How Long Should GRE Essays Be?

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How Long Should GRE Essays Be?

For those about to sit for the GRE, the topmost question on your mind now will be “How long should my GRE essays be?” There is no straightforward answer to this question, and even the ETS has remained tight-lipped about this. Because there is no particular word length, this section tends to fluster a lot of sitters.

You already know the essay is divided into two parts, and one hour would be allocated for the two parts; that’s about thirty minutes for each one. When writing an essay, we are always tempted to write a lengthy one because we feel longer is better. You are not wrong. But keep in mind that you have thirty minutes for each part, I don’t think there is anyone who can write a perfect lengthy essay under pressure in 30 minutes, they will surely sacrifice the quality.

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You don’t want to be stuck up on length. Your essay needs quality to earn you the coveted “6” point. To balance everything out, your essay should be about five paragraphs long. For the introduction, the body and the conclusion. This would enable you to spread your ideas evenly among these sections; thereby increasing the overall quality of your essays.

It would also enable the grader to grasp the outline of your essay without having to read large blocks of texts. Your paragraph length also matters; it should not be overly long as this would make it tiring to read. With that being said, your overall essay should be about 500 to 600 words in length.

Statistics have shown though that although longer is better, the marks drop off after a certain average of around 650 words. This should be a sound warning that around 600 words, you should be getting ready to wrap up your essay.

Tips to Write GRE Essays:

1. Prepare

This might seem like the most obvious tip, but it’s the most overlooked one. It’s so easy to prepare amiss.

How are you preparing for the GRE ESSAY?

Look up GRE writing prompts online, review sample topics and then practice!

Do not memorise anything, just practice.

Doing this regularly would make you accustomed to the GRE mode of writing, and you won’t be too nervous on the day of the test.

2. Time Management

This could easily be the most important tip. If you are like most test-takers, you would feel the thirty minutes reducing drastically the moment you seat at the screen. Don’t worry; it’s the pressure. To get the most out of your time, what you need to do is to divide the thirty minutes amongst each writing sections. Here is an example, feel free to tweak it accordingly:

  • 2 minutes to read through the prompt and instructions.
  • 2 minutes to outline the ideas you want to write.
  • 3 minutes to write an intro.
  • 15 minutes to write the body paragraphs and also give examples where necessary.
  • 3 minutes to write a conclusion.
  • 3 minutes to go through your work and make the necessary edits.

You have two minutes to spare!

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3. Read Instructions Carefully

If you’ve ever written an exam before, then you know how the pressure mounts as soon as you seat in that chair. Your heart starts to race, and sometimes, your vision starts to blur.

This is the moment to take a deep breath and slow down. Read the instructions carefully. Be aware you are reading the instructions and assimilate it accordingly. Every little detail matter.

4. Use Proper Grammar

ETS has stated that in a GRE essay, they are looking for clarity and quality. Yet, if we look at it objectively, these criteria are closely related to grammar.

If in writing your essay, you make two or three grammatical errors, the clarity of your essay has been sacrificed.

Try not to mar the quality and clarity of your essays. Slow down for a moment and be sure everything is in order. Your pronouns, nouns, clauses, punctuations and everything.

There are tips online on how to improve your grammar style.

How Long Should GRE Essays Be

5. Structure

Large blocks of texts are boring to read, and as soon as the grader sees it, he or she falls half asleep. Structure your essays into paragraphs to make them readable.

Spoon feed the reader with small, easy texts. Do not rush them.

And also, avoid the use of big grammars or fancy words. Just go straight to the point.

6. Know the Types of Essays

I mentioned earlier that the GRE essays are divided into two parts. These parts are:

  • Issue essays.
  • Argument essays.

Before starting on any one of the above, you have to know what you have been asked to do. They are completely different types of essays, and it’s easy to get confused.


7. Issue Essays

In this section, there would be a founding argument. For the sake of this essay, you would be tasked with analysing the issue and then creating an essay to either disagree or agree with it.

Tips to Note

1. Outline the Arguments

The first step to writing a great issue essay is by first outlining the statements for and against the argument on the ground. Then choose the side that has the best argument.

You have to choose aside. No matter how tempting it is, do not embrace both sides of the argument.

2. Make a Concession Point

When writing, you would be asked to bring up an argument from the side of the essay you disagree with. This is the concession point, and that is why you were tasked with looking at both sides of the argument.

Since you already outlined the arguments in the first place, it would be so easy to find a concession point.

How Long Should GRE Essays Be

3. Argument Essays

In this section, you do not need to agree or disagree with the founding argument. What you are asked to do is dissect the logic behind the argument.


1. Identify the Presumptions

To analyse the argument, first, try to find the presumptions the author must have made. You will be sure to find one or two. Then show why these presumptions are unwarranted.

2. Find the Logic

Just like the author would have made assumptions, there would also be some logic he or she would have made. It would be best if you had both sides of this to analyse the argument properly.

How Long Should GRE Essays Be

3. Never Agree with the Argument

Whatever the argument you are presented, do not agree with it. Do not! Analyse, break down, but never agree! Challenge the argument.

The GRE ESSAYS are not an easy task to write, and it’s best you know it, but these tips are guaranteed to cut the frustration down by half. Good luck with it.

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