Brainstorming before writing essay

Why must you brainstorm in AWA on GRE?

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While writing an essay on GRE, many students face challenges in completing the essay in time. Even if they do manage to write it in time, the essays are not well-developed as there are some loose ends here and there. According to ETS, among all test-takers average essay writing score is about 4, which indicates that most of the students are able to analyse the issue but fail to develop sufficient connection among the points and examples. Moreover, there are minor grammatical errors. (For more details click here.) To avoid such mistakes thinking and planning is essential. When you have analysed the point and corresponding example, penning it down is easy, as you can concentrate on one task a time.

However, when we underline the importance of thinking or brainstorming before writing essays in classroom course, many students (at least in India) are not very comfortable with the idea of spending some time on it.


Lack of time

In the essay writing task, you are asked to write about 350 words. However, ‘how many words are actually enough?’ is the question. If we consider the ideal essays by ETS in Official GRE guide, they are of on an average of 500 words. It can be easily deduced that in order to pen down an impressive essay which has sufficient reasoning and examples with fine control over language, one needs to write about 500 words. So, the problem is, are 30 minutes enough to write 500 words?

Trial and error

While attempting their first essay students start writing the essay right from the first whistle, that is, without brainstorming they start typing. Chances are they are not able to finish the writing task within given time and may well fear the tall demands of the task. With trial and error they may acquire few skills but may not be able to reach their full potential.


While attempting the essay without contemplation, all points are not available at hand at the beginning. As students start writing, a flow of thought begins and they may get points which are relevant but should have been placed before already written point or they may think of a suitable example after a few minutes. Now, after realising what corrections are beneficial, students are tempted to edit, adding an extra task to already two. This multi-tasking consumes extra time.

Reasons for brainstorming

Reason 1

Many argue that they may not have sufficient time to write the essay as they don’t have enough time in current conditions where they start writing from first minute. It is very well established that average typing speed in the world is about 40 words per minute. Technically, if you are aware of what to write you should be able to write 400 words in 10 minutes. Let’s cut a slack of 50%, still students can write 400 words in 20 minutes. Therefore, to write about 500 words students can dedicate 24 minutes with 50% slower typing compared to world average.

Reason 2

Multi-tasking stresses mind and in fact, students end up committing more mistakes than they would have committed otherwise. The best reply your mind gives to such stress is that it switches itself off. Just to illustrate it further read following situations and see if you can correlate with any one of it.

If you are college student and if you have already written a GRE essay in 30 minutes, you may have observed many grammatical errors after completing the essay. You may have not noticed them while writing, but afterwards when the stress was relieved.

If you have been working already, it is easy to correlate the switching off the brain with a situation when you wrote your first official mail. Despite extraneous efforts, you might have found out the that you could have avoided many silly mistakes.

Therefore, it follows that if you can think about the points and corresponding examples to be presented on the essay within 5 minutes and then write an essay, chances are your essays would have right flow of the reasoning alongside relevant illustrations. While typing you can ignore extra points that may distract you from the task at hand.

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