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Analytical Writing

This book is most useful for college students taking a writing course and people preparing for TOEFL or a post-graduate school entrance exams like GRE or GMAT, where analytical writing is an integral part of the test. 

Analytical writing is the academic writing style required at the college and graduate school level. The style of analytical writing is dry, concise and clear. The writer asserts her intention of writing at the beginning of the paper, and the rest of the paper is designed to defend the claim made at the beginning. To write an analytical essay, we may need to do some writing in the style of a book report, that is, an objective and correct summary description of an author’s theory or argument. We may also need to compare and contrast, as any topic worthy of analytical writing will have opposing arguments. But analytical writing ends neither with objective descriptions of ideas of others, nor with balanced presentation of opposing ideas. To write an analytical essay, we have to advance a claim and show that the claim must be logically and factually true. The various contents of an analytical paper are selected and organized so as best to defend the claim.

Analytical writing uses our critical and creative thinking skills at the highest levels. The creative thinking skill is necessary to build an argument, and the critical thinking, to evaluate an argument. American colleges aim to help students acquire these skills mainly through humanities and social sciences where students learn competing theories on complex issues. Students tacitly acquire the skills through reading analytical essays and writing their own essays.

Surprisingly though, not many college students are prepared to write an analytical essay. Many college students employ the high school writing method, but the method does not work for college essay writing. The five paragraph method, taught in high school, produces essays that are deficient in logic and commit confirmation bias. In college essays, students must consider counterexamples to their theses and show how their theses overcome the counterexamples. They also need to organize their essays in such a way that ideas are developed and presented in a proof-like manner. Theses must be true out of logical necessity. Disappointingly to students, college writing courses do not teach the mechanics of analytical writing, as professors assume that students know it already and are busy with teaching course content materials in class. So when required to write essays, students are at a loss. This is most clearly evidenced by the fact that many students’ essays miss or misplace or present malformed thesis statements. When an analytical essay does not follow the structure of analytical writing, readers cannot evaluate the arguments in the essay. Students who do not know the mechanics of analytical essay writing will not get an A in their writing classes, regardless of their effort.

So urgently needed is this book where college students and GRE or GMAT test takers can acquire the skills for analytical writing. This book focuses on three aspects all necessary for analytical writing. First, you learn the mechanics relating to analytical essays, like how to structure college essays and GRE and GMAT test essays, and how to compose good thesis statements and sound arguments. Secondly, you learn creative thinking skills as you are introduced to controversial arguments taught in humanities and social sciences. This part should be especially useful for writing the GRE issue essay since the GRE issue essay topics are derived from these academic disciplines. Thirdly, you learn critical thinking skills as you learn the technical concepts like validity and soundness of an argument, fallacies, and scientific research methods. This part is especially useful for writing the GMAT Analytical Essay (and GRE Argument Essay) which asks you evaluate a prompt argument.