All GMAT students know the Argument essay comes first in the test, before we get to the more important Quantitative and Verbal sections, so it’s important not to exhaust ourselves in this first part of the exam. One way to stay fresh for the rest of the exam is to have a good idea of what a high-scoring essay looks like, so we have provided some GMAT sample essays to review. Below we look at a “6” and discuss why it would have likely received a perfect score, then we examine a “4” and discuss how it could have been strengthened. You can find more example essays in the GMAT Official Guide. Happy writing!
ESSAY QUESTION #1:
The following appeared in the editorial section of a national news magazine:
“The rating system for electronic games is similar to the movie rating system in that it provides consumers with a quick reference so that they can determine if the subject matter and contents are appropriate. This electronic game rating system is not working because it is self-regulated and the fines for violating the rating system are nominal. As a result an independent body should oversee the game industry and companies that knowingly violate the rating system should be prohibited from releasing a game for two years.”
Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Point out flaws in the argument’s logic and analyze the argument’s underlying assumptions. In addition, evaluate how supporting evidence is used and what evidence might counter the argument’s conclusion. You may also discuss what additional evidence could be used to strengthen the argument or what changes would make the argument more logically sound.
The author concludes that electronic game rating system is not working compared to the movie rating system. He gives reasoning for the argument by stating that electronic companies ability to self manage and regulate the rating system is part of the problem. Author also gives reason for what needs to be done in order for electronic rating system to work, but his reasons are weak. In the next few paragraphs, I will explain why the author’s reasons are weak and what could strengthen the argument.
First, the author mentions that by hiring an independent company to oversee the operation of the electronic rating system would solve the issue. This big assumption that author makes here is that he assumes independent company would do a better job in rating games than electronic game companies themselves. If the electronic gaming companies had a better understanding on how to improve, they might themselves do a better job than independent company to oversee the ratings.
Second, the author mentions that if an electronic company violates the rating system rule, then the penalty would be to prohibit that company from releasing any games for two years. This is another weak point the makes to support his argument because if the electronic company regular product-life cycle is to release each gave every two years, this penalty wouldn’t hurt the company at all. Also, there is not way of assessing how many year of prohibition would be adequate.
Author could have strengthen his argument, if he provided some data point such as from the movie industry to defend this stance that making independent company oversee and prohibition of movie release actually worked in the long-run. Perhaps, some research data that showed making these changes would actually work, would benefit the author’s overall argument stance.
Therefore, the author’s argument that electronic game rating system is not working is weak. Both of the points he made regarding independent company oversee and violation penalty are weak without data showing that it might work.
RECAP: The first thing that stands out in this essay is the organization. The paragraphs as clearly laid out and succinct, and each begin with a great transition word or phrase. The introductory paragraph, while unfortunately uses some unneeded self-reference, clearly demonstrates an understanding of the presented argument, which is mandatory of all “6” essays. Each flaw is then pointed out in a body paragraph, and the author then chooses to include a nice “how to strengthen” paragraph to demonstrate that he/she knows the argument at a more advanced level! The conclusion is clear, and reinforces the claims previously made. While no means perfect, the strong reasoning and clarity of organization definitely give this author a “6”!
ESSAY QUESTION #2:
Political organizations that advocate the use of violence to achieve their goals should be prohibited from operating within our country. Such groups are only interested in achieving short term goals which lead to more serious long term problems.
Political organizations that advocate the use of violence to achieve its goals can sometimes lead to destruction and devastation. However, that claim that such groups are detrimental to society does not follow the same line of reasoning. These groups might be of great help to certain sections of society. Also the claim that short term solutions can only lead to more serious long term problems is stated without any evidence. Hence the above argument is flawed.
Firstly, political organizations might be of great help to certain sections of society. Take for example the Indian National Congress party that helped tons of Indian’s voice their views to the British government during the British rule in india. Although this political organization advocated the use of violence, the organization was critical to India becoming a free of British rule in 1947.
Secondly, the argument assumes that short term solutions lead to more serious long term problems. Short term solutions are often very important in achieving long term goals, irrespective of whether the organizations advocate violence or not.
The argument must also state clearly what constitutes violence. In a free country, such as the United States, to prohibit any political organization is to put a hold on their freedom. As long as the violence or aggressive behavior is not illegal, one can not prohibit a political organization from operating.
Thus although the argument seems to convey a valid point, that political organizations that advocate the use of violence should be prohibited from operating, it is worded to strongly and lacks evidence to support its claims that these groups are detrimental to society.
RECAP: The major difference between these two essays is length. More is not always better, but a student who can write 5-6 paragraphs within the given time frame definitely will stand out as a better planner, and as someone who already had a workable template. Furthermore, some minor grammar and spelling mistakes interfere with the essay’s clarity. The thesis, “Hence the above argument is flawed, “ is not as strongly worded as it could be, and doesn’t stand on its own as a powerful statement. The conclusion also seems to weaken the essay by admitting the argument conveys “a valid point.” This concession, without being more specific, weakens the overall thesis. The takeaway: length, specificity, and strength of argument will take this “4” to a “6.”
More AWA Resources:
GMAT Essay Writing Guide