>The second essay is the
“Analyze an Argument” task, for which you will be given 30 minutes, and it is
basically the opposite of the previous task. Instead of constructing an
argument, you will need to deconstruct an argument that you are given as
a prompt. You won’t have a choice of prompts for this one. The prompt will be a
short paragraph which draws certain conclusions from stated premises. Your task
is to identify the errors of logic and reasoning in the paragraph. Every prompt
will have many errors. You may also want to bring up ways in which the argument
could be strengthened, or to discuss assumptions underlying the argument which
lead to its logical flaws. Your essay will be scored based on the skill with
which you analyze the argument given in the prompt, as well as your command of
For many graduate programs,
the AW score may not be weighted as heavily the Verbal and Quantitative scores.
For one thing, it is a new section, and universities may still be getting
familiar with interpreting scores on the AW. The
is also far less precise than that of the other two
sections: there are 13 possible scores on the AW section (6.0, 5.5 etc.) as
opposed to 60 possible scores on the other sections (the Verbal and Quantitative
sections are scored between 200 and 800 in units of 10). Most people will score
in the middle range on the AW. Your score is more likely to receive extra
attention if it is unusually high (a 5.5 or a 6.0) or unusually low (below a 4).
Whether or not the programs to which you are applying consider the AW score to
be as important as your Verbal and Quantitative scores, it is best to be
well-prepared. It’s the first section on the test, you must take it, and if you
are prepared to write the essays, this section will not be too stressful and you
will feel all the more confident when it comes time to start the other sections.
If you are concerned about this section, ETS offers a service whereby you can
write a sample essay and have it graded (for a fee) by an actual GRE grader. You
may also look at the pool of prompts for the essays at the ETS website (www.gre.org).
The Verbal Section
The Verbal section of the
GRE is 30 minutes long and consists of 30 questions. There are four question
types: Antonyms, Analogies, Reading Comprehension, and Sentence Completion.
Although you have an average of one minute to answer each question, each
question type requires a different approach, and you will spend far longer on
Reading Comprehension questions than on the other question types – meaning you
must plan to answer Antonyms, Analogies and Sentence Completions in less
than one minute. Remember, you will also be using test time to read the passages
on which the Reading Comprehension passages are based.
are the most basic question type on the Verbal section. You will be presented
with a stimulus word in capital letters, such as RAPTUROUS. You will then
be given five answer choices, which are words or phrases. Your task is to pick
the word or phrase that most nearly opposes the meaning of the stimulus.
The correct answer choice for the stimulus RAPTUROUS might be “sorrowful,” for
example. These questions are a direct test of your vocabulary, as you have no
context within which to place the stimulus or the answer choices. Difficult and
unusual words are par for the course. There will be an average of 9 Antonyms per