Learnist: 8 Ways to Earn an Extra Point on the GRE Issue Essay

Learnist_8WaysGREEach Issue topic on the GRE AWA section consists of an issue statement — on which you must form an opinion and write an essay in support of it in 30 minutes. Here’s how to take your GRE Issue Essay from “good” to “great”!

This Introduction to the Issue Essay video from Greenlight Test Prep covers the basics you need to know: timing, instructions, and basic strategy advice.

As the video wisely points out, there’s no “right” side — so brainstorm for BOTH before you choose the one you’d like to support. Choose the position that is the easiest to defend (i.e. the one for which you can come up with the strongest logical arguments and most specific, relevant supporting examples).

Practice makes perfect! You can best study for the GRE online by looking up the AWA prompts and practicing writing several of them within the 30 minute guideline. The only way to get comfortable with the time constraints is to practice them, so set up test-like conditions and get to work. You can see the Issue essay prompts here on the official GRE website!

Make sure you write then on the computer — a simple program like WordPad or Microsoft Word will help you mimic the test-like conditions.

Choose one side of the issue only, and don’t try to “have it both ways.” Even if you don’t believe in the side you choose, you’ll only have time to argue one side effectively. If you take a middle-of-the-road approach you won’t sound as confident or clear.

Remember, according to ETS, the “readers are evaluating the skill with which you address the specific instructions and articulate and develop an argument to support your evaluation of the issue.” What exactly you say (what side you choose to defend) is less important than how you defend it!

This article also does a great job outlining the possible types of support you can include in your body paragraphs:

  • Examples
  • Statistics
  • Expert opinions
  • Anecdotes
  • Observations
  • Precedence
  • Consequence

You’ll probably use examples, unless you happen to already be familiar with the issue. But, remember, statistics alone won’t impress — it’s your argument skills and ability to explain how each piece of support bolsters your conclusion that will really take your GRE Issue Essay to the next level!

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