How Does Analytical Writing Affect GRE Score?

William Cohen
Published by William Cohen
Last Updated On: March 7, 2022

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). It measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills. The GRE is often used in the application process for graduate programs in North America.

The GRE essay section is a source of anxiety for many test-takers, and some wonder if there is a way to skip the writing portion of the test.

As someone who has helped hundreds of students succeed on the GRE, I can advise you whether to skip the analytical writing section on test day.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • The GRE analytical writing portion consists of two essays.
  • Skipping this section does not prevent you from receiving overall GRE scores.
  • Not doing the analytical writing portion can reduce your likelihood of acceptance into graduate school.

What is the Analytical Writing Section?

female student working in the corner

The GRE analytical writing portion contains two writing tasks: an argument-analysis essay and an issue-analysis essay [1]. The test-taker is allowed 30 minutes for each task in the GRE’s overall 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The goal of each essay is for the test-taker to develop a thesis, support their argument with examples, and explain how their examples relate to the main idea.

Whether explaining their own ideas or evaluating someone else's argument, test-takers are required to uphold the basic concepts of writing. This includes logical reasoning, accurate facts, and proper sentence structure.

This section is designed to measure knowledge and skills and promote your potential for research and related services.

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What Happens if You Skip the Essay Section?

person writing using a pen

The essays in the analytical writing section are scored on a 6-point scale in half-point increments [2]. Those scores are averaged together to create a final score that ranges from 0-6.

This score is reported independently of the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning section scores.

Therefore, if you do not take the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment, you will still receive a composite verbal and quant score on a scale of 260-340.

However, the ETS will send an analytical writing score report of 0.0 to your graduate schools and programs.

Why You Should Do the Writing Section?

empty notebook with a pencil

In order to be accepted into graduate school, students must show strong critical thinking and writing skills. Graduate programs assess these abilities through the GRE writing section.

Skipping the writing section may not be the best idea because of the following:

  1. Competitiveness: Your exam will demonstrate less competency in an area vital for graduate studies than someone who did the essays. This may make your grad program less likely to accept you.
  2. Seriousness: Not taking the analytical writing portion may imply that you do not take academics seriously. You may be filtering yourself out of acceptance by turning in a low writing score.
  3. Research ability: Putting research into written form is crucial for many grad programs. Admissions committees look at the essays as an opportunity to evaluate your potential as a graduate student and researcher. The essays showcase how well you can execute.
  4. Competence: If you don't do the analytical writing tasks, you miss a chance to showcase your time management, writing, and reasoning skills.


Is the GRE Essay Typed or Written?

The GRE General Test is computer-based, and the essays need to be typed. This is a significant benefit for those who can type fast and ensures those with poor handwriting will not be disadvantaged.

How Do You Study for the Analytical Writing Portion?

One of the best ways to study for the GRE essay section is by doing sample tasks on practice tests under timed conditions. Writing essays on a practice test will help improve your performance on the actual test day.

You can also give your practice essays to friends and family members, have them read the essays, and determine if they are logical and coherent.

How Do You Get a 6 on the Analytical Writing GRE Section?

If you want to get a 6 on the essay section, you should do certain things to help maximize your score, including:

  • Writing a 5 -paragraph essay of 500-600 words.
  • Having a clear thesis with reasonable support.
  • Using transitions effectively and developing ideas logically.
  • Writing with quality vocab and grammar.

Taking the GRE Without Writing

If you are serious about wanting to go to grad school, then I strongly recommend that you do the writing portion of the GRE. It will demonstrate your ability to write research papers or essays, which is an essential skill for success in graduate school.

Additionally, it shows that you take the academic process seriously while also displaying your ability to write a coherent discussion of complex ideas.

As with other parts of the GRE General Test, you can get better at analytical writing with practice. If you are interested in using a GRE prep course to improve your score, check out our review of the top GRE online courses.


  1. https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare/analytical_writing/
  2. https://www.ets.org/gre/institutions/about/general/score_reporting

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