GRE essay writing tips: prompts and examples

The GRE Essay writing section is amongst the toughest in the test. It is designed to check the candidate’s English writing level skills along with his ability to present ideas logically.

Find out how you can ace in a GRE English essay section. Learn the tips that are used by the top scorers of GRE.

GRE essay writing tips for top-notch essays:

Let’s begin with the General Tips that you must follow irrespective of the task. These tips will help you make the most out of your time during the test.

But before we begin, Let me tell you that I will be sharing some bonus tips that will make your day. So stay tuned.

  • Write within time limits

Did you know that you have a limited time when you write an essay for a GRE Essay Test? You have to finish your essay within a 30 mins time frame. Utilize the time wisely. Plan your NYU essay or other paper type for 5 mins. Write your essay within the next 20 minutes. Then review your essay in the last five minutes. If you do that, you can score higher than 4.5, or even 5 for the GRE essay prompts.

  • Write Practice Essays

If you are new to the GRE essay, you must check out the official essay prompts with GRE examples. Attempt them and see how yours is different from the example. You will learn a lot from that practice.

  • Use official prompts

If you are preparing yourself for the GRE tests, always make sure that you are using the official prompts and not other prompts. The more you use them, the better you get to prepare. Since it is not possible to prepare for the sheer number of topics in advance, you can prepare for some. The best part is, many of the arguments or facts used in one essay can be used in others.

  • Brainstorm the topic

Before writing your GRE essay and answering the prompts, you need to brainstorm the ideas. To brainstorm the idea, think about all the related ideas and synonyms. Jot down on a rough paper all the ideas, and finally write an outline.

Doing this will make sure that you have a well-planned essay with a proper structure. We can’t emphasize how significant the structure is. It is the make or break point for a successful essay.

  • Review at the end

We remember that we had left five minutes for review. But what are we going to review? People like me don’t like to review their work, and we end up getting complaints. Luckily, you don’t want to be like that. You need to score great. So, review your essay. Look for spelling mistakes and grammar errors. Also, look for fallacies in the arguments. Believe me, it is a life savior.

Are you need more?

Tips for issue-based writing:

The issue-based essay prompts are different from argument essays. Therefore, there are some specific tips that you should keep in your mind while writing such an essay. If you follow these tips, you are guaranteed to score higher.

  • Thesis statement

If you had asked me to tell you just one tip for issue-based essay prompts, then this would have been it. The thesis statement is the single most important statement of your issue-based essays because everything else just follows it. In a thesis statement, you repeat the topic and tell the readers what you are going to discuss about it.

An issue-based prompt would ask you to state your views or ask you whether you agree with the statement or not. Either way, if you don’t have a thesis statement, no one is going to understand what follows in your GRE Essay.

  • Research on the issue based topic in advance

So research tells you that you should write at least 500 words to score high on GRE essay prompts. But since all the topics are given, you should research and take notes for each type of prompt.

Understand this fact: if you note an argument for one topic, then you can use the same facts or arguments in other essays. So take as many notes as you can. These notes can be from everyday life too.

When the time comes, this pool will be your great resource.

  • Note pros and cons

In an issue-based essay, you are required to take one side. Either agree or disagree with the statement. But how can you do that?

To do that, you should note the pros and cons of each side. Write a statement for each side and see which one is the most powerful. Then use the most powerful as your thesis statement or in your thesis statement.

  • Pick one side:

Based on your evaluation of the statement, you will be in a position to decide which side best explains your topic.

So don’t just skim the topics and start planning – always pick a side and then write on it.

  • Relate all examples to the thesis statement of your essay

As you prepare your list of pros and cons, you’ll have all the arguments that you can write for your topic. However, don’t just argue. Relate each argument with your topic. If you do not do that, you might lose points without knowing it.

Tips for analyzing the argument essays

Argument essay prompts are different from issue-based GRE essay prompts. In these essays, you are required to find out the flaws in the argument or strength of the arguments of the author.

This is more of an analytical question than a language test. To score high, you should note that you need to develop your ability to evaluate: what is proper and what is not?

Here are some tips that will take your analytical ability to the next level:

  • Understand the task

The thing with this task – and most candidates doing this task – is that it is easy to get caught up in evaluating whether the arguments are right or wrong according to us.

However, this is a wrong approach. Candidates are required to do a specific task in these prompts. Candidates must understand those tasks and focus on the issues at hand.

  • Write on the important points

Understand that you have limited time. In these 30 minutes, you don’t only have to analyze but write on the topics as well. To do that, write the most important points only. Don’t write minor points.

Don’t waste your time on meager issues of little significance.

  • Never agree with the argument:

If you read the argument and thought that the argument is valid, then you need to think again. The arguments that GRE argument essay prompts offer you are not there, so you can agree.

If it had been like that, you would not have to use your critical ability to find out the fallacies. What would be the result, and will you even be able to write an essay, saying yes, all the arguments are great and essay headings are great!

All the exercise is there to see if you can evaluate the arguments and write an essay on what you think.

  • Write as much as you can

Your next task is about writing an essay which should be as lengthy as you like. Of course, we already know that essays that score high are between 500 to 600. But, honestly, some candidates have scored really great by writing more words. Although, their skills were on par with candidates that scored less, only by writing more words.

So write more.

But, you probably hadn’t had enough, so here is another bonus tip for you.

Bonus tip #3! You can get your essays scored even before taking the GRE test using online graders that are 80% accurate.

Prompts and examples:

GRE Issue-based Essay prompt #1 from the official GRE website:

Universities should require every student to take a variety of courses outside the student’s field of study.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.

GRE essay prompts answer example:

Learning is a process that lasts for life, from the cradle to the grave. During one’s life, a human has to take on several roles and do a lot of things. Limiting his learning to one area or subject is unnatural and unrealistic. The purpose of education is to prepare a student for his future and not to impair his abilities to do things. Therefore, Universities should require students to take a variety of courses that are not part of their field.

When a candidate takes courses outside his field of study, he prepares himself for all the adversities in life and profession. No field works in isolation. A criminal lawyer needs to work with a police officer with a major in criminology to understand what he did on a crime scene. A doctor has to work with a nurse to understand what worsens the patient’s health. To state the obvious, no field, in reality, acts as an island because no man is an island. To be able to cope with the adversities of life, students have to be prepared with knowledge from other fields.

Moreover, students that have knowledge of a variety of subjects can do a lot more in research than students that are limited to one field. Such students are exposed to more subjects and ideas. When they connect such ideas, they can form a new one. Consider the sociologist Herbert Spencer who connected the theory of evolution with society and gave his general developmental theory of change. For this, he was regarded as a social Darwinist. Such outstanding work is the result of exposure to several fields.

Studying several fields also means more opportunities in life. Students that have studied several fields are able to shift their field of work to another. A student that is doing Bachelors in Arts can do an MBA if he has studied commerce as his minors. This can also be an advantage to his earnings.

Many people believe that allowing students exposure to other subjects can disturb their aim and that they may not be able to focus on their majors. But this argument assumes that one different subject can be so burdensome that students will be overwhelmed. In reality, variety can boost the interest of the student in his own field. However, to minimize any negative effect, tasks of minor subjects should be limited. Students should be allowed a choice to select subjects that are their favorite, so it is easy for them to focus on their majors.

Thus, teaching a variety of courses outside the field of students can be advantageous. It will help the student to face the adversities presented by life. It will allow students to do more research and earn more money. Although some argue that it will put more burden on the student, more opportunities will present themselves. Therefore, there is no real harm in requiring students to take a variety of courses outside their majors.

GRE Issue-based Essay prompt #2 from the official GRE website:

A nation should require all of its students to study the same national curriculum until they enter college.

Write a response in which you discuss your views on the policy and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider the possible consequences of implementing the policy and explain how these consequences shape your position.

GRE argument based Essay prompt #1 from the official GRE website:

The council of Maple County, concerned about the county’s becoming overdeveloped, is debating a proposed measure that would prevent the development of existing farmland in the county. But the council is also concerned that such a restriction, by limiting the supply of new housing, could lead to significant increases in the price of housing in the county. Proponents of the measure note that Chestnut County established a similar measure ten years ago, and its housing prices have increased only modestly since. However, opponents of the measure note that Pine County adopted restrictions on the development of new residential housing fifteen years ago, and its housing prices have since more than doubled. The council currently predicts that the proposed measure, if passed, will result in a significant increase in housing prices in Maple County. (

Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the prediction and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the prediction.

GRE argument based Essay prompt #2 from the official GRE website:

Fifteen years ago, Omega University implemented a new procedure that encouraged students to evaluate the teaching effectiveness of all their professors. Since that time, Omega professors have begun to assign higher grades in their classes, and overall student grade averages at Omega have risen by 30 percent. Potential employers, looking at this dramatic rise in grades, believe that grades at Omega are inflated and do not accurately reflect student achievement; as a result, Omega graduates have not been as successful at getting jobs as have graduates from nearby Alpha University. To enable its graduates to secure better jobs, Omega University should terminate student evaluation of professors. (

Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.

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