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Issue task vs Argument task

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I just finished writing an issue task essay. I took a topic from the ets website and gave myself 30 minutes to complete the essay. When re-reading it I was comparing it to the sample essay from the site which received a 6/6 and noticed that my issue task essay read more like a response to an argument task essay.

Just curious if any one on here has any helpful advice as to what really differentiates the issue essay from the argument essay. I was a philosophy major in college and will be pursuing grad work in philosophy, so I'm not sure if my writing style is the problem (meaning I only know how to respond to questions if I treat it as an argument) or if it's something else.

Thanks a whole lot in advance.

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I got a 6 for the writing section when I took the GRE in 8/2010, and this was the strategy I used.

The issue essay involves taking a stance on something, so I can see how you see it as an argument. Unless the topic is really controversial (which it shouldn't be), ALWAYS take a QUALIFIED approach. Discuss both the pros and cons of the issue, and then take a side while ALSO CONSIDERING THE OTHER POINT. My essay prompt asked me if public schools should have required school uniforms. I described pros (looks professional, less chance of getting in trouble for indecency) and cons (limits self expression, students can't afford it) and ultimately sided with not having uniforms.

The argument essay prompt contains an error in logic in EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE of it. My prompt described a woman who was running for mayor, and some dude was arguing to a newspaper editor why she was the best candidate because she did x, y, and z. I wrote an essay where I pointed out that the man didn't even mention any other candidates so the woman he liked couldn't logically be the "best" candidate without any competition, how past success doesn't indicate future success, how x, y, and z had nothing to do with being a good mayor, etc.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's how I understand the essential difference:

Issue Essay: Here you are creating an argument, structuring it around a thesis in the same way you would in any paper you write in school: intro paragraph describing the issue and establishing a strong thesis at the end, several supporting paragraphs, preferably one for each main proof of your argument, and a concluding paragraph, summing up and restating your thesis.

Argument essay: Here you are analyzing an argument, evaluating how it is structured and any/all logical flaws in its premises and conclusions. The format for this would be something like: An intro paragraph describing the argument and ending in a sort of "thesis" where you sate that the argument is flawed because of X, Y, and Z. Next, describe the problems with X, Y, and Z in three supporting paragraphs. And finally, end with a conclusion summing up and restating the main reasons the argument is flawed--be sure to look at what the question actually asks for, such as consequences to the flaws in logic, etc. These should be sprinkled in the supporting paragraphs and referenced again in the conclusion.

From all that I've read about the essays, this is what ETS seems to want. I just took the test last Saturday and followed this format, so we'll see how I do. :)

Edited by bfat
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