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42072632-GRE-Notes - Archive for June 2010 Issue Writing...

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Archive for June, 2010 Issue Writing Task: Part 2 Monday, June 28th, 2010 Last time, we looked at what the Issue Writing task is and what exactly it asks of us. Your job is to present your perspective on an issue. You may agree with, disagree with, or qualify the given statement, but you must defend your perspective with evidence and a convincing argument. The range of topics is very broad, but the specific content of each question does not really allow you to tailor one essay–say, on Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King–to all possible essay prompts. The essay prompts run the gamut of intellectual disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, history, law and government, political science, philosophy, the fine arts, the performing arts, literature, physical science, and economics. Fortunately, you’ll have your choice of two prompts to choose from. You do not need to have a specialized knowledge in any one of these disciplines, but if you do, it will undoubtedly facilitate your writing and ideation. Fortunately, you’ll have your choice of two statements to choose from. So, if there is one or two topics you want to avoid, chances are you’ll have your chance to avoid them. ETS has been kind enough to actually show us all the possible topics beforehand here: http://www.ets.org/gre/general/prepare/sample_questions/analytical/issues/index.html . Yes, there are hundreds, but it helps to look at a bunch of these, and feel free to practice with them. For many students, the first looming question about an essay assignment is length. Most authorities suggest that the issue writing task be at least 400 words, which, in 45 minutes, is rather brief. That being said, length is never really the main goal. A concise, well- articulated essay of 400 words will be better than a wordy, redundant, and trite essay of 700 words. At the same time, a 700 word essay with many convincing examples and articulate prose will be better than a vague 400 word essay without concrete examples. In the end, length should not be on your mind: clear writing, convincing examples, and a solid argument should be your focus. Now, let’s look at the writing process. Beginning a timed essay will probably be the most intimidating part, so make sure you develop a system for writing them. Here’s the first, and in my opinion, most important, step for writing the essay: 1. Brainstorm : As soon as you decide which of the two choices you’d like to write on, begin the brainstorming process. Jot down some reasons for and against the issue. You may already have a personal opinion about the issue, but set that aside. Let your ability to reason an argument do the choosing for you. Based on the reasons you brainstorm, you may want to argue for the issue, against it, or qualify it.
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When brainstorming, it is important to stay on track. Always keep that quoted statement in mind, and reread it to come up with new ideas. Before you jump into pro and con arguments, briefly sum up the statement’s argument on paper. For example, let’s look at
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