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Intro to Issue Task

Chris Lele
Lesson by Chris Lele
Magoosh Expert
Frequently Asked Questions


Is it possible for Magoosh to evaluate my practice essays?

Unfortunately, we don't offer an essay review service! We're a small team, so we wouldn't be able to grade essays for ALL of our students. You should check out this blog post for more information about getting your practice essays graded by others (but not by us). You can also use Magoosh's scoring rubric, which you can find in this post, to estimate the grade of your own essay.

If you have any general questions about approaches to writing or structuring essays, feel free to let us know and we'd be happy to help.

Do I need to cite specific examples in my essay?

In general, you should aim to be as specific as possible with your examples. So, in your two examples, the one with Ignaz Semmelweis is superior to the one that simply says "some doctors." Specific brings more authority, so it's preferable.

That having been said, you're certainly not required to be specific in your examples. Some students even use hypothetical and personal examples in their essays. These can work just fine, but it's much harder to make them convincing, since they lack the authority of a specific name or public knowledge.

Try memorizing a few little facts that you could use in a variety of different essays. That way, you have some specifics on hand when it comes time to write your essay.

Do I have to “choose a side” in my essay? Can I choose instead to support a middle ground?

It is definitely a good idea to choose one side to support throughout your main body paragraphs. If you don't, and you argue for both sides, you risk being unclear and contradictory. You want to have a clear message--to communicate something specific through your essay.

However, you do want your essay to be nuanced, which is why you include the concession paragraph. Note that this concession point should not be more than a paragraph. So again, you do want to argue for one side for the majority of your essay. You don't want to take the risk that your thesis is unclear.

Is it okay to use 1st person in my essay?

There is no specific prohibition of first person and some people do well on the essay and use the first person. But I tend to recommend avoiding first person, especially "I think" and "in my opinion." Both of these phrases tend to be redundant. You usually can take these phrases out of the sentence and your sentence will still maintain its meaning and grammar.

If you do use first person, I'd recommend not using it beyond the introductory paragraph and thesis statement. Furthermore, a more sophisticated way to say “I think” or “in my opinion” is to say “I argue” or “I contend.”

Learn More About Magoosh GRE
In this video, we are going to meet the issue task here, have a quick overview, and then we're actually gonna have the fun part here. We're gonna have an example prompt, and actually go through an issue and brainstorm an outline. But first off, quick intro here, what do we need to do? Well, we need to, of course, read the directions, and the directions will always ask you to agree or disagree.

And support your position. Sometimes they will give you extra information, and it's important for you to read the extra information. However, at the end of the day, you will always be focused on these two things. So definitely, read the extra info, but know that agree/disagree is the gist of the issue task.

Now, in agreeing or disagreeing, of course, you wanna eventually come up with a side here. So you always wanna choose a side. Do you agree or disagree? But oftentimes, this extra info will explicitly say that you have to look at both sides, Of the argument.

So you will choose a side, but you'll have to look at both sides. That is, there's a positive and a negative, a pro and a con, as I call it. And if you do not have these extra directions, you still need to address one of the sides. If you pick the positive side, you defend that, you still need to say, hey, the negative side may sometimes have some validity.

And this important point is called the concession point. So you must make sure that you, in addressing both sides, show that the other side, Is also valid in some cases. Again, do this even if the extra directions do not explicitly call for it. Because the GRE likes you to think analytically, and when you can think of the other side of the issue that you're debating, it shows that you are an analytical thinker.

So again, concession point here is very important. So now let's actually take a look here at the different categories of issues. Where are these questions coming from? And so first theme here is the government and power theme, and let's take a look here at an example. Governments should focus on short term solutions rather than long term ones.

So what we have here is a simple question about government and power. Again, they could have many variations on this, and it could be a completely different question, but again, it will relate to government and power. To really see this, you can go to gre.org, and there they will have a pool of issue tasks. And again, one you'll see is government and power.

Another one you'll see is education. For instance, they could have something like, students should only take courses in college that have a direct bearing on their future careers. Okay, fair enough. And something like culture and society. This one's very broad, lots of stuff that's underneath here.

One possible example, society flourishes best if there's a diversity of opinion. Again, go to the issue pool, and when I say pool, there are hundreds, almost. Haven't sat there and actually counted all of them, but there are a lot. And what I recommend is find your weakness, find that area where you struggle the most. For instance, there's the dreaded RSA.

That would fall under culture and society. So become better at your weaknesses, don't necessarily just work on your strengths. So again, these are the categories of issues. This is what you can expect. And now that we've done this part, we wanna actually dive into a specific issue. And it's gonna be one you just saw a second ago from education, and it is students should only take courses in college that have a direct bearing on their future careers.

Now, you'll notice the directions. Remember, a second ago, I said you will always talk about the extent to which you agree or disagree, and you will want to support your position. This is always gonna be there. Now, the little twist comes here. You should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true, and explain how these considerations shape your position.

So this is important, keep that in mind, but again, you're brainstorming here. Know that you wanna come up with both sides, pro and con, and show to what extent you agree or disagree, and then support that position. So let's do that now. What we're gonna do is we are going to come up here with a brainstorm and an outline.

So I'm gonna put the pros on this side. Here are the pros, and on this side, we're gonna put the cons. So we think through this and say, yeah, that's a great idea, because students spend less time in college. And less time in college means less money, that is, students don't have to spend as much money in college.

They can get out in three years, perhaps, because again, if they're taking courses only that have a bearing on their future careers, this is great, less time. What does that allow them to do? Well, in addition to saving a lot of money and not feeling like they're taking irrelevant courses, Just for credits, or units, or what have you, they're actually out in the working field, and they're, Engaged, or doing their profession, engaged in their profession, not a person that's engaged, in their profession.

And of course, making money, paying off those loans, because they didn't have to spend as much. That's great, so they're already doing what they like, we assume, in terms of their job. And that's great because that helps society. They can add to society sooner, contribute to society sooner.

That's great. So we can come up with a few. Now, don't sit here all day and just go, okay, what else can I come up with, what else can I come up with? This already definitely gives us a sufficient amount of information to work off of.

But now let's consider the other side. You may think, yeah, hold on a second, what about well-rounded members of society? We want people to learn more, and learn about antiquity, Roman history, read Shakespeare, so well-rounded individuals. Or what about those individuals who don't even know what they wanna do?

Here we're assuming, yeah, you could be busy doing what you love, and knowing what you wanna do, of course, is part of that. So if you're undecided and you still wanna explore your major, or what majors are out there cuz you don't have a major, then this is great. Because you don't really know who you are yet. So this could be another side of the issue.

But let's just say that's really all you can think of on the con side. Then it's time to say, well, I need to choose a side. I have a lot more here with the pros. So you choose your side. So you think to yourself, I'm gonna choose pros. I am gonna say, I'm gonna start off my argument with less time, costs less money.

And that's gonna help me flow into they're engaged in a profession sooner and helping society. Maybe that would be my first paragraph here, opening paragraph, second paragraph. And then you wanna talk about that concession point, and that, of course, is the opposite side, which here we have cons. And so you say, okay, well, I like this one because it talks about students to start figuring out what they wanna do.

So here it's assuming that you know what you wanna do. So here would be a concession point, students are undecided, there you go, check. And just like that, we're ready to write our essay.

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Issue Task