GRE Analytical Writing: Writing the Argument Task

The “Argument Task” essay includes a brief passage in which a problem is presented (i.e. Yellowstone gray wolves are being hunted to extinction) and an argument/solution is offered (i.e. the national government should impose tougher sanctions on hunters). In 30 minutes, your job is to carefully read the passage, look at the given evidence, and evaluate the author’s argument. Unlike the “Issue Task,” do not agree/disagree or offer your own opinion on the argument.

In addition to the passage and argument, there will be a set of instructions in a subsequent paragraph. For example, the instructions might ask you to examine the stated/unstated assumptions of the argument or to consider what questions would need to be addressed to confirm whether or not the argument is reasonable.

Tips and Tricks for the Argument Task:

  • Although there is no single way to write this section, many essays with a score of 6 have begun by simply summarizing the argument and then offering the main points of the evaluation.

  • Ask yourself the following types of questions: what evidence or proof is there? What is being concluded/proposed? What is not explicitly stated but is assumed based on what is stated?

  • Using evidence will help strengthen your point and hopefully move your essay forwards. But remember that the critical thinking and analytical writing behind those examples are more important than the examples themselves.

  • Highlight key words and jot down several points that will be the crux of your argument. If you write an outline, remember that you only have 30 minutes. Be brief but provide enough information to guide you through the essay writing process.