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# AWA Prep: Attempts on sample topics

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AWA Prep: Attempts on sample topics [#permalink]

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08 Jan 2006, 06:21
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Hello everyone,

I have begun prep for the GMAT-AWA section and I intend to practice by completing at least one Analysis of an Argument or Analysis of an Issue every day. (Assuming work schedule permits it.)

I am going to randomly choose topics from the OG and attempt them. I will be timing myself using a stopwatch and using Notepad as the text editor when I type so that I do not get the luxury of spell/syntax check that MS-Word offers.

I'd be most grateful for the review comments by members on this forum on my attempts and their suggestions to help me improve. Anyone who is conversant with the rules of scoring AWA can feel free to give me their score too.

One final request, if someone else wants to the same exercise, I request them to open a new thread for the same. I'd like this thread to be a consolidation of my attempts and corresponding feedback only.

PS: I hope this is the right board for this thread, since I dont see a AWA-related board, as is available for Math/Verbal.
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08 Jan 2006, 06:23
Analysis of an Argument
Source: OG 10th ed., Page 795

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

The writer's argument is based on the assumption that it is the increase in violence in movies that is causing a corresponding increase in crime rates. However, the argument is weak because it is not supported by sufficient evidence.

Firstly, the argument does not present evidence that the rise in crime rate can be squarely attributed to the violence in movies. It is quite possible that other factors such as lack of jobs, economic inequality and social injustice are pushing people into crime. However, the writer's argument can be strenghtened by giving examples of real life crime that imitate the violence depicted in movies.

Secondly, the proposal to combat increase in crime by limiting movie admissions to those older than 21 is not justified. There is no supporting data to prove that majority or all of the crimes are commited by those less than 21, and then too influenced by movies alone. Further, it is not evident from the data presented that those greater than 21 do not commit any crimes or that they are any less influenced by movies. Only if the results of a scientifically conducted study supporting this assumption is presented, does the argument hold.

Thirdly, the writer alleges that the legislators are not concerned about this issue based on the fact that a bill calling for censorship and admission restrictions based on age was defeated. But it should be considered that the bill was probably defeated because of its content rather than its intent. Possibly the clauses were too restrictive or maybe they were not unambiguously defined and in their presented form were likely to be misunderstood.

Finally, it can be argued that movies are a reflection of society and its times. It is very possible that the increasing violence is movies is mirroring the trends in society and not the other way around.

Time Taken: 29 min 29 sec
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08 Jan 2006, 08:19
Wow, that looks really good.

I am also going to start prepping for the AWA soon. Can anyone out there offer tips on how to prepare for this ?

I'm not too sure myself.

Thanks

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09 Jan 2006, 10:21
Analysis of an Issue
Source: OG, 10th ed, Page 782

"Companies should not allow the trend toward informality in dress and conduct at the workplace to continue; formality in dress and behaviour helps create a more disciplined and productive work environment."

Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and/or examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.

I agree that companies should not allow the trend of informality in dress code and conduct to continue at the workplace because it affects productivity and creates an ambience that isnt conducive for business.

Considering that today's world is a global world where people from different cultures interact, it is important that one does not rub others the wrong way. Great care must be taken when interacting with people of different cultures so as not to offend them, even inadvertently. For example, certain clothes that may be acceptable in America may not be considered appropriate in India. And while informal behaviour may be the norm in America's boardrooms, the same would be unacceptable in Japan. Recognizing and acting upon such differences can sometimes be the differentiator between winning a business deal and losing it. Hence, a tried and tested formality in clothes and conduct is less risky and more rewarding.

Also, my experience is that the clothes one wears influences their attitudes. The confidence and elan that one exudes when wearing a formal suit cannot be matched by wearing a pair of casual jeans and a sweatshirt. And greater confidence backed by formal professionalism instills better discipline to achieve business goals.

Although it can be argued that informality is more natural and hence makes the office environment friendly, my experience is that such informality eventually leads to a situation where a person exceeds the liberties given to him. Considering that different people have different perceptions of what constitues "overstepping boundaries", informality only increases the chances of such occurences. And when such an incident occurs, it creates ill-will, discord and hampers productivity at the workplace. Such incidents can be pre-empted by making formality important at the workplace and hence erring on the side of caution.

Finally, it is rightly said that 'clothes maketh a man'. Nowhere else is the need to impress one's professionalism upon peers, superiors, customers and suppliers more important than in business. And one normally does not get a second opportunity to make a good first impression.

Time Taken: 27 min 03 sec
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02 Apr 2006, 05:06
Source: ETS Powerprep Software, Test 1

Essay 1

"Two years ago, City L was listed 14th in an annual survey that ranks cities according to the quality of life that can be enjoyed by those living in them. This information will enable people who are moving to the state in which City L is located to confidently identify one place, at least, where schools are good, housing is affordable, people are friendly, the environment is safe, and the arts flourish."

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.

The argument stated is weak because it makes several assumptions without providing concrete evidence in favor of those assumptions.

Firstly, the survey being cited is two years old. It is quite possible that the quality of life in city L has since deteriorated due to social, economic or political reasons. For example, there may be an economic recession in recent times leading to a downward slide in the quality of life. The argument can be strengthened if there is data to prove that the socio-economic and political factors have not changed the quality of life, since the survey was conducted.

A second significant weakness in the argument is that survey statistics are not presented. There is no mention of the sample size of population covered during the survey and the demographics of the sample space who responded to the survey. It is possible that the survey was not conducted in a scientific manner and failed to take into account several important factors such as representation from a cross section of population of city L. If so, the survey results would be skewed and incorrect. The argument would be strenghtened if more details about the survey including sample space, questions and responses and the methodology used was cited.

Third, the argument uses terminology that isnt quantified. For example, when it is said that housing is affordable, it doesnt mention the figures to quantify affordability. Affordability would depend on earnings and it is possible that housing in city L is affordable only to a select few, who were the respondents to the survey. A similar case can be made against the phrases that schools are good and that environment is safe. It would help strenghten the argument if all such parameters were quantified. For example, when it is said environment is safe, data about crime rates could be presented and also compared with other cities. Similarly, housing rates in city L could be presented in dollar figures per month and also compared with those values prevalent in other cities.

Finally, the argument states that people moving to the state in which city L is located to confidently identify one place in the state where the quality of life is good. Even if one grants that the quality of life in city L is indeed good, it would be of little use to someone who is moving to a city other than city L. It is very likely that the quality of life in other cities, even if situated in the same state as city L, is drastically different and possibly much worse.

Essay 2

"The presence of a competitor is always beneficial to a company. Competition forces a company to change itself in ways that improve its practices."

Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and/or examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.

I mostly agree with the opinion that the presence of a competitor is always beneficial to a company.

First, the intense competition in today's global marketplace means that companies must constantly innovate to stay ahead. A good example of this would be salesforce.com versus the global leader in business applications, SAP. SAP's business solutions are often perceived to be non-intuitive and heavy in functionality, much of which is often not used by the typical customer. Salesforce.com came up with a lean business application that helps companies streamline and simplify their order management processes. The encouraging response to salesforce.com has meant that SAP has necessarily had to innovate by improving its own applications to become leaner and more user friendly. And it is the customer who has gained the most.

Second, the presence of competition means that consumers are protected against monopoly practises by a corporate behemoth. The case of Microsoft versus the Open Source Software movement comes to mind. Until there was open source software, most consumers had no choice but to use Microsoft's Windows as the operating system for their computers. But now, consumers have a choice that is cheaper. This has elicited various responses from Microsoft - ranging from launching new versions of the product (MS Vista) to reducing prices to exploring new avenues to reach potential customers.

While at first glance it may appear that a monopoly benefits the company, in the long run it will prove deterimental to the company. Being a monopoly would ultimately make the company complacent and not innovate. This would lead to stagnation. The presence of a competitor guards against internal complacency or sluggishness in a company and forces it to adopt practices that are faster and better, if it intends to survive and win in the market place.

However, one specific case where intense competition may not be beneficial is in the domain of medical research. Considering that mankind is faced with many medical challenges that require urgent attention, it would be a waste of limited resources if the same research were replicated independently by multiple companies under the name of competition. It would definitely be better to pool in resources and conduct medical research collaboratively. This would reduce the time to market for certain important drugs that could be used to save thousands of lives.

That said, it is still largely the case that competition is beneficial not only to the company but also to consumers and so, competition must be encouraged.

Self Rating

Since it was a diagnostic GMAT, the software did not rate the essays. On the AWA scale of 6, I'd rate the first essay at 5 (it slipped my mind to write a concluding paragraph, and had I done this, I could have probably thought of giving it a 6?) and although I cant quite put my finger on it, I am not too happy with the second essay and would give it only a 4.

Any constructive comments would be highly appreciated.
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06 Apr 2006, 14:40
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Can I critique?

I got a 6.0 on my AWA, so pretend I know something.

Overall, i think they are OK to good. Avoid starting sentences with And or But. Try to structure a little more.

"Companies should not allow the trend toward informality in dress and conduct at the workplace to continue; formality in dress and behaviour helps create a more disciplined and productive work environment."

Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and/or examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.

I agree that companies should not allow the trend of informality in dress code and conduct to continue at the workplace because it affects productivity and creates an ambience that isnt conducive for business.

I know what you are trying to do here - show that you understand the argument, but watch out about being so repetitive of the first sentence. I also recommend avoiding I where possible. This is my personal preference, but I feel that starting sentences with I believe, or I think, is sort of how you wrote an essay in 6th grade. How about, "In my experience" or "My personal obversations agree with the authors statement that informal dress codes can adversly impact the productivity of a given workplace."

Considering that today's world is a global world where people from different cultures interact, it is important that one does not rub others the wrong way.

Avoid being too chatty. This is how you might talk, but not how you would usually write. Why not be more explicit and clear? Rub others the wrong way.... how about that one does not offend another individual?

Great care must be taken when interacting with people of different cultures so as not to offend them, even inadvertently. For example, certain clothes that may be acceptable in America may not be considered appropriate in India. And while informal behaviour may be the norm in America's boardrooms, the same would be unacceptable in Japan. Recognizing and acting upon such differences can sometimes be the differentiator between winning a business deal and losing it. Hence, a tried and tested formality in clothes and conduct is less risky and more rewarding.

This is kind of weak for two reasons: One, your primary argument is that you agree that informality = bad. But here, you seem to suggest that this really isnt the case in America, so why would informality then be bad? Your making an argument here that its not always bad - but rather that it depends. Your conclusion of this paragraph says that the conduct is less risky and more rewarding, but your argument boils down to: play it safe. You could make this much stronger by specifically citing an example or starting with the play it safe argument. Remember: Topic Sentences! What is the point of this paragraph? To be careful around other cultures or that playing it safe and always being formal can't backfire? Even if you did nothing else other than placed the "Tried and testing formailty in clothes and conduct is less risky and more rewarding" at the beginning of your paragraph - it would be clearer.

And here's some naughty advice. Go ahead and lie. No one knows your background or what you did at your job. You could specifically say something like, "In my role working for a global consulting firm, evidence of cultural differences often presents itself. Frequently, management requests employees dress in different manners depending on which clients are visiting...." It's not congruent to your general point (I'm just making up an example) but remember - tie this to your experience! Not just some random generalization that seems to support both sides of the argument.

Also, my experience is that the clothes one wears influences their attitudes. The confidence and elan that one exudes when wearing a formal suit cannot be matched by wearing a pair of casual jeans and a sweatshirt. And greater confidence backed by formal professionalism instills better discipline to achieve business goals.

Starting a sentence with And? TSK TSK. Remember a computer grades this too. Rather than also, consider "In addition". It's a better trigger word that your starting a topic sentence. Also can be used to say "I also thought it was crazy" ... trigger words for the computer are good.

Although it can be argued that informality is more natural and hence makes the office environment friendly, my experience is that such informality eventually leads to a situation where a person exceeds the liberties given to him.

Good, but rephrase it a bit..

Considering that different people have different perceptions of what constitues "overstepping boundaries", informality only increases the chances of such occurences. And when such an incident occurs, it creates ill-will, discord and hampers productivity at the workplace. Such incidents can be pre-empted by making formality important at the workplace and hence erring on the side of caution.

Getting stronger here... I'd stay away from using quotations though. No real reason for this other than I'm not sure how the computer will treat them.

Finally, it is rightly said that 'clothes maketh a man'. Nowhere else is the need to impress one's professionalism upon peers, superiors, customers and suppliers more important than in business. And one normally does not get a second opportunity to make a good first impression.

Don't make a new point in your final paragraph. This is probably one of your strongest points, and it comes last. SAve your final paragraph for a summary and restatement of your view.

As for your analysis of an argument essays, they are not bad, but do not start your arguments with Firstly, Second, Thirdly, or First, Second, Third - its very weak and (probably) not gramatically sound.

Try different opening lines for your points: For example -

"The author fails to substiantiate his claim due to ..... "
"A primary issue with the argument presented in the passage ... "
"The author fails to provide convincing evidence that ________ "

For example (I skimmed the question so I may have these backwards in my head now, but you'll get the idea)

"The author fails to substantiate his claim that violence in movies is in any way correlated with violence in real life."

"The primary issue with the argument presented in the passage is that it fails to establish a link between crime and age."

"The passage fails to adequalty address alternate explanations including the possibility that violence in movies is a reflection of violence in real life rather than the cause."

"The author fails to provide convincing evidence that there is any substantial correlation between movies and crime."

There are a million other ways to dice these sentences:

"The author could strenghten his argument by providing either anecdotal or statistical evidence indicating increased crime by individuals under 21 who attend violent movies."

"The author's argument fails to establish any statistical or anecdotal links that individuals under 21 are more likely to commit crimes after viewing violent movies."

etc...
etc...

hope this helps!

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Critique   [#permalink] 06 Apr 2006, 14:40
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# AWA Prep: Attempts on sample topics

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