Learnist: How to Write a Perfect GRE Argument Essay

The GRE’s Argument essay is remarkably straightforward: all you have to do is rephrase, criticize, and suggest improvements for the given argument. Here’s how to earn a perfect 6!

Focus more on conveying your argument succinctly and forcefully than on sounding scholarly. Don’t include long winding sentences that go nowhere in the hopes of sounding more impressive. Simple, clear transitions work well to help you organize your thoughts. Above all, you want the reader to be convinced that the argument is flawed, and they will only be convinced if they can follow and easily understand your points! This video reviews some other style tips, such as avoiding passive voice and wordiness.

Fun fact: ALL of the Argument Essay topics are available for FREE on ETS’ website. You will see one of these official prompts on Test Day, so it’s a good idea to not only read through all of them, but sketch some possible outlines for essays for a number of them.

There’s about 150 topics here, so unfortunately it’s not possible to pre-write an essay for EVERY topic, but you can definitely see common flaws between these topics.

This pdf file from Kaplan describes the basic 6-scale rubric used to score the Argument Essay. Kaplan uses an adjective to describe each “level”:

6 – Outstanding
5 – Strong
4 – Adequate
3 – Limited
2 – Weak
1 – Deficient
0 – Unscorable

An essay would only be considered “unscorable” if it was written using symbols or in a foreign language. Page 46 of this file shows a sample essay, so you can start to get an idea of what a “6” looks like!

Remember that you already know your thesis for ANY possible prompt you’ll see. No matter what the prompt, your thesis is essentially, “the argument is flawed.” There are many ways to say that in a thesis, but that is essentially what the GRE Argument essay boils down to; all you have to do is show why. This blog article reviews a template you can use for any Argument prompt. Just make sure you practice writing at least 3 full practice essays with it so it becomes second nature!

Get more tips on how to write a perfect GRE Argument essay on Learnist!