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The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Winning GRE Essay Outline: Tips, Guidelines, and Examples

Are you preparing for the GRE exam, but unsure about how to tackle the daunting essay questions? Do you struggle with organizing your thoughts and structuring your ideas effectively? If so, a well-crafted GRE essay outline can make all the difference.

In this comprehensive guide, we will show you how to create a winning GRE essay outline that can help you save time, organize your ideas, and improve the clarity and coherence of your essay. From defining what is a GRE essay outline, to outlining the main guidelines for creating an effective one, we’ve got you covered.

Key Takeaways:

  • A well-structured GRE essay outline is crucial for a successful essay.
  • A good outline can help you organize your thoughts and improve the coherence of your essay.
  • Effective essay outlines have clear and concise introduction, body, and conclusion sections.
  • To create an effective outline, start by brainstorming your ideas, categorizing them, and arranging them based on their relevance and importance.

What is a GRE Essay Outline?

A GRE essay outline is a tool that helps you organize your thoughts and ideas before you start writing your essay. Like a roadmap, it guides you through the writing process, by outlining the main sections and subsections of your essay, and providing a structure for your ideas.

An effective GRE essay outline should have the following components:

  1. Introduction: This section should clearly state the main focus of your essay and provide some background information. It should also contain a clear and concise thesis statement.

  2. Body: This section is where you present your arguments and ideas to support your thesis statement. It should be divided into several paragraphs, each addressing a different aspect of your topic.

  3. Conclusion: This section sums up your essay by restating your thesis statement and highlighting the main points you have discussed in your essay. It should also provide some final thoughts or recommendations.

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Why is a GRE Essay Outline Important?

There are several reasons why having a GRE essay outline is essential for a successful essay. Here are some of the main benefits:

  1. Organization: An outline can help you organize your thoughts and ideas into a logical and coherent structure. This makes it easier for the reader to follow your argument and understand your point of view.

  2. Time-Saving: By having a clear outline, you can save time during the writing process. You won’t have to spend time thinking about the structure of your essay, as you will already have a roadmap to follow.

  3. Clarity: An outline can help you identify any gaps or weaknesses in your argument, and provide an opportunity to clarify your thoughts and ideas.

  4. Coherence: A well-structured outline can help you maintain coherence throughout your essay. This makes it easier for the reader to follow your argument and understand your point of view.

How to Create an Effective GRE Essay Outline

Now that we’ve outlined the importance of having a GRE essay outline, let’s discuss the steps involved in creating an effective one.

Step 1: Brainstorming

Before you start writing your outline, take some time to brainstorm your ideas. Write down all of your thoughts and ideas on your topic. Then, categorize them into different groups based on their relevance and importance.

Step 2: Categorizing

Once you have your ideas organized into groups, start categorizing them into main sections and subsections for your outline. These should align with the introduction, body, and conclusion sections of your essay.

Step 3: Structuring

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With your ideas and section headers in mind, start structuring your outline. Arrange your ideas in a logical and coherent flow, ensuring that each section transitions smoothly into the next.

For your body paragraphs, ensure that each paragraph has:

  • A clear topic sentence.
  • Supporting evidence to back up your argument.
  • A concluding sentence that connects to the next paragraph.

Remember to keep the length of each section proportional to its importance.

Step 4: Revising

Once you have your outline created, revise it to ensure that it is clear, concise, and effective. Ensure that each section connects seamlessly to the next and supports your thesis statement.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

To create an effective GRE essay outline, here are some common mistakes you should avoid:

  • Relying too heavily on your outline, to the point where it stifles your creativity.
  • Creating an outline that is too detailed, making it difficult to flexibly include new ideas and thoughts as you write.
  • Avoiding changes to the outline, even when it becomes clear that some sections may need some reorganization or expansion.


Creating an effective GRE essay outline is an essential step towards writing a successful essay. By taking the time to brainstorm your ideas, categorize them, and structure them in a logical flow, you can save time, clarify and organize your thoughts, and improve the coherence of your essay. Keep these tips and guidelines in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a winning GRE essay outline.


Q: How can I ensure I’m including all the necessary information in my outline?

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A: Start by reviewing the essay prompt and ensuring that your outline addresses all the relevant points. As you create your outline, refer back to the prompt to ensure you are staying on topic and addressing all the necessary points.

Q: How much detail should I include in my outline?

A: Your outline should strike a balance between providing enough detail to guide your writing while remaining flexible enough to account for new ideas and thoughts that may arise during the writing process.

Q: How can I be sure my outline will lead to a winning essay?

A: While there are no guarantees when it comes to essay writing, creating an effective outline can improve your chances of success. By ensuring that your thoughts are well-organized, logically structured and connected, you’ll be on your way to crafting an essay that is clear, coherent, and persuasive.

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