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Please critique GRE essays

Mathew Thomas

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Below are Issue and Argument Essays I just completed. I would really appreciate feedback! Thank you.

Issue Task

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.

As humans continue to increase in number, more and more of the earth is being turned into buildings and other forms of infrastructure necessary for humans to live. In opposition to this necessity is the necessity to preserve areas in the world, where wildlife can flourish without interference. In my opinion, it makes more sense to pass a law to preserve any remaining wilderness areas than to allow these places to be used for economic gain.

Firstly, nations should pass these laws, since it is important that every place has an area set aside for recreational activities. If a given city covers all of its area in buildings and houses, residents will have no place to escape from the unpleasantness of the city, and this is important regardless of how nice a city it is. For example, it is uncomfortable to jog and exercise on city streets, since the cars are loud and the fumes from cars can overwhelm a jogger. Now, this argument assumes that the law to preserve wilderness areas is saying that nations need to preserve these areas, but they may use them as places to hike, provided that paths are made throughout the park so that hikers don’t ruin the wilderness while hiking. However, if the wilderness areas are supposed to be set aside even from humans, then this argument falls apart, as it speaks about the importance of having recreational areas in a city.

Secondly, nations should pass this law in order that they have an area in each of their cities that is a clean environment. One of the benefits of a clean environment is that the trees and other vegetation that exist there can perform photosynthesis and provide humans and other wildlife that live in the vicinity with at least part of the oxygen they require. Were humans to cover the whole world in buildings and roads, a lot of this photosynthesis would be non-existent. So nations should pass this law to ensure that more oxygen is present in their atmosphere.

Finally, it can be argued that nations should not pass this law, since setting aside these wilderness areas would prevent these nations from achieving economic gain. These areas, instead of continuing as untouched wilderness, can be used to build infrastructure for businesses and also homes for people to live in, both of which will benefit the economy. To clarify, building these homes will help the economy in a given city, as those inhabitants will probably work in the city that they live in. However, this argument is not entirely true, because even if the nations set aside these areas, they may be able to make some money on these areas if they turn them into parks and charge visitors who want to hike there. So there will be some economic gain even if the city sets these wilderness areas aside.

In conclusion, it makes more sense that nations should pass laws to preserve these areas. This is true because inhabitants in these places need areas for recreational activity, there needs to be clean environments in each city, and there won’t be such an economic loss in setting aside these areas. So nations should preserve these areas now, because once they build in these areas, it will be harder to turn them back into wildernesses.

Argument Task

The council of Maple County, concerned about the county's becoming overdeveloped, is debating a proposed measure that would prevent the development of existing farmland in the county. But the council is also concerned that such a restriction, by limiting the supply of new housing, could lead to significant increases in the price of housing in the county. Proponents of the measure note that Chestnut County established a similar measure ten years ago, and its housing prices have increased only modestly since. However, opponents of the measure note that Pine County adopted restrictions on the development of new residential housing fifteen years ago, and its housing prices have since more than doubled. The council currently predicts that the proposed measure, if passed, will result in a significant increase in housing prices in Maple County.

Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the prediction and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the prediction.

The council predicts that implementing a measure that will prevent the development of existing farmland will lead to an increase in house prices. It makes this prediction based on Pine County, which implemented a similar measure in their county and saw house prices double. The council needs to question several of its assumptions before predicting that what happened in Pine County will happen to its county as well.

Firstly, the council will need to answer the question as to how rapidly the county’s population is increasing before assuming that implementing this measure will lead to an increase in house prices. The council is assuming that Maple County will see housing prices go up if it implements this measure. But this assumption may be unwarranted if Maple County’s population is relatively stagnant, in which case the house prices will not necessarily go up seeing as there will not be increasing demand for these houses.

Secondly, why is Maple County making predictions about its own county based on Pine County, which is a different county? Perhaps these two counties are different in fundamental ways, and so implementing the aforementioned measure in Maple County may not lead to rises in house prices. For example, Maple County may have a lot more housing infrastructure than Pine County, in which case it will be a long time until Maple County runs out of available housing. By learning about how these two counties differ, the council in Maple County can discover whether it wise to implement this measure in their county.

Finally, why is Maple County assuming that using this land as farmland, instead of developing it, will lead to an increase in housing prices? There is a huge benefit in having a farm situated in Maple County: instead of shipping in produce, a lot of the local produce can be used to feed the local citizens, so that the cost of produce is cheaper. As well, those crops can be used for other products, which, again, will make the prices of these products cheaper. So the council has not addressed whether the increase in house prices may be offset by the gains in having a local farm.

In conclusion, the council need to address several questions before assuming that implementing a measure that will prevent houses from being built on existing farmland is going to lead to an increase in housing prices.


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hey Mathew,

I'd give you a 4 on these.

Be careful in your issue essay not to shoot yourself in the foot. In your first body paragraph, you present a good argument for preservation, but then you confused my by bringing up a scenario in which that argument would be nullified. Instead, just wrap up your argument.

I was also a little confused in your third body paragraph - it needs some rephrasing to clarify this is someone else's opinion that your opinion outweighs.

Your argument essay is solid, but could use some expansion in each paragraph to analyze the implications of the answers to the questions you raise.

Be sure to analyze the sample essays provided by ETS in their books and on their website as well as their advice and instructions about the essays. And keep practicing!

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