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. )
-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.
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.
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
Proponents of [policy X], Opponents of [policy X]
- 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)