GMAT: Analysis of an Issue — Preparing to Write

One portion of the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment asks you to analyze an issue. You take a position on the given issue and support your position with relevant details or examples. Consider many points of view as you develop your own position on the issue. No right or wrong answers exist for the question.

Before you begin analyzing the topic itself, make yourself aware of the amount of time allotted for the assignment as well as the space available. You have thirty minutes to write your Analysis of an Issue response. You will have the equivalent of three pages to complete your response. Use the provided scratch paper to organize your writing before you begin inputting your response.

Carefully read the topic

Giving too little time and attention to this task is a major mistake. Remember that if you address the topic incorrectly, or even partially, your score drops significantly, no matter how well you organize, support, and write the response. Therefore, you must spend adequate time carefully reading and understanding the topic and its exact requirements.

Pay special attention to key words in the directions, like describe, compare, explain, and contrast. Be aware that or requires a choice. Completely assess all the tasks required. You may find reading the topic several times helpful, focusing on the key words or tasks.

Discriminate between required and optional tasks. If the instructions use the word may, you may omit that task or a part of it.

Plan by brainstorming and organizing

Remembering, inventing, and organizing information at short notice can be difficult unless you are prepared with an effective technique. Writing your response immediately after reading the topic often results in a poorly organized, haphazard response.

Take time to organize your thoughts on paper before writing (typing your response into the computer):

  • Brainstorming: Brainstorming simply entails jotting down on scratch paper as many thoughts, ideas, examples, illustrations, and possibilities as you can remember, invent, or otherwise bring to mind to address the topic. Neatness, order, and spelling don't matter at this point.

  • Organizing: After generating as many illustrations as you can within the time allotted, assess these ideas. Development relies on specific examples: Decide which examples best enable you to support your points. Cross out those you don't wish to use, and number those you'll want to address in your response. Add any notes regarding more specific details or new thoughts that come to mind. Don't worry about developing everything completely, because only you use these planning notes. Your time will be better spent developing these points in your writing and not in your notes.