Graders of the Analysis of Issue essay expect an essay that:

  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 conventions;
  5. is free of mechanical errors in spelling, punctuation, capitalization.

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How do I write a well-balanced essay?

Acknowledge both sides of the issue to show that you understand it fully. At the same time, you must pick a side and persuade the reader that, despite the counter-arguments, your position is the strongest one overall. Choose the side you feel most comfortable arguing, and make your opinion clear throughout the essay.

However, be as politically correct as possible in your essay. You can never predict who will be reading it, so it is best not to gamble with highly charged writing. Stick to uncontroversial ideas and opinions. Doing so assures that your reader will not disagree with you and potentially score you accordingly. In addition, an extreme or forceful essay may also confuse the E-rater, since your essay will not resemble any essays it has stored in its database.

How Do I Support My Stance?

Your essay should not be full of unsubstantiated opinions. You must write an argument that consists of your thesis and logical evidence to support it.

Your essay will be short (you have only 30 minutes), so you won’t be able to cover every possible argument, rebuttal, and example. At the beginning of your time, set aside a few minutes to outline your essay and choose your examples. Choose the most persuasive points and relevant examples. The GRE graders do not expect you to go in-depth on every topic.

The most important concern is that you do not stray from the topic and your argument. Try not to focus too much on any one example or write any tangential arguments; this will undermine the communication of your main argument to the reader.

Where should I get examples?

The Analytical Writing section doesn’t test specific subject knowledge, so don’t worry too much about impressing the grader with detailed knowledge in any one area. What’s more important is that you show that you can effectively argue a point using intelligent 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.

Where do I get essay issue ideas?

Coming up with ideas is generally easier for students who have taken government policy analysis courses. 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 magazines as much as possible to see how Americans structure their writing and to stay updated on issues.

Write with your grader in mind

When you write your Issue essay, remember that you are fundamentally writing your essay to please your grader.

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 5 paragraphs of 4 sentences each more than a 4 paragraph rambling essay with 10 sentences in each paragraph? Keep the essays crisp, concise, and well structured. This is particularly important on the Analysis of Issue question, where your essay expresses personal opinions.

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