Issue Essay x-ray
Issue Essay x-ray
Here’s a sample Issue essay topic, including directions, like the one you’ll see on test day:

Directions: You will have a choice between two Issue topics. Each topic will appear as a brief quotation that states or implies an issue of general interest. Read each topic carefully; then decide on which topic you could write a more effective and well-reasoned response.

You will have 45 minutes to plan and compose a response that presents your perspective on the topic you select. A response on any topic will receive a score of zero. You are free to accept, reject, or qualify the claim made in the topic you selected, as long as the ideas you present are clearly relevant to the topic. Support your views with reasons and examples drawn from such areas as your reading, experience, observations, or academic studies.

GRE readers, who are college and university faculty, will read your response and evaluate its overall quality, based on how well you

  • consider the complexities and implications of the issue
  • organize, develop, and express your ideas about the issue
  • support your ideas with relevant reasons and examples
  • control the elements of standard written English

You may want to take a few minutes to think about the issue you have chosen and to plan a response before you begin writing. Be sure to develop your ideas fully and organize them coherently, but leave time to reread what you have written and make any revisions that you think are necessary.

Present your perspective on the issue below, using relevant reasons and/or examples to support your views.

            “Environment determines personality.”

The directions are fairly straightforward, so if you spend a few minutes getting the gist of them now you won’t have to bother with them on test day. Essentially, you’re given a choice of Issue topics and need to select one of them to discuss. The test makers are not looking for a right or wrong answer, and they don’t care what position you take on the issue. What they do care about is whether your essay demonstrates careful consideration of the issue, a well-reasoned argument, and strong command of language.
Essay graders want to see that you’re able to think about the complexities of a given issue by making an argument, supporting that argument with thoughtful examples, and communicating your ideas articulately. You’re given the freedom to accept (agree with), reject (disagree with), and even qualify the claim made in the topic, which means you’re allowed to restrict the issue to parameters of your own choosing as long as your argument remains relevant to the topic. They want you to pull your examples from diverse areas, including your studies, personal experience, and reading, and they want your essay to be organized and coherent. Finally, the essay graders will be grading your essay holistically, looking at your essay’s “overall quality,” so a few grammar or spelling errors won’t hurt you.
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