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 evidence/examples. “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 argument Make sure you understand clearly what the question/writing prompt is asking. What is the meaning of the topic statement? Is the question asking me to persuade the reader of the validity of a certain opinion? 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 premises. 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): Topic. Scope. Conclusion and premises. Evidence. Assumptions. 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).