Passive vs. Active
PASSIVE: The assignment was completed by Joe in record time.
ACTIVE: Joe completed the assignment in record time.
Active voice is the preferred essay writing style for the GRE. If possible you should always use the active voice, since it is more direct and shows action and intent. Statements made in the passive voice are weak because it is difficult to tell who or what is responsible for an action.
The passive voice does have value under certain circumstances. For instance, if you want to express something without assigning blame or if there is a question of responsibility. For example: “collateral damage has taken place”. The sentence blames no one and does not assign who actually did it.
Exercises: rewrite the sentences below in active voice.
Drill #1. Garbage collectors should be generously rewarded for their dirty, smelly labors.