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GRE Essay for Review 07012019


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Below are two practice essays (1 issue, 1 argument) from the ETS pool of GRE essays. I welcome feedback and review from any and all who are willing. Thank you!

Issue question: 

Nations should pass laws to preserve any remaining wilderness areas in their natural state, even if these areas could be developed for economic gain.

Write a response in which you discuss your views on the policy and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider the possible consequences of implementing the policy and explain how these consequences shape your position.


The challenge of utilizing natural resources for economic prosperity while ensuring these resources are not fully exploited is one that nations must approach with balance. Nations should not pass laws to preserve all remaining natural land as the potential gains from developing uncultivated land can be worth the environmental cost. 

Preserving all natural land can limit a country's capacity to respond to economic opportunities, which could stifle growth. Closing off all natural land could close off a country to future to future economic opportunity. For example, were a technology developed that made agriculture more efficient and more profitable, a country that did not previously have the economic incentive to invest in agriculture could now do so. However, if there are limits placed on the land that could be used due to preservation laws, this could be a missed opportunity for the country to grow a new industry and expand prosperity. 

Absolute land preservation laws could also be stifling for countries with large or growing populations. Overcrowding in dense metropolitan areas can negatively impact the health and well-being of a nation's people through high housing costs or high pollution, among other factors. Under such circumstances, a country might do well to develop uncultivated land to create new housing developments that could pull people out from overcrowded areas. Restrictive preservation laws that keep all wilderness areas from being developed could prevent such efforts to relieve overcrowding which impacts human well-being. As well-being can impact economic productivity and performance, a restrictive preservation policy that prevents sprawl in this case could indirectly stifle economic growth. 

To be sure, preservation laws can be important levers for reducing environmental degradation and preserving biodiversity, which can be threatened by excess development of wilderness areas. Nevertheless, policies that are extreme in banning the development of all remaining wilderness areas risk encroaching on economic growth that could yield meaningful improvements for the lives of an nation's residents. 

In light of the potential risks to economic growth, nations should refrain from passing laws that in effect ban development of any wilderness areas. 

Argument Question: 

The following appeared in a letter to the editor of the Balmer Island Gazette.

"On Balmer Island, where mopeds serve as a popular form of transportation, the population increases to 100,000 during the summer months. To reduce the number of accidents involving mopeds and pedestrians, the town council of Balmer Island should limit the number of mopeds rented by the island's moped rental companies from 50 per day to 25 per day during the summer season. By limiting the number of rentals, the town council will attain the 50 percent annual reduction in moped accidents that was achieved last year on the neighboring island of Seaville, when Seaville's town council enforced similar limits on moped rentals."

Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation is likely to have the predicted result. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.


To succeed in reducing accidents, the Balmer Island town council would need more information on the nature of accidents and whether or not most accidents can be traced to moped-pedestrian contact, along with information on how similar the island is to Seaville. 

Given the high popularity of mopeds. the town council assumes that mopeds were the cause of accidents. However, it is not clear that mopeds are driving accident rates. It could be that most accidents results from car collisions even though they may be a less popular means of transit. The council would need more information on which transport vehicles were involved in the most accidents. 

Secondly, the council assumes that since the population increases in summer, reducing moped rentals in summer will reduce overall accident rates. There is no information to indicate that most accidents occur in the summer and this information cannot simply be deduced from the fact that the population increases in the summer. It would be crucial to uncover what season(s) in fact see the highest occurrances of accidents. 

Additionally, the town council points to reductions in accidents in Seaville following limits on moped rentals as evidence that the moped rental reduction strategy will be successful in curbing accident rates on Balmer Island. For such to be the case depends on whether Balmer Island is similar to Seaville in relevant ways. It is unclear whether mopeds are as popular in Seaville as they are in Balomar, or whether Seaville sees a climb in population during the summer as is the case in Balomar. To the extent that both islands are significantly different from each other, cutting moped rental rates in Balomar may not yield the same level of accident reduction as did occur in Seaville. 

In all, the success of moped reduction in cutting accident rates will depend on the extent to which mopeds are a leading cause of accidents in Balomar and to what extent Balomar is similar to neighboring Seaville. 

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