When you sit down in your testing center to take your computer-based GRE, the first section you will encounter is the Analytical Writing Assessment, specifically the Issue Essay task, for which you have 30 minutes to write a response to a prompt. While the instructions for the issue essay vary from prompt to prompt, let's consider the portion of the instructions that is common to (almost all) issue essays:
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...
The instructions that follow the last phrase ("In developing and supporting your position"), the authors of the test give instructions specific to the point at issue. These additional instructions are usually quite brief and can be summed up as a directive to attend to both sides of the issue and to use pertinent and compelling examples. Let's remark this idea of examples because we will return to it shortly.
Now let's jump ahead to scoring criteria for essays that receive a score of 6 (the top score):
Sustains insightful, in-depth analysis of complex ideas; develops and supports main points with logically compelling reasons and/or highly persuasive examples (emphasis mine); is well focused and well organized; skillfully uses sentence variety and precise vocabulary to convey meaning effectively; demonstrates superior facility with sentence structure and language usage, but may have minor errors that do not interfere with meaning.
Notice again the criterion of persuasive examples is front and center in the scoring rubric. This emphasis on examples is not accidental. To write a persuasive response to an issue essay, one that receives a top score, it is essential that you include specific, compelling examples to support your thesis and that you include details germane to the topic. While you might consider this obstacle nearly insuperable—after all, how could one possibly be expected to know examples for everything—below the jump we will discuss how to arrive equipped with excellent, detailed examples to use on your test.Read More