Your response for the Analysis of an Issue portion of the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment should exhibit the following characteristics:
  • Coverage of all the tasks required by the exam question

  • An understanding of the complexity of the issue

  • Cogent reasoning and logical development of a position

  • Relevant persuasive supporting details

  • Superior organization

  • Superior command of standard written English

Opening paragraph

A strong opening paragraph is an essential component for a well-developed response. One easy to master, yet effective, type of introduction is a GENERALIZE-FOCUS-SURVEY structure. In this three- to four-sentence paragraph, the first sentence generalizes about the given topic, the second sentence focuses on what you have chosen to discuss, and the last one or two sentences survey the particulars you intend to present.

An effective first paragraph tells your reader what to expect in the body of the response. The GENERALIZE-FOCUS-SURVEY paragraph points toward the specifics you will discuss and suggests the order in which you will discuss them.

Body and conclusion

Writing the body of the response involves presenting specific details and examples that relate to the aspects you introduced in the first paragraph. The body may consist of one longer paragraph or several shorter paragraphs.

Consider these additional guidelines for the body of the response:

  • If you choose to break your discussion into several paragraphs, make sure that each paragraph consists of at least three sentences. Very short paragraphs may make your response appear insubstantial and scattered.

  • Be realistic about how much you can write. Your readers do not give more credit for longer responses. Although they want you to support your points adequately, they understand that you must write concisely to finish in time.

  • Providing at least one substantial example, or "for instance," is important for each aspect you discuss in the body of your response.

As you prepare to write the conclusion, pay special attention to time. Having a formal conclusion to your response is unnecessary, but a conclusion may function to (1) complete your response to the question, (2) add information that you failed to introduce earlier, or (3) point toward the future.


Always allow a few minutes to proofread your response for errors in grammar, usage, and spelling. Because you must write your response in a limited period of time, graders don't allow minor errors of grammar or mechanics to affect your score. A response that receives an "excellent" score of 6 is not, necessarily, errorless, but it is superior in content.

Pop Quiz!

If each variable could be positive or negative, then for which expression would the simplified form require the use of absolute value symbols?

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