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Please comment on this essay [#permalink] New post 09 Jul 2009, 15:28
Hi friends, i'm taking the gmat 2 weeks from now, and i'm concerned about my awa more than any other section.
I am practicing few essays, but i would request all of you to please help me by providing your feedback as to where I can improve and what mistakes i'm making which i need to correct. I know it takes time, but blaring mistakes can be easily identified. It would be very helpful for me.

I timed myself while writing this one, but somehow missed the alarm and had to finish in a hurry taking 2 minutes over the limit.
I have not even re-read it. The essay is just as it would have been submitted on the actual exam.

topic:

The following appeared in a newspaper editorial:
“As violence in movies increases, so do crime rates in our cities. To combat this problem we must establish a board
to censor certain movies, or we must limit admission to persons over 21 years of age. Apparently our legislators are
not concerned about this issue since a bill calling for such actions recently failed to receive a majority vote.”
Discuss how well reasoned . . . etc.

My response

The argument concludes that the legislators are not concerned about the issue that violence in movies is causing an increase in the crime rates in the cities. The reason given for this conclusion is the failure to pass a bill that required censoring certain movies or limiting admission to people over 21 years of age which is believed to help in combating this problem. However, the argument has some questionable assumptions and flaws.

First, the argument makes a sweeping assumption that all legislators are indifferent to the issue because they failed to pass a bill that called for some restrictions. The author does not provide any conclusive evidence supporting his claim that the bill failed to attain a majority vote because of the indifference of the legislators to the problem. Had the legislators been indifferent, they might not have proposed such a bill. Morever, there could be several other reasons for majority of the legislators to disagree with the terms proposed in the bill. The intention of the bill may be good but the method could have been wrong. For example, when India denied to sign the Nuclear weapons treaty, it was only because they disagreed on a few terms of the treaty, not because they were not concerned about the controlling of use of nuclear weapons.

Secondly, the author makes a generalized claim that establishing a censor board or limiting admission to adults will solve the problem of increasing crime rates. The author does not provide any statistics in support of this claim. There are several countries which have censor boards and age categorizations for movies, yet the crime rate has steadily increased over the years. For example, in India, crime rate has not decreased after the establishing of the censor board. Moreover, with the introduction of dvds and the internet, access to movies can no more be limited by limiting admission to movie theatres. These are several drawbacks of the actions proposed by the bill which the argument fails to address.

Thirdly, the author fails to justify his claim that crime rates in cities are significantly affected by the violence depicted in the movies. This has long been a debatable issue, and the nature and content of such movies have to be taken into account before arriving at such generalized conclusions. The argument could have been strengthened if the author could provide evidence that violence in movies has a significant impact on the crime rates in cities. Also, the argument could have discussed the views of the legislators who voted against the bill to show whether they did so for valid reasons.

To sum, the argument fails to convince that the legislators are not concerned about the issue of increasing crime rates because of violence in the movies. The author has made few generalized assumptions without providing sufficient evidence to support his claims. The argument could have been made stronger if the author had provided statistics which show that censor boards and limited admissions are effective in reducing crime rates, and that the legislators did not have any strong reasons to oppose the bill.
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Re: Please comment on this essay [#permalink] New post 09 Jul 2009, 16:13
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So in the interest of helping you improve your essay I will straight out point to what might be missing or can be improved.

You addressed the flaws and reasoning in the argument but the order of addressing might make a big difference. The major flaw in the argument is what you have stated in the second and third paragraphs. So if you put them first, the essay will have more impact. Now the counter to these reasons - namely 'Establishing a censor board to censor violent scenes and restrict audience below 21 years of age' needs more punch. The evidence you have stated "in India, crime rate has not decreased after the establishing of the censor board" cannot be used as a proof, hence it's not convincing enough. Instead something like this might help ...

"While it is perceived that violent behavior is learned and not in born, just the violent acts depicted in the movies will not aid in the violent behavior development. This is because, audience tend to spend much less time in cinemas as compared to the time they spend in watching television and playing video games. So the chances of them learning violent behavior tends to be higher during television watching or video game playing ... "

Also, it's better to avoid usage of phrases like this "The argument concludes that , the argument fails to convince that" - It's not the argument that's concluding or trying to convince .. it's the author.

So that's the high level comment I have. Otherwise, the language and ease of readability seems fine.

Good luck for your exam.
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Re: Please comment on this essay [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2009, 06:50
pleonasm wrote:
So in the interest of helping you improve your essay I will straight out point to what might be missing or can be improved.

You addressed the flaws and reasoning in the argument but the order of addressing might make a big difference. The major flaw in the argument is what you have stated in the second and third paragraphs. So if you put them first, the essay will have more impact. Now the counter to these reasons - namely 'Establishing a censor board to censor violent scenes and restrict audience below 21 years of age' needs more punch. The evidence you have stated "in India, crime rate has not decreased after the establishing of the censor board" cannot be used as a proof, hence it's not convincing enough. Instead something like this might help ...

"While it is perceived that violent behavior is learned and not in born, just the violent acts depicted in the movies will not aid in the violent behavior development. This is because, audience tend to spend much less time in cinemas as compared to the time they spend in watching television and playing video games. So the chances of them learning violent behavior tends to be higher during television watching or video game playing ... "

Also, it's better to avoid usage of phrases like this "The argument concludes that , the argument fails to convince that" - It's not the argument that's concluding or trying to convince .. it's the author.

So that's the high level comment I have. Otherwise, the language and ease of readability seems fine.

Good luck for your exam.



Thanks a lot for your quick response :)
I really appreciate the time and effort you put in to analyse the essay critically and then give the detailed explanation.

Im not trying to justify myself, but just want to discuss few things bit further so that I am sure I have arrived at the best conclusion.

About the ordering of the paragraphs, I feel that a direct attack at the conclusion is the strongest point. The assumption questioned by me in the 1st paragraph is what the final conclusion of the author relies upon, and i feel this assumption is the weakest point in his conclusion. Rest of the points, which weaken the premise, should come after the conclusion itself has been weakened. Simply put, I wanted to attack the conclusion itself first, then go on to the premise, because I've read few sample guide essays and have noticed this pattern in all of them. What are your views?

Thanks for all other points, seems like you have been practicing AWAs a lot, coz the point you gave in italics was very good, it gives a very precise argument against the author's premise.

As for the usage of "argument/author", thanks for pointing it out. Actually I read few sample essays where the word "argument" has been used in the similar context, that is why i deliberately used it, but should not have used for such phrases.

Hope you won't mind spending few more minutes replying to this again :thanks
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Re: Please comment on this essay [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2009, 07:56
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rashminet84 wrote:
About the ordering of the paragraphs, I feel that a direct attack at the conclusion is the strongest point. The assumption questioned by me in the 1st paragraph is what the final conclusion of the author relies upon, and i feel this assumption is the weakest point in his conclusion. Rest of the points, which weaken the premise, should come after the conclusion itself has been weakened. Simply put, I wanted to attack the conclusion itself first, then go on to the premise, because I've read few sample guide essays and have noticed this pattern in all of them. What are your views?


Hmmm, interesting. So how to identify the main conclusion ... ( I'm no expert in this area , so I might be completely wrong .. :) ).

As a result of an action <watching violent movies>, there is a reaction <increase of violence in the society>. To combat this reaction, we need to take another action <censor board etc etc >. However, the legislators don't seem to pay attention to this and blah blah blah ..

Just look at this stem. Does the conclusion seem clear ?? The legislators not paying attention doesn't seem like the main conclusion does it ? It's a secondary conclusion stemming from the main conclusion " Issue censor boards etc ... " . Makes sense ??

rashminet84 wrote:
Thanks for all other points, seems like you have been practicing AWAs a lot, coz the point you gave in italics was very good, it gives a very precise argument against the author's premise.

Oh hey you're welcome ... :) and no I haven't been practicing AWAs (unfortunately, I lack the patience).
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Re: Please comment on this essay [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2009, 08:09
The conclusion is the last line - Legislators are not concerned about an issue

Reason: They failed to pass a bill which could have affected the condition

This is the ultimate conclusion which is based on the "premise" that censorship and limiting admission will undoubtedly reduce crime rates.
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Re: Please comment on this essay [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2009, 14:51
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topic:

The following appeared in a newspaper editorial:
“As violence in movies increases, so do crime rates in our cities. To combat this problem we must establish a board
to censor certain movies, or we must limit admission to persons over 21 years of age. Apparently our legislators are
not concerned about this issue since a bill calling for such actions recently failed to receive a majority vote.”
Discuss how well reasoned . . . etc

My response

The argument concludes that the legislators are not concerned about the issue that violence in movies is causing an increase in the crime rates in the cities. The reason given for this conclusion is the failure to pass a bill that required censoring certain movies or limiting admission to people over 21 years of age which (>> modifies age, and hence distorts the meaning of the rest of the sentence) is believed to help in combating this problem. However, the argument has some questionable assumptions and flaws.

First, the argument makes a sweeping assumption that all legislators are indifferent to the issue because they failed to pass a bill that called for some restrictions. The author does not provide any conclusive evidence supporting his claim that the bill failed to attain a majority vote because of the indifference of the legislators to the problem. Had the legislators been indifferent, they might not have proposed such a bill. Morever, there could be several other reasons for majority of the legislators to disagree with the terms proposed in the bill. The intention of the bill may be good but the method ( of bill? or method of implementing the reforms? ) could have been wrong. For example, when India denied to sign the Nuclear weapons treaty, it was only because they( who are they?? ) disagreed on a few terms of the treaty, not because they were not concerned about the controlling of use of(looks awkward) nuclear weapons.

Secondly, the author makes a generalized claim that establishing a censor board or limiting admission to adults will solve the problem of increasing crime rates. The author does not provide any statistics in support of this claim. There are several countries which have censor boards and age categorizations for movies, yet the crime rate has steadily increased over the years. For example, in India, crime rate has not decreased after the establishing of the censor board. (very generic example, may be you can strengthen it further Moreover, with the introduction of dvds and the internet, access to movies can no more be limited by limiting admission to movie theatres. These are several drawbacks of the actions proposed by the bill which? the argument fails to address.

Thirdly, the author fails to justify his claim that crime rates in cities are significantly affected by the violence depicted in the movies. This has long been a debatable issue, and the nature and content of such movies have to be taken into account before arriving at such generalized conclusions. The argument could have been strengthened if the author could provide evidence that violence in movies has a significant impact on the crime rates in cities. Also, the argument could have discussed the views of the legislators who voted against the bill to show whether they did so for valid reasons.

To sum, the argument fails to convince that the legislators are not concerned about the issue of increasing crime rates because of violence in the movies. The author has made few generalized assumptions without providing sufficient evidence to support his claims. The argument could have been made stronger if the author had provided statistics which show that censor boards and limited admissions are effective in reducing crime rates, and that the legislators did not have any strong reasons to oppose the bill.

Overall , good. I just saw some confusing phrases :) I am not an expert of AWA though.
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Re: Please comment on this essay [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2009, 15:13
thanks a lot for the reply. Such silly mistakes :oops:

Thanks for pointing them out. Need to practice a lot to take care of these.
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Re: Please comment on this essay [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2009, 17:08
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Hi Rashminet,

IMHO, this is a complex argument that could be dissected on several statements, each containing a fallacy.

That’s how I see these statements (you have identified the same three):

1. “Violence in movies increases ->crime rate increases”. Possible mistake: correlation implies causation.
2. “To combat this problem, we must do so and so”. Possible mistakes: “must” means that the proposed solutions are a) effective and b) necessary for success – thus, all alternative ways to solve the problems are ignored. You have addressed a), but not b).
3. “Bill failure means that legislators are not concerned.” Possible mistake: insufficient evidence for such a conclusion (non sequitur). There could be situations when bill calling for such actions doesn’t receive the majority vote but the legislators are concerned; you gave sufficient examples of that.

These statements depend on each other in a sense that each subsequent statement implies that the previous one is true. So, the conclusion of 1) work as the premise for 2), and the conclusion of 2) work as the premise for 3). Technically, each one of these statements is fallacious on its own, and so you could criticize them separately in whichever order you like – however, here I agree with Pleonasm that your essay will look better if you choose to attack these arguments in the sequence they occur: 1, then 2, then 3, and not 3, 2, 1, as you did – mainly for the reason that each subsequent depends of the previous one.

I have one more comment on the paragraph starting with ‘Thirdly, …’ It’s better to dedicate one paragraph to one mistake and not to touch others. So, IMHO, you needn’t mention this:

Quote:
Also, the argument could have discussed the views of the legislators who voted against the bill to show whether they did so for valid reasons.

It’s irrelevant to the point you are criticizing in this paragraph (the causal relationship btw movie violence and crime rates).

Hope it was of use! Good luck with your AWA! I remember how scared I was…
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Re: Please comment on this essay [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2009, 17:42
Wow, honestly im overwhelmed with the great feedbacks im getting.

Thanks a lot to you. those were some really very good points.

I would especially like to thank you for pointing out the exact fallacies of the author's arguments. I always want to do it this way, but somehow due to time constraints, i'm afraid to even try it.

As for the ordering, I am able to understand why i should order in the 1,2,3 and not 3,2,1 way. Thanks for that to you and pleonasm.

I can totally understand the amount of patience it requires to go through something "critically" and then even provide a clear feedback, so im very grateful to all 3 of you. :thanks :thanks :thanks
Re: Please comment on this essay   [#permalink] 11 Jul 2009, 17:42
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