The GRE begins with two writing assignments, one of which is an Issue Analysis essay. This essay involves 30 minutes of intense writing, and requires you to choose one side of the stated issue and explain your reasoning.

When working through the essay, be prepared to do the following:

  • Declare your position and support it with sound reasoning and examples.

  • Communicate clearly, so that your point can be understood by someone who doesn't know the topic.

  • Critically think about how the topic fits in the big picture.

Your challenge is to complete a quality essay within 30 minutes. Avoid these common pitfalls:

  • Not clearly describing your point of view (as if assuming the essay grader can also read your mind)

  • Taking too long to think about your topic, then rushing through the writing process and making all kinds of grammatical and spelling errors

  • Getting stuck on the essay and panicking, thus using up all of the energy that you need for the rest of the GRE

Essay question

  1. Write an essay in response to the following statement. Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement. Explain your reasoning in a clear, well-organized essay that supports your position. Consider both sides of the issue when developing your response.

    It is more advantageous for a small community to allow development of their surrounding wilderness land for economic gain, rather than preserve it for recreational purposes.

Answer and explanation

  1. The following essay is one possible response to the statement. Review it, and read the notes that follow.

    To determine which is better for a small community — growth in business and property development or protecting wilderness areas — one has to look at the benefits and losses each scenario brings to the equation. The desire to develop land points to a desire to increase the local economy by promoting business growth and collecting the ensuing additional property taxes. Thus, the issue comes down to which venture is more financially beneficial. If the local economy depends on the recreational tourism, it seems that taking away that attraction is counterproductive to improving revenue to support local citizens.

    This community may lack certain conveniences, such as large shopping complexes or variety in restaurants or entertainment options. There may also be a dearth of employment opportunities for the local community, leaving families struggling to make ends meet. The benefit of allowing the expansion of businesses and the introduction of mega-stores to solve these issues must be weighed against the losses incurred by the other sector of the economy, which may negate the benefits gained from these actions.

    This other sector — the wilderness and recreation sector — may lose business and revenue if it no longer has the facilities to attract tourists or conduct their businesses. If there are no tourists, there are no people to book guided tours, buy recreational equipment, and stay in area hotels. The tourists will not be spending money in the restaurants or grocery stores, spending fees to support wilderness and road maintenance, or buying souvenirs to remember their amazing trip. If these businesses are not able to bring in customers, they will be forced to close their doors, fire their employees, and cease their property tax payments. Such an event would have a profound impact on the local economy. If you look at the proposition in this way, the development of land for economic gain is counterproductive if no one will be around to spend money in those businesses.

    Either way, unemployment and inconvenience remain in the lives of community residents, but only one option provides the best hope. Protecting the core resource that creates the most financial support in the community is the smartest choice. For this town, that resource is the main attraction that keeps tourists coming back: the wilderness. There is guaranteed success of this venture, and this source of revenue should be protected for the betterment of the people.

The author uses the technique of restating the issue in a different way before providing an opinion, which allows the reader to understand the writer's perspective. The pros and cons of this issue are thoughtfully presented, and the evidence to support both is clear and organized.

The writer presents both points of view without losing the integrity of his opinion. Terms such as "negate" and "counterproductive" show a high level of understanding academic language. The writer's argument is well reasoned and, thus, accessible.

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