GRE Issue Essay Writing

GRE testing is getting more and more popular lately, and is undertaken by young people of various professions and areas of study. This test is a complex set of assignments aimed at assessing one’s knowledge and understanding of different academic activities. One of the sections of this test is called Analytical Writing, and it entails composing two sorts of papers: an argument essay and an issue essay. While the former is more familiar to the learners, the latter needs a detailed explanation. Thus, this article addresses the rules of GRE issue essay writing and gives tips for higher efficiency of those who need to compose it.

GRE Essay Scores

Before learning how to write a GRE essay, it is important to understand its value for the overall score on the test. As a rule, the biggest amount of points for this kind of essay is 6, so you can earn from zero to six points for your paper. With the purpose of objectivity, two different experts will check the essay and grade it independently. Then, their points are compared, and if there is a difference of 0,5 or 1 points, an average grade is given to your work. If, however, the gap in marks is more than 1 point, one more independent expert will be involved to solve this situation. That person will also assess the paper, and the third mark will be decisive.


It is worth mentioning that the holistic approach to grading is applied usually. This implies that the number of points will depend on the general effectiveness of your essay, its message and discourse, as opposed to accurate grading of every aspect of the paper with a certain number of points. Therefore, you need to work on the overall presentation of your argument and focus less on the technical details of writing.

Another interesting detail about the analytical writing section of GRE test is that it will count an average of the two essays you submit. This means that you will write two separate papers, but the result will be counted by adding the both grades and finding the average number. So try your best and aim for completing both essays excellently!

GRE Issue Essay Tips

Composing a good issue essay will contribute to your successful admission to the educational establishment of your dreams, which is why it is worth doing all you can to achieve the best result in writing. Below are some GRE essay tips that will help you to score well at the test.

  • Practice more

It is a bad idea to try to succeed from your first attempt. Even if you know all the rules of writing by heart, without the actual practice it is impossible to reach the desired result. Thus, you should compose several issue essays at home and check your own papers after each attempt. This will polish your writing skills and detect any kind of gaps in your knowledge about this type of writing. It is also good to set a time limit for your practice, as you will only be given about half an hour in the test setting. This way, when facing the need to write under the condition of stress, you will not feel lost or confused, as you will know how to write a good GRE essay.

  • Choose a position

To make your point of view clear and strong, you need to take a certain position regarding the discussed issue. If you choose to stay neutral, your paper may lack persuasion and focus, which may result in its poor effect on the target readers. You need to sound confident and definite in order to impress the committee. Besides, a short paper like this does not allow enough space for presenting various points of view decently. Thus, decide on your position and use the word limit to defend it properly. 

  • Illustrate your argument

To make your GRE issue essay more efficient, you need to include a lot of examples in it. Since in the conditions of test you have no access to scholarly literature, you need to think of real life events and examples that fit your story. It can be useful to plan several of the possible examples beforehand, and use the appropriate ones in your paper at the test. Memorize historic events, dates, names of leaders, and other useful information that will complete your writing and demonstrate your intellect. 

  • Stay focused

It is easy to get carried away by going on and on about the requested topic, but one of the most important tips for GRE essay is to stay focused on the aspect you have chosen. Therefore, narrow it down to a certain key argument and keep your attention on it as you write. Make sure that every paragraph of your paper defends one idea, and every sentence within each paragraph contributes to the better understanding of this idea. No extra details are needed, unless they matter for the story.

  • No first person

The issue essay is not a narration, so first person writing is not acceptable in it. The only exception is the situation when you are describing one of your life experiences, but that is not a frequent case. Thus, avoid writing “I” and “we”, and stay impersonal in your essay.

  • Be clear

For a successful essay, it is important to avoid vague formulations and ambiguous statements. Make your sentences meaningful and clear, so that the reader would understand your message and feel its strength. Formulate well-structured sentences with central ideas, which express a certain point of view effectively.

  • Predict the dissent

Since reading your essay might cause a certain disagreement or raise questions, you need to predict them and address them in the closing paragraph of your work. If there is anything that is likely to be confronted or criticized, devote a few sentences to a more detailed explanation of this aspect, and leave no chance for your argument to be devalued. 

GRE Essay Structure

If you are familiar with the structure of general essays, you will not find it hard to compose a GRE essay correctly. Its basic elements are the same as in any other type of essay, and their order is also traditional. As a rule, a GRE issue essay consists of 5-6 paragraphs, which is enough for discussing a narrow and specific topic. Below is a more detailed description of the paper structure. 


The opening paragraph of your essay should present the topic and your position regarding it. The last sentence of your introduction should contain a thesis statement, or the key idea that the paper strives to express.

Body Paragraphs

The main part of your essay should consist of 3-4 paragraphs. Each of them should start with an idea and continue with supporting sentences. It is important to keep the ideas focused on your thesis statement.


The final paragraph of your essay should briefly summarize the stated points and reformulate the thesis statement once again. 

We hope that these tips will assist you in writing your issue essay, and good luck on your GRE test!

GRE Argument – Valuable Essay Tips

  1. Review the prompt.

You may notice that all GRE argument essay prompts actually look the same. Their purpose is to evaluate the logic and reason behind the argument. Therefore, the main difference is where the argument lies. Below you will find some example GRE argument essay tasks.

  • Write a cohesive paper, in which you specify types of evidence that you will usually need to support and substantiate an argument.
  • Write a brief paper, in which you provide at least two explanations as to whether the facts provided in the original paper support the argument presented in it.
  • Write a paper, in which you identify and justify the questions to be answered in order to determine the most relevant evidence-based recommendation and the best advice to follow in the discussed situation. Do not forget to explain how these questions and answers to them will assist in developing and critiquing the recommendation.

Apparently, you cannot respond to any of these prompts without considering the problems addressed in the original text. Also, you are to evaluate and address your own critical thinking skills before you enter the space to evaluate the author’s logic and reasoning. In the first prompt, you will need to locate more evidence. In the second prompt, you will be asked to provide an explanation from an alternative perspective. Do not try to write a GRE argument essay as if you have done it thousands of times before. Focus on it. “Digest it”. Review each and every word before you leave it in the paper!

If you want to master the skill of writing GRE argument essays and prompts, review the recommendations provided in the textbook for GRE practice problems.

  1. Be a critical thinker.

One of the best ways to start writing a GRE argument essay is by considering how the argument could be improved. Also, you could think of how the argument could become stronger or weaker. Do you see any other scenario after you read the entire argument? For instance:

Review a memo that was written by a vice president of a large company:

“over the past 12 months, the company registered 40 percent more workplace incidents and accidents than a year earlier. Moreover, the number of workplace accidents appeared to be much higher than in the neighboring plant. The latter uses a different approach to scheduling, letting its workers leave the workplace earlier and spend fewer hours in a row doing their jobs. In our situation, the growing incidence of job accidents is mostly due to excess fatigue and burnout. It is time to review our schedules to make sure that all workers sleep and eat enough to fulfill their main obligations.”

Write a paper, in which you respond to the memo. Identify and evaluate any assumptions underlying the argument. Explain how these assumptions influence the way the target audience reacts to the argument. Are there any assumptions that lack evidence or support?

Now is there anything that could go against the initial scenario? Review scenarios below:

  • If employees are given some time to sleep, what are the guarantees that will spend it on sleeping?
  • If employees have fewer and shorter shifts, what are the guarantees they will not have accidents because they have to rush?
  • If employees are allowed to take more time away from work, what are the guarantees they will not take more shifts to compensate for the financial losses they incur due to fewer hours?

Are there any other scenario? Use it, and build your GRE argument essay around it.

The process of education

The goal of the education process is often the main topic of GRE writing prompts. GRE AWA essay topics frequently focus on activities related to college, such as selecting courses and applying for different programs. However, prompts for GRE essay topics may concentrate on education in general as well.

Below you may see an example of a GRE essay topics list:

“Learners ought to combine studying with part-time employment in order to be able to pay for college.”

“For educators to be able to effectively address the educational needs of each learner, it is necessary to establish the maximum number of learners a class may contain.”

“Educational policies must take into consideration the needs and demands of both learners and educators.”

“Continuing education after gaining some work experience may positively influence learners and enhance their educational process.”

“Opinion: Higher educational establishments must determine what amount of courses a learner can take during a single academic year, and that number must not be exceeded.

Reasoning: New learners may often be too confident in their ability to undertake multiple tasks. However, they often cannot effectively cope with all educational activities.”

“Learners must select at least one foreign language to study, even though his or her major might not be related to linguistics.”

You might see that the prompts presented above have a common theme. Many of them deal with different issues, often controversial, related to educational policies. Although you might come across other GRE issue essay topics, the samples listed above may give you a general idea about the scope of topics related to the field of education. Thus, you may want to try responding to the aforementioned prompts in an attempt to prepare to future tests.

Since the GRE is intended for graduates, essay prompts frequently deal with the process of education and related issues. We suggest that you try composing at least one essay based on a prompt related to colleges and one based on a prompt related to education in general. For instance, you could try to compose a paper based on a topic that is substantially different from others in order to be better prepared for unexpected topics.

Below you may find more GRE essay topics examples.

Technological advancement and civilization

“Air, water, and soil pollution are the direct consequences of the development of the humankind and the technological progress.”

“The society would benefit more from the development of technologies related to health care rather than technologies targeting leisure and activities that do not promote survival.”

“The heads of states that develop ought to pay specific attention to modernization.”

“It is a popular opinion that the most influential technological discoveries occurred unintentionally. However, there is also a view according to which thoroughly conducted studies with concrete objectives tend to yield positive results.”

“It is possible that humans will not be ever able to reach any other planets or natural satellites besides the one the mankind has already visited.”

The life of a city

(Although this category of GRE essay topics might seem broad, you should be prepared to such topics)

“To ensure an adequate quality of life for its citizens, a city must be designed in a proper manner.”

“Opinion:  The government must forbid farming activities, including the breeding of livestock, in the downtowns of big cities. 

Reasoning: Highly populated and technologically advanced areas are usually characterized by air, water, and soil pollution. Consequently, plants and animals raised in such environments might contain harmful substances.”

“Unlike suburban and other underdeveloped regions, cities are characterized by relatively secure financial conditions.”

“A private for-profit organization must be forbidden to operate within a town in case the bigger part of that town’s inhabitants are against the business that organization runs.”


“According to some art critics and experts, realism as an artistic school became redundant with the advent of color photography. On the other hand, a great deal of artists hold the view that realism as a genrge must not be abandoned.”

“Opinion: Museums that house art exhibits of any nature must feature either free entrance or charge minimal fees.

Reasoning: Art museums should act as a medium through which painters, sculptors, and other artists can attract attention to their work and demonstrate their creations to the members of the society.”

“To attract the attention of people to important issues, authorities ought to collaborate with distinguished film directors and producers in an attempt to shoot movies that convey relevant messages.”

“Fine arts, unlike decorative and applied arts, will always be superior to pop art, such as comic book pictures and ads.”

Government and Authority

“People ought to elect those who are supposed to possess a considerable amount of authority instead of those officials being appointed by the government.”

“Opinion: Officials who possess power ought to lead by example and motivate their subordinates. In addition, they ought to openly express their views and opinions.

Reasoning: A true leader must foster progress and development.”

“Some experts hold the view that employees who demonstrate exceptional skill and abilities should supervise others. Nevertheless, many organizations choose to appoint supervisors based on leadership ability rather than the knowledge related to their sphere of operation.”

“Authorities must closely supervise and control the activities of private organizations."

“Some people think that a true leader must demonstrate exemplary behavior. Nevertheless, others are convinced that an effective leader must ensure the wellbeing of his or her citizens by any means, even if that means resorting to unethical behaviors.”

Intellectual Achievements

“Single individuals rarely produce revolutionary thoughts. However, teamwork and cooperation tend to yield fruitful results since they allow people to share diverse opinions and make conclusions based on experience.”

“The sphere of science involves excessive argumentative thinking and reasoning, unlike many other spheres.”


(Some GRE essay topics are quite abstract)

“It is a popular misconception that some individuals achieve greater heights only because they are fortunate. In reality, such people tend to work hard to achieve success.”

“An individual must learn to deal with personal problems in order to be able to care for others in a quality manner.”

“People should focus on how they perceive themselves rather on what others think about them.”

“Opinion: People are satisfied with their life if they constantly engage in new activities.

Reasoning: Humans are inherently curious creatures.”


Fern County Gazette published the paragraph presented below in its editorial section:

“It was a smart move on the part of the Fern County Council to establish a community IT training center by restructuring the Northside department of the county library. All council members supported the arrangement. The purpose of the restructured department will be to satisfy the demands of the members of the local community related to IT proficiency. Moreover, the loss of one department will not be detrimental to the library’s operations. Therefore, the other departments of the library will satisfy the demands of the community’s population.”

Explain what data you need to collect to thoroughly assess the statement. How may additional information potentially rebut or support the statement?

Argumentative Essay Example

From the way the section is worded, it is clear that the Fern County Gazette’s editorial board supports the Fern County Council’s resolution. Nevertheless, the editor does not manage to convince readers in the validity of his/her reasoning by referring to additional data to prove the point. This paper analyses the shortcomings of the editor’s position.

First, the author implies that the members of the Fern County’s community experience a dire need to raise their IT proficiency. However, the author does not present any concrete data that would prove that the region’s inhabitants actually require a whole training center to tend to their IT needs. Thus, chances are that the population of the county possesses adequate IT-related skills. On the other hand, a large part of the population may consist of the elderly and jobless individuals. Facilitating the obtainment of IT skills among the members of the aforementioned groups might be indeed necessary since it could promote the overall development of the community. However, considering the fact the author does not bother to support his/her argument with evidence, it is not possible to make an informed conclusion.  Consequently, a survey of the level of computer literacy in Fern County would be quite helpful.

Further, the author does not mention whether Fern County already houses any centers that provide services similar to those the restructured Northside department of the county library is supposed to offer. Chances are that certain for-profit or non-profit organizations, like training centers or specialized educational establishments, offer computer literacy courses. If such a facility exists, it would be prudent to determine whether the members of the community have access to the services they offer. On the other hand, it would be prudent to find out whether the population of Fern County is willing and able to engage in self-education. In case the population has access to the necessary materials, as well as the Web, it could be concluded that sacrificing a whole department of the county library in order to establish a specialized IT-skills training center would be redundant.

Lastly, it is obvious that the author overestimates the amount of workload the county library is able to cope with. Even though the library boasts a vast number of volumes according to the author, it might still appear to be quite challenging to satisfy the needs of all residents if the library system loses one of its departments. Therefore, before making the decision, the council should have evaluated the average workload each department experienced and made a forecast regarding the workload each department would be subject to once one of the facilities became defunct. Consequently, the author’s statement is ungrounded since a more thorough research is required to evaluate the potential implications of the reform.

In conclusion, to compose a credible and persuasive message, the author should have referred to reliable sources and evidence. The editor should have presented factual information proving that the population of Fern County needs a computer literacy training center more than one library department.

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