Learn the 4 Things You Must Know Before Taking the GMAT!   Download it Now!

The GMAT “Analysis of an Issue” essay will be the first task you’ll have to tackle on test day. You’ll have 30 minutes to compose a response to a statement or directive and answer the question(s) given to you by the test-makers. The following guidelines and tips should serve you well:


Read question (2-3 minutes)
Brainstorm and outline (2-3 minutes)
2-sentence intro with thesis statement as second sentence (3-4 minutes)
Multiple body paragraphs: 2 or 3 if possible (18-20 minutes)
1-2 sentence conclusion (2-3 minutes)
Proofread (1-2 minutes)


Ideally: 4-5 paragraphs
a) Introduction
b) 2-3 body paragraphs
c) Conclusion


1) Make sure you fully understand the question (zero in on anything specific in the question prompt that goes beyond just asking you to state your opinion on the topic)
2) Make sure your essay truly answers the question
3) Pick a side, any side (don’t just debate the pros and cons — actually take a stance)
4) Make sure you have a specific sentence in your intro that the reader can underline that actually tells what your stand is on the topic (THESIS STATEMENT)
5) Make sure your body paragraphs are well developed with key examples

  • examples from literature/film/the Bible
  • examples from history or politics
  • examples from current events
  • examples from personal experience

Note: Unless the question specifically says otherwise, try to stay away from personal experience: your best choices for support will be from literature, film, and/or history. If you use personal experiences for a question that does not specifically ask you to respond from your personal experience, put that info in your last body paragraph. Of course, if you cannot actually think of anything good from literature or history and you can think of some solid examples from personal experience–and you have to figure this out in about the first 4-5 minutes–then go with personal experience

6) Make sure your essay is long enough (short essays historically get lower scores)
7) Use transitions between your examples or between body paragraphs
8) Use complete sentences and correct grammar. Spell everything correctly, to the best of your ability (the word processor you’ll be using won’t have spell check)
9) Make sure you do not run out of time
10) Don’t lose sight of your four primary objectives with the Issue Essay:

  • Do you have a clear viewpoint on the issue?
  • Do you support your viewpoint with sound reasons and relevant examples?
  • Have you presented your ideas in a clear, logical, organized structure?
  • Have you used proper grammar, diction, and syntax?