GRE Lecture Outline on Analytical Writing Strategies

Lecture Notes for
the GRE Analytical
Writing Strategies
Lesson #1
Analytical Writing Strategies
Analytical Writing
This portion of the GRE test measures two things:
Your critical thinking ability
Your written communications skills
Strong analytical thinking and writing ability are critical to
success in any graduate course.
Make sure you know the test well.
“Presenting your Perspective on an Issue” requires you to develop
a compelling argument on a topic, including a clear, concise
claim, relevant supporting premises/reasons/logic, and
“Analyzing an Argument” requires you to critique the
effectiveness of a written argument by carefully scrutinizing the
reasoning and logic behind it.
Analytical Writing
Seven strategies for succeeding on this portion of the test.
Go to ETS online and go over the list of possible topics.
While it’s futile to prepare for every topic, you might be able to group
topics according to the type of argument they represent.
Determine beforehand whether you’ll type or handwrite your essay, and
practice your handwriting or typing skills.
Take the first 5-10 minutes to pre-write your essay, especially your core
Make sure you understand clearly what the question/writing prompt is
What is the meaning of the topic statement?
Is the question asking me to persuade the reader of the validity of a certain
Am I being asked to agree or disagree with the statement? If so, what will be
my thesis?
What kinds of examples can I use to support my thesis? Explore personal
experiences, historical evidence, current events, and literary subjects.
Analytical Writing
Seven strategies for succeeding on this portion of the test.
Memorize the four questions mentioned in the previous slide
and apply them to the topic in order to develop your prewriting.
Consider your audience carefully before you write, so you can
shape the argument to fit the reader’s expectations.
Envision an “ideal community” of readers for the broadest
possible appeal.
What evidence will you need to generate to prove your point
to a skeptical reader.
What would this reader agree or disagree with me about?
What does this reader share with me as common knowledge?
What do I need to tell the reader?
Analytical Writing
Seven strategies for succeeding on this portion of the test.
Become well-versed with the Toulmin Model for analyzing
and crafting an argument.
Use the Toulmin Model to write/type practice essays and to
analyze model arguments and GRE essays.
Hone and polish your paragraph transition skills to make sure
your essay is effectively and cogently organized.
Give yourself five minutes to proofread/revise/edit your essay.
Limit the scope of your argument by emphasizing only a few
supporting claims and evidence.
You want to develop your writing thoroughly with strong
detail and clarity.
Analytical Writing
Writing the essay.
Carefully consider how you will organize your essay.
Determine how many paragraphs you’ll develop.
5-7 detailed paragraphs should be your goal.
The first paragraph should “hook” your reader, introduce
your topic, and advance your thesis statement.
The body paragraphs should be dedicated to proving your
point by developing evidence in support of each forecasted
premise summarized in the thesis statement.
The final paragraph should summarize your argument and
bring closure to your writing.
Analytical Writing
Writing the essay.
Review and study a writing handbook.
Develop and practice using language effectively
Become comfortable with the following writing concepts:
Point-of-view and consistency.
Tone in the writing.
Effective transitional words and phrases.
Proper sentence structure and avoiding sentence problems.
Proper verb forms.
Proper pronouns.
Adjectives and adverbs.
Punctuation rules.
Analytical Writing
The Issue Essay.
Entails constructing your own argument on a topic.
Make sure you offer an arguable claim and defend it
with reasoning and evidence.
Begin by taking the issue apart into three components:
Topic: The broad subject area.
Scope: The more focused aspect of the topic.
Conclusion and premises: Your argument on the issue.
Evidence: Logic and examples supporting your argument.
Assumptions: Unstated values informing your position.
Analytical Writing
The Issue Essay.
Next, list the pros and cons associated with the various
sides of the argument.
Select the side and argue for the position that offers the
most compelling reasons, evidence, and logic.
Third, organize your argument according to your premises
and evidence.
Fourth, after all of this pre-writing, write the essay.
Fifth, proofread and edit carefully.
Analytical Writing
The Argument Essay.
Evaluate and assess someone else’s argument.
Judge the effectiveness of the arguments claims and
evidence AND explain how a different approach or more
information would strengthen the argument.
Do NOT simply agree or disagree with the author’s
position on the topic.
Analytical Writing
The Argument Essay.
The procedure for writing the Argument Essay.
Look carefully at the assumptions upon which the
argument is based.
Assumptions are the values (often unstated) upon which the
writer is relying and that link the conclusion with the
Assumptions are a great basis for your evaluation.
Analytical Writing
The Argument Essay.
The procedure for writing the Argument Essay.
Take the argument apart into three components by writing
out the following in a pre-writing activity (3-4 minutes):
Conclusion and premises.
Analytical Writing
The Argument Essay.
The procedure for writing the Argument Essay.
Select the points you’ll make by pointing out the strengths or
flaws in the premises, evidence, assumption, and/or logic
and write these out (2-3 minutes).
Outline your essay’s organization (2-3 minutes).
Opening sentence should clearly advance your summary
of the writer’s argument.
Second sentence should present your overall assessment
of the argument’s effectiveness.
Third sentence should present your reasons why you
evaluate the essay the way you do.
Analytical Writing
The Argument Essay.
The procedure for writing the Argument Essay.
Write the essay (17-18 minutes).
Plan on writing 3-4 well-developed paragraphs.
Plan on proofreading and editing (2-3 minutes).

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