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GRE Analytical Writing...Just Leave a Number!


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Hey, everyone, first post here. I'm taking the GRE next Saturday and was hoping to get a little feedback on this practice analytical writing essay. I don't have any idea where I sit, and I'm worried if the length of the essay might affect the score. Anyways, would love to hear what you think!

Issue: The best way to teach is to praise positive actions and ignore negative ones.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning.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.


There are two parts to the recommendation “the best way to teach is to praise positive actions and ignore negative ones.” The first part of the recommendation is that the best way to teach is by praising positive actions. I agree with this wholeheartedly. However, I am not so supportive of the second part of this recommendation, namely, that the best way to teach is to ignore negative actions. I’ll admit that sticking ones head in the sand – that is, turning a blind eye towards negative actions and unfavorable outcomes – may make one feel better. However, if the objective here is to teach, then I’m not sure ignoring negative actions in a student would be the best pedantic strategy. In fact, I believe that the opposite course would be more effective.

Certainly, in my opinion, there times when the carrot may prove more effective than the stick. When a child fastidiously completes his chores independently, with discipline and effort, the parent feels justified in giving his child the allowance. Carrots, in this case, a child’s weekly allowance, are more enjoyable for both student and teacher. A child earns money, a household’s chores get done, and a lesson is taught about the importance of hard work and household upkeep. Implicitly, this “philosophy of the carrot” is how the entire Western capitalistic economic model functions. Those who want to succeed -- earn a lot of money or gather a lot of fame --work hard, and in exchange, society praises them for doing so. People in our society are taught, through reward, that hard work pays off. However, what is the society do when rewards are ignored? What happens when the child turns his nose up at the allowance and fails to complete his chores? How do we teach those who don’t want to be taught?

Again, if our objective here is to teach then this is where the “philosophy of the stick” comes into effect. The recommendation argues that the best way to teach is to ignore negative actions. In the case of the child failing to complete his chores, this would involve ignoring his failure and only praising him once he figures out chores on his own. Unfortunately, I do not have enough faith in the child. I would argue, in contrast to the conclusion of the recommendation, that by ignoring negative actions in a student, we are, in fact, failing them as teachers. A teacher’s job is to guide a student to the truth. This should be done through whatever means possible, carrot or stick.


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You could expand your essay by talking about extremes when it irresponsible to ignore negative actions (like if a criminal murders someone). Make sure you don't assume that this is talking only about students. Also, you should expand the section where you talk about why you agree with the first part of the recommendation. 

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