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Stuck on 3.5 on AW, any suggestion? please help, thanks!


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Hi guys, so... I've took the exam and got good enough scores on verbal and quant (165+)... 

The problem is I'm stuck on AW with a 3.5 . Since I'll be applying for social science and I saw that admitted students average score is around 5.0... I'll probably re-take the exam,

but before that I need to figure out how to improve the AW while but I'm having trouble to grapple with the writing required by ETS

For argument, my method is to 1) briefly summarize the logic fellow of the passage 2) points out the fallacies committed by the author 3) detail analysis of 3-4 fallacies with alternative explanation and examples 4) summary 

For issue, it's basically the same: 1) summarize and introduce the topic/ problem + state my stand 2) build argument from 2 aspects 3) +one refutation/ alternative option 4) summary 

——I'm not sure whether this is an applicable strategy

—— or maybe it's because I did not give enough examples? or maybe my logic is weak? If so, what are the more reasonable (effective) ways to construct the essay and build argument instead? 

(or maybe...I'm just a terrible writer???...)

well, I'm confused and any suggestion would help, thanks :)

P.S. the attachment are my practice writings, one for issue, and, one for argument.

sample Rspoon.txt

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  • 2 weeks later...

The advice I got when I took a class:

  1. Structure is key. They want to see an obvious thesis, easy transitional words in your paragraphs, an obvious conclusion, etc. and strong logical arguments.
  2. Take prep time. I took 5-8 minutes to just brainstorm arguments for/against or unstated assumptions + to make an outline, and it helped me a lot. Quality > quantity.


  • Introduction: restate argument, with some more info, and a thesis (in this argument, x relies on unstated assumptions, more info is needed to decide, etc. etc.) and possibly list an overview of your points, if you want and time allows.
  • Body, 2-3 paragraphs, each with: topic sentence (an assumption that needs to be examined), why it matters, what information is needed/how to get it, and how that info would strengthen and weaken the argument depending on what the info could tell us.
  • Conclusion: restate thesis, summarize points, nice concluding thought if you can.


  • Intro: rephrase issue in your own words, so they see you understand it. State a thesis with a clear position.
  • Body, 2-3 paragraphs, each with: a reason that supports your position, with evidence!! You can include a, "some people might say [opposite of your topic sentence] but that argument is specious b/c..." here, or make a separate paragraph at the end with rebuttals. I found the former to be easier, but either works.
  • Conclusion, same deal.

Try to find some examples- write your essay, and then compare to the perfect 6 essay example! It really helped me- I also went through and actually underlined the structure of it, so I could really see what they were doing. Also, just practice brainstorming too, so you get the hang of what kinds of arguments they tend to open up for you for the argument essay. It's often the same kind of logical fallacies in each one, from what I saw in the practice questions and my one real exam- the faster you can generate a LOT of ideas, the more you'll be able to pick the very best arguments on your GRE.

Good luck!

Edited by láadan
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So... I've received great advice through PM 

And, under his/her permission, I'm posting it below ↓

For Argument prompts, there are 3 types of errors to tackle in almost ANY prompt


1. Causal assumptions: Event A leads to event B. (A training course was provided to workers. The sales increased. It is the training that improves sales) 


Ways to attack: give examples of OTHER CAUSES

    +  In the given pretext, there is no way to ascertain that the provided training is in fact the causal force behind the improved sales. A number of  unmentioned circumstances that might coincide time-wise with the training might have driven the sales up: there was an upwards shift of the market's demand curve, or the price tag itself might drop that encouraged more transactions, etc. Without viable ways to eliminate other possible causes, we should deem the training course no better than a correlation with the sale jump - worse yet, it might just be an accidental coincidence.


2. Analogy assumptions: This event happened to place B. The same event should also happen to place B (We should follow company A and provide training to our own workers in company B and see the same sale jump)


Attack: Point out that there are DIFFERENCES in the two settings that may prevent applications from one to carry over to another.

   + It is imprudent to blindly apply company A's training policy on our workers, given that there are possible, fundamental differences between the two companies. It might be the case that the workers from A were initially too under-skilled as compared to our current workers, making the marginal benefit of additional training for A's workers much greater than it could be for our B workers. 


Attack: Even in case of no difference (which will NEVER be the case), point out that application from one to another is not that beneficial

 + Even in the case that additional training might indeed help to increase our workers' skills, it might still not be wise to apply the policy. Extra research needs to be carried out in order to assert whether the additional revenue generated might adequately explain for the cost of training, and at what rate. Otherwise we would risk diluting workers's time and productivity with activities that do not justify their worths in both the financial and time-management senses.


3. Statistic: The training at A increases their computer sales by 30% - we know it because we surveyed customers and 30% more said they would definitely come back to purchase. Since we are an electronic company that sells both computer and watches, we should see increases in both departments.

REMEMBER: Whatever stats they throw, just say it is dubious no matter what

Attack: How the data is collected and analyzed?

  + We have to question the validity of the data. It is critical to know if the sale increase is a monthly, quarterly, yearly, or worse - weekly observation, and whether it applies to all stores and all cities. 

 + Question the sample size: How many survey participants, what demographics, how long the survey lasts, etc. Argue that either the sample size is too small, not representative of the population (selection bias: maybe they only ask wealthy people, people already have the same brand of computers before, etc.), or there are shady collection methods (people tend to say yes, I will come back to purchase, if asked directly. they might say no if anonymously asked, however)

+ Circle back to the 2 flaws: even when the statistic might be right, there is no guarantee it would work again (i.e we also sell watches; the training that works with computers might not work with watches)


Ok, so here is the outline

1. Introduction:

- Main point: Paraphrase the prompt (The prompt advises that company B should copy company A in providing training to workers in order to drive up sales)

- Go over the premises: Paraphrase the prompt (The advice is based on the premises that, company A has successfully driven the sales up after their workers were subjected to additional training, with 30% sales up based on surveys of visiting customers)

- Point out flaws: There are in fact a number of serious flaws with this line of logic, ranging from errors in identifying causal and analogous relationships to the validity of statistical evidences. (ALWAYS AIM TO HAVE ALL 3 IF YOU CAN)

- Intention: The essay will analyze the logical errors so as to (repeat the task of the prompt)


2. Flaw 1. Refer to type of errors above

3. Flaw 2. Refer to type of errors above

4. Flaw 3. Refer to type of errors above


5. Conclusion

- In summary, this argument is flawed

- Take credit: The essay has clearly demonstrated the 3 types of flaws (insert summary)

- Recommendations: It is therefore advised that company B should not apply the policy unless the true causal relationship between the training and the sale increase is factually established, which is in the only occasion that all other possible causes are justifiably eliminated. In such case, further research is to be done to ensure that the marginal benefit of training - with regards to both the time and money it would cost the company and its workers - is of great worth. (Otherwise it is against logics to blindly follow company A into providing training that might be unnecessary, even costly and counterproductive)



SUPER NOTE: In drafting up counter example, go with the LEAST amount of hypothetical assumptions you need to make, and pad your sentences with as much "might have been/possible/given the possibility/happen to be" as you can.

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