Because the scoring of the Analytical Writing section is subjective, it cannot be done immediately. Your two essays will be sent to a special scoring center, where they will be graded according to a detailed rubric by two trained readers. Each reader will assign a score of zero through six to each essay. Your score for each essay will be the average of these two scores. If there is more than one point difference between the two scores on an essay, a third reader will be asked to settle the difference. It is rare, however, for trained GRE readers to disagree by more than a point. The general focus of grading is on the structural and stylistic aspects of the essays, so minor and occasional mistakes in spelling and grammar will not have any effect on your grade. You will receive a six only if your essay is cogent, clear, and rhetorically interesting throughout.
The GRE does not give out sixes except to the very best essays. You can earn a four or five, however, by demonstrating cogency and clarity for the most part. If you are only intermittently logical and clear, you will receive a three or a two. Ones are only given to those essays that make no sense or are off topic, and zeroes are only given when the essay is either not attempted or unintelligible.
Last Updated: 03/01/2012
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