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How to Use the GRE Essay Pool for Effective Practice

A student preparing for essay writing on the GRE

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The GRE includes a unique component called the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), where test-takers are currently required to write two essays: the Issue Essay and the Argument Essay. With the upcoming changes to the GRE in September 2023, students will no longer be required to write the Argument Essay.

To prepare effectively for this section, it’s essential to practice with various essay topics. ETS, the organization that administers the GRE, provides an extensive pool of essay topics for both the Issue Essay and the Argument Essay. In this article, we will explore how to use the GRE essay pool for effective practice and enhance your essay-writing skills.

How to Train with the GRE Essay Pool:

  1. Get Acquainted with the Prompts: The first step is to get to know the prompts in the GRE essay pool. Go through them, understand what each type of essay demands, and take note of the specific instructions.
  2. Plan Your Attack: Create a plan that includes regular practice with these essay topics. Set aside specific times to write practice essays, and make sure to tackle both Issue and Argument essays if you’re taking the GRE before September 22, 2023.
  3. Clock’s Ticking: The GRE gives you 30 minutes per essay. So, time yourself while practicing to get a feel for the real deal.
  4. Structure is Key: Pay attention to how you organize your essays. They should have a clear intro, a well-thought-out body, and a neat conclusion. Practice weaving your ideas together and backing up your arguments with solid evidence.
  5. Brainstorm: Practice brainstorming to generate relevant ideas quickly. It can help you add depth and coherence to your essays.
  6. Revise, Edit, Repeat: After writing, review and correct your work. Look out for grammar and spelling mistakes, and make sure your arguments make sense. Getting feedback from teachers or friends can also help you improve.
  7. Explore New Territories: The GRE essay prompts cover a wide array of topics. Embrace this diversity and practice writing essays from different perspectives. It’ll help you become a more versatile writer.
  8. Learn from the Masters: Review sample essays available on the ETS website or in GRE prep books. Analyze their structure, arguments, use of evidence, and rhetorical techniques.
  9. No Cheating: While practicing, focus on understanding and addressing the essay prompt. Don’t try to memorize pre-written essays—the GRE values original thinking.
  10. Track Your Journey: Keep records of your practice essays and the improvements you make over time. Seeing your progress can be a great motivator!

The GRE essay pool is like your personal training ground. Use it to hone your writing skills, get comfortable with different essay prompts, and build confidence. Remember to pay attention to structure, organization, and effective use of evidence, and develop your own unique writing style. With enough practice using the GRE essay pool, you’ll be ready to ace the AWA section of the GRE.


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