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25 Mar 2014, 08:03
Hi, this is my first time preparing for GMAT. Have written 4 AWA essays so far and while I know myself that they are lacking somewhere or the other, wanted a second opinion so to speak. Putting them all here, would appreciate any pointers. Thanks!

First

The following appeared as part of an annual report sent to stockholders by Olympic Foods, a processor of frozen foods:
“Over time, the costs of processing go down because as organizations learn how to do things better, they become more efficient. In color film processing, for example, the cost of a 3-by-5-inch print fell from 50 cents for five-day service in 1970 to 20 cents for one-day service in 1984. The same principle applies to the processing of food. And since Olympic Foods will soon celebrate its 25th birthday, we can expect that our long experience will enable us to minimize costs and thus maximize profits.”

In his argument, the author states that the costs of processing typically reduce over time as processes become more efficient. The industries referred to are: frozen food processing and color film processing. The main problem in this argument is that the author tries to draw an analogy which may not necessarily be true. It cannot be verified that the comparison between the color film industry and frozen food is a valid one.

We do not have enough information about the two industries to know that such a comparison may be made. Do they use similar processing techniques? Are the products in any way similar? These are some questions that would need answering. Even if we accept that the color film processing industry has reduced costs over time, we cannot say for sure that it is due to efficient processes. There could be a number of other factors like improved technology, adopting new processes etc. that could have contributed to this. Likewise, if we are to evaluate if Olympic Foods is likely to minimize costs in future, we would need answers to certain question like; have there been any innovation in the industry as a whole? Has Olympic Foods made any investments towards adopting new technologies? Have they undertaken any initiatives to streamline processes? Without these answers, it would not be possible to arrive at the conclusion the author has reached.

A second problem in the argument is the flaw in the statistics presented regarding the color film processing industry. If the cost of a 3-by-5-inch print was 50 cents for five-day service in 1970, then the cost of 20 cents for one-day service in 1984 is actually an increase in cost of 10 cents per day. Unless it can be shown by other statistics there is actually a reduction in the cost, it is not possible to conclude that the color film processing industry has seen an improvement over time.

To summarize, the argument in its present form is flawed. It can be strengthened by providing more information about the specific steps that the organization in question has taken to ensure that they will in fact be able to minimize costs and maximize profits in the future. It would also be useful to evaluate more information about the 2 industries being compared to see if indeed the same principles of processing apply to them.

Second

“Professor Taylor of Jones University is promoting a model of foreign language instruction in which students receive 10 weeks of intensive training, then go abroad to live with families for 10 weeks. The superiority of the model, Professor Taylor contends, is proved by the results of a study in which foreign language tests given to students at 25 other colleges show that first-year foreign language students at Jones speak more fluently after only 10 to 20 weeks in the program than do nine out of 10 foreign language majors elsewhere at the time of their graduation.”

The article tries to fathom the reason why the less costing version of a certain motorcycle is not attracting customers as much as the original. One argument by some people is that the new version makes less noise which was a characteristic of the original. This is refuted by the author by drawing a comparison with cars which are similarly manufactured both in USA and outside but sell just as well.

To summarize, the argument in it's present does not logically follow the premises. It can be strengthened by evaluation additional details about the foreign motorcycle which can be used to conclusively determine the reason for it failing to attract customers.

Third

The following appeared in a memorandum from the business department of the Apogee Company:
“When the Apogee Company had all its operations in one location, it was more profitable than it is today. Therefore, the Apogee Company should close down its field offices and conduct all its operations from a single location. Such centralization would improve profitability by cutting costs and helping the company maintain better supervision of all employees.”

Citing statistics of earlier profitability, the author argues that a return to the earlier way of business operations, ie, operating from one central office, would yield better results for the company. This argument is flawed as the author does not take into account a number of factors, chiefly: the present scale of operations, the logistical advantages the field offices offer and the kind of business the company engages in.

As it stands, the argument in its present form is flawed and can be strengthened by providing more information about the organization and the general conditions of the business environment to show that this plan would indeed lead to better profitability for the company.

Fourth

The following appeared in the editorial section of a monthly business news magazine:
"Most companies would agree that as the risk of physical injury occurring on the job increases, the wages paid to employees should also increase. Hence it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer: they could thus reduce their payroll expenses and save money."

Firstly, there is no specific information provided as to what constitutes a safer workplace. It is unclear whether there are accepted standards which organizations need to follow or is it more at the discretion of each organization to determine what can be considered a safe workplace. In case it is the former, it definitely makes sense for any organization to comply with the standards but it does not necessarily follow that the organization could then pay the workers less. In case it is the latter, it is even more ambiguous as to what levels of safety need to be reached for an organization to deem it safe enough to not pay workers for any risk of physical injury at the workplace. Even if we accept that making the workplace safer will lead to reduced payroll costs, the costs associated with making the changes in the workplace might actually be higher and thus can actually neutralize or negate the potential gains predicted by the argument.

Secondly, it seems the argument above considers safety at the workplace the only factor that determines changes in wages of workers. There is no reason to believe that even if the workplace was completely risk free, there would not be other factors that would still lead to an increase in wages. The argument commits the fallacy of confusing correlation with causation, specifically, assuming reverse causation. Just because workers need to be paid higher wages if there is risk of physical injury does not mean that reducing that risk would automatically lead to reduction in wages. There may be other laws that regulate minimum wages and other benefits.

The argument in its present state is flawed and could be strengthened by providing data that conclusively proves that creating a safer environment will lead to a monetary benefit for organizations. It could also be refuted by providing data about situations where wages are higher in workplaces that are deemed completely safe.

Kudos [?]: [0], given: 2

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