7even Easy Ways

to Improve Your

GRE Essay Score

Barron’s Test Prep GRE Analytical Writing Guide

Writing a high-scoring GRE
essay is about more than just grammar and punctuation. In this article, we’ll show you seven ways to quickly and painlessly improve your GRE essay performance.


Avoid Wordiness

This is perhaps the single most important stylistic principle that you must follow. Eliminate wordiness! If it is not essential, take it out. Most of the following stylistic principles flow from this single concept. Get to the point – the graders will reward you for not wasting their time.



Upon entering the room used for learning, I was confronted by a large group of people who were already sitting in their chairs awaiting the beginning of the lecture. When I entered the classroom, the students were seated ready for class to begin.



Avoid Excessive Qualification

Take a stand, and stick to it. Don’t worry about being perceived as too confident or arrogant in your essays. Your writing should have a strong voice, and using qualifying phrases like “in my opinion” or “I think” only serves to weaken your point.


Excessive Qualification Concise

The introduction of a new animal species may have an effect which might be adverse at some point in the future. The introduction of a new animal species may have negative effects in the future.


“ “

Use Active Voice

When writing your GRE AWA essay, use the active voice. It makes your argument stronger and also makes your writing easier to understand. While there may in fact be times where passive voice is required, you should strive to stick to active whenever possible.

Example: I study for the GRE

Active Voice:

 Active
The GRE is studied by me.

 The subject of the
sentence does the action.

Passive Voice

The subject of the sentence receives the action. writing.

 Occurs in weak

 A sign of not
planning or revising.

Avoid Clichés

Clichés were once clever sayings. In fact, they were so catchy that everyone used them until they became meaningless and dull. So, if you find yourself using a cliché, consider what the cliché means and make your own inventive and clever saying. Some of the oft used clichés: better late than never, crushing blow, last but not least, needle in a haystack, put it in a nutshell, rat race, sneaking suspicion, etc. Avoid them like the plague  .



Avoid Slang and Colloquialisms

Informal speech and writing is useful and appropriate in many situations, but it should be avoided entirely on the GRE.
Avoid contractions (don't, it's, haven’t, wasn't) or colloquialisms (ya'll, gonna, wanna, LOL, really into, wicked, been doing). They are perfectly fine for Facebook or Twitter, but unacceptable in a GRE essay.


Write Strong Openings

Weak openings are the result of not planning or not revising. Avoid beginning sentences with There is, There are, and It is. Again, these openings indicate an immature and unrevised piece of writing. A mature writer plans his or her ideas and constructs a strong, direct sentence, or the author revises what he or she has written to avoid these roundabout constructions.

Weak There are several places in New York that I have not been to yet.
Strong I have not yet been to several places in New York.


Avoid Vague Languages

The GRE essay graders have about two minutes to read and grade your entire essay – that doesn’t give them much time to try to figure out what you are trying to say. Avoid using indirect or ambiguous language; stick to words that clearly convey your point.

In the event that Congress is unable to do something to agree upon, the president will schedule a time to do Vague stuff with both parties so that they can agree upon the issue.


If Congress can't agree on spending, the president will sit down with both parties to negotiate a deal.


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