GRE Practice Writing Tips, Part 2 of 2: Four Steps to Success

Writing the essay on the GRE doesn’t have to be hard, if you can systematize the process and, like with any other section, devote enough GRE practice until it becomes easy.  The previous post explained the outline of the Analytical Writing section, and this one will explain how to systematize the process.

You may think that writing only comes easily to gifted creative types, but in fact there is a process for generating and organizing ideas on any topic.  Hone your GRE practice with the following four steps:


Brainstorming consists of thinking of every idea or thing you have to say about a topic and writing it all down in whatever order it comes to you.  Ideas usually don’t come out in a linear, organized fashion, but occur randomly and spontaneously.  This is fine, as the purpose of brainstorming is just to get it all out.


Organizing comes after brainstorming, once you have exhausted everything you can think of to say about a topic.  Once you have all of your ideas written out in front of you, a natural order will tend to emerge, in terms of sequence, grouping, and hierarchy of ideas.  This step mostly consists of arranging all of your ideas in a logical order.


Once you have your ideas organized, writing is simply a matter of going through systematically and filling in the details.  Flesh out your essay by adding support in the form of examples and reasoning, and add any further ideas that come to you, as long as they are relevant to the point you are trying to make.  This step will take the most time, so be sure to pace yourself to allow for it.


Your GRE practice essay doesn’t have to be perfect to get a good score, but you should leave enough time at the end to review it for glaring errors.  Besides spelling and grammar, make sure that your ordering is logical, your argument is consistent, and your support is sufficient.

Good luck with the rest of your GRE practice!

Dane Dormio is an online tutor and blogger with an unconventional approach to education.  Visit his tutoring blog at


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