Argument Essay sample + feedback

Looking for a sample Argument Essay with some expert feedback? Here’s a real essay from a fellow GMAT-student!

PROMPT:

The following paragraph recently appeared in an editorial printed in the opinion section of a local newspaper:

The recent surge in violence in the southern part of the city is a result of a shortage of police officers and an absence of leadership on the part of the city council. In order to rectify the burgeoning growth of crime that threatens the community, the city council must address this issue seriously. Instead of spending time on peripheral issues such as education quality, community vitality, and job opportunity, the city council must realize that the crime issue is serious and double the police force, even if this action requires budget cuts from other city programs.

With the allotted time remaining, discuss how well reasoned you find this argument.

ESSAY:

The argument claims that the recent surge in violence in the southern part of the city is a result of a shortage of police officers and an absence of leadership on the part of the city council and hence the city council must react seriously to the situation by doubling the police force even if doing so requires budget cuts from other city programs. The conclusion of the argument relies on assumptions for which there is no clear evidence. Hence the argument is weak or unconvincing and has several flaws.

First and most importantly, the argument readily assumes that the recent surge in violence in the southern part of the city is a result of a shortage of police officers. This statement is a stretch in a sense that it fails to establish that the shortage of police officers is the only reason for the recent surge in violence. Other factors such as poor economy, a lack of job opportunity and a declined in education quality can also result in a surge in violence. Take the US for example, its rate of violence crimes increases with that of the unemployment which is currently at 9.8%. Without establishing the root cause of the situation carefully, the argument may lead to corrective actions which will not produce the desired outcome.

Second the argument claims that the city council does not realize the seriousness of the recent surge in violence and therefore is not addressing the surge in violence seriously. This is again very weak and fails to prove that the city council is not addressing the surge in violence seriously enough. It could be a case whereby the city council is still working on the issue but there have been no concrete actions yet.

Finally, the argument claims that the city council should double the police force at the expenses of other issues such as education quality, community vitality and job opportunity to curb the recent surge in violence. This again is a far-fetch conclusion in that it did not explain how doubling the police force can help in curbing the recent surge in violence even if it true that indeed a shortage of police force is the cause of the surge in violence.

In summary, the argument is flawed and therefore unconvincing. It could be considerably strengthen if the author clearing mentioned all the relevant facts. In order to ascertain the root cause and subsequently the solution to a situation, it is essential to have full knowledge of all contributing factors and weigh them appropriately before arriving at the conclusion.

FEEDBACK:

This essay is absolutely on the right track. It has clear, forceful writing & a good grasp of the task at hand! Here’s the bullet-points where it could be fine-tuned:

– Style-wise, “hence” is used twice in the opening paragraph; it’s hard to come up with good transition words, but varying up your diction can be impressive to the reader

– For this thesis, the reader is going to look straight at the last sentence of the opening paragraph: “Hence the argument is weak or unconvincing and has several flaws.”

Look for a way to combine this with the previous sentence to make it strong and more stand-alone. The word “or” weakens this thesis – why not use “and”? Always aim for the strongest language possible when criticizing the argument.

-1st paragraph – the phrases “in a sense” and “may lead” are a bit wishy-washy; excellent logic is displayed here and the link between crime and unemployment is strong. It could be improved by a more specific example, such as a case where someone unemployed committed a crime.

-2nd paragraph – There’s not enough of a reason why the city council doesn’t realize. As in the first body paragraph, can it be related  to the real world? How do city councils function? How could they be unaware?

– 3rd paragraph – “far-fetched” should be written instead of “far-fetch”  – What would be even more powerful here would be to discuss how lack of quality education, community vitality and job opportunity can lead to an increase in violence that would overwhelm even a doubled police force

– Conclusion – It’s excellent, with a nice adding in of how it could be strengthened!

Make sure to leave 1-2 min. at the end to proofread your Argument essay – A couple grammatical errors are not massively important, but they do detract from the overall reader impression, so practice writing several essays until you can effectively manage your time!

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Quick Tips to Shift your GMAT AWA Score

1. Use effective transitions. Transitions are words or phrases that connect ideas. They are used by writers to assist the reader in understanding shifts in thought between ideas. They also reveal the relationship between ideas presented in an essay, and they reveal the role a paragraph plays with the rest of the essay. You’ve probably noticed a lot of Transition words in the Reading Comp passages in the GMAT Verbal section without even realizing it! This table provides an overview of most of the common types of Transitions!

2. Don’t try to “have it both ways. ” Choose a side for the Issue essay and stick with it. Don’t try to take a “middle of the road” approach. Even if you don’t 100% believe in the side you’ve chosen to defend, defend it to your full capacity. In 30 minutes, you won’t be able to address the full complexity of the issue.

3. Make a concession before reiterating your thesis. A great way to strengthen your own argument is to acknowledge that there is in fact complexity to the issue. However, if you bring up and describe the opposing side, make sure to criticize it effectively and reiterate that your side is the only one that is valid. This is a great tool to use in your conclusion and can work in either the Issue essay or the Argument essay.

4. Don’t make up examples. Made up statistics and facts won’t impress the GMAT graders, but strong organization, logical arguments, and specific supportive examples will. You can see from the GMAT rubric that the structure, logic, and clarity of your essay are what counts the most, not its level of scholarship. You can get a perfect score even if you know very little of the subject matter.

5. Leave time to proofread. Make sure to spend at least 2-3 minutes at the end re-reading and editing your essay. Are your transitions clear? Are there any spelling or grammar errors? Focus on conveying your argument succinctly and forcefully and look to eliminate long-winded or pedantic phrases/clauses. Also avoid any slang or colloquial speech. The argument essay needs to be formal, but more importantly, forceful, and a couple minutes of editing can really help improve your score!

A Template for the GMAT Argument Essay

This is a sample outline for the GMAT’s Argument Essay. Here we are aiming for 5 paragraphs total. You may opt for a shorter 4 paragraph version if you have trouble finishing 3 body paragraphs, but try for 5 paragraphs. If you are an adept writer, you may wish to place your “How to Strengthen” paragraph on its own right before the Conclusion, and then have a separate shorter Conclusion. This template is only a suggestion, so feel free to adjust it slightly into a version that best works for you! Remember to practice writing at least 2-3 full essays with the time constraint before Test Day!

Paragraph 1 – Introduction (3-4 sentences)

Like a Critical Reasoning passage, before you begin writing you will need to understand the Conclusion, Evidence, and underlying Assumptions in the argument. Do not use self-reference, or the words “I agree” or “I disagree” anywhere in your essay. You will absolutely use phrases like “the argument” and “the author” but you want your statements to come across as accepted fact, not the small opinions of once person. Your main task in your introduction is to show you understand the premise. Restate it in your own words.

– Introduce the timeliness of the argument’s topic
– Describe the argument in your own words
– State emphatically that the argument is flawed.

For example, your introduction could take a form like this:

The issue of _______ is as timely as ever. Recently, _________. Regarding this issue, the author of the argument claims __________. He suggests that _________.Though the underlying issue certainly has merit, because of a lack of evidence, weak assumptions, and vague language the author’s argument is unsubstantiated and deeply flawed.

You do not have to list your three examples in your thesis, but it can be a nice way of clarifying for the reader what you will be discussing.

Paragraph 2 – “Lack of Evidence” (4-6 sentences)
Almost every Argument can be criticized for a lack of evidence. If evidence is provided, how can you explain that it is confusing, unrelated, or unsubstantiated?

Paragraph 3 – “Weak Assumption” (4-6 sentences)

What is the author assuming to be true? Show the reader you can see the gaps in logic between the weak evidence provided and the conclusion. Use very clear transition words between your body paragraphs.

Paragraph 4 – “Vague Language” (4-6 sentences)

Use a transition phrase again, then attack the specific terminology the author utilizes in the argument. How many is “many”? Who exactly does he mean by “most”? Here you will be using the author’s own rhetorical construction against him.

Paragraph 5 – How to Strengthen (2-4 sentences)

In your conclusion, introduce a few ways the author could improve his argument, other than the three flaws you have already discussed. Reinforce the idea that there is SOME merit in the issue underlying the author’s argument, but not nearly enough as it to be convincing. Here’s an outline:

Although as written the argument is categorically unconvincing, the author could strengthen his position were he to _________, and _________. If he _____________, then the argument’s reasoning would be significantly improved. However, without these changes, the argument is implausible and the reasoning faulty.