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
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
- organize, develop, and express your ideas about the
- support your ideas with relevant reasons and examples
- control the elements of standard written
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.
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.