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GRE Sample Issue Essays: Introduction to the Types of Topics Covered

Updated on 23 May, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

gre sample issue essays

The Analytical Writing section of GRE measures your ability to think critically and assesses how well you can support and articulate complex ideas arguments and sustain a focused and coherent discussion. Since the Verbal and Quantitative sections are objective-based, the Analytical Writing Section gives you a chance to prove your analytical and critical thinking. AWA consists of two areas which are as follows:

a) An "Analyze an Issue" task for 30 minutes

b) An "Analyze an Argument" task for 30 minutes

An issue essay is a section of the Analytical Writing Measure of GRE. Each question claims a topic of general interest that can be discussed from different perspectives and applied in different scenarios. A GRE sample issue essay will help you develop reasoning for the stance you take for a given condition.

The Analytical Writing section of GRE measures your ability to think critically. It assesses how well you can support and articulate complex arguments and sustain a focused and coherent discussion. Since the Verbal and Quantitative sections are objective-based, the Analytical Writing Section gives you a chance to prove your analytical and critical thinking.

Types of Topics Included in GRE Issue Essays

Usually, the ideas and topics on which a student will be probed in the GRE issue essay are drawn from everyday life and requires you to rely on your experiences to answer them. The topics for issue essays are taken from various domains such as business, politics, technology, art, education, and more etc. The GRE issue essay consists of a statement or statements, along with specific task instructions which require you to respond to the task in a certain way. 

Dos and Don'ts During GRE Issue Essay Preparation



Ensure to have a sound idea of the past-year questions.

Do not answer the question while oscillating between both sides of the issue. 

Ensure to read the instructions carefully. 

Do not skip to relate the examples to the thesis statement.

Prudently use your 30-minutes by keeping these pointers in mind: 

  • Initial 2 mins to read the directions
  • 3 mins to create an outline 
  • 20 minutes to connect your perspective and writing body paragraphs 
  • 2 mins to edit mistakes


Avoid writing in the first person. 

Structure of GRE Issue Essays and Tips to Frame a Strong One

The better you organize your essay, the clearer it becomes to the examiner as they want to assess how you develop an argument to support your evaluation of the issue. You can structure your essay into five paragraphs which are as follows:

a) Introduction

Develop your points so that the analysis guides the examiner through the argument you are trying to make. 

b) Body Paragraph 1

Use your most specific and most important reason at first and support it with logical analysis and examples.

c) Body Paragraph 2

Launch into your second reason by using a transition phase and supporting example. 

d) Final Body Paragraph

Transition into your third stance along with an example and explain how it supports your thesis. You can also bring a solid counterargument for the view and explain why it is incorrect. 

e) Conclusion

Summarizing the points you made in brief, your conclusion should reflect your introductory paragraph.

Here are a few tips on writing a good GRE issue essay. 

i) Choose a side and stick to it

ii) Keep your examples specific and relevant to the real world

iii) Use strong, declarative sentences as they add distinction and confidence

iv) Refute the other position by introducing an opposite point of view

Tips to Write an Impressive GRE Issue Essay

Here are a few tips on writing a good GRE issue essay. 

i) Choose a side and stick to it

ii) Keep your examples specific and relevant to the real world

iii) Use strong, declarative sentences as they add distinction and confidence to your writing

iv) Refute the other position by introducing an opposite point of view

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GRE Sample Issue Essay

Now that you have understood the structure and got the tips to write a good one, here's a GRE sample essay that would help you improve and enable you to see the topic from a different perspective.


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


The statement linking technology negatively with people's ability to think freely reflects the recent human experience over the past century. A glance at a typical day of a human being shows how technology has revolutionized the world. From commuting to work in an automobile that runs on an internal combustion engine, interacting with a computer that processes information on silicon bridges that are 0.09 micrometers wide, to reaching out to family members on leaving home through wireless networks, technology is involved with almost everything. In the 19th century, each of these common occurrences was unimaginable.

The statement attempts to bridge these dramatic changes that were considered inconceivable once to a reduction in the ability of humans to think for themselves. It assumes that increased reliance on technology has reduced the need for people to think creatively. Looking back in time, without a mobile phone, computer, or car, humans would need to find alternate methods of communication, information processing, and transport. Still, the developments in technology made these problems outdated.

However, this dependence on technology does not necessarily debar humans from being creative. While technological development has made things convenient, it has also made people live more efficiently. This efficiency did not preclude the need for humans to think for themselves. Though it has freed the human species from tackling new problems, it has created issues that did not exist without technology. For example, the need for fuel conservation has increased globally with the proliferation of automobiles, making global warming a significant concern with growing energy demands from emerging markets. In the same way, increased demand for oil has created nation-states that do not pay taxes, and the ruling parties oppress minority groups such as women. Only maverick scientists and politicians' unfettered imaginations can solve these complex problems.

Let's consider the digital revolution and the advent of the internet, which contradicts the statement. We can witness how technology frees the human imagination, allowing for an unprecedented exchange of ideas. WebMD, a popular internet portal for medical information, has opened pathways of thinking for a layman by permitting patients to self-research symptoms for a more informed doctor visit. As Jeffrey Sachs developed the UN Millenium Development Goals, the unlikely union between economics and medicine has healed hyperinflation and tension from South America to Eastern Europe. The latter example provides a ray of hope for how technology will enlighten the future of humanity. Though too much dependence on technology is harmful, at the same time, it helps us to achieve impossible goals. Consider how the technology of vaccines created a world free from smallpox in the late 20th century. Using technology, a disease that ravaged the human race since prehistoric days were systematically targeted and eradicated.

From the discovery of fire to the implementation of nanotechnology, technology will permanently mark the human experience. There will be no limit to the number of old and new problems we can tackle. Therefore, it is better to embrace a hopeful attitude to technology's possibilities for new avenues of human imagination.

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Sample 2: 

Passion is necessary for a truly great idea to take hold among a people—passion either

on the part of the original thinker, the audience, or ideally both. The claim that the most lucrative subject matter for inspiring great ideas is “commonplace things” may seem initially to be counterintuitive. After all, aren’t great ideas usually marked by their extraordinary character? While this is true, their extraordinary character is as often as not directly derived from their insight into things that had theretofore gone unquestioned. While great ideas certainly can arise through seemingly pure innovation... say, for

example, Big Bang cosmology, which developed nearly all of its own scientific and philosophical

precepts through its own process of formation, it is nevertheless equally true that such groundbreaking thought was, and is, still largely a reevaluation of previous assumptions to a radical degree... after all, the question of the ultimate nature of the universe, and man’s place in it, has been central to human thought since the dawn of time. Commonplace things are, additionally, necessary as material for the generation of “the best ideas” since certainly the success among an audience must be considered in evaluating the

significance and quality of an idea.

The advent of Big Bang cosmology, which occurred in rudimentary form almost immediately upon Edwin Hubble’s first observations at the Hooker telescope in California during the early 20th century, was the most significant advance in mankind’s understanding of the universe in over 400 years. The seemingly simple fact that everything in the universe, on a very large scale, is moving away from everything else betrays nearly all of our scientific knowledge of the origins and mechanics of the universe. This

slight, one might even say commonplace, distortion of tint on a handful of photographic plates carried with it the greatest challenge to Man’s general, often religiously reinforced, conception of the nature of the world to an extent not seen since the days of Galileo. Not even Charles Darwin’s theory, though it created more of a stir than Big Bang cosmology, had such shattering implications for our conceptions of the nature of our reality. Yet it is not significant because it introduced the question of the nature of what lies beyond Man’s grasp. Many megalithic ruins, including the Pyramids of Mexico and Egypt, Stonehenge, and others, indicate that this question has been foremost on humankind’s mind since immemorial. Big Bang cosmology is incredibly significant in this line of reasoning because it changed the direction of this generally held, constantly pondered, and very ancient train of thought. 

Additionally, there is a diachronic significance to the advent of Big Bang cosmology, which is that disregarding limitations such as the quality of optical devices available and the state of theoretical math, it could have happened at any point in time. That is to say; all evidence points to roughly the same raw intellectual capacity for homo sapiens throughout our history; our progress has merely depended upon the degree of it that a person happens to inherit, a pace that has been increasing rapidly since the industrial revolution. Yet this discovery had to happen at a certain point in time or another—it cannot have been happening constantly or have never happened yet still be present—and this point in time does have its own significance. That significance is precisely the fact that the aforementioned advent must have occurred at precisely the point in time at which it truly could have occurred—that is to say, it marks the point in our history when we had progressed sufficiently to begin examining, with remarkable substantiated acuity, the workings of the universe across distances that would take millions of human lifetimes to reach or to traverse. The point for the success of this advent must necessarily have been the point at which the audience concerned was capable and prepared to accept such a radical line of reasoning. 

Both factors, a radical, passionate interpretation of the commonplace and the preparedness to accept such an interpretation, are necessary for the formulation of a truly great idea. If the passion is absent from an inquiry by the thinker or by the bulk of an audience, the idea will die out if it comes to fruition at all. If the material is not sufficiently commonplace to be considered by an informed audience of sufficient size, the same two hazards exist. Given these two factors, the idea must still be found palatable and interesting by the audience if it is to hope to gain a foothold and eventually establish itself in a significant fashion. 

Source: ETS

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prepare for the issue essay on the GRE exam?

To ace the GRE exam, aspirants should opt for practice tests. Aspirants can practice with ScoreItNow!™. It is one of the most essential GRE issue essay tips. It is an impeccable web-based tool that helps aspirants enhance their writing skills.

What kind of topics can I expect for the issue essay on the GRE exam?

You can expect a topic from these categories: Technology and Society, Education, Cities, Government and Power, and Philosophical & Intellectual Endeavors. 

What is the format of the issue essay on the GRE exam?

The structure of the GRE Issue Essay is comparable to the conventional 5-paragraph short essay. It will include an introduction, body paragraph (2), final body, and conclusion.

How many sample issue essays should I practice before taking the GRE exam?

Make sure to practice with at least three essays. You can also study by looking up the AWA prompts and increasing your speed while writing a multitude of them within 30-minute guidelines. So, if you want to ace the exam, ensure to practice.

Important Resources For PTE/SAT/ACT Exam

PTE Examination Eligibility Criteria

There are no specific PTE exam eligibility criteria set by Pearson VUE – the organizers of the test.

PTE Eligibility

PTE Academic Syllabus

PTE syllabus includes various sections such as Speaking and Writing, Reading, and Listening.

PTE Syllabus

PTE Exam Pattern

The PTE exam pattern is designed to test whether candidates can study at international institutions that have English as the main language for instructions.

PTE Exam Pattern

Mrinal Mandal

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