Analytical Writing: "Argument" Task Scoring Guide

The "Analyze an Argument" essay is scored on a six-point holistic scale according to the criteria below. Although the Analytical Writing measure of the GRE® revised General Test contains two discrete analytical writing tasks, a single combined score is reported because it is more reliable than either task score alone. The reported score ranges from 0 to 6, in half-point increments.

Score 6 — Outstanding

In addressing the specific task directions, a 6 response presents a cogent, well-articulated examination of the argument and conveys meaning skillfully.

A typical response in this category

  • clearly identifies aspects of the argument relevant to the assigned task and examines them insightfully
  • develops ideas cogently, organizes them logically and connects them with clear transitions
  • provides compelling and thorough support for its main points
  • conveys ideas fluently and precisely, using effective vocabulary and sentence variety
  • demonstrates superior facility with the conventions of standard written English (i.e., grammar, usage and mechanics), but may have minor errors

Score 5 — Strong

In addressing the specific task directions, a 5 response presents a generally thoughtful, well-developed examination of the argument and conveys meaning clearly.

A typical response in this category

  • clearly identifies aspects of the argument relevant to the assigned task and examines them in a generally perceptive way
  • develops ideas clearly, organizes them logically, and connects them with appropriate transitions
  • offers generally thoughtful and thorough support for its main points
  • conveys ideas clearly and well, using appropriate vocabulary and sentence variety
  • demonstrates facility with the conventions of standard written English but may have minor errors

Score 4 — Adequate

In addressing the specific task directions, a 4 response presents a competent examination of the argument and conveys meaning with acceptable clarity.

A typical response in this category

  • identifies and examines aspects of the argument relevant to the assigned task but may also discuss some extraneous points
  • develops and organizes ideas satisfactorily but may not connect them with transitions
  • supports its main points adequately but may be uneven in its support
  • demonstrates sufficient control of language to convey ideas with acceptable clarity
  • generally demonstrates control of the conventions of standard written English but may have some errors

Score 3 — Limited

A 3 response demonstrates some competence in addressing the specific task directions, in examining the argument and in conveying meaning but is obviously flawed.

A typical response in this category exhibits ONE OR MORE of the following characteristics:

  • does not identify or examine most of the aspects of the argument relevant to the assigned task, although some relevant examination of the argument is present
  • mainly discusses tangential or irrelevant matters, or reasons poorly
  • is limited in the logical development and organization of ideas
  • offers support of little relevance and value for its main points
  • has problems in language and sentence structure that result in a lack of clarity
  • contains occasional major errors or frequent minor errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics that can interfere with meaning

Score 2 — Seriously Flawed

A 2 response largely disregards the specific task directions and/or demonstrates serious weaknesses in analytical writing.

A typical response in this category exhibits ONE OR MORE of the following characteristics:

  • does not present an examination based on logical analysis, but may instead present the writer's own views on the subject
  • does not follow the directions for the assigned task
  • does not develop ideas, or is poorly organized and illogical
  • provides little, if any, relevant or reasonable support for its main points
  • has serious problems in language and sentence structure that frequently interfere with meaning
  • contains serious errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics that frequently obscure meaning

Score 1 — Fundamentally Deficient

A 1 response demonstrates fundamental deficiencies in analytical writing.

A typical response in this category exhibits ONE OR MORE of the following characteristics:

  • provides little or no evidence of understanding the argument
  • provides little evidence of the ability to develop an organized response (e.g., is disorganized and/or extremely brief)
  • has severe problems in language and sentence structure that persistently interfere with meaning
  • contains pervasive errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics that result in incoherence

Score 0

Off topic (i.e., provides no evidence of an attempt to respond to the assigned topic), is in a foreign language, merely copies the topic, consists of only keystroke characters, or is illegible or nonverbal.

Score NS

The essay response is blank.

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