GRE | Analyse an issue 1

Many students from all over the world appear for GRE each year in order to apply for prestigious universities in USA, Germany and Canada. One of the main challenges these students face is Analytical Writing section which consists of two tasks. Task 1 is “Analyze an issue” and Task 2 is “Analyze an argument”.

Essay writing tasks expect you to write about 350 words, however, essays which receive top scores normally have more than 500 essays. Reader judges your essays based on factors such as sufficient ideas, the flow of ideas, appropriate usage of words, and grammatical accuracy. Here, we have decided to publish samples by our students which can guide students preparing for GRE online.

Some people believe that government funding of the arts is necessary to ensure that the arts can flourish and be available to all people. Others believe that government funding of the arts threatens the integrity of the arts.

Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both views presented.

An artist is a creature who lives to express life through his work. He is perceived to be callous about source of earning while for him the expression itself is a reward. Who better can stand testimony to these lines than famous van Gough? (Example) The topic urges us to discuss the need for government funding in such case so that artist can sustain their daily life and continue manifestation of their inspiration without meeting the terrible fate of van Gough. Few people may argue the contrary, pointing various instances where artists’ tastes have turned into materialistic gluttony. However, I believe a Sanskrit proverb meaning “All arts need a support of the gold” stands true even today. (Position) There are innumerous examples of this in the archives of history right from Kalidasa, an Indian poet to Raja Ravi Verma, famous Indian painter who could spread their work and in fact, inspire many with help of the government support. (Example)

It is observed that government funding of the arts can ensure the spread of the arts. Government funds can not only help artists to buy necessary equipment but also support their families. (Point) Once this dependence on income source ends, artisans can focus to create the best possible piece of arts that can attract patrons and connoisseur of the arts in exhibitions. If such art in the exhibition is accepted and appreciated, probably, the government need not support the artists after a period of time, making artists self-reliant. Further, such success may attract the younger generation to pursue the arts as a career further. (Explanation) To illustrate further, let’s look at unknown artists of the Ajanta Caves which were built over two hundred years in India. In this era, state-sponsored art encouraged generations of painters and sculptors to take up arts as a career choice which manifested into beautiful cave arts. Such arts sprang across India later proving the point that government funding to artists is essential to ensure spread of the arts. (Example)

On the other hand, many would argue that government funds would corrupt artists and in fact would attract shams and pretends to tap into the freebies as there is no absolute benchmark to measure the arts. (Point) Such practices may corrupt otherwise innocent hearts. Further, fear of politics and corruption that may get involved, might keep needy artisans away from government subsidy. (Explanation) Let’s take the case of “Khadi Udyog”, meaning cotton industry in India. Cotton weavers in India and their work are world famous. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi endorsed their art and tried to boost the home-grown industry. However, with the ever-tightening grip of bureaucracy and few rich weavers on this government initiative crippled the industry, forcing the majority of weavers into poverty. (Example)

Agreed the above arguments are convincing, it is imperative to note that, “no pain, no gain”. (Counterpoint) In fact, the government can, firstly, safeguard funding to arts through appropriate channels which are managed by artists themselves ensuring a clean system. Secondly, part of the funds can be lent as soft loans which are repayable with flexible terms. (Explanation) Marathi Film Industry in India is a prime example. For many decades, right from 1970’s, Marathi Cinema was accused of wasting government funds and defaulting soft-loans. However, this continuous support fructified in the new millennia as the new generation started experimenting with Marathi films which are appreciated worldwide. In fact, in last ten years, many official entries for Best Foreign Films from India for Oscars have been Marathi films. (Counter-example)

Looking back, the support from the government encourages artisans to create the best work and further encouraging youngsters to take up careers in arts. Although there are chances of failures, one must adopt a cautious approach in the distribution of the alms. (Summary) Hence, I believe precautionary methods of financial backing to artists truly help adoption of arts. (Position)

Comments:

The author of this essay stakes out a clear and insightful position on the issue and follows the specific instructions by discussing the reasons of alignment with a side, using specific reasons and examples to support that position. Examples are persuasive and fully developed; reasoning is logically sound and well-supported. Ideas in the essay are connected logically, with effective transitions used both between paragraphs and within paragraphs. Sentence structure is varied and complex, and the essay clearly demonstrates facility with the “conventions of standard written, with only minor errors appearing.

Why must you brainstorm in AWA on GRE?

While writing an essay on GRE, many students face challenges in completing the essay in time. Even if they do manage to write it in time, the essays are not well-developed as there are some loose ends here and there. According to ETS, among all test-takers average essay writing score is about 4, which indicates that most of the students are able to analyse the issue but fail to develop sufficient connection among the points and examples. Moreover, there are minor grammatical errors. (For more details click here.) To avoid such mistakes thinking and planning is essential. When you have analysed the point and corresponding example, penning it down is easy, as you can concentrate on one task a time.

However, when we underline the importance of thinking or brainstorming before writing essays in classroom course, many students (at least in India) are not very comfortable with the idea of spending some time on it.

Problems

Lack of time

In the essay writing task, you are asked to write about 350 words. However, ‘how many words are actually enough?’ is the question. If we consider the ideal essays by ETS in Official GRE guide, they are of on an average of 500 words. It can be easily deduced that in order to pen down an impressive essay which has sufficient reasoning and examples with fine control over language, one needs to write about 500 words. So, the problem is, are 30 minutes enough to write 500 words?

Trial and error

While attempting their first essay students start writing the essay right from the first whistle, that is, without brainstorming they start typing. Chances are they are not able to finish the writing task within given time and may well fear the tall demands of the task. With trial and error they may acquire few skills but may not be able to reach their full potential.

Multi-tasking

While attempting the essay without contemplation, all points are not available at hand at the beginning. As students start writing, a flow of thought begins and they may get points which are relevant but should have been placed before already written point or they may think of a suitable example after a few minutes. Now, after realising what corrections are beneficial, students are tempted to edit, adding an extra task to already two. This multi-tasking consumes extra time.

Reasons for brainstorming

Reason 1

Many argue that they may not have sufficient time to write the essay as they don’t have enough time in current conditions where they start writing from first minute. It is very well established that average typing speed in the world is about 40 words per minute. Technically, if you are aware of what to write you should be able to write 400 words in 10 minutes. Let’s cut a slack of 50%, still students can write 400 words in 20 minutes. Therefore, to write about 500 words students can dedicate 24 minutes with 50% slower typing compared to world average.

Reason 2

Multi-tasking stresses mind and in fact, students end up committing more mistakes than they would have committed otherwise. The best reply your mind gives to such stress is that it switches itself off. Just to illustrate it further read following situations and see if you can correlate with any one of it.

If you are college student and if you have already written a GRE essay in 30 minutes, you may have observed many grammatical errors after completing the essay. You may have not noticed them while writing, but afterwards when the stress was relieved.

If you have been working already, it is easy to correlate the switching off the brain with a situation when you wrote your first official mail. Despite extraneous efforts, you might have found out the that you could have avoided many silly mistakes.

Therefore, it follows that if you can think about the points and corresponding examples to be presented on the essay within 5 minutes and then write an essay, chances are your essays would have right flow of the reasoning alongside relevant illustrations. While typing you can ignore extra points that may distract you from the task at hand.

Click here to join our free lecture on GRE on 20 May 2017

Introduction to ‘Analyse an issue’ on GRE

On GRE-General test, first task that you must take on is ‘Analyse an issue’. You get exactly 30 minutes to type your response in console. GRE expects you to write about 350 words, however It is observed that a well-discussed take on an issue would consume about 500 words. In this task, you are presented with an issue that is pervasive in society. This issue is followed up with a set of instructions which are presented later. You must follow the instruction while discussing the issue in natural manner. A sample task is given below.

Some people believe that government funding of the arts is necessary to ensure that the arts can flourish and be available to all people. Others believe that government funding of the arts threatens the integrity of the arts.

Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both of the views presented.

Above is just a sample. Educational testing Services (ETS) has published total eight such instructions in its Official Guide to GRE. Each task is accompanied by one of the following sets of instructions.

  1. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.
  2. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.
  3. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.
  4. Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both of the views presented.
  5. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim and the reasons on which that claim is based.
  6. Write a response in which you discuss your views on the policy and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider the possible consequences of implementing the policy and explain how these consequences shape your position.

It is evident that in GRE, instructions appear complicated, however a closer look will help us understand essentially, they are very similar. One common thread is observed among these instructions is you are going to see one of the following elements in the main topic.

  1. Statement
  2. Recommendation
  3. Claim
  4. View
  5. Claim and reason
  6. Policy

Once you find these elements, you are asked to analyse the ways an issue can be looked upon or circumstances in which the topic may change its significance or consequences of the given subject. While discussing all possible sides GRE asks you to use valid reasons and relevant examples in order to take a position. So, independent of the variety of the instructions, your line of actions is same in every situation.

What is the purpose of this essay?

Many students find the tedious question pointless as writing sensible matter on the kind of subjects GRE puts forth, demands very high levels of efforts. The point is GRE test-makers expect that as graduate student, you are able to think about any given time from maximum possible points of view before reaching a conclusion. Even while endorsing a side you should be able to assess all possible sides. So, the ‘Analyse an Issue’ essay tests your ability to “explore the complexities of an issue or opinion and, if appropriate, to take a position that is informed by your understanding of those complexities.

Is it necessary to have analysing skills?

Let’s assume that, after your M.S. you join an experimental laboratory, you should be able to think about all possibilities that can explain possible outputs of the experiment. In other case, after your M.B.A. while taking an important decision you should be able to think about all circumstances and select an option which has lowest risks involved and maximum benefits. GRE has introduced this essay writing task to find glimpses of these abilities in your thinking process and hence asks you to evaluate the issue like this.

Introduction to Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) in GRE

As a graduate applicant to US universities students are expected to have certain attributes which require independent thinking, critical reasoning and convincing writing. As a student pursuing graduation, you are supposed to write an original thesis which should reflect all of the capabilities mentioned in previous statement. Analytical Writing section on Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a litmus test of the same.

The Analytical Writing section assesses your critical thinking and analytical writing skills. It assesses your ability to articulate and support complex ideas, construct and evaluate arguments, and sustain a focused and coherent discussion. It does not assess specific content knowledge.

Types of tasks

The Analytical Writing measure consists of two separately timed analytical writing tasks:

1.      a 30-minute “Analyze an Issue” task

The Issue task presents an opinion on an issue of broad interest followed by specific instructions on how to respond to that issue. You are required to evaluate the issue, considering its complexities, and develop an argument with reasons and examples to support your views.

Example:

As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate.

Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.

The instructions may change on case to case basis. There are 6 cases in total which we are going to analyze later.

2.      a 30-minute “Analyze an Argument” task

The Argument task presents a different challenge from that of the Issue task: it requires you to evaluate a given argument according to specific instructions. You will need to consider the logical soundness of the argument rather than to agree or disagree with the position it presents.

Example:

In surveys Mason City residents rank water sports (swimming, boating, and fishing) among their favorite recreational activities. The Mason River flowing through the city is rarely used for these pursuits, however, and the city park department devotes little of its budget to maintaining riverside recreational facilities. For years there have been complaints from residents about the quality of the river’s water and the river’s smell. In response, the state has recently announced plans to clean up Mason River. Use of the river for water sports is, therefore, sure to increase. The city government should for that reason devote more money in this year’s budget to riverside recreational facilities.

Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on the assumptions and what the implications are if the assumptions prove unwarranted.

The instructions may change on case to case basis.

How is the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) graded?

Each of AWA essays is scored on a scale of 0 to 6. According to ETS two readers, selected randomly, assess your Issue essay. Similarly, another set of two different readers examine your Argument essay. Each grader will award a 6.0 to the top essays and scores of 0 to essays written on topics other than the one assigned or written in a foreign language.

Generally, it is observed that the graders spend about 30 seconds to 2 minutes on each essay, and give it a score based on pre-defined evaluation criteria such as the overall quality of your critical thinking and writing, as mentioned previously. The graders who evaluate the responses are college and university faculty members who are well aware requirements of academic writing.

The two scores assigned by a set of readers are averaged to note final score of an essay. If the grades given by the two readers differ by more than a point, a third, highly experienced grader is brought in to resolve the discrepancy (i.e., determine your final score for that essay).

Scores awarded in such a fashion is again averaged to reach final score on the scale of 6 for the whole section. You receive your essay scores approximately 10-15 days after your test date.

Why is Analytical Writing Section important?

It is an open secret that your AWA score is not as important as your quantitative and verbal score on the GRE, and getting a 5.0 or 6.0 won’t make or break your chances of getting admitted to the university of your choice. Graduate school admissions officers only bother about your AWA score, if it is too low, or significantly lower than their usual class average. In such cases admission committee may re-read your SOP and LORs, to find out if they were written by you or someone else. Our advice is, it is rather safe to say that the AWA score is an important enough factor when it comes to admissions.