Issue Essays Gre Examples

In a previous post, where I brainstormed ideas on a sample topic, I mentioned I would write a mock essay using those ideas. Below is that topic. And below that is the essay.



In any field of endeavor, it is impossible to make a significant contribution without first being strongly influenced by past achievements within that field.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.


While many accomplishments build on existing knowledge, many significant breakthroughs result from those who have completely broken with tradition. Clearly then, significant breakthroughs do not always build upon existing knowledge.

By the mid-20th Century, Abstract art was at its acme. At the same time, many critics felt that the artists had all but exhausted themselves in terms of innovation. To be unique one had to be random and chaotic—silly even. It was little surprise that many crowed about the imminent demise of Abstract art. Into this intellectual milieu, the artist Jackson Pollock came to prominence. Seemingly random and chaotic—though anything but silly—his work had no clear precedent. He would throw paint at a canvas on the ground or propped up against the wall. Though many dismissed him as a madman and a crank, eventually his work was hailed as that of a genius, and that work did much to reinvigorate the movement of Abstract Art. Had Pollock tried to simply build off of the existing art he very well may have fallen victim to the prophecy that the Abstract art movement had become effete and moribund.

Whereas Jackson Pollock created seminal work by totally breaking with tradition, Copernicus questioned tradition, specifically the assumptions underlying the Ptolemaic version of the universe. At the time, the geocentric model of the universe was considered gospel: both the church and the scientific community (at that time the two were heavily interrelated) endorsed this view because it put man at the center of the universe. Even then, it had the stamp of scientific legitimacy in Ptolemy, who had centuries earlier “proven” that the Sun revolved around the Earth. Using advanced math and his observation skills, Copernicus was able to determine that the earth revolved around the Sun. Just as importantly, he was able to challenge the orthodox view, and instead of building off of it, exposed the shoddy foundations upon which this view was built.

Of course both Jackson Pollock and Copernicus are not the typical in the sweep of human endeavors. It is true that many breakthroughs result from somebody building off of or simply improving the way in which something is done. Henry Ford, with his use of the assembly line, made the process of manufacturing goods far more effective. Then there is our modern day visionary, Steve Jobs, who took existing technology and simply made it easier to use (and prettier to look at).

Yet, as Pollock and Copernicus show, there are certain instances in which thinkers are able to completely break with tradition. Therefore, not all significant breakthroughs result from those who build upon previous knowledge. But in those instances in which a thinker has challenged age old wisdom, or come up with a radical form of art, the world surely takes notice.


This is by no means a perfect essay. But it effectively develops the point: It is not impossible to come up with a breakthrough that doesn’t build off previous knowledge. This is an example-heavy essay, building its position off of Jackson Pollock and Copernicus. Now I am no Art History major, and I can’t profess that this is example is 100% correct. The thing is the GRE won’t dock your grade if you fudge slight facts. For instance, if I said Copernicus was a 17th Century astronomer, instead of 15th Century one, that would not be too catastrophic. If I place him as a contemporary of Jackson Pollock, then I am in trouble. So again, you have a little leeway in facts.

It is by no means a bad idea to make an essay an example-driven one. At the same time, I don’t think there was too much analysis of the prompt. Perhaps had the essay delved more into what it means to make a significant contribution to a field that would have been helpful. For instance, Copernicus didn’t just come up with his heliocentric view out of the blue, uninfluenced by other thinkers. After all he did employ math and observations gleaned from new technology. Had he not applied the math and used a telescope he would have not made his discovery. So was this application building off previous knowledge?

I will give the essay kudos for including the second to last paragraph, which does a fair bit of analysis. The author could have included another example to prove her point (something most students writing GRE essays do). But including yet another support shows zero analysis and would have likely dropped this essay to a ‘4’. Instead, the author concedes a limitation in her own point of view, but in the final paragraph shows that her thesis is still valid (“the world surely takes notice”).

And one other kudos for the polished writing. There is also some nice variety to the sentences. Still, the essay would probably have gotten a ‘5’, since it doesn’t provide the complex level of analysis the graders are looking for.



This essay is just one possible iteration of a ‘5’. To get a sense of more ‘5’s and ‘4’s, and even ‘6’, you can find sample essays on the site. My advice is to understand the difference between a ‘4’ and a ‘5’, do your best to identify where you are scoring and, when applicable, try to get to a ‘4’ by identifying your weaknesses, or a ‘5’, or, for some, a ‘6.’


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GRE Issue Essay Samples

GRE Issue Essay 1 | GRE Issue Essay 2 | GRE Issue Essay 3 | GRE Issue Essay 4 | GRE Issue Essay 5 | GRE Issue Essay 6 | GRE Issue Essay 7 | GRE Issue Essay 8 | GRE Issue Essay 9 | GRE Issue Essay 10

The GRE issue essay is one of the essays of the test section. This section is specifically for measuring the analytical writing skills of a student. In an essay, you are required to write detailed passages on the given topics. There is a lot that can be judged from the written essay. That is why the writing skills should be sharpened before taking the issue test.

The GRE has two types of essays to be written, the issue essay and the argument essay. In the issue essay, you will be given a topic that is debatable. Since it is debatable, it can have two sides to it, one is in support of the topic and the other is against the topic. You can decide upon the stand you want to take and develop your line of thought in the issue essay that you write. Basically, the issue essay is about the way you perceive the given topic. That is why you should write your view, your thoughts, your experiences and examples in the essay.

In order to explain your stand, you can make use of examples and support your thought. This will make your essay impressive and strong. It should not only be convincing, it should be written in grammatically correct English and must have a logical connectivity throughout the essay. One thought should lead to another. However, nowhere in the essay should you waver from the main topic. It is possible that while explaining your stand, you divert from the topic and start discussing another issue. By doing this, the logic and connectivity of the essay is lost.

This essay tests various skills of the test taker. It is not only a test of his thinking capabilities, but it also checks his writing abilities. It measures how the test taker can express his thoughts. It also tests the use of grammar and sentence formation.

Preparing for the GRE Issue Essay
Since there are two essays to be written in GRE, it is very essential to understand the requirements of both the essays. The issue essay is considerably different from the argument essay. It would be a blunder to attempt these essays in the manner that you have been writing the essays in your previous classes. It requires preparation before the test. While preparing for the you should know the word limit of the essay, the marks and the time allotted to the essay writing section.

In order to prepare for the issue essay, you should also make an effort to attempt the sample questions of essays. Reading and learning is important, but writing and applying your knowledge is equally important. It gives you practice and you get to know how the actual test is going to be, what is the pattern of the test, whether you will be able to complete the test in the given time etc. Above all it makes you familiar with the real test, which helps you to gain confidence and remove your inhibitions.

The issue essay can be attempted to the best of one's capabilities only with good preparation and understanding. Thus, while preparing for the test, the student should make it a point to prepare for the issue essays as well.

GRE Issue Essay Samples

GRE Issue Essay 1 | GRE Issue Essay 2 | GRE Issue Essay 3 | GRE Issue Essay 4 | GRE Issue Essay 5 | GRE Issue Essay 6 | GRE Issue Essay 7 | GRE Issue Essay 8 | GRE Issue Essay 9 | GRE Issue Essay 10


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