Integrating the words or ideas from another source is a big part of academic writing. Students must be careful not only to avoid plagiarism, but also to enable readers to fully understand your use of a quote or a paraphrase from a source.
Never insert a quote or a paraphrase abruptly into your writing without first introducing the quote (or paraphrase), citing it, and explaining it This means that you will never begin or end a paragraph with a quote. This method is often referred to as the ICE method of integrating quotes: Introduce, Cite, and then Explain.
Introduce. When introducing your quote, you will provide the context of this quote as well as show the source of the quote. The quote cannot do the work for you; you must provide your reader with some idea of why you have chosen to use this quote. You should also tell your reader who is speaking or where this quote came from and the relationship this person or source has to the point you are making. That is, why should your reader take this quote seriously? Is the speaker or the source an authority on the topic?
Here is an example:
In the beginning stages of the juvenile justice system, it operated in accordance to a paternalistic philosophy. This can be understood through the published words of Judge Julian Mack, who had a hand in the establishment of the juvenile justice system. In 1909, he stated...
This provides the reader with some context, or the points that you are making by including this quote.
This part provides the reader with who this quote is coming from as well as his relationship or authority on the topic.
After including the source of the quote, be sure that you use a signal verb to indicate that the source’s words are next. In the example above, you can see that "he stated" has been used to signal the source’s words. Other signal verbs include:
For other options, see our list of signal verbs.
Templates for introducing quotations:X states, "...."
As the prominent philosophy X puts it, "...."
According to X, "...."
X himself writes, "...."
In her book,...., X maintains that "...."
In the article,....., X claims that "...."
In X's view, "...."
X agrees when she writes, "...."
X disagrees when he writes, "...."
X complicates matters further when she writes, "...."
Here is an example:
In 1909, he stated that this system should treat juveniles “as a wise and merciful father handles his own child” (as quoted in Scott and Steinberg, 2008, p. 16).
Using the same quote as above, here is an example of the ICE method: Judge Mack viewed juveniles as children first. He envisioned a system that would protect and give treatment to these young offenders so that they could become productive adults, and saw no place for criminal responsibility and punishment within this system.
Now, if we look at each step together, this is what we see:
In the beginning stages of the juvenile justice system, it operated in accordance to a paternalistic philosophy. This can be understood through the published words of Judge Julian Mack, who had a hand in the establishment of the juvenile justice system. In 1909, he stated that this system should treat juveniles “as a wise and merciful father handles his own child” (Scott and Steinberg, 2008, p.16). Judge Mack viewed juveniles as children first. He envisioned a system that would protect and give treatment to these young offenders so that they could become productive adults, and saw no place for criminal responsibility and punishment within this system.
Whose words these are and why he is an authority on this topic.
Quoted material along with citation.
This part provides the reader with who this quote is coming from as well as his relationship or authority on the topic.
Quote the Good Stuff. Beware of using quotations that do not mean anything or add substance to your essay.
If a source says something so well that you couldn't possibly change it, use it!
If a source backs up a point you made, use it!
If you understand what a source is saying, use it! You will have to analyze it later, so understanding it will help you.
Avoid Over-quoting. Remember "less is more." Do not pad your essay with other people's ideas.
Keep Quotations Short. Keep your quotations 1–2 sentences long or use a few key words/phrases. If you need it all, turn the quotation into a "block quotation," but use them sparingly! "Block" the quotation if it's more than 40 words long. Block the quotation by having it start on a new line and in the same position as a new paragraph.
Example (Note: Block quotations should not be double–spaced):
In the chapter "Chicken Man," McBride (1997) narrated his rebellion as a teenager with honesty but without remorse:
I was obviously hiding, and angry as well, but I would never admit that to myself. The marvelous orchestrated chaos that Mommy had so painstakingly constructed to make her house run smoothly broke down when Daddy died, and Mommy was in no fixing mood. (p. 140)
Copy Quotations Correctly. Misspellings and use of incorrect grammar when it's obvious that the source couldn't have made those mistakes affects your own credibility as a writer. Accuracy indicates care for one's work.
Use brackets when you alter a word or phrase from the quotation. Example: Picciano (2001) stated, "[Distance learning] technologies [have] certain benefits and certain limitations and, as indicated earlier, a best technology does not yet exist" (p. 61).
Use an ellipsis when you omit words or phrases from the quotation. Use an ellipsis with brackets [...] when you omit an entire sentence. Example: When Fuller (2005) returns home, she explained, "...I was dislocated and depressed" (p. 72).
Do Not Start a Paragraph with a Quotation. A paragraph should begin with your ideas. The first sentence of a paragraph is known as the topic sentence or assertion, both of which support the focus of the essay. In turn, the quotation supports the topic sentence.
Do Not End a Paragraph with a Quotation. Always conclude the paragraph with your ideas. The last sentence should be part of your analysis of the quotation.
“[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?