How to approach an Argument Essay in the GRE given with an example

In the previous article, we have written about Key points for the Analytical Writing Measure in the GRE. In this article, let’s focus on one of the major sub-topic of AWA, How to approach an Argument Essay in the GRE given with an example

In the AWA section of the GRE, one of the two essays is to analyze an argument. An argument essay is more equivalent to answering critical reasoning questions. A short paragraph is given by an author in which he introduces a topic and uses reasoning or factual evidence to back up his or her opinion about that topic. GRE arguments are intended to be weak and unconvincing. Your job is, thus, to draw out the deficiency of proof, and the imperfections in the proof and reasoning, while at the same time composing the essay according to the instructions. The systematic analysis leads to better organization of the essay. Henceforth, utilize the strategy for rehearsing with GRE arguments until it gets normal in your mind. In this article, let’s read about How to approach an Argument Essay in the GRE given with an example

What are the different elements of an argument?

An argument mainly contains three elements:

  • Premise: It is evident in the form of numerical data, examples, or any kind of information that supports the conclusion.
  • Assumptions: A statement that is implied in the evidence that is considered true by an author can be called an assumption.
  • Conclusion: Conclusion in an argument in the GRE often appears as recommendations or predictions. The conclusion is the results of an action or can be said that the effects of a cause.

How to approach an argument?

Your task is to suggest ways in which the argument could be strengthened. Follow the steps given below:

  1. Read the argument and instructions carefully.
  2. Analyze the relationships (cause-effect, analogies, etc.) between various parts of the argument and find the flaws in reasoning (insufficient data, irrelevant information).
  3. Read the instructions again and organize your thoughts.
  4. Type your essay.
  5. Proofread your essay.

After finishing the essay, you must spend some time proofreading your essay. In this way, you can remove some minor errors. Below is the checklist given to keep in mind while proofreading your essay:

  • Spelling mistakes
  • Punctuation errors
  • Errors in the use of tenses
  • The tone of your essay
  • Avoid very lengthy sentences
  • Most of the sentences in the active voice

Which are the words we can use in the sentences?

List of transition words:

1. To Add

Finally, further, lastly, moreover, besides

2. To Prove

Evidently, indeed, in fact, in addition, in any case, because, since

3. Sequence

Afterward, simultaneously, next, and so forth, consequently, concurrently, next, still

4. Cause and effect

as a result, for this purpose, so, then, therefore, to this end

5. Exception

However, nevertheless, in spite of, despite, sometimes

6. Examples

For example, for instance, take the case of, to illustrate, to demonstrate, such as

7. Conclusion

To conclude, to recapitulate, to sum up, in conclusion, hence, therefore, consequently, thus, to put it in a nutshell, summing up, on the whole

Which are the common logical fallacies to look out for?

  • Hasty Generalization- An argument that is based on insufficient evidence contains this fallacy.
  • Faulty Prediction- Whenever an argument tries to predict the future that is the opportunity to point out that the future could actually turn out some other way. Anyone who tries to predict the future is automatically introducing a level of uncertainty into his or her argument.
  • Personal Attack- An attack that is made on a person’s character or circumstances rather than his or her argument. Look out for the extreme language.
  • Cause-Effect Errors- If two things are happening at the same time doesn’t mean that one causes the order.
  • Vague Terminology- As you look out for the language that is too extreme, you are also on the lookout for language that is too vague.
  • Exaggerated Conclusion- Sometimes argument uses language so extreme that the premise can’t justify the conclusion.
  • Statistical Fallacy- It uses small population surveys to reach conclusions about the population as a whole.
  • Faulty Analogy- This fallacy makes an assumption that because two things are alike in one or more aspects, they are necessarily alike in some other aspects or in all aspects.
  • Predicting based on Past- It is hard to judge the present, or predict future events without knowing information about the past. 

GRE arguments may possess flaws not listed above as there are infinite numbers of ways to contain fallacies. You should not memorize the above fallacies. Just look out these fallacies and deconstruct the argument.

Time Allocation Strategy:

  • Analyze the argument and brainstorm the argument: 5 minutes
  • Type your essay: 22 minutes
  • Proofread your essay: 3 minutes

Sample Example:

Here is given an example for the reference. Topic is taken from the ETS argument essay pool

The following appeared in a letter to the school board in the town of Centerville.

“All students should be required to take the driver’s education course at Centerville High School. In the past two years, several accidents in and around Centerville have involved teenage drivers. Since a number of parents in Centerville have complained that they are too busy to teach their teenagers to drive, some other instruction is necessary to ensure that these teenagers are safe drivers. Although there are two driving schools in Centerville, parents on a tight budget cannot afford to pay for driving instruction. Therefore an effective and mandatory program sponsored by the high school is the only solution to this serious problem.”

Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.

Response:

The letter presented here endorses mandatory driving education courses at Centerville High School. The author argues makes three assertions: During the last two years several accidents in Centerville car accidents involved mainly teenage drivers; Parents are too busy to teach driving to their children; and the two private driving schools in Centerville are not affordable by the parents. Although the underlying issue certainly has merit because of faulty evidence, weak assumptions. Some of the flaws in the author’s argument are as follows.

To begin with, the argument didn’t mention what or who caused the car accidents to which the letter refers. If the students of Centerville High School are the reason for accidents then it will be avoided by giving them a driving education, then the argument would have merit. Moreover, it can be the possibility that teenage drivers mentioned in the letter are not local high school students or teenage drivers had in fact taken the high school’s driving course. The author must rule out all these possibilities in order to conclude confidently that a school-sponsored mandatory driving education course would have prevented these accidents. Additionally, it is entirely possible, for instance, that the rate of accidents involving teenagers has been steadily declining due to the availability of the two private driving courses. 

Moreover, it assumes that a mandatory school-sponsored course would be constructive, yet provides no evidence to support this assumption. Likewise, the argument fails to justify its assumption that a significant percentage of parents cannot afford private driving courses for their teenage children. Absent substantiating evidence for either of these necessary assumptions, I cannot be convinced that Centerville should establish the proposed driving course.

To put it in a nutshell, the author fails to adequately support the recommendation for a school-sponsored mandatory driving course. To strengthen the argument, the author could have presented clear evidence that Centerville High School students caused the accidents, and providing them the course would have prevented the accidents. To better evaluate this argument, I would need more information about the affordability of the two private driving courses and about the effectiveness of a mandatory school-sponsored course compared to that of the two private courses.

To sum up, you can improve your analytical writing skills by writing the essay, getting it evaluated, incorporating it with the feedback, and repeating the cycle.  

Hope it helps!! Happy Learning

Written by,
Jaini Bhavsar (There’s always room for bliss.)
3rd June 2020
Connect with me on LinkedIn

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How to approach an Argument Essay in the GRE given with an example
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What is an argument essay in the GRE? What are the main elements of an argument essay? How to approach an argument essay? Which are the common logical fallacies to lookout for? How will you manage the time in the exam? How can I score the maximum in the argument essay of the analytical writing skills section? This blog is based on How to approach an Argument Essay in the GRE given with an example
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