GRE Essay Types
You’ll write two essays on test day, an Issue essay and an Argument essay.
We go into more detail about these essays, and decode their directions, in the
following chapters. But here’s a brief glimpse of what each essay entails.
The Issue Essay
Technically, this essay is called “Present Your Perspective on an
Issue.” The Issue essay topic gives you a broad statement or quotation about
some aspect of life. It’s your job to agree or disagree with this statement
or quotation and present your reasons for doing so. These reasons can come
from your life, your studies, current events, literature, history, and just
about any other source you can think of. The topic is broad enough that no
right or wrong answer exists. But you do need to pick a side and stick to
it. You’ll be limited to just 45 minutes.
The Argument Essay
The test makers call this essay “Analyze an Argument.” In contrast to
the Issue essay topic, the Argument essay topic presents a specific
argument, making a case for one side of an issue. Your job is to analyze the
validity of the argument; whether you agree with its conclusion is
irrelevant. Your reasons and evidence should come directly from the argument
itself. The test makers want to know whether you can assess an argument
based on its conclusions and assumptions. You’ve got 30 minutes for the