Vote on AWA Grade : Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
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08 Feb 2014, 09:57
Just finished my first AWA and was hoping to get some feedback / a sense of what score I would get - I didnt get through proofing the whole thing but got up to a solid wordcount. Any thoughts / tips would be greatly appreciated. Also, how important is content vs. structure and word count (as i focused on the later two)

The following appeared in the opinion section of a national newsmagazine:

“To reverse the deterioration of the postal service, the government should raise the price of postage stamps. This solution will no doubt prove effective, since the price increase will generate larger revenues and will also reduce the volume of mail, thereby eliminating the strain on the existing system and contributing to improved morale.”

The argument states that the government should raise the price of postage stamps in order to reverse the deterioration of the postal service. This action is expected to be effective in increasing revenues and reducing mail volumes, thus eliminating the strain on the existing system and contributing to improved morale.

However this argument is fundamentally flawed in its current presentation. First, this argument is centered around the concept of reversing the "deterioration" of the postal service, but fails to properly define this term, leaving the core of the argument up for interpretation. Next, the argument makes assumptions regarding the effects this increase in price will have on the postal service. Finally the argument goes on to make additional assumptions pertaining to the postal service's operations. Overall, this leaves considerable gaps in the argument that must be addressed in order to make a strong case.

First, the argument fails to properly define how or why the postal service is deteriorating. This term could be interpreted in a number of different manners, each of which will change the plausible solutions that can be proposed. To illustrate this point, consider a case in which the deterioration of the postal service is due to declining revenue as consumers prefer to use less expensive alternative means of communication, such as telephone or e-mail. Clearly raising the price of postage will not convince these consumers to change their preference and begin using mail correspondence. Also, consider if the deterioration is based entirely on lower morale, which is noted in the argument. This may be a widespread company culture issue that can be derived from any number of sources. One such example is a case in which moral is low because the postal service is suffering from declining volumes and workers no longer have any work to do to fill their time or even worse they are being laid off. In this case, further reducing mail volumes will lead to further deterioration. As such, this argument would be strengthened if the author explicitly stated in which manner the postal service is deteriorating and what specific actions will target the core problems at hand.

Second, the argument makes assumptions as to what the effect of the increase in price will be. The key assumption is that this increase in price will result in increased revenue. This however will not be the case if volume decreases to such a level that overall revenue also declines. One such example in which this method backfired was when Netflix raised its prices causing a major uproar and a decline in revenue, forcing the company to reverse back to its prior pricing after a few short months. The argument also assumes that not only will revenue increase, but that volume will also decline, thereby eliminating strain on the existing system. While this is a much safer assumption when using logic, it is not necessarily sound. For example, if competitors increase their prices to levels even higher than those of the postal service, more customers may begin to use the postal service despite the rise in price. Additional information on the environment in which the postal service is raising prices would serve to strengthen this argument.

Last, the argument provide little detail on the postal service's operations. It is unclear what exactly is causing the strain on the existing system and why morale is down. Widespread layoffs could be the cause of both; but if this is the case, than raising prices and reducing volumes could lead to further layoffs and a streamlining of the operation. This would clearly leave both problems fully intact, or even worse. In conclusion, the argument as it is currently stated is fundamentally flawed and largely unconvincing. In order to strengthen the argument, the author must be much more explicit in both his terminology and his analysis of the description. Without this additional information, the argument relies on unsubstantiated claims and assumptions which may prove to be false.
Vote on AWA Grade   [#permalink] 08 Feb 2014, 09:57
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