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AWA Argument: Sample Essay Breakdown

Now that we’ve identified the assumption it is time to write the essay. However, there are a few preliminaries. One thing of note: you do not need to come up with as many assumptions as possible. Three or four is enough to build a solid essay on. And remember, you need to be persuasive, so do not simply list your assumptions without pointing out why they are assumptions and how they weaken the argument.

Also, do not at any point suggest that the argument has any merits. ETS has provided an argument that is full of unstated assumptions. You are to identify these logical gaps and, per the instructions, elaborate on how these unwarranted assumptions affect the argument.

Speaking of the insructions, I think it is important to reproduce them here, before we go on with the essay:

SuperCorp recently moved its headquarters to Corporateville. The recent surge in the number of homeowners in Corporateville prove that Corporateville is a superior place to live then Middlesburg, the home of SuperCorp’s current headquarters. Moreover, Middleburg is a predominately urban area and according to an employee survey, SuperCorp has determined that its workers prefer to live in an area that is not urban. Finally, Corporateville has lower taxes than Middlesburg, making it not only a safer place to work but also a cheaper one. Therefore, Supercorp clearly made the best decision.

“Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on the assumptions and what the implications are if the assumptions prove unwarranted.”

With that out of the way, let’s start with the Intro. The Intro should be short and sweet. In fact, the intro for the Argument should really not contain any novel ideas. You simply want to say that the argument is unwarranted for a number of reasons. If you find yourself hung up on the intro, write it at the end. The key to the essay is the body, in which you identify the unwarranted assumptions. You do not want to waste precious minutes fiddling about with the Intro.

 

Introduction

The argument makes a number of unwarranted assumptions regarding the corporation’s proposed move from Middleburg to Corporateville . Taken as a whole, these unstated assumptions render the argument highly suspect. Indeed, if these unstated assumptions do not hold true, then the argument totally falls apart.

Next we have the body paragraphs, in which you will point out the unstated assumptions that render the argument invalid. You can lump all into one massive paragraph or you can—as I do here—spread them into three paragraphs, one for each unstated assumption.

 

Paragraph #1:

The argument assumes that the increase in homeowners is directly correlated with improved living, or, as the argument states, “a superior place to live.” Housing could simply be cheaper, causing an influx of people. That is the increase of population does not mean that everybody wants to live in Corporateville because it is such a great place. Indeed low-priced housing and overcrowding clearly would make Corporatville a less superior place to live.

Notice how I ended the argument by referring back to what the instructions asked us to do: “Be sure to explain how the argument depends on the assumptions and what the implications are if the assumptions prove unwarranted.”

 

Body Paragraph #2

Another unstated assumption the argument makes is that what is superior for residents is the same as what is superior for corporations. Thus, even if everybody wants to move to Corporateville because it is a superior place to live, that doesn’t mean it is a superior place for a company to move its headquarters. For instance, perhaps Corporateville has an excellent public school system and/or natural parks. Neither of these would make Corporateville a superior place for a corporation. Unless the argument can show that there is clear reason that Corporateville is superior to Middletown for a corporation, then the corporation could be making the wrong decision in moving to Corporateville.

 

Body Paragraph #3

For this body paragraph, I would focus on the survey. This is probably the strongest unstated assumption remaining (the survey is a valid measure). However, you can choose to focus on taxes or urban vs. non-urban. Do not, however, try to jam all the assumptions. Your focus is to show that the essay makes many unproven assumptions and is thus invalid. Pointing out several assumptions is enough. Unless you have time, do not be exhaustive.

 

Conclusion

Like the intro, the conclusion should be short and sweet. Do not add new information; simply give a brief summary of what you’ve already said. Something along the lines of:

The argument makes a number of unstated assumptions that seriously undermine its validity. Unless these assumptions are addressed the argument falls apart, and the corporation could very well make a major mistake shifting operations from Middleburg to Corporateville.

 

Takeaway

The above provides a rough template to help you create a compelling essay for the Argument portion of the Revised GRE Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA).

 

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