The Analytical Writing Assessment section of the GRE can often give one the heebie-jeebies. The task of having to get a significant number of words down in a short amount of time while making a cogent argument can weigh down the brightest of minds. In a situation like this, it helps to keep a few ground rules that will help make the task a little easier. This is exactly what we have for you, in the points that follow.

Keep your sentences short and simple

It is hard to overemphasize this point. There are at least two good reasons to keep your sentences short. First of all, you tend to lose grammatical control once the sentences become long and unwieldy. Secondly, shorter sentences, if well crafted, can often be a pleasure to read, and also make your arguments easy to follow. However, make sure you use a different sentence structure every once in a while, to give your writing some variety.

Brainstorm before beginning your writing

When you’re running a race, there’s nothing worse than getting off to a flying start but heading off in the wrong direction. Similarly, the last thing you want to do in your AWA section is to expend all your energy on crafting fine sentences that reek erudition, while forgetting the overall cogency of your writing. A little time spent brainstorming will go a long way toward ensuring, for example, that you don’t contradict yourself or leave out important points.

Allocate one paragraph per idea

It is safe to stick to a “one paragraph per idea” rule. If you put more than one idea in a paragraph, and there is some minor contrast between these points, it may look a little contradictory. If, instead, you allocate one paragraph per idea, you will be able to qualify your ideas better, and also explore more implications for each idea. This will make for a deeper analysis.

Use transition words

Using transition words like “furthermore”, “moreover”, “by way of example”, “to illustrate”, and so on, can give your essay a certain fluidity that makes it easier to read and follow along with.

Use the active voice

We recommend that you use the active voice when writing your essay. This ensures that your writing doesn’t come across as too ornamental or unwieldy. The active voice is direct and to-the-point, just as you want your essay to be.