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Intern
Joined: 22 Mar 2014
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23 Mar 2014, 12:28
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I would be grateful if someone could grade my essay and advise what needs to be improved. This is my second attempt but I am writing GMAT in a few days.
I am concerned about the length of my essay. Is this too short? What is the ideal length (number of words) expected?

QUESTION:
The following appeared in the health section of a magazine on trends and lifestyles:
“People who use the artificial sweetener aspartame are better off consuming sugar, since aspartame can actually contribute to weight gain rather than weight loss. For example, high levels of aspartame have been shown to trigger a craving for food by depleting the brain of a chemical that registers satiety, or the sense of being full. Furthermore, studies suggest that sugars, if consumed after at least 45 minutes of continuous exercise, actually enhance the body’s ability to burn fat. Consequently, those who drink aspartame-sweetened juices after exercise will also lose this calorie-burning benefit. Thus it appears that people consuming aspartame rather than sugar are unlikely to achieve their dietary goals.”

The argument states that people are better off consuming sugar rather than aspartame. Thought at first glance it might seem that the author has good reasons for suggesting this, a closer look at the argument presented reveals examples of poor and illogical reasoning. The conclusion of this argument relies on certain assumptions for which there is no clear evidence.

First, the argument readily assumes that people who consume aspartame will certainly consume high levels of it. The argument further reasons that consuming high levels of aspartame would trigger a craving for food. Such reasoning seems illogical. Also there is no evidence that specifies that the chemical that triggers a craving of food would necessarily trigger a craving for high calorie food. One can argue that in such a case people determined to lose weight are likely to make a conscious effort to eat healthy as well as low calorie foods when they wish to eat more.

Second, the argument underlies the assumption that those who switch from sugar to aspartame are also exercising. However, no further proof or reason is provided by the author that would help to explain the reasoning behind this assumption. This is a serious flaw in the argument and addressing this might have helped to strengthen the conclusion drawn.

Finally, the argument does not address the fact that not all people switch to aspartame in an effort to reduce calories consumed and thus, help them lose weight. This is another serious flaw in the argument. To illustrate, for a number of diabetic people who like sweets switching to aspartame is very often the solution. Such people are not necessarily trying to lose weight.

To summarize, the author's argument is not convincing and persuasive as it stands. Had the article taken into consideration the aforementioned points, the article would have been much more balanced and logical.
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24 Mar 2014, 21:27
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Hello,
That's a well written response MeinZiel; it has good structure, uses transitions properly and also addresses the key weaknesses of the argument.
Yet, I do not think your essay would get a 5+.

Here are the reasons.
1. When you discuss the flawed assumption you need to show - how this assumption if proved wrong weakens the argument.
You have not really done this. Doing this clearly establishes the point that you drive at.

2. Body paragraph 2 is a bit vague - does the author really assume this?
Remember: discuss the biggest flaws first. Talk about the less significant ones later.

- Your essay would get a 4 - 4.5
- Ensure that you discuss how the assumption weakens the argument: this will add to overall length of response.
- Discuss the most impactful flaws first.

What you're doing right:
Structure, Argument analysis, Introduction and Conclusion.

The mild tweaks discussed should push your score to the 5+ range!

Good luck.
Peo,
Verbal Trainer - CrackVerbal.
_________________

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25 Mar 2014, 11:04
Many thanks for your feedback! Really appreciate

Somehow with the clock ticking away I get pretty nervous and can't think straight so either the content is not good or I am not able to complete my essay within the given time. Is one expected to write a certain number of words?

I made another attempt today and would be extremely grateful for another feedback.
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25 Mar 2014, 11:09
The following appeared in a corporate memorandum of a beverage manufacturer:

“Our promotional price reductions on energy drinks have been highly successful, as we have seen a dramatic increase in unit sales. Further, surveys of our consumers indicate that this promotion was favorably received by the majority of our customers. Therefore, to improve our company’s profitability and enhance its perception in the eyes of consumers, similar price reductions should be offered on all drinks produced by our firm.”

My Essay:

The corporate memorandum of a beverage manufacturing company states that offering price reductions on all the drinks produced by the company would improve the company's profitability. The author suggests that as this strategy was useful in increasing sales of the company's energy drinks, it would work for all other beverages as well. Though at first glance it might seem that the author has good reasons for suggesting this, a closer look at the argument presented reveals several flaws and examples of poor and illogical reasoning. Further, it fails to mention several key factors, on the basis of which the argument could be evaluated. Hence, the argument seems weak and unconvincing.

First, the argument readily assumes that the increase in unit sales of energy drinks can only be attributed to the promotional price reductions. However, the writer fails to provide evidence to suggest that the increase in sales was solely due to decreased prices. It is quite possible that there were other, more significant reasons for this. For instance, energy drinks are generally consumed by those who play sport. Therefore, it could be true that there was an increased demand for energy drinks as a result of more people getting involved in one kind of sport or the other which, in turn, could have been a result of them becoming more fitness conscious. In this case the price reductions might have been an added incentive for people to consume more energy drinks. Moreover, the season in which the price reductions were introduced could also have played an important role in determining the real reason for increased sales. For instance, people are generally more likely to need energy drinks in peak summer when energy levels are more likely to fall.

Second, it is also possible that the increased consumption of energy drinks was a direct result of the perceived health benefits offered by energy drinks. What if a scientific study had recently published the advantages of such drinks? What if the promotion was favourably received because people are now aware of how these drinks can benefit their health? As the argument does not consider and analyze such questions, it gives one the impression that it is not based on real facts but rather the result of a hasty generalization.

Finally, the writer states that similar price reductions on all the drinks produced by the company could lead to enhanced profit levels for the company. In doing so he ignores the fact that a strategy that works for one type of beverage may not work for another kind. To illustrate let's take the example of alcoholic beverages such as wines or champagnes. Certain wines fetch a high price only due to their uniqueness and their real or in some cases perceived value which is often measured by how highly priced they are. In such a case a reduction in price may not lead to more sales but rather a decline. Not considering and evaluating this factor is a major flaw in this argument.

To summarize, the author's argument is not convincing and persuasive as it stands. Had the author included the aforementioned points, he would have been able to not only strengthen and bolster his argument but also made it more balanced. Following the suggestion of the memorandum without evaluating and re-thinking their strategy could lead to reduced profits for the company.
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26 Mar 2014, 02:26
1
KUDOS
Hey,
Although there is no set number of words that a grader looks for, a good essay that addresses all the pivotal points of the argument will generally be 400-500 words long.

Here is my evaluation of your response:

First, the argument readily assumes that the increase in unit sales of energy drinks can only be attributed to the promotional price reductions. However, the writer fails to provide evidence to suggest that the increase in sales was solely due to decreased prices. It is quite possible that there were other, more significant reasons for this. For instance, energy drinks are generally consumed by those who play sport. Therefore, it could be true that there was an increased demand for energy drinks as a result of more people getting involved in one kind of sport or the other which, in turn, could have been a result of them becoming more fitness conscious. In this case the price reductions might have been an added incentive for people to consume more energy drinks. Moreover, the season in which the price reductions were introduced could also have played an important role in determining the real reason for increased sales. For instance, people are generally more likely to need energy drinks in peak summer when energy levels are more likely to fall.
Though the points you raise are valid- you need to structure your points better and express them with more clarity.

Second, it is also possible that the increased consumption of energy drinks was a direct result of the perceived health benefits offered by energy drinks. Isn’t this the same point as before? An alternate causation? What if a scientific study had recently published the advantages of such drinks? What if the promotion was favourably received because people are now aware of how these drinks can benefit their health? As the argument does not consider and analyze such questions, it gives one the impression that it is not based on real facts but rather the result of a hasty generalization.

Finally, the writer states that similar price reductions on all the drinks produced by the company could lead to enhanced profit levels for the company. In doing so he ignores the fact that a strategy that works for one type of beverage may not work for another kind. To illustrate let's take the example of alcoholic beverages such as wines or champagnes. Certain wines fetch a high price only due to their uniqueness and their real or in some cases perceived value which is often measured by how highly priced they are. In such a case a reduction in price may not lead to more sales but rather a decline. A bit vague! Not considering and evaluating this factor is a major flaw in this argument.

To summarize, the author's argument is not convincing and persuasive as it stands. Had the author included the aforementioned points, he would have been able to not only strengthen and bolster his argument but also made it more balanced. Following the suggestion of the memorandum without evaluating and re-thinking their strategy could lead to reduced profits for the company.

Again, this response would fetch you a 4-4.5.

Here's is some strategic advice to you:
1. know what you're going to write before you start writing.
2. Save some time towards the end (5-7mins) to proof read and correct vague sentences.

The key is to not stress out.

Work by creating templates:

For this argument your template should have looked something like this:

Intro
(conc + prem)

Body #1
Assumption 1: Price reduction only cause
Weakness: Other causes could be in play; want for energy drinks, advertising, perhaps a competitor became insolvent!?
(Pick the biggest points and explain how - if these were proved true- could destroy the conclusion)

Body #2
Assumption 2: Promotion is reflective of actual market sentiments
Weakness: Maybe it's not - sample set may be too small.

Body #3(optional)
Weakness: What works for energy drinks may not work for all others. (even if price reduction was the actual cause for increased sale in energy drinks, this may not make sense for other products)

Once you've got this down on your scratchpad, the next step is to expand this into your response (type).

You've actually reasoned out all these points, BUT you seem to get a little distracted while typing down the essay itself.
Doing the initial phase of brainstorming and template creation on your Scratch pad helps you keep focus and ensures that your response is concise and cogent!

Do give this method a try,
this might look like it takes more time, but actually it helps you complete the task much faster.

Peo,
Verbal Trainer - CrackVerbal
_________________

Check out our essay writing workshop here:

Quick tips for your GMAT Preparation

For 5 common traps on CR check here :
http://gmatonline.crackverbal.com/p/gmat-critical-reasoning

For sentence correction videos check here -
http://gmatonline.crackverbal.com/p/gmat-sentence-correction

Learn all PS and DS strategies here-
http://gmatonline.crackverbal.com/p/mastering-quant-on-gmat

Check out 5 common challenges on RC -

Intern
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27 Mar 2014, 06:21
Thanks a lot for your feedback and valuable tips!
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