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Student Issue Essay Analysis Part VI

This is Part VI of my Student Issue Essay Analysis series. I’ll be posting a prompt our Premium students have responded to over at the Magoosh product (under real exam conditions) and giving my analysis of the essay. If you want, have a look at the prompt first and try your hand at the essay, and see how yours stacks up.

Check out my past commentary:


People should undertake risky action only after they have carefully considered its consequences.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.

Student’s essay

People should undertake risky action only after they have carefully considered its consequences.

People should not let their fears prevent them from taking important risks in life. Taking risks is what allows us humans to achieve success, joy and ultimate fulfillment. However, prior to taking any risky action, it is essential that people should carefully consider the consequences.

For example, there are some risky actions that are life-threatening such as skydiving. Of course, before you can begin to skydive, you must learn the basics of this sport. Additionally, by also studying what can go wrong during a skydive, and learning how to react to that scenario, that person will have the knowledge and ability to stay calm and hopefully make better decisions that will allow them to get out of a bad situation rather than falling into a panic.

This also pertains to decisions about money and business. Everyday people are making decisions that are ‘make or break’. For those who really understand the consequences of their actions, they are able to make a wiser decision that may have less of an impact on them if the business or investment deal goes awry. However, but not educating oneself, the consequences of one’s action are likely to be more severe.

Sometimes, knowing the consequences of an action causes fear that will stops us from taking any risky actions. As a result we miss out on potential successes and most of all “joy”. Therefore, by understanding the consequences, one can eliminate feat, learn how to react in a smarter fashion and lead a much more enriching life than if they had never taken those risks at all.

My analysis

Score: 4.0
This is a decent skeleton of an essay. But that’s the problem–it is only a skeleton and the ideas need a lot more fleshing out if this essay is to get at least a ‘5’. For instance, in the skydiving example, the writer barely scratches the surface. What are some things that a skydiver could possibly learn to help them make this risky endeavor less risky? How much less risky would they make sky diving? Is there a point where something is so risky that even if we take measures to prevent disaster from happening that something bad could still happen ( skydiving in bad weather, or bungee jumping in a country that offers low prices–and also low quality equipment). In calculating risk, shouldn’t we also weigh the payoff. For the skydiving example, is the thrill worth the danger, even if one has taken the necessary precautions and learned proper technique.

None of this deeper analysis is introduced in the essay, including the paragraph on financial risk. Notice that, while the passage is free of grammatical issues and scores well for logical flow, that it keeps things at a very general (“however, by not educating oneself, the consequences of one’s action are likely to be more severe”), much as a skydiver, upon preparing to jump from the plane, surveys the ground below him but can only make out the vague contours of the land.

A note about essay grading

While I’d love to grade everyone’s practice essays, that’s just simply not possible. Unfortunately I won’t be able to grade new essays, as students’ essays have already been chosen in advance. Instead, if you’re wondering how to get feedback on getting your practice AWA essays graded, check out this page:

How to Get Your AWA Practice Essays Graded?

If you have any questions about my analysis, let me know in the comments below!

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

4 Responses to Student Issue Essay Analysis Part VI

  1. Sneha May 7, 2016 at 6:47 am #

    Shouldn’t the prompt be different? How is this essay related to being determined of your ideas and people doubting and criticizing them?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert May 11, 2016 at 7:32 am #

      Hi Sneha!

      Thanks for pointing this out! We fixed it 🙂

  2. Jared Hensley June 8, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    Hi Chris,

    I’m having trouble understanding how the essay actually relates to the issue prompt. I’m a little shocked that you gave this a 4.0. The 3.0 in a previous posting was a bit better in my opinion. Anyways, I just started reviewing the essay portion with 35 days till test day. I’m hoping to land a 4.5 – 5.0. I’d be content with that!

    • Farhan June 11, 2014 at 2:56 am #

      Couldn’t agree more with your comment. I too was wondering how the essay is related to the topic.

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