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   AWA Essay Guide
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spacer left_arrow Chapter 1: AWA Introduction
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spacer active_arrow Chapter 2: Analysis of Issue
spacer   2a. Content
2b. Timing
2c. Structure
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spacer left_arrow Chapter 3: Analysis of Argument
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spacer left_arrow Chapter 4: About the E-Rater
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spacer left_arrow Chapter 5: Improving Your Writing
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spacer left_arrow Chapter 6: Real Essay Questions
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spacer left_arrow 10 Most Common Errors
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Chapter 2 - Section 2a. Analysis of Issue: Content
 
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Where should I get examples?

Your supporting evidence may be drawn from personal experience, academic knowledge, current events, and/or history. Try to limit your use of personal experience unless it is very compelling, relevant and effective.

Coming up with ideas is generally easier for students who have taken government policy analysis courses. This section favors the student who flips to the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. To get comfortable with public policy issues, try reading the Wall Street Journal, The Nation, or The Economist regularly before the test.

International Students: Read these American publications as much as possible to see how Americans structure their writing and to stay updated on issues.


Stick to Conventional Positions

Many Analysis of Issue topics could have controversial answers. As you can never predict who will read your essay, avoid gambling with highly charged writing. Stick to uncontroversial "politically correct" ideas and opinions. Doing so ensures that your reader will not be able to disagree with you and potentially score you accordingly. An extreme or forceful essay may also confuse the E-rater, since your essay will not resemble any of the essays it has stored in its database.


Analysis of Issue expectations for a "6":

  1. Is well developed, logical and coherent;
  2. Demonstrates critical thinking skills;
  3. Uses varied sentence structure and vocabulary;
  4. Uses standard written English and follows the language’s conventions;
  5. Is free of mechanical errors in spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.

Don't Get Off Topic

It is essential to fully and comprehensively address the question (or questions) posed in the prompt. Most often, this means borrowing wording from the prompt to stay parallel and avoiding off-topic tangents that complicate the answer with needless information. Do not waste time straying from the topic

 
Keep it concise

Put yourself in the position of a grader. They grade essays all day. Wouldn't you favor a concise and effective essay with five paragraphs of four sentences each over a four-paragraph rambling essay with ten sentences in each paragraph? Keep the essays crisp, concise, and well structured.


spacerarrow  Chapter 2b: Analysis of Issue - Timing