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Intro to Issue Task
In this video, we are going to meet the issue task here. a quick overview, and then we’re actually going to have the fun part here. We’re going to have an example prompt and actually go through an issue and brainstorm an outline.
But first off, quick intro here. What do we need to do? Well, we need to, of course, read the directions. The directions will always ask you to agree or disagree and support your position.
Sometimes, they will give a little extra information, and it’s important for you to read the extra information. However, at the end of the day, you’ll always be focused on these two things. So definitely read the extra info, but know that agree or disagree is the gist of the issue task.
Now, in agreeing or disagreeing, of course, you want to eventually come up with a side here. So you always want to choose a side. Do you agree or disagree? But oftentimes, this extra variable will specifically say that you have to look at both sides of the argument.
So you will choose a side, but you will have to look at both sides, that is, there’s a positive and a negative pro and con as I call it. And if you do not have these extra directions, you still need to address one of the sides. If you pick the positive side, you defend that. You still need to say, “Hey, the negative side may sometimes have some validity”. This is important. The point is called the concession point.
You must make sure that you, in addressing both sides, show that the other side is also valid in some cases. Again, do this even if the extra directions do not explicitly call for because the GRE likes you to think analytically, and when you can think of the other side of the issue that you are debating, it shows that you are an analytical thinker.
Again, concession point here is very important. Now, let’s actually take a look at the different categories of issues. Where are these questions coming from? So first theme here is the government and power theme, and let’s take a look here at an example.
“Governments should focus on short term solutions rather than long terms ones”. So, what we have here is a simple question about government and power. Again, they could have many variations on this. It could be a completely different question, but again, it relates to government and power.
To really see this, you can go to GRE.org, and there they will have a pool of issue tasks. Again, one you’ll see is government and power. Another one you’ll see is education. For instance, they could ask something like, “students should only take courses in college that have a direct bearing on their future careers”. OK, fair enough.
And something like culture and society. This one’s very broad. Lots of stuff that’s underneath here. One possible example is “society flourishes best if there’s a diversity of opinion”. Again, go to the issue pool, and when I say pool, there are hundreds on the list. I haven’t sat there and actually counted all of them, but there are a lot.
What I’d recommend is find your weakness. Just find that area where you struggle the most. For instance, there’s the dreaded art essay that would fall under culture society, so become better at your weaknesses. Don’t necessarily just work on your strengths.
So again, these are the categories of issues. This is what you can expect. Now that we’ve done this part, we want to actually dive into a specific issue. It’s going to be one that you saw a second ago from education, and it is students should only take courses in college that have a direct bearing on their future career’s.
Now, you’ll notice the directions. Remember a second ago, I said, we will always talk about the extent to which you agree or disagree, and you will want to support your position.
This is always gonna be there. Now, a little twist comes here. You should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true, and explain how these considerations shape your position.
So this is important. Keep that in mind, but again, when you’re brainstorming, know that you want to come up with both sides, pro and con, and show to what extent you agree or disagree, and then support that position.
So let’s do that now. What we’re going to do is we are going to come up here with a brainstorm and an outline. So I’m going to put the pro’s on this side. Now on this side, we are going to put the con’s.
So we think through this and say, “Yeah, that’s a great idea because students spend less time in college”. And less time in college means less money. That is, students don’t have to spend as much money in college. They can get out in three years perhaps, because again, if they’re taking courses only that have a bearing on their future careers, this is great.
Less time, what does that allow them to do? In addition to saving a lot of money and not feeling like they’re taking irrelevant courses just for credits or units or what have you, they’re actually out in the working field and they’re engaged or doing their profession.
Engaged in their profession, not a person, engaged in their profession. And of course, making money paying off those loans, or because they didn’t have to spend as much. That’s great. They’re already doing what they like, we assume, in terms of their job.
That’s great because that helps society. They can add to society sooner, contribute to society sooner. That’s great. We come up with a few. Now, don’t sit here all day and just go, “OK, now what else can I come up with?” This already definitely gives us a sufficient amount of information to work off of.
Now, let’s consider the other side. You may think, “Yeah, hold on a second. What about well-rounded members of society?” We want people to learn more. Learn about antiquity, Roman history, read Shakespeare, so well-rounded individuals, or what about those individuals who don’t even know what they want to do?
You’re assuming that, yeah, to be busy doing what you love and you know what you want to do, of course, is part of that. So if you’re undecided and you still want to explore your major, or what majors are out there, because you don’t have a major, then this is great.
Because you don’t really know who you are yet, so this could be another side of the issue. But let’s just say that’s really all you can think of on the con side. Then it’s time to say, “Well, I need to choose a side, and I have a lot more here with the pros”. So you choose your side.
So you think to yourself, I’m going to choose pro’s. I am going to start off my argument with less time in college so less money, and that’s going to help me flow into and engage into a profession sooner and helping society. Maybe that would be my first paragraph here, opening paragraph, second paragraph, and then you want to talk about that concession point.
And that, of course, is the opposite side, which here we have cons. And so you say, “Well, I like this one because it talks about students who still haven’t figured out what they want to do”. So here, it’s assuming you know what you want to do. Here would be a concession point, students are undecided. There you go, on track, and just like that, we’re ready to write our essay.
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