GRE Sample Issue Essays: Check Essay Prompt and How to Respond?

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Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Jun 02, 2023 5:48 PM IST

When practising for the Analytical Writing Assessment of GRE exams, a writing task, it is important to attempt sample issue essays. Out of the two writing tasks, i.e. Issue and Argumentative Issue, on this page, we will discuss the best methods to respond to the task and the different types of questions that you may face during the test.

Go through this page to learn everything you need to know about the GRE sample issue essays you can attempt to improve your writing skills for GRE exams, as well as the more common topics used in GRE exams. You can also find the scoring chart for GRE sample issue tasks to understand the weightage of the section.

GRE Sample Issue Essay Task

Part of the GRE exam Analytical Writing Task, the ‘Analyse an Issue’ is one of the two tasks in the section. As the name suggests, test-takers will be given an issue from the pool of issue topics that ETS has uploaded on the official website.

The ‘Analyse an Issue’ task has been created for the purpose of evaluating a test-taker’s ability to critically think on a topic of general interest. Subsequently, the task will also assess the candidate’s ability to express their thoughts in writing. As stated above, test-takers are advised to complete the task as directed in the question paper, or risk being scored null for the task.

On this page, you will find everything you need to know about the GRE Issue Essays task and how you should go about responding to the directions

Purpose for Analyse an Issue Task in GRE Analytical Writing Section

As stated in the introduction above, the GRE Issue Essays task has been designed to evaluate a test-taker’s ability to develop a compelling argument and effectively communicate their stance on a topic while providing supportive statements on the given issue, all while writing for an academic audience.

To better understand the scoring process for the issue essay in the GRE Analytical Writing Assessment section, the ETS has provided GRE sample issue essay responses with rater commentary. This will allow test-takers the clarity they may need in tackling this task during their GRE exams.

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GRE Sample Issue Essays Prep Tips

Attempting the GRE Sample Issue Essays will help you be better prepared and equipped to handle similar questions during the GRE exam. However, equipping yourself with the right technique and preparation strategies for GRE Issue Essays can help you even more. Among the more recommended methods of improving your GRE scores is to practice writing on popular issue topics or choose from the pool of topics for GRE sample issue essays.

Listed below are some of the preparation strategies for GRE sample issue essays you can adopt to further improve your chances of scoring high on the test.

  • Carefully and thoroughly read the statement/claim, as well as the directions given. Ensure you understand the instructions, otherwise, take the help of a friend or your teacher.

  • Relate the claim to your thoughts, ideas and experiences as well as the events you have read or observed and the people you have met. These experiences, ideas and thoughts will become the “knowledge base” that you can use to develop compelling responses that qualify, reinforce or negate a statement or claim.

  • Decide on the stance you will take in response to the claim or statement.

  • Decide and shortlist the compelling evidence you aim to use during the test to support your stance.

In addition to these techniques that may help you narrow down your stance and your response, you can also use the following methods to improve your chances of success in the task. The following questions are perfect for times when you are unable to decide a stance or understand the statement/claim.

  • What is the central or primary issue highlighted in the given issue?

  • Are all or any parts of the claim correct or incorrect? If so, what are the reasons behind it?

  • Does it seem that there are certain assumptions in the claim/statement? If so, do they stand valid?

  • If the claim is valid only during certain situations, what are those situations?

  • Am I clear on what I’m supposed to do as per the instructions?

  • What are my reasons for supporting or negating a statement or claim?

  • What examples support my stance toward the statement and what examples would be the most influential or compelling?

Once you have decided on a stance toward the claim or statement, it is advisable to also question yourself from the perspective of a person who does not adopt the same stance. For this, the ETS recommends asking the following questions:

  • What reasons can be used to undermine or refute my claims?

  • What are the ways in which I can defend or acknowledge my stance?

While these are some of the ways you can use to improve your chances of scoring high when attempting the sample GRE issue essays, it is better to connect with a professional to receive a one-on-one preparation strategy for GRE exams.

GRE Sample Issue Essays for Analytical Writing Section

Listed below are some of the sample GRE Issue Essays that you can use to enhance your skills in attempting the task.

1) Governments should place few restrictions, if any, on scientific research and development.

Directions: Write a response discussing the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and provide your reasoning for the same. Describe specific circumstances wherein adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how your position is shaped because of these examples.

2) The surest indicator of a great nation is represented not by the achievements of its rulers, artists, or scientists, but by the general welfare of its people.

Directions: Write a response discussing the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasons for the same. Describe the ways you consider the statement may or may not hold true, further explaining how these considerations influence your stance.

3) College students should base their choice of a field of study on the availability of jobs in that field.

Directions: Write your response discussing the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. Address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.

4) Competition for high grades seriously limits the quality of learning at all levels of education.

Directions: Write your response where you discuss the extent of your agreement or disagreement with the statement and explain the reasons for the same. Describe the considerations that may hold the statement to be untrue and explain the ways these considerations influence your position.

5) Government officials should rely on their own judgment rather than unquestioningly carry out the will of the people they serve.

Directions: Write a response elaborating your stance on the recommendation and define your reasons for your position on the statement. Describe specific circumstances wherein adopting the recommendation may or may not be advantageous and explain the influence of these examples on your stance.

6) The main benefit of the study of history is to dispel the illusion that people living now are significantly different from people who lived in earlier times.

Directions: Write your response discussing the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and outline your reasons for the same. Consider and describe the ways in which the statement may or may not hold true and explain how your position is influenced by these considerations.

7) Leaders are created by the demands that are placed on them.

Directions: Write a response elaborating the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and describe the reasons behind your stance. Describe and consider the ways wherein the statement may or may not be true and elaborate on how these considerations affect your stance.

8) We can usually learn much more from people whose views we share than from people whose views contradict our own.

Directions: Write your response describing the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and elaborate on your reasoning behind your stance on the topic. Describe and consider the ways wherein the statement may or may not be true and highlight the effect of these considerations on your position.

9) People's behaviour is largely determined by forces, not by their own making.

Directions: Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim by writing your response. Address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position when developing and supporting your claims.

10) Claim: Imagination is a more valuable asset than experience.

Reason: People who lack experience are free to imagine what is possible without the constraints of established habits and attitudes.

Directions: Write your response elaborating on the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim and the reason on which that claim is based.

Note: These are only a few of the sample GRE Issue essay topics that ETS has mentioned on their website. If you wish to find out more about such GRE sample issue essays, then register and connect with our team of study abroad counsellors who will not only provide you with the topics but also help you tackle the task in the best possible manner.

GRE Issue Task Scoring

According to the official website for GRE exams, the issue task will be scored on a scale of 0-6, as has been outlined in the table below:


Typical Response

6 - Outstanding

Clearly articulated and insightful stance on the topic;

Developed compelling reasons and effective examples with regard to the stance adopted;

Well-focused and well-organised thoughts and ideas

Effective communication of ideas and conveying them precisely and fluently.

Superior skills in standard written English conventions.

5 - Strong

Clear and well-considered stance on the issue

Logically-sound reasons and well-chosen examples

Focused and general well-organised - appropriately connecting ideas

Clear and appropriate communication skills in conveying ideas

Good skills in standard written English conventions.

4 - Adequate

Clear stance on the issue essay;

Develops relevant reasons and/or examples;

Adequately focused and organised;

Sufficient and acceptable communication skills in conveying ideas;

General control over standard written English conventions.

3 - Limited

Vague or limited clarity in addressing the task and issue;

Developed weak examples and reasoning behind their stance;

Limited organisation skills and focus;

Limited clarity in language and sentence structure;

Occasional major and frequent minor errors in grammar are displayed, hindering the overall meaning.

2 - Seriously Flawed

Seriously limited and unclear thought processes in addressing the task and issue at hand.

Limited or few relevant examples or reasoning behind their stance.

Poor focus and organisational skills

Seriously flawed language and sentence structure skills

Seriously flawed grammatical, mechanical and usage errors interfere with the overall meaning.

1 - Fundamentally Deficient

Little or no understanding of the given issue;

Little or no ability to develop organised response;

Severely flawed language and sentence structure

Severely flawed grammatical, usage and mechanical errors



Written in a foreign language;

Copied the topic

Keystroke characters;




Blank Response

The scoring guide mentioned in the table above is subject to change and alteration at the discretion of ETS, the official administrator for the exam.

Know How to Increase GRE Essay Scores!

FAQs on GRE Sample Issue Essays

How long should the GRE Issue essay be?

Usually, GRE issue essays can be made of a word limit ranging from 300-600 words on any given topic. However, test-takers should aim to write down their thoughts and ideas over a given GRE issue topic within 500-600 words. While it may seem lengthy, candidates will need this word limit to outline the necessary examples and reasoning behind their stand on a particular issue.

What is the GRE issue essay?

The GRE issue essay is a 30-minute task under the Analytical Writing Assessment section of the test. Each teat-taker will be given a prompt wherein they will be presented with an issue on a topic of general interest. They will subsequently be required to pose their thoughts and ideas on the topic with relevant examples and reasoning within the given time period and word limit.

How to start a GRE issue essay?

As per study abroad experts, test-takers should start their GRE issue essay by restating the given issue and continuing to give their stance on the given topic. Here, it is important to go through the instructions outlined with the topic and state your reasoning and examples. Experts suggest structuring the first para in a manner that signals that you understand the directions and given issue.

How many GRE issue essays will I have to write?

On the day of the test, candidates will be asked to write one GRE issue essay and one GRE argumentative essay. However, it is important to practice writing these essays before attempting them on the day of the test. Therefore, check out the sample GRE issue essays given on this page and write down your responses accordingly. Have your essay responses checked by our experts by registering now!

Can I skip the GRE Analytical Writing Section?

While there is a possibility that you can skip the GRE analytical writing section, doing so will heavily affect your graduate admission prospects abroad. The GRE Analytical Writing section is one of the more important sections that analyse a candidate’s critical thinking and analytical skills which are considered important by most graduate universities abroad.

How do I write the GRE issue essay?

When attempting the GRE issue essay it is important to be calm and collected, carefully reading through the instructions given along with the issue topic. Practice as many sample GRE issue essays as possible, improve your decision-making skills, be quick in selecting your stance., examples and reasoning, and be sure to give strong claims that refute the opposing stance.

What is the difference between GRE issue essays and argumentative essays?

In the two parts of the Analytical Writing Section of GRE exams, the issue essay focuses on the candidate’s ability to form and state their opinions on a given statement while the argumentative essay focuses on the candidate’s ability to validate a given argument and its authenticity by assessing the claims and evidence.

Which essay do I attempt first in GRE exam?

The Analytical Writing Assessment section will always be the first section that any test-taker will have to attempt when giving the GRE exams this year. The section includes two essays, i.e. ‘Analyse an Issue’ and ‘Analyse and Argument, wherein, candidates will be given 30 minutes each to formulate their ideas, examples and reasoning and complete the task at hand according to the given instructions.

How to improve my scores in GRE issue essays?

In order to ensure that you receive high scores in GRE issue essays, one of the crucial steps you can take when attempting the test is to edit the essay. Divide the 30 minutes you have received properly between reading, ideating, typing and editing. However, the most important step is to edit your essay once you are done typing, as this will allow you to spot mistakes and make corrections.

How many paragraphs should I write for GRE issue essays?

While there is no set number of paragraphs for GRE issue essays, experts recommend spreading your content out into 3-4 paragraphs. Candidates should keep one paragraph for an introduction to the essay and keep a final paragraph as a conclusion to the essay and at least 1-2 paragraphs outlining your thoughts, ideas and examples, in accordance with the instructions and given issue topic.

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