Gmat Issue Essay Template

Editor’s Note: The New GMAT (all tests starting from June 5th, 2012 onwards) will have only 1 Essay – The Analysis of Argument AWA.   The Analysis of Issue AWA will no longer be administered.

An Analysis of Issue essay topic looks something like this.

“Some experts maintain that students learn best in a highly structured environment, one that emphasizes discipline, punctuality, and routine. Others insist that educators, if they are able to help students maximize their potential, ought to maintain an atmosphere of relative freedom and spontaneity.”

Explain your position on the issue of structure versus freedom in an ideal learning environment. Support your answers with reasons and/or examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.*

How to tackle the AWA Analysis of Issue

In general, you will want to make a template to follow. You can take a side or qualify the statement (i.e. state to what extent or under what circumstances you agree or disagree with a position). You can be controversial, but don’t be dogmatic, extreme, or racist/sexist, etc.

Sample Structure of Analysis of Issue Essay

Introduction paragraph (1st Paragraph):

- Acknowledge that the issue is complex/interesting/debatable/etc.
- Acknowledge that there are two sides to the issue
- State which side you pick

Body paragraphs (next 2-3 paragraphs):

-Start your topic sentence with a transition.
- State your main points, back up with evidence
-State why the opponents of your position don’t really matter:
.      -Say it only occurs in a minority of cases. (e.g. Admittedly, a highly structured environment can provide routine and discipline. However, such an environment would only benefit the minority of students with behavior problems.)
.     -Say something that seems bad is actually a good thing (e.g. Opponents of free learning suggest that students lose rigidity in their schedules. However, this loss of rigidity actually kindles creativity. )

Concluding Paragraph

-Restate your position; summarize the main points of the paragraphs. If you are taking a strong position in your essay, you can also address the opposition.

Brainstorming

Structure vs. Freedom (Choosing to Argue for Freedom)

Structure has downside (forces students material, diminishes creativity,  Example: Standardized Testing

Freedom has upside (forces people to be more creative, students can choose what they feel passionate about)

Sample Essay (Underlined Phrases indicate a General Template)

Whether students learn best in a structured environment or a free environment is a debatable issue. On the one hand, structured environments provide students with routine and can force rigor on the students. On the other hand, a relatively free atmosphere can inspire creativity and ingenuity in students in ways a structured atmosphere cannot. In this essay, I will present arguments favoring the latter as the best way to create an ideal learning environment.

First of all, highly structured environments can produce negative repercussions. For example, consider the case of standardized testing. Under high-stakes standardized testing, students are forced to cram for material that is dictated by administrators. Students face an enormous amount of pressure on these timed exams. However, these exams don’t serve in the interest of learning because students study for test rather than material. Additionally, students may face mental distress and anxiety because of the pressure to do well.

Furthermore, a relatively free atmosphere has its own benefits. The unpredictability of a free atmosphere can keep students excited to learn. If a student knows that he or she will learn something new and unexpected the next day, that student is likely going to be excited about learning. Moreover, in a free atmosphere students can focus on the subjects they feel most passionate about. By focusing on a subject with great interest, students will be able to achieve more through their own personal motivation.

In conclusion, students can better realize their potential through a liberating academic setting. Admittedly, a highly structured environment can provide routine and discipline. However, such an environment would only benefit the minority of students with behavior problems. An environment of openness and freedom would be a more effective method to stimulate learning in students.

Transition Words

Transitions to add: In addition, Furthermore, Additionally, Also, Moreover, Further, Besides,
Transitions to compare and contrast: However, in contrast, conversely, on the one hand/on the other hand, yet, Even So, Nevertheless, Similarly, Likewise
Transitions to cite an example: For example, For instance, In particular, specifically,
Transitions to show a result: Consequently, therefore, thus, hence, as a result, subsequently
Transition to conclude: In the final analysis, In sum, In conclusion, To summarize

Phrases
Proponents of [policy X], Opponents of [policy X]

Miscellaneous
- Of course, there are many ways you can structure your essay. For example, you could vary the structure such an entire paragraph debunks a counterpoint.
- Don’t memorize this template. Make your own template; adjust it as necessary to the topic at hand. On the actual GMAT, you may have to vary it quite a bit.

*(This is an actual GMAT Topic ; GMAC does not endorse this website. Topic is from p. 769 in the OG 12th Edition – burgundy book.  Topic can also be found on GMAC List of Analysis of Issue Topics – its the last topic)



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Structure: The Introduction

Each essay must have an introduction paragraph that contains the following elements:

 1) A Brief Summary of the Prompt
           
Summarizing the prompt will both make your essay self-contained, meaning it
            will work on its own without depending on the prompt for clarification, and (more
            importantly) show the grader that you have accurately understood the challenge.

2) A Clear Stance
           
As outlined inChapter 2, it is essential to take a clear and confident stance rather
            than hovering between sides (which dodges the question rather than answering it). 
            Make sure your stance is clear, on-topic, and concrete.

3) A Brief Forecasting Passage
           
Adding specific keywords from your body paragraphs to preview and outline your 
            specific body points will help map your essay while further highlighting and
            reinforcing your ideas.

Practice Quiz Prompt: “Because many works of art and science are now available to view online, schools should no longer spend money on field trips to museums, which are more expensive and less convenient.”

Hint: there may be more than one correct answer

A. “Just as ebooks have now begun to outsell traditional paper books and replace them in schools because of price and convenience, virtual visits to museums via computers should replace traditional fieldtrips in schools. Prime reasons for this beyond the prompt’s mention of price and convenience include the built-in technological education and the preserved safety of such online viewing.”

Correct. Because this takes a clear stance and outlines specific points while remaining parallel with the prompt, this is a strong option.

B. “Ebooks are now outselling traditional paper books and replacing these traditional books in many schools. This is a sign that electronic media such as online galleries of art and science museums will indeed replace traditional field trips in the near future.” Incorrect. Because this fails to accurately address the prompt by answering whether or not online viewership will replace fieldtrips rather than whether or not it should, this is a weaker option.
C. “I disagree with the prompt above because it ignores many educational aspects of physical trips to museums, such as the value of in-person and hands-on activity and the need to practice behavior outside of the classroom.”Incorrect. Because this lacks a summary of the prompt, this is a vague and weak option.
D. “Because the author of the prompt ignores the primary benefits of physical field trips—chiefly, the ability to interact with exhibits and professionals from outside of the school—the prompt suffers from a narrow train of thought.” Incorrect. Because this lacks a summary of the prompt, this is a vague and weak option.
E. “While viewing museum exhibits online is indeed convenient and likely cost- saving, students can still benefit more from physically visiting museums—as doing so allows them to interact with both exhibits and people from outside of their comfort zones.”Correct. Because this summarizes the prompt, takes a clear stance, and highlights
specific points from the essay, this is a strong option.

 

Structure: The Body

Each essay should include two to three body paragraphs, each of which addresses a fresh, focused point illustrated by a clear example.

Prompt: “Because many works of art and science are now available to view online, schools should no longer spend money on field trips to museums, which are more expensive and less convenient.”

A. “First, museums are valuable experiences but limit physical visitors to learning only about their exhibits. Viewing exhibits online, meanwhile, will expose students to additional valuable lessons on technology and computers. Because online viewing offers this additional lesson in addition to that of the exhibits, it is an option that school administrators should favor over physical field trips.”

Incorrect. Because this fails to explain why such technological lessons are valuable to students, this is a weaker option.
B. “One reason to pursue online viewership in the classroom is because it will not only teach students about the content they are viewing, but about the technological means that enable this. Online viewing, for example, will expose students to computers, the internet, and many electronic technologies that they will need to be familiar with in order to succeed in education and the workplace. Because online viewing offers these educational bonuses in addition to the content of the museum itself, it represents a superior choice for students and educators.”Correct. Because this clearly outlines a point and thoroughly supports the reasoning behind it, this is a strong option.
C. “Both art and science are fields best appreciated and understood when they involve interaction in real time and space. By visiting museums, then, and seeing art in its true color and size, and interacting hands-on with science exhibits, students are much more likely to engage with and remember the material than they would be after simply looking at it on a two-dimensional computer screen. Because it therefore represents a more likely path toward effective, lifelong learning, physical field trips should take priority over virtual trips.”Correct. Because this uses two examples clearly aligned toward a singular point to move the essay forward, this is a strong option.

D. “Two separate advantages of physical visits to museums over virtual visits are
the ability to interact with art and science—which will help develop curiosity and a desire to learn among students—and the ability to do so without worrying about unreliable internet connections that might slow the transmission of streaming video or photos . . . and therefore prevent effective learning. Because of these advantages, physical visits remain the superior choice for schools.”

Incorrect. Because this unsuccessfully merges two very separate points, creating an unfocused paragraph, this is a weaker option.

E. None of the above choices are optimal.

 

Incorrect. Several strong options exist. Choose again.

Section 2b: Structure- The Body

Just like the initial body paragraphs, secondary body paragraphs should address fresh, focused points illustrated by clear examples.

Structure Quiz 3: Secondary Body Paragraphs

Prompt: “Because many works of art and science are now available to view online, schools should no longer spend money on field trips to museums, which are more expensive and less convenient.”

A. “Secondly, those who champion the idea of physical field trips over virtual field trips are ignoring the liability of keeping students safe. What would this group say, for example, in response to the many cases of school busses overturning en route to their destinations—or the cases of children who have been lost, kidnapped, or harmed while out of the safety of their classrooms?”

Incorrect. Because this asks questions but fails to answer them—leaving the reader alone to figure out the connection—this is a weaker option.

B. “Additionally, virtual visits to museums reduce the liability of schools and help preserve the safety of students by keeping them in a controlled classroom rather than transporting them on busses and taking them to unfamiliar places—which presents added danger in terms of students getting lost or harmed. Because a responsibility of schools is to protect its students, keeping them in the classroom to view materials is a better choice than transporting them to museums to view the  same material in person.”

Correct. Because this employs elaboration to explain the complete thought  process behind this point while clearly connecting it with the prompt, this is a strong option.


C. “The ability to interact with new people and new environments (while
supervised) is another advantage of physical trips to museums—which often take students out of their city or state and into places they have never been that are staffed by employees and visited by other students with whom they have never interacted with. This opportunity for interaction gives students the important opportunity to practice responsible behavior such as communicating with strangers, navigating foreign environments, and behaving responsibly outside of the classroom—which add great educational advantages over virtual visits and therefore make physical visits a wiser choice.”

Correct. Because this uses formal language and precise detail to illustrate andsupport a point parallel with the prompt, this is a strong option.

 

D. “Learning to interact with strangers is another valuable aspect of education that
administrators should favor. Without this ability, students would not be able to achieve emotional happiness through friendships or career success through effective communication. As schools are meant to teach students to be happy both emotionally and professionally, this is a type of interaction they must indeed teach.”

Incorrect. Because this fails to connect this type of interaction with either type of museum visit, this is a weaker option.

 

Chapter 4 – Section 2c: Structure, The Body

Just like the initial and secondary body paragraphs, tertiary body paragraphs should address fresh, focused points illustrated by clear examples.

However, do not feel pressured to add a third body paragraph merely for the sake of quantity. Two strong body paragraphs will score higher than two strong body paragraphs followed by a third, weaker paragraph. Go with your strongest options only.


Structure Quiz 3: Third Body Paragraphs

Prompt: “Because many works of art and science are now available to view online, schools should no longer spend money on field trips to museums, which are more expensive and less convenient.”

A. “Finally, the cost difference between the two options is minimal if existent at all. Physical trips are costly in that they require admission fees and gas for transportation—but virtual access to online sites requires internet access and either individual computers for students or a single computer with an expensive projector. Because both options require similar extra expenses in addition to minimal school materials, they are fairly even in this manner—meaning price should not be a barrier either way.”

Incorrect. Because this focuses on factors that cancel each other out—and therein fails to move the argument forward toward a clear stance—this is a weaker option.

B. None of the above choices are optimal.

Correct. Because the alternative option aims to equalize the sides rather than advance one in accordance with the stance, this is the strongest option.

 

Chapter 4 – Section 3: Structure, The Conclusion

Finally, each essay must end with a final conclusion paragraph.

As the name suggests, conclusion paragraphs are meant to conclude points rather than begin them, so make sure to avoid new information (which belongs in your body or introduction) in your conclusions.

Instead, aim to accurately mirror your stance and points, recapping your ideas in a manner that shows their combined sum as greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Structure Quiz 4: Conclusions

Prompt: “Because many works of art and science are now available to view online, schools should no longer spend money on field trips to museums, which are more expensive and less convenient.”

A. “In conclusion, ebooks and virtual field trips are indeed the way of the future. Because virtual trips offer additional educational rewards and safety benefits, we are likely to see many schools opt out of physical trips to museums in favor of virtual trips using online galleries.”

Incorrect. Because this focuses on whether or not the shift is likely to happen rather than whether or not the shift should happen (as the prompt suggests), this is a weaker option.

 

B. “In conclusion, administrators of schools should indeed be inclined to favor online viewing of art and science museum content rather than physical viewing of art and science museum content on behalf of their plethora of students, whom they are liable to both educate and protect in a responsible and efficient manner and on a daily basis. The precise reasoning behind this statement, as stated and elaborated upon above, is that the wiser choice of online viewership offers students the added and favorable advantages and improvements over physical field trips by adding further opportunities for knowledge-based learning while also preserving the physical safety of each and every student.”

Incorrect.
            Bonus Lesson: Because this suffers from wordiness, which clouds its points, this  
            is a weaker option. Accurate simplicity will score higher than needless
            complexity. Use precise words to simplify and concentrate your points.

 

C. “In sum, viewing museum content online in classrooms is something school administrators should favor over physical field trips to museum. This conclusion is based upon the added technological lessons and safety measures that coincide with online learning—and the opposing lack of technological lessons and added safety risks that coincide with physical field trips.”

Correct. Because this accurately mirrors the essay’s introduction and body, this is a strong option.

 

D. “In conclusion, physical visits to museums are far superior than virtual visits because they enable more active and effective learning and concurrently teach valuable communication skills. Because of this, schools should favor physical field trips over virtual online viewing.”

Correct. Because this accurately mirrors the points and purpose of the essay, this is a strong option.

 

E. “In conclusion, schools are responsible for teaching students how to succeed both personally and professionally. School administrators should therefore pursue the paths that best lead to these outcomes—regardless of the cost or convenience involved.”

Incorrect. Because this fails to connect with either type of museum visit, thereby disconnecting with the prompt, this is a weaker option.

Essay Template

Structure is the most important part of your essay. Your essay must be written in a standard format with the standard logical transitions. The E-rater will scan your essay to identify whether it has a standard structure.

  • The introduction lays out your argument, the body paragraphs support it and the conclusion reiterates it. This means that you shouldn't be introducing new arguments in the conclusion. 

     
  • Number of Paragraphs - To satisfy the E-rater, your essay should be four to five paragraphs, two of which will be your introduction and conclusion. In addition, your essay will include two to three "body" paragraphs. Each paragraph should have two to five sentences (total essay about 300-400 words).

    Note: You should skip a line between paragraphs since the TAB key does not function in the essay section.

Essay Template

  • The numbers of sentences indicated for each paragraph is a guideline that varies depending on how much content you have.
  • The transitional phrases we use in the Template are intentionally simplistic. This is not a simple approach where you can "fill-in-the-blanks." Flesh out the template and use it as a guideline to write a disciplined and focused essay.

Template

1) Introductory Paragraph (2-4 sentences)

Keep your introductory paragraph concise, strong and effective.

What the introductory paragraph should accomplish:
  • Explain the issue (briefly).
  • Show that you understand the full complexities of the issue (for example, by recognizing competing interests, various factors or key assumptions made).
  • State your position on the issue (without the details yet).
     
 
Sample template for introductory paragraph (2 sentences):

a) Whether ___________________ depends on ___________________.


b) (insert your opinion), ___________________.



2) First Body Paragraph (3-5 sentences)
 

 
Develop your position using your most important evidence. Use one or two examples to back up your main point:

a) The chief reason for my view is ___________________.

b) For example, ___________________.

c) Moreover, ___________________.

d) Finally, ___________________.



3) Second Body Paragraph

Expand your position with a "secondary" reason. Support your rationale further with at least one example.

Provide rationale and/or evidence to support it.

 

Here's a sample template for the second body paragraph that accomplishes these objectives:

a) Another reason for my view is ___________________.

b) Specifically, ___________________.

c) The result is, ___________________.

d) In addition to _[first evidence]__ , __[new evidence]__ also proves….


4) Optional Third Body Paragraph

In this optional paragraph, you acknowledge a competing viewpoint or counter-argument (and rationale and/or examples that support it), and then provide rebuttals to further support your position. In this paragraph, you walk a tightrope, as you must acknowledge the counter-argument, then deny it immediately in the next sentence and use that denial to strengthen your own argument.

  • Acknowledge a different viewpoint or a counter-argument.
  • Provide rationale and/or examples that support it.
  • Provide a rebuttal.
 
Here's a sample template for the third body paragraph that accomplishes the objectives indicated above:

a) Some might argue, ___________________.

b) Yet, ___________________.

c) Others might cite, ___________________.

d) However, ___________________.


5) Conclusion Paragraph

In this paragraph, you write a summary of your position in one to three sentences:

  • State the thrust of your position.
  • Restate the main points from the body of your essay.
  • Broaden your scope and show how your ideas can apply more widely.
 
The concluding paragraph is not the place for new information or reasons. It is not a place to draw new conclusions.

a) In sum, I concur that ___________________.

b) However,___________________; on the ___________________.

c) Without _________________, we would not have _________________

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