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Please, can you rate my essay? (Saluda Natural Spring Water)

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Please, can you rate my essay? (Saluda Natural Spring Water) [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2012, 13:25
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Prompt:

The following appeared in an article in a health and fitness magazine:
“Laboratory studies show that Saluda Natural Spring Water contains several of the minerals necessary for good
health and that it is completely free of bacteria. Residents of Saluda, the small town where the water is bottled,
are hospitalized less frequently than the national average. Even though Saluda Natural Spring Water may seem
expensive, drinking it instead of tap water is a wise investment in good health.”

Essay:

The argument that Residents of Saluda should be buying Saluda Natural Spring Water instead of drinking tap water as an investment of good health fails to acknowledge several key elements. The author of this argument states that there are laboratory studies showing that Saluda Natural Spring water is healthy water, and that the residents of the town are hospitalized less frequently than national average. However, this alone does not constitute logical evidence in favor of the recommendation cited above. The author fails to take into account studies of tap water and demographical characteristics of the residents that might be addressed in order to strengthen the argument.

One of the most fundamentals flaws with this argument stems from a lack of information about the properties of the town’s tap water. The argument seems to assume that tap water does not contain the same quantity of healthy minerals found in the spring water or that it might have some bacteria and therefore arrives at the conclusion that tap water is not as healthy as Saluda Natural Spring Water. It is entirely possible that tap water is as healthy as the spring water, and therefore the recommendation of buying spring water instead would have been weaken. Had the argument included such data regarding studies about properties of Saluda’s tap water showing the lack of minerals or the existence of some bacteria corroborating the argument’s conclusion, a stronger case for the recommendation in favor of buying spring water would have been made.

Even if the argument persuasively featured information about tap water, several logical leaps would still be required for this argument to be considered sound. For example, the author claims that Saluda’s residents are less frequently hospitalized than the national average. However there is now proof that this piece of evidence would necessarily lead to the other. Perhaps, Saluda’s residents have healthier habits than the national average. For example, they may practice more sports or eat healthier. Furthermore the argument omits to mention the characteristics of the residents, the population in Saluda might be younger than the average. Saluda may be a town built around a university where most people are students in their mid-20s, who have fewer illnesses or just prefer to return their home town when they are ill. This type of information should be addressed for the argument to be more convincing.

As the argument now stands, it does not read as either persuasive or cogent. Improvements, including laboratory studies of tap water and information claiming that the population in Saluda is representative of the national average population would certainly make this argument a better and more convincing piece.

Words: 439

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Re: Please, can you rate my essay? (Saluda Natural Spring Water) [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2012, 13:43
I would say that this essay is a 5-5.5. It is obvious that this argument has a ton of flaws, and you picked out just a couple of them and made fairly strong points. You should work on trying to include more "keywords" in your essays to improve the flow, as well as taking a look at this article: how-to-get-6-0-awa-my-guide-64327.html It is one of our most successful guides to getting a 6. I wouldn't spend too much longer studying for this section, b/c it seems that you will get a high enough score where it won't really matter. Anything about a 4.5 is considered very acceptable, and the AWA has lost a lot of meaning in the scoring b/c of the new IR section and the fact that the AWA has had huge score inflation over the years. Spend a little more time studying some of the techniques for AWA and then spend the rest of your time on everything else. Good luck!
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Re: Please, can you rate my essay? (Saluda Natural Spring Water) [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2012, 14:05
Thanks for your comments!

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Re: Please, can you rate my essay? (Saluda Natural Spring Water) [#permalink] New post 12 Jan 2013, 10:46
I certainly like your style of writing. Had I been the examiner I would've awarded 5 points to you. :) .


This is what I wrote for the same topic -


In a feeble attempt to conclude that drinking Saluda Natural Spring Water is a more viable and feasible investment than drinking tap water, the argument premises itself on fallacious and unconvincing assumptions. The argument claims that laboratory studies have shown Saluda Natural Sping Water to contain numerous minerals necessary for good health. Also, it claims that residents of Saluda are hospitalized less frequently than the national average. Stated in this way the argument skips over several key factors on the basis of which it could successfully be evaluated. As a result, the argument is fundamentally flawed, in that it makes a number of unwarranted assumptions and is riddled with serious logical gaps.

Most conspicuously, the argument states that laboratory results have found several minerals good for the health in Saluda Natural Sping Water. It assumes, erroneously, that the mix of these minerals in the water will be beneficial for the human health. However, no data regarding the ratio in which these minerals are mixed and the chemical composition of the compounds formed by these minerals is provided. For example hard water contains a high concentration of Magnesium ions and this renders it unfit for drinking. However reducing the concentration of these ions can make the water fit for drinking. Also, Magnesium is required for good health. Hence, data regarding the concentration of these minerals is of utmost importance to the argument. Secondly, laboratory studies have found no traces of bacteria in the Saluda Natural Sping Water. The argument again fallaciously assumes that the absence of bacteria is a prerogative for good health. However, there are several perishable items that contain bacteira and are good for health. For example, curd is formed by the replication of a bacteria in the environment of milk. And curd is in no way bad for health. Therefore, this premise needs more information to substantiate the argument.

Secondly, the argument states that residents of saluda are less frequently hospitalized when compared with the residents of the nation in which Saluda is. It states that Saluda is where the Saluda Natural Sping Water is bottled. However, it does not mention the number of residents of Saluda who actually drink the Saluda Natural Sping Water. It implies, speciously, that the good health of residents of Saluda is because of the bottling of Saluda Natural Sping Water there. This implication is absolutely absurd and illogical. Also, assuming the residents of Saluda drink Saluda Natural Sping Water, the cause of less frequency of hospitalization in the residents of Saluda maybe different from the type of water they drink. They may have a better lifestyle, healthy eating habits or low stress levels. The argument assumes that this is not the case and in doing so it makes itself defective.

Finally, the argument concludes that even though Saluda Natural Sping Water is expensive, drinking it instead of tap water is a wise investment in good health. Here, the argument wrongly assumes that tap water is not good for health. However, no support for such an assumption is present in the argument. Furthermore, in order to make this conclusion believable and effective more data to support it is required. In conclusion, the argument is unpersuasive, flawed and illogical. Addition of some hard examples, and statistical and scientific data will certainly help to fortify the argument.


Please rate my essay. Thank you in advance.
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Re: Please, can you rate my essay? (Saluda Natural Spring Water) [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2013, 16:44
A response to smartinezpuppo.
My grade is: 3.0.

3.0. Does not identify or analyze most of the important features of the argument, although some analysis is present


The essay is making two points. The first point is that Saluda's tap water may be as healthy as the bottled spring water. This point is somewhat irrelevant since the quality of tap water in Saluda is of no interest - however, it can be generalized to an observation that the quality of tap water in other locations may also be high. (It is said that the standard for tap water in NYC is higher than the standard for bottled water in NYC. Never checked if it was true.) The second point is that Saluda's residents may be less frequently hospitalized for all kinds of reasons.

Some analysis is present, but most of the important features of the original argument are missed. If you replace "Saluda Natural Spring Water" with "apples" in the original argument, and you will see, how many things you have missed ;-)
Specifically.
    1.It is unclear whether Saluda Spring Water is healthy at all. Almost any water would contain some minerals necessary for good health (how much?) The absence of bacteria is not necessarily a good thing either.
    2. It is not clear whether the residents of Saluda drink the Saluda Spring Water at all. Even if they do drink it, they may be drinking it from the spring. As the water is bottled and transported, it may be losing some of its beneficial qualities.
    3. Being hospitalized less frequently is not necessarily a sign of good health. Perhaps the health care in Saluda is not affordable or the hospital is too far away.
    4. A comparison with the national average is almost meaningless. There are MANY cities and towns where people are hospitalized LESS frequently than the national average, just like there are MANY cities and towns where people are hospitalized MORE frequently than the national average. It is an oversimplification, but roughly speaking, there is a 50% chance ;-) (I know it is not technically true, but you get the idea.) The argument would be marginally strengthened by demonstrating that this difference in hospitalization was statistically significant.
    5. It is not clear if the investment in Saluda is wise. Even if this bottled water is beneficial, there may be cheaper alternatives.



3.0. The paper mainly analyzes tangential or irrelevant matters, or reasons poorly.


Quote:
The argument seems to assume that tap water does not contain the same quantity of healthy minerals found in the spring water or that it might have some bacteria and therefore arrives at the conclusion that tap water is not as healthy as Saluda Natural Spring Water. It is entirely possible that tap water is as healthy as the spring water,

This looks like poor reasoning. "The argument seems to assume that A or B, and therefore arrives at the conclusion that C. It is entirely possible that C is false."
The analysis first suggests that the original argument had an unwarranted assumption: the tap water might have some bacteria and/or substantial quantities of healthy minerals. Then this line of reasoning is simply dropped.

Quote:
Had the argument included such data regarding studies about properties of Saluda’s tap water

The quality of Saluda's tap water is of little relevance.

Quote:
Perhaps, Saluda’s residents have healthier habits than the national average. For example, they may practice more sports or eat healthier. Furthermore the argument omits to mention the characteristics of the residents, the population in Saluda might be younger than the average. Saluda may be a town built around a university where most people are students in their mid-20s, who have fewer illnesses or just prefer to return their home town when they are ill.

Here the paper is trying to make a point that Saluda's residents may be healthier than the national average for reasons other than that they drink the bottled water. However, this point is never made explicit. Instead, there are only vague statements such as "However there is now proof that this piece of evidence would necessarily lead to the other." or "This type of information should be addressed for the argument to be more convincing."

Quote:
Improvements, including laboratory studies of tap water and information claiming that the population in Saluda is representative of the national average population would certainly make this argument a better and more convincing piece.

The population in Saluda is not representative of the national average population. Period.

3.0. Does not convey meaning clearly. (Is limited in the logical development and the organization of ideas).


Quote:
The author fails to take into account studies of tap water...

It is not clear if there have been any relevant studies.

Quote:
...that might be addressed in order to strengthen the argument.

The meaning is unclear.

Quote:
It is entirely possible that tap water is as healthy as the spring water, and therefore the recommendation of buying spring water instead would have been weaken.

I can see the intended meaning, but it is not expressed in a coherent way. The "would have been" is particularly confusing.

Quote:
...several logical leaps would still be required for this argument to be considered sound. For example, the author claims that Saluda’s residents are less frequently hospitalized than the national average. However there is now proof that this piece of evidence would necessarily lead to the other.

It is not clear, where exactly is the logical leap.

Quote:
Improvements, including laboratory studies of tap water and information claiming that the population in Saluda is representative of the national average population would certainly make this argument a better and more convincing piece.

This whole sentence is confusing. For example, it is unclear how a study can be an improvement of an argument.

3.0. Uses language imprecisely and/or lacks in sentence variety.


3.0. Contains occasional major errors or frequent minor errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics..



Quote:
should be buying Saluda Natural Spring Water instead of drinking tap water

buying instead of drinking?

Quote:
One of the most fundamentals flaws with this argument stems from a lack of information about the properties of the town’s tap water.

Usage: a flaw stems from a lack of information... In fact, this lack of information is a flaw. The flaw does not stem from this lack of information.

Quote:
Had the argument included such data regarding studies about properties of Saluda’s tap water showing the lack of minerals or the existence of some bacteria corroborating the argument’s conclusion

bacteria corroborating the conclusion?

Quote:
a stronger case for the recommendation in favor of buying spring water would have been made.

Too repetitive: case, recommendation, favor.

Quote:
Even if the argument persuasively featured information about tap water

"persuasively featured" does not sound right

Quote:
Furthermore the argument omits to mention the characteristics of the residents, the population in Saluda might be younger than the average.

Comma splice.


Quote:
Improvements, including laboratory studies of tap water and information claiming that the population in Saluda is representative of the national average population would certainly make this argument a better and more convincing piece.

A second comma is missing.
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Re: Please, can you rate my essay? (Saluda Natural Spring Water) [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2013, 23:07
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My response to kartikdatwani.
I think it is a weak 4 or a 3.5.

4.0. Identified and analyzes important features of the argument


The paper identified several important features of the argument. First, Saluda Natural Spring water may or may not beneficial for health depending on the concentration of various minerals in it. Also, the absence of bacteria is not necessarily a desirable feature. The paper thoughtfully explores those issues providing some clearly appropriate examples (magnesium ions, curd). Second, residents of Saluda may or may not drink the bottled water in question, and they may also have excellent health for other reasons. Some limited analysis of these observations is present. Third, the comparison with tap water may be unwarranted: tap water may actually be quite healthy. The point about tap water is not analyzed.

The paper can benefit from a more insightful analysis. For example, while it makes a strong point that the residents of Saluda may not even drink Saluda Natural Spring Water and thus demonstrates a significant gap in the argument, this is not where the real issue is. One small town, whether Saluda or any other town, is just not a representative sample. Thus, there is really no way to know if the people living there really benefit from this water and not from something else. Equivalently, there is no way to know if I can expect the same results from drinking this water. Even if it is established to be the case, regularly drinking this water may or may not be a wise investment since tap water is different at every location, Saluda water may have cheaper alternatives, etc.



3.0. Mainly analyzes tangential or irrelevant matters, or reasons poorly


While the paper analyzes several relevant issues, the reasoning is often illogical. The analysis often misinterprets the original argument, attributing to it something that was never stated or even implied.

Quote:
...Stated in this way the argument skips over several key factors on the basis of which it could successfully be evaluated.

Well, the author of the analysis is the one who restated the argument in this way, not the author of the original argument.

Quote:
It assumes, erroneously, that the mix of these minerals in the water will be beneficial for the human health.

This is what the argument suggests. However, it is too categorical to label this suggestion as erroneous. In fact, it is not even relevant whether Saluda Natural Spring Water is beneficial for the human health per se, for water is a necessity. We are trying to compare Saluda Natural Spring Water to tap water. Both may be harmful to human health, yet bottled water may be less harmful and thus a wiser investment.

Quote:
For example hard water contains a high concentration of Magnesium ions and this renders it unfit for drinking. However reducing the concentration of these ions can make the water fit for drinking.

It is not clear what is the relevance of the second sentence. The argument did not discuss any ways of reducing the concentration of minerals in Saluda Natural Spring Water.

Quote:
Also, Magnesium is required for good health. Hence, data regarding the concentration of these minerals is of utmost importance to the argument.

This logical transition should be clarified.


Quote:
The argument again fallaciously assumes that the absence of bacteria is a prerogative for good health.

I assume that "prerogative" should be read as "prerequisite". However, the argument does not assume that the absence of bacteria is absolutely necessary for good health. It only seems to suggest that the absence of bacteria is helpful, or that tap water tends to have some harmful bacteria.

Quote:
However, there are several perishable items that contain bacteira and are good for health.

While I can guess why perishable items were mentioned - they are perishable because of the bacteria in them - the essay does not explain it. Instead it simply introduces "perishable iterms" without any context. Somebody who does not know the connection between bacteria and perishability would be hopelessly confused at this point.

Quote:
And curd is in no way bad for health.

This is a very strong statement to make. What about lactose intolerant people?

Quote:
It implies, speciously, that the good health of residents of Saluda is because of the bottling of Saluda Natural Sping Water there.

No, it does not. The residents may be healthy because they are drinking the water from the spring. The bottling factory may make their health slightly worse by polluting the environment.

Quote:
They may have a better lifestyle, healthy eating habits or low stress levels. The argument assumes that this is not the case and in doing so it makes itself defective.

No, the argument does not assume that they have unhealthy eating habits and high stress levels. Besides, it is unclear what a "better" lifestyle would be.

Quote:
Here, the argument wrongly assumes that tap water is not good for health.

No, there is no such assumption. The argument only suggests that Saluda Natural Spring Water is better.

Quote:
Addition of some hard examples, and statistical and scientific data will certainly help to fortify the argument.

Don't be so certain. The addition of relevant examples and data may help to fortify the argument. Simply adding some examples may actually hurt the argument.


3.0. Is limited in the logical development and organization of ideas


In the second paragraph of the paper it is first claimed that the mix of these minerals in the water is not necessarily beneficial for the human health. Then the conlcusion is reached that
Quote:
Hence, data regarding the concentration of these minerals is of utmost importance to the argument.

It would be more logical to conclude that paragraph with "Hence, without the data regarding... it cannot be established that the mix of these minerals in this bottled water is beneficial for the human health".

In fact, the paper could be significantly strengthened by recommending the author of the original argument to include information about the concentrations of various minerals in Saluda Natural Spring Water and, of course, to give a scientific explanation for the healthy properties of Saluda Natural Spring Water instead of appealing to some citizens of some little town that have little to do with the bottles in my supermarket.

Quote:
For example, curd is formed by the replication of a bacteria in the environment of milk. And curd is in no way bad for health. Therefore, this premise needs more information to substantiate the argument.

It is unclear what kind of information is needed in this case. We already know that bacteria can be helpful (curd is an example) and that Saluda Natural Spring Water has no bacteria. The paper should make it more explicit. For example, it would be helpful to know what bacteria are contained in the tap water in various
regions of the country.

Quote:
However, it does not mention the number of residents of Saluda who actually drink the Saluda Natural Sping Water.

Well, what if it did mention that 5,000 residents of Saluda drink the Saluda Natural Spring Water? How would it help?

Quote:
Also, assuming the residents of Saluda drink Saluda Natural Sping Water...

This is not a very useful assumption. Some of them probably do.



4.0. The paper supports the main points of the critique


Some relevant support is provided. Information about magnesium ions and about curd is relevant and supports the critique. The discussion about the possible reasons for the good health of the residents of Saluda is also relevant and provides some support.

3.0. The paper does not convey meaning clearly.



Quote:
...drinking Saluda Natural Spring Water is a more viable and feasible investment than drinking tap water,...

The argument does not present drinking tap water as an investment, nor does it present Saluda Natural Spring Water as an investment. It presents substituting Saluda Natural Spring Water for tap water as an investment.

Quote:
The argument again fallaciously assumes that the absence of bacteria is a prerogative for good health.

Good health of what or of whom? The absence of bacteria in a human or in the water?

Quote:
Secondly, the argument states that residents of saluda are less frequently hospitalized when compared with the residents of the nation in which Saluda is.

"...in which Saluda is" is awkward.

Quote:
It states that Saluda is where the Saluda Natural Sping Water is bottled.

This word order is confusing and stylistically inappropriate in this context.

Quote:
It implies, speciously, that the good health of residents of Saluda is because of the bottling of Saluda Natural Sping Water there.

The meaning is difficult to understand.

Quote:
...the cause of less frequency of hospitalization in the residents of Saluda maybe different from the type of water they drink...

There are so many errors in this sentence that the intended meaning cannot be reconstructed.

Quote:
They may have a better lifestyle, healthy eating habits or low stress levels.

"Better" suggests a comparison with the national average. However, "healthy" and "low" are not comparative. Should "healthier" and "lower" be used instead?

Quote:
However, no support for such an assumption is present in the argument. Furthermore, in order to make this conclusion believable and effective

Are we talking about an assumption or about a conclusion? Also note the awkward "believable and effective".


4.0. Generally follows the conventions of standard written English but may have some flaws


Quote:
viable and feasible investment

Usage error? Drinking tap water is certainly more viable and feasible, unless one can die from it.

Quote:
...it could successfully be evaluated

Word order.

Quote:
...is a prerogative for good health

Prerequisite?

Quote:
...the cause of less frequency of hospitalization in the residents of Saluda maybe different from the type of water they drink

I guess, this should be considered an error in mechanics. Of course, the cause is different from the type of water.

Quote:
They may have a better lifestyle, healthy eating habits or low stress levels.

"Better", "healthy", "low" are not parallel. ("Better" is comparative.)

Quote:
in order to make this conclusion believable and effective

Word choice: "believable and effective".
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Re: Please, can you rate my essay? (Saluda Natural Spring Water) [#permalink] New post 19 Jan 2013, 04:40
A response to SergeyOrshanskiy

Thanks a lot for such an in-depth analysis of my essay. I learnt quite a few important points from your response. I had no idea I was making such mistakes. I am very surprised to see that I made so many mistakes in the "meaning".

Though I have a few queries.
1) Can you please elaborate more on this point. I am still unable to understand the flaw in this.

For example, while it makes a strong point that the residents of Saluda may not even drink Saluda Natural Spring Water and thus demonstrates a significant gap in the argument, this is not where the real issue is. One small town, whether Saluda or any other town, is just not a representative sample. Thus, there is really no way to know if the people living there really benefit from this water and not from something else. Equivalently, there is no way to know if I can expect the same results from drinking this water. Even if it is established to be the case, regularly drinking this water may or may not be a wise investment since tap water is different at every location, Saluda water may have cheaper alternatives, etc

2) Can you please suggest a few techniques for making improvements in my "meaning".

Thank you in advance.
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Re: Please, can you rate my essay? (Saluda Natural Spring Water) [#permalink] New post 19 Jan 2013, 23:17
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1) Elaborating.

It is a perfectly valid point that the residents of Saluda may not even be drinking the bottled water in question. Thus, we cannot confidently say that the residents of Saluda are relatively healthy because of drinking this water, as they may be relatively healthy for other reasons.

However, even if the residents of Saluda are in great health because of drinking this water, this still does not allow us to conclude that this water is just as useful for everybody else. For example, the residents of Saluda may have a magnesium deficiency because of their traditional diet or because of some local factory poisoning the environment. (I am just making it up - think of a better example if you can.) In this case the residents of Saluda would really benefit from drinking bottled water that is rich in magnesium. However, the rest of the citizens of this country may receive enough magnesium, for whatever reason, and thus hardly benefit from the bottled water at all. Or imagine that for some weird genetic reason this bottled water is benefit to Chinese people but harmful to Japanese people. If all residents of Saluda are Chinese, then they may be in great health because of drinking this water, yet other residents of this country may have a very different experience.

In general, if you have a new medicine that works well for 100 patients, this may or may not constitute enough evidence to recommend this medicine for general use. This is why people do randomized controlled studies. In this case it would be wiser to randomly sample people from different parts of this country, let them drink this water, and then see how often they get hospitalized. Of course, we would need a control group, so only a random subset from this group would be drinking the bottled Saluda water. The other volunteers participating in the study would be drinking bottled tap water to account for the placebo effect.


Let me reiterate just to make sure that you understand. The citizens of Saluda may have a healthier lifestyle, may be young on average and thus healthy, etc. There are many reasons why they may be in great health. But even assuming that they are in great health BECAUSE of the bottled water, we still cannot confidently recommend this water as a wise investment in good health for everybody else.

2) Practice writing some essays without a time limit. You can also rewrite an essay if you think the first attempt was not good enough.

Definitely give yourself enough time to come up with ideas. I personally need at least 3-5 minutes to come up with some nontrivial ideas about an AWA prompt.

One specific technique is assuming that you have handled a particular objection and then checking if there is anything left. For example: it is not known whether the residents of Saluda drink the bottled water. OK, assume that they do. Now what? It is not known if they are younger than the average people in the country. OK. Assume that they average age of Saluda's residents is the same as the national average. Not what? Well, it is not clear that this water is healthy and useful. Assume that it is! It is not clear if the tap water is harmful. Assume that it is full of bacteria and generally not very good for you. Now what? --- and so on...
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Re: Please, can you rate my essay? (Saluda Natural Spring Water)   [#permalink] 19 Jan 2013, 23:17
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