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Someone willing to score 2 essays (Manhattan free test)?


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Hey guys,

I couldn't find sample responses to the two essays I had to write for the free Manhattan GRE Test (it said v2) - are there some? If not, would you be so kind to give my essays a look and estimate what score I might get? That would be super helpful!

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People who make decisions based on emotion and justify those decisions with logic afterwards are poor decision makers.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.

"Whether you get married or not, your decision will be wrong". It is said that this quote stems from Sokrates. He already stated what many people would agree with nowadays: Decision making is a difficult process. What is good and what is bad decision making then? Are poor decision makers those who first decide based on their gut feeling and then try to justify this decision with rational arguments? This is the question at hand and my answer to it is definitely "yes".

It is normal for human beings to try to justify their decisions. Cognitive psychology has tried to explain why and how people do this and found an effect called "cognitive dissonance": When people make decisions that would normally contradict their values and belief systems, they are looking for arguments to support their decision and in this way to resolve their cognitive dissonance, which is an unfavorable feeling. While this is normal behavior and some might argue that this does not qualify people as bad decision makers, I still would argue that one should find logical arguments for decisions before actually making them.

Many examples for bad decision making can be found in politics. A classical example are the people supporting Hitler during his Nazi regime. It is hard to imagine how so many could support his horrible undertaking when searching for logical arguments. Instead, it is easier to understand that those supporting Hitzler were frenzied by his charisma, that they felt united with the other supporters, that many of their feelings and fears were adressed during his speeches and that they consequently bolstered his regime, which for many now seems impossible to believe. It seems clear that the decision to support Hitler was one based on emotion rather than logic and trying to explain it with the latter is a sign of poor decision making.

Another political example relating to this issue is the scandal around Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Men of power and status are likewise prone to decisions based on emotion, as his example shows. The former president lied not only to his wife but also to the whole nation by claiming that he did not have sexual intercourse with Lewinsky, who was an intern at his office. When asked, he would probably admit that - had he thought logically about the consequences - he would not have engaged in such behavior with her, but again, his decision did not have much to do with logic. Trying to explain his behavior and his statements, he argued that oral sex is no form of sexual intercourse. While this definition is debateable, it is an instance of desparately trying to explain a clearly irrational act and is thus another example supporting my view that this kind of decision making has deficits.

When finally bringing together these political examples with findings from cognitive psychology, it is evident that although explaining emotinal decisions with logical arguments is a common behavior, it cannot be seen as good decision making. It is an attempt to resolve cognitive dissonance, but in my opinion, it would be better to admit that the decision made was suboptimal because it had been based on purely emotional arguments that now seem to have little meaning. Admitting a poor choice and learning from this instance for further decision making is, to me, a more convincing way of decision making than trying to justify bad decisions with all means.

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An international development organization, in response to a vitamin A deficiency among people in the impoverished nation of Tagus, has engineered a new breed of millet high in vitamin A. While seeds for this new type of millet cost more, farmers will be paid subsidies for farming the new variety of millet. Since millet is already a staple food in Tagus, people will readily adopt the new variety. To combat vitamin A deficiency, the government of Tagus should do everything it can to promote this new type of millet.

Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered 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.

The claim made here is that the government of the poor nation of Tagus should largely promote a new type of millet to combat vitamin A deficiency, which is prevalent in this country. While this undertaking seems noble, several questions need to be answered first in order to ensure that this recommendation is truly a valuable one.

First, it is not clear how important vitamin A is. For example, in well-developed Western Countries people also have vitamin deficencies: due to the lack of sunlight, many suffer from vitamin D deficencies. Still, this condition does not really affect their lives negatively. Similarly, it should have been stated how problematic a vitamin A deficiency really is. If the nation is impoverished, there are probably other nutritional deficencies as well which may be more severe and should thus be combatted first. Consequently, it should be stated how dangerous the vitamin A deficiency is to evaluate the recommendation given.

Second, too much of a vitamin can also be dangerous. It is not mentioned what consequences an overdose of vitamin A would have. Even such fundamental nutrients such as protein can in higher doses cause, for example, kidney problems. In order to evaluate the recommendation, it should be clear what dose of vitamin A is needed, whether there is a risk of people eating too much millet and if so, how the government would ensure that this would not happen.

Third, the high costs of this new type of millet are mentioned. Although it is also said that farmers will receive subsidies, it is both not clear whether these subsidies will outweigh the additional costs associated with the millet and how the government will make sure that every farmer receives this money. It is probable that a poor nation also suffers from a suboptimal infrastructure, which makes it difficult to ensure a unified distribution of money. For the recommendation to be valid, it should thus be ensured that every farmer growing this new type of millet regularly receives a sufficient amount of money.

Lastly, it is hypothesized that people will readily adopt the new type of millet because they are already used to eating millet. This is questionable, though, because the people may not be willing to eat even more of it. Instead, they might prefer more fruits or vegetables which they currently do not have access to. There is no information what the people in the country yearn for the most - if this should be more millet, then the recommendation would be logical.

To summarize, whether this recommendation should be followed depends on several unanswered questions such as the importance of vitamin A, possible side effects of too much vitamin A, how exactly the heightened costs will be accounted for, and if the people in fact would like the new millet. Cogent answers to these questions are necessary to evaluate the claim that the government should do everything possible to promote the new millet.


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  Ill score yours if you score mine! I will send you responses tomorrow morning after I print them and look at the rubric. My email is greenav@bc.edu if you want to contact me faster.


     People who make decisions based on emotion and justify those decisions with logic afterwards are not necessarily poor decision makers, but rather they are inauthentic decision analyzers. I agree that there is an issue with this type of behavior, but the issue is not one of being a good or bad decision maker. One should instead focus on the fact that these types of people are either ignorant or in denial of their true motivations for making said decisions, and for this reason, it may appear that they are poor decision makers. It may appear this way because these types of people who have trouble analyzing their past decisions are much more likely to have a hard time learning from those decisions, and thereby repeating poor decision patterns more often.
     It is important to note the difference between a pre-decision logical deduction and a post-decision rationalization. A post-decision rationalization is what is being performed by the sort of people being discussed. the crucial difference between a rationalization and a logical deduction is that the pattern of logical deduction is equal to the decision making process, while the rationalization is a post-decision activity, and therefore does not alter the decision making process in any way. The fallacy in the aforementioned claim is just this - the fact that one cannot argue that a decision made based on emotion was actually made based on logic by positing the logic that could have been used to make that decision. 
    I will argue that it is possible for the logic one uses to rationalize a decision and the logic one could have used to deduce the decision initially, may actually be the same logical steps, using the same premises and logical operators. Had the claim read, "People who make decisions based on emotion and could have made better decisions based on logic are poor decision makers" it would be more sensible, because the pre-decision deductive logic has a value as far as being good or bad for the decision (valid or invalid in terms of argument). The claim at stake has an essential problem - that being the implication that a post-decision justification (what I term rationalization), somehow affects the quality of the decision process that preceded it. This is simply anachronistic and temporally impossible.
     I also want to point out that this claim does not posit a value difference between making decisions based on emotion, and making decisions based on logic. For a time when it is advisable to make an emotional decision, one should feel good about doing so, or bad about not doing so. The introduction of post-decision logic is irrelevant to this type of decision. Alternatively, in a time when it is not advisable to make an emotional decision, and one should instead make a logical decision, one who did so should feel accomplished, and one who did not do so should not feel they are a good decision maker, even if they were lucky and chose the right outcome based on emotion. 
     In order to learn from mistakes, one must use true information about the situation they are analyzing. This means they are to use true information and valid logic to arrive at a true conclusion. The essential flaw in the analyzed claim is that the decision makers are not using true information about what motivated their decision to consider it after the decision is made. Because of this, they will never be authentic with themselves about the real motivations for their decisions, and in doing so will never analyze the situation which actually occurred. Because of this, learning from their mistakes will prove very difficult.




     In order to determine whether the nation of Taugus- in doing everything it can to promote a new type of millet - will repair the people's vitamin A deficiency, several questions must be answered. First, it must be determined whether or not the new strain of millet has the same desired qualities of the old strains of millet which have been essential to the people of Taugus. Second, it remains to be seen whether the government of Taugus, being an impoverished nation, has the proper funds to execute this operation. Third, the health-related and environmental repercussions of the new variety must be evaluated in order to determine the effects of this proposition. 
     First of all, in order to give truth to the claim that "since millet is already a staple food in Taugus, people will readily adopt the new variety," it must be established that the new millet and old millet have the same qualities that are desired for by the people of Taugus. For example, it would be valuable to know what types of foods are made from millet, and whether the new millet lends itself to these textures, tastes, preparation methods, and recipes. If it does not, this threatens the truth value of the argument. Also, it would be helpful to have answered whether the new millet stores in a way that allows the people of Taugus to consume it just as readily as the old type of millet. In order for the new millet to function well in repairing the Vitamin A deficiency, it must be consumed just as much as the old millet and by as many people. If we were able to establish that the millet also stores and transports just as well or better than the old millet, we can agree with this claim. 
     Second, the financial situation of the country of Taugus must be analyzed to discover if the cost of the new millet could be deferred from the farmers to a more financially robust group, such as the sector of the government providing subsidies. If we were to find that the money was not available for these subsidies, then we would have to conclude that the plan to grow and establish this new Vitamin A rich form of millet would fail before it even reached the people, since the seeds are so expensive. If we can establish that the government can afford such and endeavor, then we can ground the claim that subsidies would offset the cost of the new variety. 
     Third, in order to predict whether this proposition would achieve the projected results, it must be researched whether the new variety of millet adversely affects the health of people or the environment. For example, if the new millet were to bring in an invasive pest that destroyed the next richest source of Vitamin A in the country, then we could conclude that the new Vitamin A rich millet has not served its purpose well, and has partially or entirely cancelled out its own intended effects. In addition, if the new millet was the first GMO product to be introduced to Taugus, it is possible that the health of other crops, animals, and people could be adversely affected in unpredictable ways. Perhaps though the people gain Vitamin A, the new millet causes new health concerns and thereby renders itself a more harmful than helpful introduction to the country. 
     In conclusion, there is hope that if these questions are answered in positive ways, that the new millet will have a good effect on the country of Taugus, and indeed the government should do everything it can to promote this new crop. However, we cannot successfully make this claim until several essential questions are answered, and we have the information to do so responsibly.

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I am not sure if I was a harsher or easier grader than the GRE graders, I would assume I am an easier grader. Anyway, here is what I came up with:

Essay 1:

Quality of Ideas: 5 (I gave you this because your examples were very good)

Organization: 5 (I thought that your structure was easy to follow, but the transitions and intro/conclusion were not exceptional.)

Writing Style: 4.5 (You used a variety of sentence structures and some good vocabulary, but certain sentences were unclear.)

Grammar and Usage: 3 (I gave you this score because of several difficult to ignore grammatical mistakes, such as non agreement of subject and object in tense or number).

Overall: 4.375 (ROUNDS TO 4.5)


Essay 2:

Quality of Ideas: 4.5 (I thought that your ideas were relatively good, but the examples were not as convincing as in Essay 1. Particularly, I felt that the first one was a bit off topic, concerning the prompt does not ask you to evaluate the prospect of introducing vitamin A itself. It asks you to find what you need to "decide whether the proposition will have the projected result" the proposition, at least how I took it, was that the government would promote the new millet, and the desired result would be to solve the country's vitamin A deficiency. The fact that vitamin A deficiency should even be solved seemed a bit off topic to me.)

Organization: 5 (The writing was clearly organized, but I didn't give it a 6 because it was a bit brief.)

Writing Style: 4.5 (This essay was easier to read and clearer than the first)

Grammar and Usage: 4 (This essay contained less grammar mistakes, but was still more elementary in terms of language than it could be.)

Overall: 4.5


This would put your overall AWA score at 4.5 


Hope that helps!


Edited by ashtonlg
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Sorry for my late response, I had assumed that the "notify me" option means that I get an email notification when someone replies.

Thanks so much for grading my essays! I assume you're a native speaker? Have you already taken the GRE (some time ago)? I haven't and I also haven't done a lot of practicing regarding AWA, so I really don't feel comfortable giving you grades, but I'll comment on some points that stick out to me, hope that helps a little bit:

1) I think that your ideas are well-founded and that your philosophy background becomes evident when reading this, but to be honest, I had some difficulties understanding the content and structure. I'd say that you should use less jargon, but maybe this impresses GRE graders? I don't know what they value exactly. I also read that one should bring quite specific examples and state how they relate to the issue at hand, I missed that at some parts.
(-): organization and writing style; (+): quality of ideas, grammar & usage

2) I like this one better, it's easier to understand and very well organized. Regarding the content, I tried to "attack" the argument in all ways possible, that's why I questioned the vitamin A deficiency itself. Don't know if that's the right to do, though. I don't really find any weak points here, so:
(+): organization, writing style, quality of ideas, grammar & usage

Edited by tallulah
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