In the Analysis of Issue question you discuss your opinion toward an issue. You write a well-balanced analysis of the issue the test presents to you.
These are the most common topics:
The most common topics relate to general business and public policy issues. Business issues generally relate to business ethics, marketing and labor. Government issues will generally relate to regulatory issues and social welfare issues.
Here is an example of an Analysis of Issue question:
Following the Colorado massacre of schoolchildren, many lawmakers have proposed that an international body regulate the internet so that sites which provide information to terrorists should be eliminated.
Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the above opinion. Support your opinion with reasons and examples.
The people who grade the Analysis of Issue expect the following:
i) A well-developed essay that is logical and coherent;
ii) An essay that demonstrates critical thinking skills;
iii) An essay which uses varied sentence structure and vocabulary;
iv) An essay that uses the language of standard written English;
v) An essay that is free of mechanical errors in spelling, punctuation, capitalization;and,
vi) An essay that follows the conventions of standard written English.
a. Analysis of Issue:Content
How do I write a well-balanced essay?
You should always acknowledge both sides of an issue. Among the sample essays there is not one irrefutable essay, yet you must pick a side. The trick to doing this is to persuade the reader that, despite the counter-arguments, your position is the strongest one overall.
Try to "straddle the fence" between both sides of the issue by making limited use of qualifiers. This will allow you to acknowledge the opposing view and appear scholarly. (Note that overuse of qualifiers will make the essay appear too vague and dilute an argument you are making.)
In general, take a politically correct opinion or an opinion that a majority of top scorers might take. However, if you do not think you can write an effective politically-correct essay, adjust your content to fit what you can comfortably express. In general, though, stay uncontroversial and balanced. Do not use it as a forum to be an ideologue. Writing a highly charged essay might evoke a bias from the reader (if he disagrees with you) and it also may confuse the E-rater, since you essay will not resemble any essays it has stored in its database. Try to approach each issue in a dispassionate and balanced manner.
Nevertheless, you must be sure to take a stand. You must pick a side that will "win out" in the conclusion/introduction. The test instructions specifically tell you to pick a side. Make sure to disagree or agree with the question's statement.
Note: Do not write an unsubstantiated opinion, write an argument that consists of your thesis and logical arguments to support it.
How in-depth should the essays be?
Your essay is short (you have only 45 minutes), so you won't be able to cover every possible argument, rebuttal and example. When you start the test set aside a few minutes to set up the points and examples. You do not have to cover every idea/concept. Most essay students do not have time to cover everything they would like to cover. Choose the most persuasive relevant points and examples to use. The essay graders do not expect you to go in-depth on every topic.
The most important concern here is that you do not go off of the main subject. Stay focused on the topic. Do not either go off on tangential arguments or excessively focus on one example.
Where should I get examples?
The instructions (with only a few exceptions) allow you to draw upon your personal experiences in developing your answer to each essay question. This practice is acceptable, but don't overdo it. You should generally rely more on academic knowledge than personal experiences.
Your examples and knowledge can be impressive, but you shouldn't go too far. Don't try to impress the grader with your expertise in a narrow area. The AWA tests analytical writing, not specific subject knowledge.
Where do I get essay issue ideas?
These questions generally favor students who have taken government policy analysis courses. This section favors the student who flips to the editorial page of the Wall St. Journal before the Marketplace section.
To get an idea about public policy issues, try Policy Review, the Wall Street Journal editorial page or the Economist.
International Students: Read these American magazines as much as possible to see how Americans structure their writing and to stay updated on issues.
Write with your grader in mind
When you write your Issue essay, remember that you are fundamentally writing your essay to please your grader.
Keep it concise
Put yourself in the position of a grader. They grade essays all day. Wouldn't you favor a concise and effective essay with 5 paragraphs of 4 sentences each more than a 4 paragraph rambling essay with 10 sentences in each paragraph? The bottom line: keep the essays crisp, concise, and written in a manner appealing to the grader. This is particularly important on the Analysis of Issue question, where you essay expresses personal opinions.
b. Analysis of Issue: Structure
Structure is the most important part of your essay. Your essay must be written in a standard format with the standard logical transitions. The E-rater will scan your essay to identify if it has a standard structure.
Introduction/Conclusion- These elements will provide the structure for your essay and keep you on track.
Number of Paragraphs. To satisfy the E-rater, your essay should be 4 to 5 paragraphs: an introduction, a conclusion, and three "body" paragraphs. Each paragraph should have 2 to 5 sentences (total essay about 300-400 words).
Note: You should skip a line between paragraphs since the TAB key does not function in the essay section.