GRE Analytical Writing: Writing the Issue Essay

The “Issue Task” essay section tests your ability to critically and clearly express your thoughts and opinions about a topic of general interest. There is no right way to approach each topic. Your job is to effectively argue your own opinion on the matter in question. Some important points about this section:

  • Do not automatically jump to one conclusion. Consider multiple perspectives and their respective arguments. Also, make sure to read the instructions carefully.

  • Ask yourself the following types of questions: what is the central issue? Does the claim make reasonable assumptions? Whatever my position is, do I have enough evidence to support it? To further strengthen your argument, also consider how one might refute your claim and how you might defend against such views.

  • Your brain can only hold so much information. Make sure to write your ideas down, listing the main points of your argument and/or highlighting keywords. Although you may find pleasure in endless essay writing, you only have 30 minutes. So, don’t go to the trouble of writing extremely detailed outlines.

  • Though there is no "required" structure for a good essay, logical flow, coherence, competent use of vocabulary, good analysis and clarity of thought are critical ingredients for getting a good score. Students may use examples from personal experience or quote other factual information from such sources as science, literature, or history to bolster their ideas on the essay.