“[A] quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.” – A.A. Milne
Chances are you too know a few famous quotes, but you probably don’t use them. I know so, because I’m guilty of neglecting quotes on the GRE.
So, why should you use essay quotes on the GRE? To start with, the right use of quotes in essays augments the power of your arguments and makes your essays appear more convincing. Plus, essays with quotes tend to score better than essays without them, because of the initial impact the use of quotes create on the reader, and help strengthen your point.
But we need to exercise prudence. Only use quotes as is, if you are convinced that paraphrasing would lower the impact or change the meaning of the original author’s words or when the argument could not be better expressed or said more succinctly.
Here is how you make sure you are doing it right.
How do I incorporate quotes into my essay?
At times, an essay can appear painfully discorded if the quotations are out of place or if the essay is too stuffed with quotes.
So, what should you do to avoid this?
A great quote plays one or more roles from the following:
- creates the initial impact on the essay grader
- makes your essay look more promising and interesting
- establishes credibility
- concludes the essay with a point to contemplate
If the quote doesn’t serve any of the above then you are forcing it into the essay and this could do more harm than good.
You should start writing your essay with a quote that lays foundation to the main idea behind the essay. This can have a major impact on the evaluator. You can also comment on the quotation in this introductory paragraph if you wish. Either way, to get a perfect score on the GRE essay, use a relevant quote strategically but don’t force it into the essay.
Can I alter the structure of the quotation?
Using the exact words from the original source is called quoting. You should quote when you believe that the way the original author expresses an idea is the most effective way to communicate the point you wish to make. If you want to borrow an idea from the author but don’t put the idea in their exact words, then it’s called paraphrasing. (but remember that you still have to cite the original author even when you are paraphrasing)
For example, Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” You can alter the quotation on your own according to the passage, by saying: ‘To paraphrase Ronald Reagan’s famous quote, “It is easier to trust when you can verify.”‘ By doing this, you are not only citing the original author, but also gaining extra points for using your own version of the quote.
How many quotes should I use?
If you deploy a lot of quotations in your essay, it appears as though several people are talking about the topic apart from yourself. This would downplay your own voice and leaves little room for your own ideas. It is your essay and it should be your voice that needs to be heard, not some notable/famous person’s. Quote as infrequently as possible. So, don’t cram every quote you know into the essay. As a rule of thumb, refrain from using more than 2 quotes in any essay. (One in the introductory paragraph and the other if necessary in the conclusion)
How do I introduce the quote in my own words?
The last thing you would want is get your score cancelled on account of plagiarism. It’s highly recommended that you cite the author of the quotation. If you don’t cite, you may give the impression that you claim to be the original author and that could result in plagiarism. You should place the quote in double quotation marks. Here is an example usage citing the author:
Thomas Jefferson once said “The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.”
Categorization of GRE Essay Topics
The fascinating thing about the GRE essay topics is that they’re already published on the official ETS website. This may sound crazy because giving out the questions in advance is not normal. Now, use this to your advantage. You can find all the GRE essay topics on the official ETS website.
But there’s a catch! You were expecting a few, right?
Well, there are close to 200 topics in all – far too many to practice responses in advance. Also, practicing each of these topics is not advisable as it is going to take a lot of time and effort and there is no point in mugging them up. You could as well spend this time on learning some math. However, there’s a good news. Just scanning through these two lists will give you an excellent idea of the types of issues and arguments that show up on test day.
I just made things a bit easy for you, though. Most of the topics that show up on the GRE essay section can be broadly grouped into five categories.
- Sciences and Technology
So, next time when you practice writing an essay response, make sure you write at least one essay from each of these categories. And memorize a few quotes related to each one of these topics, as they will be handy.
List of most useful essay quotes
I’ve compiled a list of easy-to-digest quotes that should help you write the perfect essay. Bookmark this page NOW for future reference.
The following quotes from great thinkers have been selected based on their relevance to common GRE essay topics and for their ease of usage.
- The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance – Socrates
- A people that value its privileges above its principles soon loses both – Dwight D. Eisenhower
- In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is – Yogi Berra
- A little inaccuracy can sometimes save a ton of explanation – H.H Munro
- Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction – E. F. Schumacher
- A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually – Abba Eban
- Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good – Mohandas Gandhi
- Whatever government is not a government of laws, is a despotism, let it be called what it may – Daniel Webster
- Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws – Plato
- Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing – Theodore Roosevelt
- It is dangerous to be right, when the government is wrong – Voltaire
- The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object – Thomas Jefferson
- No nation is fit to sit in judgment upon any other nation – Woodrow Wilson (28th U.S President)
- The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work – Emile Zola
- The world is full of educated derelicts – Calvin Coolidge
- A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a change to get its pants on – Winston Churchill
- It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog – Mark Twain
- Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart’s desire, the other is to get it – Socrates
- If women didn’t exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning – Aristotle Onasis
- Men are not disturbed by things, but the view they take of things – Epictetus
- As a rule, men worry more about what they can’t see than about what they can – Julius Caesar
Now, these are a handful of quotes. The goal is to memorize 5 or 6 of your favorite quotes so you’ll be able to contextually fit one into the essay on the test day. While practicing, you may look at the list of quotes found above however, if you can remember a specific quote apposite to your essay topic, try to use it – one quote for every essay.
For those avid writers, who believe the number of quotes above are too low, we have the right tool for you. Ellipsoid created a random quote generator tool that draws 5 famous quotes from Goodreads every time you reload the page. The good news is these 5 quotes are always theme based so you know where to use them.
Writing essays isn’t all about the substance. It’s the basics that many of us forget. If you are going to put in the time to practice writing essays, might as well maximize the score you could get by deploying a quote in your essays.
So, what’s your favorite quote?
- English Proverbs- WHERE THERE IS A WILL THERE IS A WAY
- English Proverbs- TRUST YOURSELF TO GET SUCCESS
- English Proverbs- ‘THINK POSITIVE’ WIN POSITIVELY
- English Proverbs-PREPAREDNESS FOR WAR FOR PRESERVING PEACE
- English Proverbs-NOTHING SUCCEEDS LIKE SUCCESS
- English Proverbs-THE CHILD IS FATHER OF THE MAN
- English Proverbs-JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED
- English Proverbs-KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
- English Proverbs- KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT CHARACTER IS DANGEROUS!
- English Proverbs-MONEY IS A GOOD SERVANT, BUT A BAD MASTER
- English Proverbs-MONEY IS DEARER THAN HONEY
- English Proverbs- FAILURES ARE THE PILLARS OF SUCCESS
- English Proverbs- DILIGENCE IS MOTHER OF SUCCESS
- English Proverbs- AS YOU SOW SO SHALL YOU REAP
- English Proverbs- ALL THAT GLITTER IS NOT GOLD
- English Proverbs-APPEARANCES ARE DECEPTIVE
- English Proverbs-WHERE THERE IS A WILL THERE IS A WAY
- English Proverbs-VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
- English Proverbs-PRACTICE MAKES MAN PERFECT
- English Proverbs- KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
- English Proverbs-HANDSOME IS THAT HANDSOME DOES OR A THING OF BEAUTY IS A JOY FOREVER
- English Proverbs -THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD
- English Proverbs – THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE RULES THE WORLD OR MOTHER — THE FIRST AND THE BEST TEACHER
- English Proverbs -SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE
- English Proverbs – SERVICE TO MAN IS SERVICE TO GOD
- English Proverbs -ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY
- English Proverbs – ROLLING STONE GATHERS NO MOSS
- English Proverbs -PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE
- English Proverbs – NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION
- English Proverbs – AS YOU SOW SO SHALL YOU REAP
- English Proverbs – A FRIEND IN NEED IS A FRIEND INDEED
- English Proverbs – GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES
- English Proverbs – EXAMPLE IS BETTER THAN PRECEPT
- English Proverbs – BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER
- English Proverbs – A STITCH IN TIME SAVES NINE
- English Proverbs – TO ERR IS HUMAN TO FORGIVE DIVINE
- English Proverbs -THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD
- English Proverbs – THESE GRAPES ARE SOUR
- English Proverbs – WHERE THERE IS A WILL, THERE IS A WAY
- English Proverbs – THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM
- English Proverbs – SPARE THE ROD AND SPOIL THE CHILD
- English Proverbs – SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE
- English Proverbs – STRIKE WHEN THE IRON IS HOT
- English Proverbs – PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE
- English Proverbs – ONE LIE MAKES MANY
- English Proverbs – GREAT OAKS FROM LITTLE ACORNS GROW
- English Proverbs – GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELPS THEMSELVES
- English Proverbs – FORBIDDEN FRUIT IS THE SWEETEST
- English Proverbs – FINE FEATHERS MAKE FINE BIRDS
- English Proverbs – EVERYBODY’S BUSINESS IS NOBODY’S BUSINESS
- English Proverbs -EVERY HORSE THINKS ITS OWN PACK THE HEAVIEST
- English Proverbs – EVERY DOG HAS HIS DAY
- English Proverbs -DISCONTENT IS THE FIRST STEP IN PROGRESS
- English Proverbs -DEATH IS THE GREAT LEVELER
- English Proverbs -CUT YOUR CLOTH ACCORDING TO YOUR COAT
- English Proverbs -CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME
- English Proverbs -CALL A SPADE A SPADE
- Proverb Expansion- A FAULT CONFESSED IS HALF REDRESSED
- Proverb Expansion- A FOOL AND HIS MONEY ARE SOON PARTED
- English Proverbs – A ROLLING STONE GATHERS NO MOSS
- English Proverbs -AS YOU SOW, SO SHALL YOU REAP
- English Proverbs -A DROWNING MAN WILL CATCH AT A STRAW
- English Proverbs – A BAD WORKMAN ALWAYS BLAMES HIS TOOLS
- English Proverbs – A BIRD IN THE HAND IS WORTH TWO IN THE BUSH
- English Proverbs – A BURNT CHILD DREADS THE FIRE
- English Proverbs – ALL IS FISH THAT COMES TO THE NET
- English Proverbs – ALL LAY LOADS ON A WILLING HORSE
- English Proverbs – BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER
- English Proverbs – BOOKS AND FRIENDS SHOULD BE FEW, BUT GOOD
- English Proverbs – BURN NOT YOUR HOUSE TO FRIGHT THE MOUSE AWAY
- English Proverbs – CLOTHES DO NOT MAKE THE MAN
- English Proverbs – THE BEST FISH SWIM NEAR THE BOTTOM
- English Proverbs -BIRDS OF THE SAME FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER
- English Proverbs -BETTER TO GET AN EGG TODAY THAN A HEN TOMORROW
- English Proverbs -BARKING DOGS SELDOM BITE
- English Proverbs -ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY
- English Proverbs -ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD
- OUR NATIONAL SYMBOLS—HOW WELL DO WE KNOW THEM?: Essay Topics
- English Proverbs – MAN DOES NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE
- English Proverbs -IF WINTER COMES CAN SPRING BE FAR BEHIND
- English Proverbs – IF CHARACTER IS LOST ALL IS LOST
- English Proverbs – HEALTH IS WEALTH
- English Proverbs – DEATH IS A LEVELER
- English Proverbs – CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME
- English Proverbs – MAKE HAY WHILE SUN SHINES
- English Proverbs – HE IS STRONG WHO CONQUERS OTHERS, HE WHO CONQUERS HIMSELF IS MIGHTY
- English Proverbs – NEITHER A BORROWER NOR A LENDER BE
- English Proverbs -UNION IS STRENGTH
- English Proverbs – PEACE HATH HER VICTORIES NO LESS RENOWNED THAN WAR
- English Proverbs -AN EMPTY VESSEL MAKES MUCH NOISE
- English Proverbs -AN IDLE BRAIN IS DEVIL’S WORKSHOP
- English Proverbs – WISDOM LIES IN CUTTING ONE’S COAT ACCORDING TO ONE’S CLOTH
- English Proverbs -WORK IS WORSHIP
- English Proverbs -WHO KNOWS MOST SAYS LEAST
- English Proverbs -WHERE THERE IS A WILL, THERE IS A WAY
- English Proverbs – WHERE ONE DOOR SHUTS, ANOTHER OPENS
- English Proverbs -WHAT CANNOT BE CURED MUST BE ENDURED
- English Proverbs -WELL BEGUN IS HALF DONE
- English Proverbs -WE LIVE IN DEEDS, NOT IN YEARS
- English Proverbs – WASTE NOT, WANT NOT