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GRE Argument Essay Feedback?


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I just took a GRE practice test for the first time, and I'd appreciate any feedback I can get for the essay section. This was my first time practicing writing the essays, and I did so under the required time restraints. Below is the prompt as well as my essay. Would you mind sharing your opinion of what score I would've received? Thank you so much! 

The following appeared in an article written by Dr. Karp, an anthropologist.


"Twenty years ago, Dr. Field, a noted anthropologist, visited the island of Tertia and concluded from his observations that children in Tertia were reared by an entire village rather than by their own biological parents. However, my recent interviews with children living in the group of islands that includes Tertia show that these children spend much more time talking about their biological parents than about other adults in the village. This research of mine proves that Dr. Field's conclusion about Tertian village culture is invalid and thus that the observation-centered approach to studying cultures is invalid as well. The interview-centered method that my team of graduate students is currently using in Tertia will establish a much more accurate understanding of child-rearing traditions there and in other island cultures."


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.


The author of the passage presented argued that the different results yielded by his own research method and that of Dr. Field denotes that his research method is valid and more accurate. This argument is flawed, however, as it is assumed that the dynamics of the island remained the same over twenty years, that discussing biological parents more frequently equates to living with them, and that the disparate results of his research proves Dr. Fields method as invalid.

            First, there would need to be further evidence demonstrating that the living situation of children on the island did in fact change from twenty years ago. If additional evidence supports the assumption that the dynamics are the same as they were twenty years ago, then it would be more likely for one of the research methods to be invalid for yielding disparate results. It might not have been that one method was more valid than the other, but rather the conditions at the time of taking the data were different. If this were the case, then the assumption that the conditions remained the same is invalid.

            Second, not enough sufficient evidence is provided to assume the children talking more about biological parents implies that they are living with them as opposed to living with other adults in the village. Evidence regarding the frequency in which children that live with their biological parents talk about them and children living with other adults talk about their biological parents would help to determine whether this assumption is valid or not. For example, if children in both living dynamics speak of their biological parents equally, or if those living with other adults speak of their biological parents much more, the assumption would be weakened. Therefore, talking more about their biological parents might not necessarily imply that they are living with them.

            Lastly, the author assumes that Dr. Field’s research method is invalid due to the fact that he received differing results from his own research method. This is a claim based on very little evidence. Further evidence required to possibly substantiate this claim would include using more methods in other areas where data has been collected many times. If their results still are not commensurate, then it might be more likely for the method in which the large sample of previous research in the area matches to be more accurate.

            In conclusion, additional evidence would weaken the author’s argument in several areas. Evidence regarding the living dynamic of the island twenty years ago compared to currently, the frequency in which children living with biological parents and without discuss their parents, and further comparison between the differing research methods would all weaken the assumptions made in the argument provided.  


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hey Sydnee!

I'd give you a 4 on this one. You write well and the essay is well organized, but could use more analysis.

I'd like to see more specific examples as well as more thoughtful writing about the specific implications of those examples. For instance, your first body paragraph brings up a flaw in the argument, but doesn't spend much time exploring what really could be going on in the study or what that might lead to.

Keep practicing and use the advice and sample essays written by ETS to help!

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