6 Tips for Crafting A High-Scoring GRE Issue Essay
Also check out 6 Tips for Crafting A High-Scoring GRE Argument Essay
The “Analyze an Issue” essay is one of two writing tasks on the GRE’s Analytical Writing Measure. This task assesses your ability to think critically about a topic and form a persuasive argument in support of your position.
You’ll be presented with a statement, recommendation, claim, or policy that can be discussed from a variety of perspectives. After considering several points of view, you must craft a clear and compelling case for your own position on the issue.
Each issue comes with a specific set of instructions. These instructions may include addressing the possible consequences of implementing a certain policy, providing reasons or examples that could be used to challenge your position, discussing circumstances in which adopting a recommendation may or may not be advantageous, and considering ways in which a statement may or may not hold true.
You have 30 minutes to complete the writing task, and your essay will receive a score ranging from 0-6. A score of 0 indicates that your essay is off topic, simply copies the topic, or is illegible/unreadable. To learn more about the scoring guide, visit ETS: Scoring Guide for the Issue Task.
To score a 6, your essay must indicate a clear and insightful position supported with specific reasons and examples, maintain focus and logical organization, convey ideas with effective vocabulary and varied sentences, and demonstrate a superior use of English conventions. Minor errors are acceptable.
Six Tips to Score a 6 on the GRE Issue Essay
- Practice. Prior to taking the GRE, write practice essays for at least 3-4 different prompts. Set a clock for 30 minutes to practice working under the time constraints of the actual test.
- Spend 5-10 minutes planning your essay. Consider multiple perspectives, and generate a list of supporting reasons and examples. Choose to argue the perspective with the most compelling list.
- Use specific, relevant reasons and examples. Be as specific as possible with your reasons and arguments, and avoid generalizing. Make sure that all of your supporting details are relevant to your position, and explain how each piece of evidence supports your point.
- Make a strong, confident argument. Make your position extremely clear. Don’t go back and forth on the issue. Use strong language such as “necessity,” “unacceptable, “must,” etc.
- Address counterclaims. You should briefly mention 1-2 strong counterarguments from different perspectives—and then explain why you disagree with these points. The conclusion is a great place to include this information.
- Ensure that you follow all directions. Make sure you address all parts of the directions for your task. Read the prompt carefully, underlining key components. Before time is up, check that your essay has clearly answered to each of these elements.
How WriteLab Can Help You Prepare for the GRE Issue Essay
WriteLab provides specific, actionable feedback on concision, clarity, logic, and grammar. All four of these aspects contribute to your overall score on the “Analyze an Issue” writing task. As you complete practice essays, you can upload them to the WriteLab app and instantly receive helpful suggestions for improvement.
For example, WriteLab helps you use strong, specific verbs to increase the clarity of your writing. The software even advises you to vary the length of your sentences, which is specifically mentioned in the GRE’s scoring guide.
Comments include suggestions about deleting unnecessary words, revising general and vague words and phrases, and avoiding overly wordy sentences. Attention to these details will strengthen and clarify your argument.
WriteLab not only provides useful comments, but also asks questions designed to push critical thinking. For instance, you’ll be asked questions prompting you to provide specific details or evidence to develop your claims.
“Superior conventions” is a criterion for a perfect 6 on this writing task, and WriteLab’s input about spelling and grammar includes explanations that can improve your use of conventions.
Overall, viewing and considering WriteLab’s comments and questions can lead to better writing and a higher score on the GRE’s “Analyze an Issue” writing task.