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GMAT on 11.02.2013. Need to know how my essay is.

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GMAT on 11.02.2013. Need to know how my essay is. [#permalink] New post 24 Jan 2013, 09:39
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Hi everyone,

Can you please rate how my essay is. Thank you in advance. Please let me know how well or badly it is written.

QUESTION
The following appeared as part of a recommendation from the financial planning office to the administration of Fern
Valley University:

“In the past few years, Fern Valley University has suffered from a decline in both enrollments and admissions
applications. The reason can be discovered from our students, who most often cite poor teaching and inadequate
library resources as their chief sources of dissatisfaction with Fern Valley. Therefore, in order to increase the number
of students attending our university, and hence to regain our position as the most prestigious university in the greater
Fern Valley metropolitan area, it is necessary to initiate a fund-raising campaign among the alumni that will enable us
to expand the range of subjects we teach and to increase the size of our library facilities.”
Discuss how well reasoned . . . etc.

ANSWER

In a feeble attempt to conclude that in order to increase the number of students attending the Fern Valley University it is necessary that the university initiate a fund-raising campaign among the alumni that will enable the university to expand the range of subjects taught and to increase the size of library facilities the financial planning office bases its recommendation to the administration of the university on unsupported premises. The way in which the argument is stated renders the argument as lacking in several key factors. As a result, the argument is based on numerous unwarranted assumptions and riddled with serious logical gaps, leaving it unfounded and defective.

Most conspicuously, the argument states that the university has declined in both enrollment and admissions applications because of two main reasons which are poor teaching and inadequate library resources. This premise is based on the fact that these two reasons are majorly cited by students of the university. However, the argument provides no information regarding the sample set of students who were considered in reaching this conclusion about low enrollment and admissions application. It may be possible that no sample set was chosen by the financial plannig office and the determination of reasons was based entirely on the perception of the financial planning office employees about the thinking of students. Furthermore, it is also quite probable that a survey was done to find out the reason for the above mentioned problems but it was not carried out in the prescribed manner. Without even a hint of information about how the reasons have been decided by the financial planning office, it is difficult to find this premise believable.

Secondly, the argument states that in order to increase the number of students attending the university and hence to regain the position of the most prestigious university in the greater Fern Valley Metropolitan area it is necessary to initiate a fund raising campaign. This statement miraculously implies that merely increasing the students attending the university will somehow enable the university to regain the position of being the most prestigious. It does not state to what extent the increase needs to take place i.e. how many more students are required for gaining the top spot of prestige. For instance even if the university succeeds to increase the number of students attending the university just by one student, according to the argument, the university will regain its previous status. This reasoning is absurd and hence, the statement needs a lot of clarification. Additionally, assuming the university is able to increase the number of students to a sufficient level, how the number of students attending the university is related to prestige of the university is not specified in the argument i.e. the criteria for regaining the status of highest prestige is not written. The recommendation falsely assumes that increasing the number is a criterion to heighten the prestige. This may not be the case.

Thirdly, the argument concludes that a fund-raising campaign among the alumni will enable the university to expand the range of subjects taught and to increase the size of library facilities. This conclusion is riddled with serious flaws which need to be rectified. Firstly, launching a fund-raising campaign alone will not help to achieve the desired goals. The campaign needs to be successful in collecting a sizeable amount of funds in order to achieve the required aims. The argument falsely claims that simply launching the campaign will be the answer to all the problems. Secondly, expansion of range of subjects is the sought after aim of the campaign however, the reason for distress among students is poor teaching. Increasing the range of subjects taught will not guarantee increasing the quality of teaching. Thirdly, size of library facilities is the second goal of the campaign however the issue that needs to be addressed is inadequate library resources. The argument implies that somehow increasing the facilities in the library will lead to the improvement of the resources in the library. This is again a stretch and needs clarification.

In summary the argument is flawed defective and unpersuasive. It needs a lot of statistical data and better connection between the statements in order to make it a successful argument.

Time taken - 31 minutes

Please please rate it. Urgent. Thanks again.
Also I do not know how to make my post "urgent". Please tell me how to do it.
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Re: GMAT on 11.02.2013. Need to know how my essay is. [#permalink] New post 25 Jan 2013, 21:54
Please evaluate my essay. It's very urgent. Thank you.
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Re: GMAT on 11.02.2013. Need to know how my essay is. [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2013, 22:41
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Hi kartikdatwani,
there can be nothing urgent about grading a GMAT essay :roll: Please, don't make your topics urgent even if you find out a way to do it. (If you really think it is so important, please, consider paying.)

I would give this paper a 4.0: this response is adequate. The writing is somewhat convoluted and difficult to read; however, there are few mistakes, and the reasoning, where present, is solid. The paper demonstrates some critical thinking. Unfortunately, most of the issues are identified, but not analysed. The paper would greatly benefit from discussing the involved issues in depth instead of merely pointing out that A does not follow from B.


3.5. The paper identifies some of the important features of the argument. Some logical analysis is present


3.5. The paper analyzes some tangential or irrelevant issues, yet it develops and organizes ideas satisfactorily.



The second paragraph identifies and analyses the following issue: it is unclear how the survey of the students was conducted.
The third paragraph identifies two issues: it is unclear by how much the number of the students has to increase, and it is also unclear, what exactly is needed to increase the prestige of the university. The first of those issues is arguably tangential and largely irrelevant to the substance of the argument. (At least the way this issue is analysed makes it look tangential. If it is really important to know by how much the enrollment/admission has declined or should increase, the critique should demonstrate the importance of knowing the exact numbers.) The second issue is central, but it is only identified, not analysed. The fourth paragraph identifies a number of other issues: a campaign may not be successful; increasing the range of courses may not fix "poor teaching"; increasing the size of the library facilities may not make library resources adequate. However, again, virtually no analysis is present. The paper could suggest that e.g. a campaign is unlikely to be successful because a low-prestige university in the middle of nowhere is unlikely to have rich and generous alumni.

Some of the deeper issues the paper could address are:
    1. It is unclear if poor teaching or inadequate library resources can significantly affect admissions. Do the prospective students know or even care about adequate library resources? What is the level student satisfaction at e.g. Harvard? Do they also complain about poor teaching?
    2. A decline in admissions/enrollments may simply be a demographic phenomenon and not a problem in itself. If the university is actually losing its prestige, it may be for entirely different reasons. More generally, it is unclear if the argument suggests that low prestige IS THE SAME as falling admissions/enrollments or if low prestige IS THE CONSEQUENCE of falling admissions/enrollments.
    3. In fact, it is the other way round. Low prestige is probably the reason for falling admissions/enrollments. Poor teaching is then one of the effects of low prestige. In this case increasing admissions/enrollments would actually seem like an increase an prestige, and this perception is likely to actually increase the prestige.
    4. Perhaps the university has enough money and does not even need a fund-raising campaign.

Now let me discuss the critique in the paper in greater detail.

The paper identifies and discusses one major problem with the argument: it is unclear, how exactly this survey of the students was conducted. The paper also makes an insightful observation that
Quote:
It may be possible that no sample set was chosen by the financial plannig office and the determination of reasons was based entirely on the perception of the financial planning office employees about the thinking of students.

In other words, it is possible that no formal survey was conducted; some people in the office may just have an impression that that's what the students are complaining about. This is a good insight that is indicative of strong critical thinking. However, the paper dramatically fails to analyze this issue in a clear way. I suggest you look for a simpler way to express the same thought. I personally find it easy to understand the expression "It may be possible that no sample set was chosen"; however, note that I have a Ph.D. in pure mathematics...

Let me explain once again:
Quote:
It may be possible that no sample set was chosen...
Furthermore, it is also quite probable that a survey was done...

I personally understand that no sample set was chosen actually means that no survey was done. However, the paper should state that explicitly.


The paper then takes issue with some imprecisions in the original argument. For example:
Quote:
It does not state to what extent the increase needs to take place i.e. how many more students are required for gaining the top spot of prestige. For instance even if the university succeeds to increase the number of students attending the university just by one student, according to the argument, the university will regain its previous status. This reasoning is absurd and hence, the statement needs a lot of clarification.

Here the paper makes a valid point. However, the critique about the increase of the number of students by just one student is extreme. It is common sense that "an increase in the number of students" means an increase by a certain significant number, not just one student. Similarly, "has suffered from a decline..." cannot be taken to mean a decline by just one student. This is not mathematics, and it is unreasonable to criticize the argument for not being mathematically precise. Normal, common language is not like that. (I recall a personal story about a student who agreed to see a professor on Monday. He missed the appointment. The professor was angry, to which the student replied: "I agreed to meet on Monday, but not necessarily NEXT Monday.")

The following paragraph correctly points out that an increase in the number of courses offered may not be an adequate substitute for poor teaching, and an increase in the size of the library facilities may not adequately compensate for "inadequate resources". In fact, an increase in the size of the facilities may simply mean allocating another room another building, not even buying new books. However, here the paper only identifies some features of the argument but fails to analyse them. For example, no attempt is present to analyse what "poor teaching" actually means, nor what "inadequate library resources" actually mean. The critique simply says that "poor teaching" is not the same as "too few courses to choose from"; it does not explain what "poor teaching" does mean.

Similarly,
Quote:
Additionally, assuming the university is able to increase the number of students to a sufficient level, how the number of students attending the university is related to prestige of the university is not specified in the argument i.e. the criteria for regaining the status of highest prestige is not written.

Surely, increasing the number of the students may or may not lead to higher prestige, as the criteria are not written. However, this mere remark is not insightful enough. Why would the university even think that increasing the number of the students may lead to higher prestige? Is it likely or unlikely? What alternative metrics should be considered? (e.g. the number of applicants denied admission) What is the significance of this observation? (that the number of students may not equal prestige) Without such a discussion it appears that the critique is simply "picking" on the argument without having anything substantial to say. Besides, "...the criteria for regaining the status of highest prestige is not written" --- how can such criteria be written?! It is physically impossible, not to mention that the notion of prestige itself is abstract and intangible.

Every argument can be criticized in this way. For example:
"In the past few years, Fern Valley University has suffered..."
Critique: it is not exactly clear what "past few years" is supposed to mean. Since one is few, it may be the case that we are talking about just one year. Since we cannot make conclusions from just one year, the argument is absent and the conclusions are unwarranted. The argument would benefit from specifying the exact number of years, days, and milliseconds, during which the admission has declined.
--- this is pretty much what some of the critique in the paper looks like.


Quote:
Thirdly, the argument concludes that a fund-raising campaign among the alumni will enable the university to expand the range of subjects taught and to increase the size of library facilities. This conclusion is riddled with serious flaws which need to be rectified. Firstly, launching a fund-raising campaign alone will not help to achieve the desired goals. The campaign needs to be successful in collecting a sizeable amount of funds in order to achieve the required aims.
The argument falsely claims that simply launching the campaign will be the answer to all the problems.

Indeed, it is not enough to launch a campaign: the campaign has to be successful. Also, of course, it is not NECESSARY to initiate a campaign: the prestige may rise by itself, or somebody may kindly donate the money, or God may help the Fern Valley University.
However, the argument never said that it would be SUFFICIENT to launch a campaign in order to regain the prestige. It only said that it was NECESSARY to launch the campaign. Thus, in this case the critique is unfounded.



3.0. The paper provides support of little relevance or value for points of the critique


The second paragraph of the paper is perhaps the most well-supported. Yet even there we see:
Quote:
Furthermore, it is also quite probable that a survey was done to find out the reason for the above mentioned problems but it was not carried out in the prescribed manner.

It is definitely possible that a survey was not carried out in a prescribed manner, and thus the results are unreliable. It is also possible that the students were not honest in replying to the survey, or that the results were stored in a computer and then modified by a malicious virus from the Internet. It is further possible that the secretary who was entering the results of the survey into a report made a typo or, worse, intentionally modified the data because she did not like her boss. Those are all possibilities, but unlikely ones. We have no good reasons to specifically doubt that the survey, if there was one, was not carried out in the prescribed manner; thus this observation adds little support to the points of the critique.

The suggestion that there could have been no survey at all is much more valuable. Unfortunately, it stands as an exception, in contrast to the rest of the essay.
In the other paragraph we see little support for the points of the critique.
For example,
Quote:
Additionally, assuming the university is able to increase the number of students to a sufficient level, how the number of students attending the university is related to prestige of the university is not specified in the argument i.e. the criteria for regaining the status of highest prestige is not written. The recommendation falsely assumes that increasing the number is a criterion to heighten the prestige. This may not be the case.

Of course, everything may or may not be the case; this is life...

As an other example,
Quote:
Secondly, expansion of range of subjects is the sought after aim of the campaign however, the reason for distress among students is poor teaching. Increasing the range of subjects taught will not guarantee increasing the quality of teaching.

Same: of course, nothing is guaranteed. Only death is inevitable. Simple observation that something is not guaranteed or not necessarily true are valuable, but need additional support. These observations should be developed in order to become a valuable part of the critique. For example: "Increasing the range of subjects taught will not guarantee increasing the quality of teaching. It would be wiser to evaluate the quality of teaching in the existing courses. The university could then hire some new faculty members with proven strong teaching skills and assign to them the task of improving the quality of teaching across a range of important courses where the quality of teaching is in need of improvement. Increasing the range of courses taught should probably not be considered: since the reasons for the poor teaching of the existence courses are not understood, it is likely that the new courses will be taught just as poorly."



4.0. Demonstrates sufficient control of language to convey ideas with reasonable clarity.


"Reasonable" is the key word. While most of the sentences are structured correctly, they tend to be long and convoluted. This style of writing makes the meaning incredibly difficult to extract. For example,
Quote:
In a feeble attempt to conclude that in order to increase the number of students attending the Fern Valley University it is necessary that the university initiate a fund-raising campaign among the alumni that will enable the university to expand the range of subjects taught and to increase the size of library facilities the financial planning office bases its recommendation to the administration of the university on unsupported premises.

After getting through the complexity of this introductory sentence I personally had no desire to keep reading the rest of the paper.

Many sentences in the paper are structured in such a way that makes the meaning difficult to extract. For example,
Quote:
Thirdly, size of library facilities is the second goal of the campaign however the issue that needs to be addressed is inadequate library resources.

As far as I can see, there is no reason to make "the size of the library facilities" the subject of the first independent clause. While it is grammatically permitted and possible, I do not see the reason for this grammatical emphasis. It would be better to say "Thirdly, the proposed campaign, if successful, will allow the school to increase the size of its library facilities. However, the issues that needs to be addressed is inadequate library resources."


5.0. Demonstrates facility with the conventions of standard written English but may have occasional flaws.


The first very long sentence ("In a feeble attempt...") would greatly benefit from a comma: "...and to increase the size of library facilities, the financial planning office..."

BONUS POINTS: identify the grammatical structures used in the sentence "In a feeble attempt..." (I don't remember those either, but would be curious if other experts analyzed this sentence.)

Quote:
This premise is based on the fact that these two reasons are majorly cited by students of the university.

Is there even such a word, "majorly"?
Also, "this premise is based on the fact" should be followed by something that sounds like a solid, well-established fact. "These two reasons are majorly cited by students of the university" does not sounds like a fact. This paper itself questions this by suggesting that there could have been no formal survey, or that the survey may not have been conducted in the right way.

Quote:
Furthermore, it is also quite probable that a survey was done to find out the reason for the above mentioned problems but it was not carried out in the prescribed manner.

The second "it" may refer to"the reason". In fact, this second "it" should be removed entirely.

Quote:
implies that merely increasing the students

the number of the students

Quote:
the top spot of prestige

Not sure how to fix it. What exactly is meant?

Quote:
even if the university succeeds to increase

Not sure how standard it is. I'd say "succeeds in increasing".

Quote:
the criteria for regaining the status of highest prestige is not written.

are not written

Quote:
In summary the argument is flawed defective and unpersuasive.

A comma is missing.

Quote:
Thirdly, size of library facilities is the second goal of the campaign however the issue that needs to be addressed is inadequate library resources.

"...the size of the library facilities...", "...campaign; however,"
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Re: GMAT on 11.02.2013. Need to know how my essay is. [#permalink] New post 27 Jan 2013, 01:37
Thanks a lot for this reply. I always learn a lot from your replies.
I wanted to ensure that I do not repeat the mistakes I made the last time( http://gmatclub.com/forum/please-can-you-rate-my-essay-saluda-natural-spring-water-138832.html). I think I've mostly avoided those mistakes. Unfortunately, some new ones have cropped up. :( .

I accept your advice to not mark my non-urgent posts urgent, IF I find a way to do so. Maybe you should start charging. I'd certainly pay for your analyses. :) .
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Re: GMAT on 11.02.2013. Need to know how my essay is. [#permalink] New post 27 Jan 2013, 22:41
Why don't you write another essay on the same topic? (Fern Valley University) This technique seemed to work well for me.

Regarding your second question -- thank you for your offer. At this point I am not interested in charging for grading essays -- I want to grade another 5-10 for free so I can learn -- but you can certainly write me a testimonial on Facebook and/or LinkedIn. I can send you a link.
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I tutor in NYC: http://www.wyzant.com/Tutors/NY/New-Yor ... ref=1RKFOZ

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Re: GMAT on 11.02.2013. Need to know how my essay is. [#permalink] New post 19 Mar 2013, 02:48
Hi Sergey

I would like you to know that I appeared for my GMAT on 11.02.2013. Though I didn't score as expected on the Verbal section (Q49 V32 - 680), I did exceptionally well on the AWA with a 6.0/6.0 . I would also like you to know that it was only possible because of your extremely valuable critiques for my essays. I learned a lot from your explanations and am deeply grateful to you for helping me. I believe that I would've scored a 4.0 or 4.5 had I not been lucky enough to receive your critique. I especially improved on the meaning part of my essays.

Thank you. Thank you so much.

I would love to write a testimonial for you on linkedin. Please PM me the link to your profile.

P.S. - I received my official score only a few days ago so I couldn't reply before. :) :) .
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Re: GMAT on 11.02.2013. Need to know how my essay is. [#permalink] New post 19 Mar 2013, 08:39
Great!
My LinkedIn page is http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sergey-a-or ... 15/a23/ab5
Feel free to connect with me.
Let us on the forum know if you get admitted...

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Re: GMAT on 11.02.2013. Need to know how my essay is.   [#permalink] 19 Mar 2013, 08:39
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