The GRE Argument Essay does not need to be difficult. It certainly does not need to inordinately tax you before you even begin the test itself (remember both the Argument and the Issue come before the verbal and math sections).
To make sure you finish the essays with confidence—and not a racing pulse and heavy breathing—you want to learn what to do, and what not to do, for the GRE Argument Essay.
1. Do not agree with the argument
The Argument essay gets its name not only from the fact that you must analyze an argument, but also because you must provide your own argument. Specifically, you are arguing how the argument is terrible (in a scholastic manner, of course!) and filled with logical fallacies. You must in no way agree with the argument. It is there for you to skewer with your logical and rhetorical abilities.
2. Don’t belabor the introduction
The intro should be short and sweet. Many forget this and instead try to craft an eloquent and attention-grabbing first sentence. Do not be seduced by such a temptation! Instead, be as dry and formulaic as possible (the Issue statement, it should be noted, allows for a little more flair).
3. Follow a rigid organizational scheme
Organization is key to scoring well on the GRE AWA. The good news is that the Argument has an even more cookie-cutter template than the Issue. Essentially, you want to open with a quick intro stating how the paragraph is weak for a variety of reasons. You can mention those issues, before elaborating on them in the body paragraphs.
Begin each body paragraph with a topic sentence that states the specific fallacy you are attacking. The second sentence should provide your reasoning. The third sentence can elaborate on the second sentence by providing specific examples. Your fourth sentence can be something like, “Had the argument taken into account…”, “Had the argument not assumed X…then….”
The final sentence can recap the paragraph (think of it as a mini-conclusion that is paragraph-specific).
4. Find the right balance
The GRE argument paragraph is a bar of Swiss cheese, the holes gaping logical fallacies. It is easy to get carried away and try to enumerate all of the logical inconsistencies in the paragraph. Doing so, however, detracts from your ability to develop your criticism of any one logical inconsistency or questionable assumption.
At the same time, you could just as easily pick out one of these glaring assumptions and write a really long paragraph, describing why an assumption is unwarranted and ways to make the argument stronger.
The key is finding the right balance between highlighting specific fallacies and developing a thoughtful and sustained (but not too sustained) dismantling of one of the holes in the bar of Swiss cheese.
The magical number is three. Make sure you find three separate logical fallacies in the paragraph. These fallacies of course should be the ones that you feel detract most from the legitimacy of the argument.
5. Brainstorm/outline before you write
Simply rushing through the paragraph and writing whatever comes to mind is probably not going to end well. Take a few minutes to digest what the argument is saying. Often, one of the most glaring assumptions, the one that the argument really hinges on, might escape you on first reading.
Once you’ve written down a few of the logical fallacies think to yourself how you might develop a sustained attack. One great way is to consider how the argument would have been made stronger had it not assumed X, Y, and Z.
Finally, thinking about what you write before you write will help you score big points for organization—a critical part of your AWA score.
Check out this breakdown of a sample argument essay.
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HOW TO ACE THE GRE ARGUMENT ESSAYThe GRE Argument Essay is crucial as it tests the ability of the students to take part in a presented argument, analyze it critically without letting their opinions get in the way. It also checks the reading and writing proficiency of the student by testing whether you are quick on grasping the underlying inadequacies, can present your discussion on why the argument is wrong with supporting examples flawlessly.
How the GRE Argument Essay Works...
- The first and foremost point to keep in mind is that the GRE Argument Essay does not require your views and opinions as in the case of the GRE Issue Essay.
- The validity of the argument and the analysis of its logical authenticity is the required objective of this section rather than whether you agree or disagree with the given claim.
- Here, the author presents an argument with his supporting evidence, and your task is to check how well or how poorly the given argument has been reasoned.
- The time allotted for this section is 30 minutes, and it is scored on a scale of six.
How To Score High In The GRE Argument Essay Section
- The most fundamental prerequisite to scoring high in this essay is to understand the argument of the author completely and getting acquainted with the thought process of the author. Once you have a general idea, continue to get acquainted with the supporting information which the author has provided to support his or her argument.
- Next analyze the given argument with the eye of a critique while giving importance to the following clues:
- The evidence used by the author to help support the claim made in the essay.
- There will usually be a few obviously stated as well as few hidden assumptions. Make sure to find them all and use them in your critique if you want a high score.
- False generalizations and analogies.
- Inadequate and missed out evidence.
- Misleading surveys and statistics.
- All arguments provided in the GRE are imperfect in some way or the other, it is your job to identify these flaws and inadequacies present, use them to your advantage.
- Come up with the alternative and missed out explanations to the presented argument without proving the conclusion to be wrong.
- Note down the changes which, if made, would make the argument provided more stronger, make a claim made more believable and logical.
- Arrange all of the above points from the introduction to the conclusion in your scratch paper in order and develop a rough draft.
- Once the draft is ready, start typing the final draft.
- A high scoring essay should start with a brief introduction explaining the arguments and the underlying evidence, followed by three to four body paragraphs focusing on the possible alternative explanations which overrule the identified flaws. An essay which concludes on a note of ambiguity which claims that the argument has one or more valid points but lacks adequate information which would have made a claim more believable.
- Once the essay is complete, proof-read it to check for possible spelling errors and grammatical mistakes.
Additional Tips to Ace the GRE Argument Essay
- A lot of practice on various published topics is an absolute must to a perfect score.
- Reading skills could be improved through daily newspaper skimming and various books.
- Vocabulary and sentence formations could also be enhanced through preparative materials such as Barron's wordlist, flashcards, and continuous revision. Hard work never fails, and with all these guidelines you cannot fail to score high on this part of the GRE.