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Grateful for constructive criticism

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Grateful for constructive criticism [#permalink] New post 28 Apr 2013, 08:52
Hey, this is my first essay so I would really appreciate to receive some helpful comments on the structure and on what to improve. Thanks a lot…


The following appeared in an editorial newspaper:

“In the first four years that Montoya has served as mayor of the city of San Perdito, the population has decreased and the unemployment rate has increased. Two businesses have closed for each new business that has opened. Under Varro, who served as mayor for four year before Montoya, the unemployment rate decreased and the population increased. Clearly, the residents of San Perdito would be best served if they voted Montoya out of office and reelected Varro.”



The author points out that during the time Montoya has been in office, the unemployment rate has increased while the population has decreased. Due to the fact that four years ago, when Varro was mayor, the unemployment rate decreased and the population increased, the argument claims that the residents could improve their situation if they reelected Varro. However, this argument is seriously flawed as it relies on assumptions and a superficial cause-effect-relation but actually fails to provide evidence.

Due to the fact that, when Varro was still mayor, the situation was completely different in that unemployment decreased and the population increased, the argument readily assumes that the current economic development must be directly caused by some misconduct of Montoya. However, the argument does not only fail to offer evidence for this claim but also fails to account for other possible reasons. For instance, the combination of an increasing unemployment rate and a decreasing population can typically be observed in rural areas where the younger and fitter people emigrate to metropolitan areas in order to find work and leave the elderly people. Even the observation that during Varro’s term the situation was the exact opposite does not necessarily contradict this scenario. If for example Montoya’s term and the bankruptcy of a major employer in a rural area had coincided, the above described work-force emigration could have been the consequence though Montoya did not even have an influence on it. Likewise, a nationwide economic downturn could lead to similar results.
Thus, without knowing more about the general situation and the economic environment of the city of which Montoya is mayor, it is impossible to validate if there is any correlation between Montoya’s term and the described pattern or whether these situations simply coincided.

Second, in order to further strengthen the impression that the current development is exceptionally negative, the author states that “two businesses have closed for each new that has opened”. Stated in this way, the argument is only little convincing and does not allow any inference whether this is a positive or negative outcome and thus to support the author’s view. A reduction in the number of businesses must necessarily lead neither to a higher unemployment rate nor to a lower population but might simply be the expression of an ongoing or increasing economic integration. In order to make this argument more convincing, the author should have outlined what precisely caused this reduction and to which extent it is interlinked with the unemployment rate.

For the above mentioned reasons, the argument at hand is only little convincing and not more than an enumeration of rather unconnected observations. In order to prove that the residents could improve their situation by reelecting Varro, it would have been necessary to show both, that the current problem is directly linked to Montoya and that Varro could actually solve that problem if he was reelected.
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Re: Grateful for constructive criticism [#permalink] New post 29 Apr 2013, 00:36
Generic essay structure could be as follows:

Para 1 - Introduction with some overview on the argument, your point of view, and pointer for following paragraphs.
Para 2 - Attack the premises of the argument.
Para 3 - Attack the assumptions of the argument.
Para 4 - Discuss what type of evidence or reasoning would strengthen the argument.
Para 5 - Conclusion: summary of the points discussed and your recommendation.
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Re: Grateful for constructive criticism [#permalink] New post 29 Apr 2013, 00:52
Here in the essay, you can discuss the points such as
- there is no discussion on root cause of the problem
- the possibility of current problems because of policies introduced by Varro
- possibility external factors such as economic downturn
- one new business can be larger than the two closed businesses
- new businesses can be from an emerging sector and closed businesses can be from a dying sector and these events may not be correlated
and so on.

You are right to bring up the possibility of external factors. However, there are much scope of improvement in the essay. My observations on your essay are as follows:

- Introduction is not strong -- it is merely rephrasing of the argument.
- First two lines of second para should be part of introduction.
- 2nd para touches up many points.
- Economic problems are talked about in both 2nd and 3rd paras.
- None of the paragraphs establishes any point clearly.
- Concluding para have a weak closing.
- Grammatical mistakes and structural issues are present throughout.

In addition to all the points mentioned above, I believe the following strategy will be favorable.
- In all paragraphs between introduction and conclusion, one problem to be discussed in one paragraph. [Neither one point in two paras nor 1+ problems in one para is commended -- in these cases, each point becomes vague and hard to follow.]
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Re: Grateful for constructive criticism [#permalink] New post 22 May 2013, 05:01
doe007 wrote:
In addition to all the points mentioned above, I believe the following strategy will be favorable.
- In all paragraphs between introduction and conclusion, one problem to be discussed in one paragraph. [Neither one point in two paras nor 1+ problems in one para is commended -- in these cases, each point becomes vague and hard to follow.]


Oh yes, this is essential rule in academic writing (not only on the GMAT). I.e.: one paragraph = one idea. The first sentence of the paragraph should introduce the idea as clearly as possible, so the reader knows what the para is about. E.g. if the para is about gold rush in 1870s, the first sentence should narrow this very broad idea to the aspect fitting the paragraph, e.g. a consequence of the goldrush: "The goldrush in the USA in 1870s had a direct bearing on relationships among social classes". Further, you describe the bearing. End of the aspect = end of the para. No mixing up ideas in one para. Create a logical thread from para to para.
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Re: Grateful for constructive criticism   [#permalink] 22 May 2013, 05:01
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