A Sample “3” Issue Essay
A Sample “3” Issue Essay
Now that you know what to do for the Issue essay, here’s what not to do. In fact, here’s what can happen if you don’t write a three-act essay or include the necessary cast of characters. The following essay would receive a “3” on the test:

While we can learn a little from agreements, we can learn more from conflcits than we can from agreements. When you have conflicts you are often fighting over different opinions or ideas. If you have agreements you just agree and there is little to talk about or discuss. History provides many examples of conflicts and learning from conflicts. Just think about any war. War is a conflict where two sides want two different things. If we didn’t want two different things, there would be agreement and we would never learn.

Another example is when you fight with your family. You want one thing and they want another. You just never learn if you want the same thing. Conflicts teach you how to compromise and work things out. If you agree there is no need to compromise. Everything is to easy that way. You also learn from conflicts because you have to try and convince people that youre way is the right way and that their way is the wrong way. You must use skills you don’t need to when you just agree. When there is conflict there is also learning. When there is agreement no one learns.

In conclusion, then, agreement have less value than conflict. Many examples show this, and there are certainly many others. It’s clear that we can learn from conflicts and arguments with the right perspective.

Why This Essay Deserves a “3”
Okay, this essay’s pretty bad. But let’s see exactly why it would receive a mediocre score. Thinking about what this essay does poorly will help you concentrate on avoiding these mistakes on your own GRE essays.
To begin with, it doesn’t demonstrate thoughtful organization or include a stellar cast of characters. The argument—that conflict is better than agreement—never really gets off the ground. It contains only two examples (one about war and the other about family), but neither is developed. The writer could have strengthened the essay by talking about one specific war or one specific fight. Its organization is only fair, as it combines the introduction and first example into a single paragraph.
There are no transitions between paragraphs or sentences. Although the grammar and spelling are not horrible, this essay does contain at least a few errors (conflcits, to easy; youre, and agreement have). The sentence structure is repetitive. Note how many sentences in the second paragraph begin with You. The word choice is more like that of a third grader than a college graduate.
So, how does this poor essay stack up against the official ETS criteria and our checklist? Not very well. This essay misses the mark in almost every respect. Every “no” in the chart represents yet another weakness of this particular essay. Remember: To get a “6,” you need to answer “yes” to most or all criteria.
Responds to the issue YES
Develops a position on the issue through the use of incisive reasons and persuasive examples NO
Ideas are conveyed clearly and articulately NO
Maintains proper focus on the issue and is well organized NO
Demonstrates proficiency, fluency, and maturity in its use of sentence structure, vocabulary, and idioms NO
Demonstrates an excellent command of the elements of standard written English, including grammar, word usage, spelling, and punctuation—but may contain minor flaws in these areas NO
Uses the three-act essay structure NO
Thesis statement in first sentence of paragraph 1 YES
Three examples that support the thesis listed in paragraph 1, in the order in which they’re discussed in essay NO
Topic sentence for example 1 in paragraph 2 YES
Development sentences to support example 1 NO
Topic sentence for example 2 in paragraph 3 NO
Development sentences to support example 2 NO
Topic sentence for example 3 in paragraph 4 NO
Development sentences to support example 3 NO
Conclusion (paragraph 5) rephrases thesis YES
Conclusion (paragraph 5) expands position NO
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