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)
I'm sorry guys -- I really didn't use a template for issue essays! I did those far more on the fly since those were more question-specific than argument essays.
I guess a general template would be
P1 - Intro and a thesis
P2 - Example 1 (usually in depth)
P3 - Example 2 (in depth)
P4 - Exploring the nuances of the question -- ie, why the opposing position is not entirely wrong. This shows I understand that the issue is not black and white.
P5 - Conclusion
I'm sorry, I really structured issues essays loosely and didn't go as in depth with them as I did with arguments. I've attached an issue essay below and hopefully that might help some of you guys? If you have specific questions let me know.
"Despite the convenience of distance learning and online educational programs, they will never replace in-class instruction."
Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the position stated above. Support your viewpoint using reasons and examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.
With an increasingly globalized world, and the advent of ever-improving technology that allows people to go as far as to project a holograph of themselves sitting in a chair in Tokyo from their office in San Jose, California, we are starting to reexamine the ways we structure learning. Gone are the days on the one-room schoolhouse, where all learning is completed between eight and three p.m. More and more often, schools are utilizing the significant technological tools that have been developed in order to redefine the way we teach and the way we learn. Indeed, we can now learn math from an online recorded voice while we sit on the couch in our pajamas. In the statement above, the author claims that though distance learning and online educational programs offer convenience, in-class instruction is irreplaceable. Though, distance learning and online educational tools can provide fantastic aids to traditional classroom learning and a great deal of benefit to certain students, as the author claims, they cannot entirely take the place of in-class instruction.
The main reason that distance learning cannot take the place of traditional in-class instruction is that the primary benefit that in-class instruction provides is spontaneity. Students can learn from the questions another student asks, which can make them realize that they do not understand a subject as well as they thought they did. In debates with other students surrounding, perhaps, the Cold War, students can learn from each other based on their give-and-take, something impossible to duplicate in online educational programs. Many programs through reputable universities, such as Johns Hopkins' CTY program or Stanford's EPGY program provide distance learning to secondary school students. In such programs, students complete assignments, email them back and forth with their teachers, receiving comments each time, learn primarily from books or prewritten tools, and only hear their teacher speak through phone or web based tools. Studies show that humans communicate over 90% of their emotion through body language, yet this interaction is nonexistent in distance learning. CTY students cannot see the imperceptible body shift or raised eyebrow that let them know they are moving off track. Because they can only communicate with other students (generally) through discussion boards or chat rooms, they are not as spontaneous in their student-to-student interaction. By writing down what they say, they have time to read it over, think about it, before posting it. In a typical classroom, however, students bounce ideas off each other, and often, the exchange of ideas is far more free than if they are given the chance to self-censor. Because distance learning lacks the spontaneity of conversation that in-person teaching provides, by definition, it cannot perform the exact same function.
Another issue with the replacement of in-class instruction with distance/online learning is that the two serve often drastically different populations. In-class instruction generally caters to students in a specific geographical area, whereas distance learning allows for interactions with students around the world. In-class instruction might utilize specific community examples such as a proposed city ordinance to teach a concept, while distance learning, by definition, must include more universal examples that are easily understood by people with a variety of backgrounds. This lack of personalization and tailoring of teaching to specific students makes distance learning fundamentally different than in-class instruction, and therefore, beneficial to different people. MIT recently launched an open courseware system where lecture notes, Power Point slides, essay questions, and assessments are provided to anyone with an Internet connection. Yet the act of attending MIT is substantially different than the act of using the courseware to take the same classes MIT students take. The students one would interact with at MIT are generally at the top of their high school classes, have been preselected by the university as able to do the work, whereas though the MIT courseware allows for online discussion of the material, any person can log in and utilize it - a significantly different population than the population that attends MIT. Because the two modes of teaching by definition must serve different populations, they cannot act (fully) as substitutes for one another.
Though distance/online learning may not replace in-class instruction, we cannot go so far to say it is not valuable or that a student cannot learn a great deal from them. Many colleges, particularly community colleges, have launched distance learning and online educational systems to better serve their largely commuter population. The student who takes, for example, Calculus I through distance learning will likely leave with a similar understanding of the mathematical principles as the student who takes Calculus I through a traditional, in-class teaching system. The key point, however, is that their experiences will not be the same. Distance learning/online education and in-class instructions provide substantially different experiences to the students (and teacher) involved, and different students will prefer different methods of course instruction. Distance learning has value, can teach a student a great deal, but not all students learn best in such an environment. Distance learning will never replace in-class instruction, since many students learn better through in-class instruction than through distance learning (and vice versa), but that is not to say it will not continue to expand and provide value for the students who utilize it.
In sum, distance learning and in class instruction provide different modes of learning, and neither can exist as a substitute for the other. Neither can replicate the other so completely as to say they are the same, and thus, neither can replace the other. While distance learning will likely to continue to expand, better serving populations that likely otherwise would not have access to the types of information the courses disseminate, in-class instruction will remain, primarily because it offers benefits that distance learning does not. Distance learning provides convenience and an ever wider net of people willing to be educated, but in-class instruction provides a spontaneity of interaction that distance learning cannot duplicate. Therefore, distance learning will never truly replace in-class instruction worldwide, though it will surely continue as a supplement to such instruction and beneficial program on its own merit.