Each of the essays will be scored on a 6-point holistic scale according to the criteria below. Although the GRE Writing Assessment contains two discrete essay-writing tasks, a single combined score is reported because it is more reliable than either task score alone. The score reported will represent the average of the scores for the two essays.  Most international students score anywhere between a 4.5 to 5.5.

Score: 6

A 6 paper presents a cogent, well-articulated essay which demonstrates mastery of the elements of effective writing. A typical paper in this category:

  • clearly identifies important points and analyzes them insightfully
  • develops ideas cogently, organizes them logically, and connects them with clear transitions
  • effectively supports the main points
  • demonstrates control of language, including diction and syntactic variety
  • demonstrates facility with the conventions of standard written English but may have minor flaws

Score: 5 or 5.5

A 5 paper presents a well-developed essay and demonstrates good control of the elements of effective writing. A typical paper in this category:

  • clearly identifies important features of the issue and analyzes them in a generally thoughtful way
  • develops ideas clearly, organizes them logically, and connects them with appropriate transitions
  • sensibly supports the main points
  • demonstrates control of language, including diction and syntactic variety
  • demonstrates facility with the conventions of standard written English but may have occasional flaws

Score: 4 or 4.5

A 4 paper presents a competent essay and demonstrates adequate control of the elements of writing. A typical paper in this category:

  • identifies and analyzes important features of the issue
  • develops and organizes ideas satisfactorily but may not connect them with transitions supporting the main points
  • demonstrates sufficient control of language to convey ideas with reasonable clarity
  • generally follows the conventions of standard written English but may have flaws

Score: 3 or 3.5

A 3 paper demonstrates some competence in its analysis of the issue at hand and in its control of the elements of writing but is plainly flawed. A typical paper in this category exhibits one or more of the following characteristics:

  • does not identify or analyze most of the important features of the issue, although some analysis of the issue is present
  • mainly analyzes 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 points of the issue does not convey meaning clearly
  • contains occasional major errors or frequent minor errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics

Score: 2 or 2.5

A 2 paper demonstrates serious weaknesses in analytical writing skills. A typical paper in this category exhibits one or more of the following characteristics:

  • does not present an issue based on logical analysis, but may instead present the writer’s own views on the subject
  • does not develop ideas, or is disorganized and illogical
  • provides little, if any, relevant or reasonable support
  • has serious and frequent problems in the use of language and in sentence structure
  • contains numerous errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics that interfere with meaning

Score: 1 or 1.5

A 2 paper demonstrates serious weaknesses in analytical writing skills. A typical paper in this category exhibits one or more of the following characteristics:

  • provides little evidence of the ability to understand and analyze the argument
  • provides little evidence of the ability to develop an organized response
  • has severe and persistent errors in language and sentence structure
  • contains a pervasive pattern of errors in grammar, usage, or mechanics that results in incoherence