I’m getting ready to take the GRE’s in a week and it has been pretty tough for me to find the time (and desire) to study. Getting into grad school is my number one LACY (Leadership After City Year) goal, so its time to buck up and get ready because this test is important and I have to do well whether I like it or not.
To help myself get prepared for the essay portion of the exam, I put together a little guide that other GRE test takers out there might find useful. I got the vast majority of the information from a generic GRE Guide website, and it was totally helpful. They had tips, an explanation of what each essay entails and a bunch of really great essay examples. I definitely recommend checking it out. (I will warn you, it isn’t the best looking website by far, but it was extremely useful).
What it is: You are given a topic that is debatable and you must share how you perceive the given topic. You should be sure to write your own views and thoughts in this essay. Using your own experiences and examples will make it strong.
How to structure this essay: Introduce the topic in the first paragraph and present which side of the debate you are taking. (Do you agree or disagree?)
Use three body paragraphs to support your position with one example per paragraph.
Conclude with general closing thoughts.
Tips: Use examples to support your thoughts!
Don’t write in the first person.
Make sure that you don’t stray from the main topic and that you have a logical flow. It can be easy to start discussing another issue as you present your examples, but do your best to stay focused on the topic at hand.
This essay not only asks you to demonstrate your thinking and perception, it is looking to see how well you can write. This may sound like a no-brainer, but use correct grammar and scholarly vocabulary.
What it is: You are given an argument by an author which you then need to determine if the argument is logical or not.
How to structure this essay: In the first paragraph you should make the statement about what the author’s conclusion is to their argument then cite what examples they use to support their argument. Next, discuss what your analysis of the argument has led you to believe. (ex: After careful consideration, it appears that there are several loopholes in the evidence that the author provides to support their argument. These unconvincing pieces of information will be further explored in the following paragraphs).
The next paragraph should take one or two of the pieces of evidence and show what is incorrect about them or what made them unconvincing.
Same thing with the next paragraph.
The final paragraph needs to explain what could have made the argument more convincing to you and restate that the argument is not supported enough by the facts that were provided.
Tips: Don’t speak in the first person.
Write chronologically (Firstly, secondly, etc.)
The only way you can really be prepared for the essay portion is to take these tips into consideration and practice, practice, practice. The format that is used in these writings may not be familiar to you (especially if you haven’t written in a formal setting in some time) so it is helpful to get the structure down.
Here is a list of example topics that you can use to practice: