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Help! I'm overwhelmed by the number of possible Issue task prompts!

It takes quite a while to scroll through all of the potential prompts in the ETS AWA Pool of Issue Topics, which can cause quite a bit of preparation anxiety! But once you take a closer look and break it down a bit, the task of preparing for the Issue Task becomes much simpler. 

First of all, this myriad of prompts basically fall into seven categories which you can read about in this blog post: GRE Issue Topics. Exploring these topics will help you to focus your AWA preparations to find relevant examples. 

In addition, despite the dozens and dozens of prompts that are available on the ETS website for issue topics, there are actually only 6 types of instructions that are given to you. Here is a breakdown the different instructions:

  1. 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. (54 times)
  2. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position. (25 times)
  3. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim and the reason on which that claim is based. (19 times)
  4. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position. (24 times)
  5. Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both of the views presented. (18 times)
  6. Write a response in which you discuss your views on the policy and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider the possible consequences of implementing the policy and explain how these consequences shape your position. (12 times)

There are two main types of prompts in this category: Claim and Reason prompts and Statement prompts. But while they may look different, each of these prompts is essentially asking you to do the same thing. Your task in the Issue Essay is to take a position and craft a strong argument in favor of that position. You should also make sure to acknowledge the other side of the argument in a short concession point paragraph, which shows that you thought about the problem from multiple angles

Finally, even though there appear to be nearly 200 topics, some are repeated. For example, this appears nearly identically 4 times:

  • Colleges and universities should require their students to spend at least one semester studying in a foreign country. (Instructions 4)
  • Colleges and universities should require their students to spend at least one semester studying in a foreign country. (Instructions 2)
  • Colleges and universities should require their students to spend at least one semester studying in a foreign country. (Instructions 6)
  • All college and university students would benefit from spending at least one semester studying in a foreign country. (Instructions 1)

If you know how much overlap there is and how the organize the prompts into concrete categories, preparing for the AWA is much simpler. This is why it is so important to be aware of the entire pool. When you are focusing on 6 instruction types and 7 potential topic areas, you can be much more prepared for the issue task.

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