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Student Issue Essay Analysis Part VII

This is Part VII of my Student Issue Essay Analysis series. I’ll be posting a prompt our Premium students have responded to over at the Magoosh product (under real exam conditions) and giving my analysis of the essay. If you want, have a look at the prompt first and try your hand at the essay, and see how yours stacks up.

Check out my past commentary:


Universities should require students to take courses only within those fields they are interested in studying.

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.

Student’s essay

I do not agree with the stated policy to allow students to only take course within their chosen fields of study. Instead I feel that students should should have the opportunity to take course outside of their major for the following reasons.

First, I feel that taken course outside ones major gives students variety, and exposure to experiences or interactions they may not have considered previously. Take for example Lisa, an engineering student who spends countless hours studying. Realizing that she needed a change of place an outlet of some sorts decides to take a modern dance course just for fun. What ultimatly was that Lisa learned to relax which interned helped her study more effectively and perform better in her engineering course.

Then take Monique, a political science major who doesn’t know how to swim. decided to take a swimming course and not only learned to over come her fear, but gained confidence in other other aspects of o her live.

Thirdly, lets consider Jason, a physics major who only took courses in his major. He became such an expert in his field us study, but became increasing socially award because of his inability to converse or relate to his peers.

In the even both Lisa and Monique were not able to take course outside of their major, I fear that they would have succumb to the pressure that sometimes too often over takes students adjusting to university lift. By deviating from their mandatory set of course they found a renew focus and inner strength that they may have never know before. Jason however, didn’t fair as well due to his strict focus in University

University is about diversity and gaining new experience for growth and development. Not being allowed to explore this diversity limits the over experience and potential stunts the education growth and perspective of students

My analysis

Score: 3.0
Grammatical errors and spelling mistakes mar the effectiveness of this essay. Specifically, commas are misused (or not used at all), incorrect words are used (“interned”, “award” vs. “awkward”). I think many of these mistakes can be remedied if the student spends some time editing.The point in editing isn’t to catch the nitpicky errors but the glaring ones (of which this essay has many).

Next, the essay has very predictable development: take one-side of the prompt, and then come up with three hypothetical examples to support the point. There is zero analysis. This essay could have been improved and gotten within striking range of a ‘4’, or at least a ‘3.5’, had it simply addressed the instructions: “consider the possible consequences of implementing….” Of course, addressing the grammatical and spelling errors would have helped the essay.

As it stands the grammatical errors are so distracting that they make reading the essay difficult. Sure, clarity isn’t sacrificed, as the essay is mostly clear. But the simple structure, the lack of addressing the instruction, and the glaring sentence mechanics issues, lands this essay a ‘3’.

A note about essay grading

While I’d love to grade everyone’s practice essays, that’s just simply not possible. Unfortunately I won’t be able to grade new essays, as students’ essays have already been chosen in advance. Instead, if you’re wondering how to get feedback on getting your practice AWA essays graded, check out this page:

How to Get Your AWA Practice Essays Graded?

If you have any questions about my analysis, let me know in the comments below!

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

8 Responses to Student Issue Essay Analysis Part VII

  1. Courtney August 22, 2016 at 12:46 pm #


    I was wondering how spelling affects your analytical writing score. I am a great writer, a good critical thinker and write very organized, but my spelling is awful! How will that affect the score I receive?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 23, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

      Hi Courtney,

      Publications from ETS explicitly state that they are not grading for spelling as long as the spelling mistakes do not interfere with the readability of the text. Spelling DOES matter if it affects someone’s ability to understand you, but it isn’t the core reason for the AWA. So focus on your argumentation, organization, and structure rather than worrying about spelling. 🙂

  2. John August 29, 2014 at 1:04 am #

    Hi Chris,

    In the sample student’s essay above, the writer writes in first person. Is that allowed or recommended on the actual GRE ?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 29, 2014 at 10:20 am #


      You can definitely write in the first person on the GRE essay. I think the stigma around the ‘I’ comes from the middle school martinet of a grammar teacher who drilled it into our heads that ‘I’ is tantamount to the plague. Of course, there was some logic there–allow a 6th grader to use ‘I’ and soon you are seeing more ‘I’s than an optometrist :).

      In a sense, the same goes for anyone writing. Use ‘I’, but use it sparingly. With the example above, the first ‘I’ is fine (though I wouldn’t have started the essay with a sentence that so directly answers the prompt). The second ‘I’, though, is unnecessary. The student should have just said, “Instead, students should have…”.

      Hope that helps!

  3. John August 20, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I would like to clear a few things –

    1. Do you have an essay for an issue that prompts the writer to take both views ? Both for and against ? If so, could you please share it ? For such a strategy although discussed in the video lessons hasn’t been shown as an example with a topic. And how likely is such a question on Test Day ? As opposed to taking one particular side? Could you please elucidate on how to approach such a topic and the strategies one has to employ ?

    2. Examples
    I understand that for a truly cogent essay, one has to provide specific examples that pertain to the issue and support/argue against the topic. I have noticed that most approaches that have been taken are written by Americans, and the examples they use will be of American history, etc. Being a non-American, I was wondering if the examples I state will be clear to those who evaluate my essay.

    Thank You !

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 22, 2014 at 11:53 am #

      Hi John,

      Good questions!

      1) I don’t think there is an issue that does so. For the most part, the GRE is testing your ability to articulate a nuanced position, that is neither too extreme nor too neutral/wishy-washy (after all, it is an argumentative essay and you have to argue something).

      2) It is true: specific–and well chosen–essays make for a cogent case. Regardless of where the examples are coming from (U.S. colonial history or the Mughal empire), the writer will have to make his/her case clear. The graders are not supposed to bring their own knowledge to the essay. They are judging the essay solely on the information it contains. If you just jump into an example about Washington’s tenacity, then that is no different from jumping straight to the tenacy of the 14th century Malian king Mansa Musa. Both examples lack clarity.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Daniel December 4, 2013 at 6:43 am #

    Hi Chris,
    Congrats on your great job here in Magoosh; I think it is awesome.
    Concerning what you stated: “…had it simply addressed the instructions: consider the possible consequences of implementing…”, don’t you think that the following paragraph actually did it?:

    “Thirdly, lets consider Jason, a physics major who only took courses in his major. He became such an expert in his field us study, but became increasing socially award because of his inability to converse or relate to his peers.”

    In my opinon, this paragraph, tough shortly, it actually does the job. What do you think?

    Thank you,

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele December 4, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      Hi Daniel,

      I guess you’re right — he doesn’t completely disregard the instructions. But it IS very short, barely an exploration of the consequences I think the prompt wants you to consider. This essay just gives three pat examples without barely scratching the service.

      It still gets a 3.0, in my opinion :).

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