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The GRE® General Test

One test for graduate, business and law school

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Analytical Writing Measure Scoring

Although the GRE Analytical Writing measure contains two discrete analytical writing tasks, a single combined score is reported because it is more reliable than a score for either task alone. The reported score ranges from 0 to 6, in half-point increments.

The statements below describe, for each score level, the overall quality of analytical writing demonstrated across both the Issue and Argument tasks. The test assesses "analytical writing," so critical thinking skills (the ability to reason, assemble evidence to develop a position and communicate complex ideas) are assessed along with the writer's control of grammar and the mechanics of writing.
 

Scores 6 and 5.5

Sustains insightful, in-depth analysis of complex ideas; develops and supports main points with logically compelling reasons and/or highly persuasive examples; is well focused and well organized; skillfully uses sentence variety and precise vocabulary to convey meaning effectively; demonstrates superior facility with sentence structure and usage, but may have minor errors that do not interfere with meaning.
 

Scores 5 and 4.5

Provides generally thoughtful analysis of complex ideas; develops and supports main points with logically sound reasons and/or well-chosen examples; is generally focused and well organized; uses sentence variety and vocabulary to convey meaning clearly; demonstrates good control of sentence structure and usage, but may have minor errors that do not interfere with meaning.
 

Scores 4 and 3.5

Provides competent analysis of ideas in addressing specific task directions; develops and supports main points with relevant reasons and/or examples; is adequately organized; conveys meaning with acceptable clarity; demonstrates satisfactory control of sentence structure and usage, but may have some errors that affect clarity.
 

Scores 3 and 2.5

Displays some competence in analytical writing and addressing specific task directions, although the writing is flawed in at least one of the following ways: limited analysis or development; weak organization; weak control of sentence structure or usage, with errors that often result in vagueness or a lack of clarity.
 

Scores 2 and 1.5

Displays serious weaknesses in analytical writing. The writing is seriously flawed in at least one of the following ways: serious lack of analysis or development; unclear in addressing specific task directions; lack of organization; frequent problems in sentence structure or usage, with errors that obscure meaning.
 

Scores 1 and 0.5

Displays fundamental deficiencies in analytical writing. The writing is fundamentally flawed in at least one of the following ways: content that is extremely confusing or mostly irrelevant to the assigned tasks; little or no development; severe and pervasive errors that result in incoherence.
 

Score 0

The examinee's analytical writing skills cannot be evaluated because the responses do not address any part of the assigned tasks, are merely attempts to copy the assignments, are in a foreign language or display only indecipherable text.
 

Score NS

The examinee produced no text whatsoever

Score 6 Outstanding

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

A typical response in this category:

  • articulates a clear and insightful position on the issue in accordance with the assigned task
  • develops the position fully with compelling reasons and/or persuasive examples
  • sustains a well-focused, well-organized analysis, connecting ideas logically
  • 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 analysis of the issue and conveys meaning clearly.

A typical response in this category:

  • presents a clear and well-considered position on the issue in accordance with the assigned task
  • develops the position with logically sound reasons and/or well-chosen examples
  • is focused and generally well organized, connecting ideas appropriately
  • 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 analysis of the issue and conveys meaning with acceptable clarity.

A typical response in this category:

  • presents a clear position on the issue in accordance with the assigned task
  • develops the position with relevant reasons and/or examples
  • is adequately focused and organized
  • demonstrates sufficient control of language to express 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 analyzing the issue and in conveying meaning, but is obviously flawed.

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

  • is vague or limited in addressing the specific task directions and in presenting or developing a position on the issue or both
  • is weak in the use of relevant reasons or examples or relies largely on unsupported claims
  • is limited in focus and/or organization
  • 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:

  • is unclear or seriously limited in addressing the specific task directions and in presenting or developing a position on the issue or both
  • provides few, if any, relevant reasons or examples in support of its claims
  • is poorly focused and/or poorly organized
  • 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 issue
  • provides little or no 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 address 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.

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 reasonable 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.