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GRE writing sample


PAHopeful
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Hi, I'm new to the forum and preparing for the GRE.  Below is my first attempt each at the Issue and Argument tasks.  It is unedited and I am aware there are a few typos and spelling errors.  Any feedback is welcome.  Thanks in advance.

 

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.

Being charged with the task of making a difficult decision is among the most precarious circumstances a leader will face.  Not only must the leader know how to act, but he/she must also know when to act.  Move too quickly and the leader could make a critical error that has grave consequences.  Yet, not moving quick enough could cost the team an opportunity.  When confronted with a difficult decision, it is acceptable to undertake risky action without carefully considering the consequences. 

It may seem intuitive to many that thoroughly planning one’s actions prior to executing said actions is prudent in most cases.  Overthinking, however, can cause a person or team to miss an opportunity before they even start.  While a person is planning every move and considering every possible contingency, the known conditions that person was planning for may very well change.  It’s entirely possible that one could begin to execute their plan and ultimately be confronted with a challenge that is totally different than what they were originally faced with.  Military leaders are often faced with this possibility in their training.  Too much time planning for the perfect way to attack the enemy could very easily allow the enemy to maneuver in to a better position, or even attack the team while planning is still taking place.  With this in mind, it is often beneficial to act swiftly with a broad plan in mind and allow the microsteps of the plan to be figured out in the process of the action.

Not only might conditions change while a leader is in the midst of meticulous planning, but he/she could lose out on the opportunity altogether.  If the leader spends too much time planning every step in their next action, anther team may step in and seize the opportunity.  This is not uncommon in the business world.  Let’s say a company has an opportunity to venture in to a new market.  While the leader is checking and rechecking with every member of their team to ensure they are prepared to make this bold move, another company could step in and seize the opportunity in the new market.  Overthinking a situation may give your opponent just the time they need to beat you to the punch.

While overthinking a plan is not the best strategy when faced with a difficult decision, moving haphazardly into an unknown situation can have disaterous results as well.  It is important to plan the broad steps of an action and have a general sense of how one wants their team to move.  Everyone should understand not only how, by why, such movement will benefit the team.  This is best accomplished by detaching emotionally from the situation.  The leader must not be drawn in to the fine details of a plan.  He or she must be able to step back and see the big picture so that the general plan is executed well.  The leader must trust his or her subordinates and allow them the freedom to do their job.  When the leader understands this, he/she will be able to make quick, effective decisions.

All things considered, it is most important to move forward quickly with a good plan when faced with a difficult decision.  Waiting for the perfect plan to come to fruition can have disasterous consequences.

The following appeared in a memo from the new vice president of Sartorian, a company that manufactures men's clothing.

"Five years ago, at a time when we had difficulties in obtaining reliable supplies of high quality wool fabric, we discontinued production of our alpaca overcoat. Now that we have a new fabric supplier, we should resume production. This coat should sell very well: since we have not offered an alpaca overcoat for five years and since our major competitor no longer makes an alpaca overcoat, there will be pent-up customer demand. Also, since the price of most types of clothing has increased in each of the past five years, customers should be willing to pay significantly higher prices for alpaca overcoats than they did five years ago, and our company profits will increase."

Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.

 

On the surface, re-entering the alpaca overcoat market may seem like a good idea.  This company has had success in this market in the past.  So it makes sense that the leadership is eager to resume making a product that was once profitable.  It is important for Sartorian to do more research, however, before taking this bold step forward.

One possibility the new vice president is not considering is the past problems with obtaining reliable supplies may still exist.  The company’s supplier is not the only variable to consider.  There’s no guarantee that the new fabric supplier will be able to meet Sartorian’s material needs for alpaca overcoats.  Even if the new supplier has been reliable in providing other materials, it’s entirely possible materials to make the alpaca overcoat will still be difficult to obtain.  Perhaps the problems five years ago were internal, and still exist.  Maybe alpaca materials are simply more difficult for anyone to obtain.  Sartorian needs to closely examine the problems they had five years ago with obtaining supplies.  The company also needs to understand the barriers to obtaining alpaca supplies to have a sense of whether or not their new supplier will be able to meet their needs. 

The vice president also needs to consider the possibility that the market has shifted since Sartorian exited the alpaca overcoat market five years ago.  The fact that there was demand for these overcoats five years ago does not ensure they will remain a big hit with customers today.  Perhaps a different type of overcoat has become more fashionable.  It’s possible there are overcoats on the market today that are more cost effective for customers to purchase.  The local economy may have changed and customers are no longer willing to spend money on Sartorian’s unique overcoat.  Sartorian needs to do a market analysis to understand why their competitor stopped selling alpaca overcoats.  The vice president needs to know if the alpaca overcoat will remain as popular as it once was if Sartorian is going to once again venture in to this market. 

Lastly, it is not a safe assumption to say the price of materials for the alpaca overcoat have remained the same while the cost of other materials has increased.  It is entirely possible the alpaca overcoat has become more expensive for Sartorian to produce.  If this is the case, the new overcoats will not be as profitable.  Sartorian needs to find out from their new supplier how much it will cost to begin making alpaca overcoats again.  Only then can an analysis of potential profitability be relied upon. 

The assertiveness of the new vice president is admirable.  If his claims in the memo are true, the remake of alpaca raincoats could be a major boon for Sartorian. It is important, howver, that the company research the vice president’s claims further before committing to a plan that could ultimately lead to a loss of money for the company. 

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