April 10, 2014

Analytical Writing Practice Questions

Essay 1 – Issue

Directions: There are 45 minutes allotted for this part of the section. In that time, you will plan and write an essay that explains your point of view on an assigned topic. Choose one of the two topics below. You are not allowed to write about any other topics.

The topic is a short quotation about an issue. You will write an essay about the issue – agreeing with it, disagreeing with it, or qualifying the quote. Support your opinion with what you know from your studies, your own observations, readings, or other sources.

Ensure that you have fully developed your ideas and that your essay is well-organized. You will want to make sure you have time to review and revise your work, so plan accordingly.

1. A preoccupation with the future not only prevents us from seeing the present as it is but often prompts us to rearrange the past. (Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind, 1954)

2. Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present. (Marcus Aurelius Antonius, Mediations, 200 A.D.)


Directions: There are 30 minutes allotted for this part of the section. Here, you will explain how logical you believe the argument below seems. As you consider your argument, take care to analyze what the speaker is saying, the rationale, and use of evidence. Think about and explain how to make the argument more valid or how its conclusion could be better stated.

This opinion was argued at a recent economic policy meeting:

People should be able to will their social security fund earnings to their survivors. Social Security is run like a giant Ponzi-type scheme. (Years ago, Charles Ponzi conducted an investment swindle whereby early investors were paid returns with money provided by later investors.) All workers, some involuntarily, contribute money to the social security system at regular intervals during their entire working life. Retired people, disabled children and adults, and minors who have lost a head of household are all given a monthly check, the amount of which is largely based on what they have paid into the fund. The only reason these people are able to be paid is that money continues to be pumped into the system.

This system may work well, but some people are never able to draw from their contributions to social security. They may work for ten years and die, or they may work their entire life and die just at the time they have retired. This is unfair. People should be able to will their social security fund earnings to their survivors.

Analytical Writing Practice Questions – Answer Key