5
A score of 5 or 5.5 represents a well-developed essay that demonstrates good control of the elements of effective writing. Papers in this category:
- Clearly identify important features of the issue and analyze them in a generally thoughtful way.
- Develop ideas clearly, organize them logically, and connect them with appropriate transitions.
- Sensibly support the main points.
- Demonstrate control of language, including diction and syntactic variety.
- Demonstrate facility with the conventions of standard written English, but may have occasional flaws.
Score: 4 or 4.5
A score of 4 or 4.5 represents a competent essay that demonstrates adequate control of the elements of writing. Papers in this category:
- Identify and analyze important features of the issue.
- Develop and organize ideas satisfactorily, but may not connect them with transitions supporting the main points.
- Demonstrate sufficient control of language to convey ideas with reasonable clarity.
- Generally follow the conventions of standard written English, but may have flaws.
Score: 3 or 3.5
A score of 3 or 3.5 demonstrates some competence in analyzing the issue at hand and in controlling the elements of writing, but is plainly flawed. Papers in this category exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:
- Do not identify or analyze most of the important features of the issue, although some analysis of the issue is present.
- Mainly analyze tangential or irrelevant matters or reason poorly.
- Are limited in the logical development and organization of ideas.
- Offer support of little relevance and value for points of the issue; do not convey meaning clearly.
- Contain occasional major errors or frequent minor errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics.
Score: 2 or 2.5
A score of 2 or 2.5 demonstrates serious weaknesses in analytical writing skills. Papers in this category exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:
- Do not present an issue based on logical analysis, but may instead present the writer’s own views on the subject.
- Do not develop ideas or are disorganized and illogical.
- Provide little, if any, relevant or reasonable support.
- Have serious and frequent problems in the use of language and in sentence structure.
- Contain numerous errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics that interfere with meaning.
Score: 1 or 1.5
A score of 1 or 1.5 demonstrates very serious weaknesses in analytical writing skills. Papers in this category exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:
- Provide little evidence of the ability to understand and analyze the argument.
- Provide little evidence of the ability to develop an organized response.
- Have severe and persistent errors in language and sentence structure.
- Contain a pervasive pattern of errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics that results in incoherence.
Tips to prepare for the analytical writing section of the GRE
Here are some tips to help international students prepare for the Analytical Writing section of the GRE:
- Practice writing essays in English: Writing in a foreign language can be challenging, so it is essential to practice writing essays in English before taking the GRE. International students can practice writing essays on a variety of topics to improve their writing skills and become more comfortable expressing their ideas in English.
- Read sample essays: Reading sample essays can help international students understand the format and style of essays that receive high scores on the GRE. There are many sample essays available online that students can read and analyze to learn what makes a good essay.
- Plan and organize essays: Planning and organizing an essay before writing it can help international students stay focused and on-topic. Students should take a few minutes to brainstorm their ideas and outline their essay before starting to write.
- Use specific examples: Using specific examples to support a position can help international students demonstrate their understanding of the topic and provide evidence to support their argument. Students should try to use relevant and specific examples that demonstrate their knowledge and critical thinking skills.
- Proofread and edit essays: Proofreading and editing an essay can help international students catch errors in grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Students should take the time to read through their essay carefully and make any necessary corrections before submitting it.
Mastering the GRE essay scoring requires a step-by-step guide and a comprehensive understanding of the rubric used to evaluate the essays. By using the information provided in this GRE exam study guide, you can effectively prepare for the Analytical Writing section of the exam and improve your writing skills. Remember to address the task, provide relevant evidence, organize your ideas logically, and use standard written English appropriately. With these tips in mind, you can aim for a high score on the GRE essay and increase your chances of being accepted into your desired graduate program.
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