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Help evaluating an issue and argument essay for the GRE


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Hi all, if you could please, please take a moment to evaluate these short writings for me I would really appreciate it. Also any thoughts on how long these should be generally? I added the word count at the bottom of each. One is an issue prompt and the other and argument prompt, with the topics above it. 


Issue prompt 30 mins


Universities should require every student to take a variety of courses outside the student's field of study.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.


The career trajectory of recent generations is in stark contrast to what it was just a few generations earlier. In fact millennials today switch jobs on average every year or two and often take a few years in between college before returning to a graduate program of choice. The motivation for young professionals has shifted to life and job satisfaction and finding something that they can imagine themselves doing for the rest of their lives. The job and career landscape for the college post-graduate is changing therefore the curriculum in colleges should change as well.

Many universities have already begun to move away from the traditional topics of study and have added additional courses into their programs. These changes include adding less studied languages or fields of research such as epidemiology which students used to not learn about until college or perhaps even in graduate programs. These changes allow students the opportunity to have access to a much wider variety of topics. This is important because it gives students exposure to topics or fields of study that awaken new passions and interest that could really motivate them to succeed both in college and in a post college job. By being exposed to more topics of study students would be able to more accurately seek out jobs after graduation or perhaps go directly into a graduate program. This may eliminate the years that millenials are now spending wandering through multiple jobs post-graduation, while struggling to find what they are truly passionate about.

However, the extent to changing the college curriculum comes with a limit. One would disagree with the above statement if it shows that including too many classes outside of a students main field of study leads to lagging graduation times and a lack of focus which impairs the students ability to hone in on a single skill. If the college education is too generalized students may be graduating with little to no skill sets that would have helped them be more competitive candidates in the job market. The extent of the effect changing the curriculum has on a students success while in school and then post-studies is vital in correctly assessing the above statement. Our goals as educators should be first and foremost to equip students with the capabilities to succeed long-term.  



Argument prompt 30 mins


The following appeared as part of a letter to the editor of a scientific journal.

"A recent study of eighteen rhesus monkeys provides clues as to the effects of birth order on an individual's levels of stimulation. The study showed that in stimulating situations (such as an encounter with an unfamiliar monkey), firstborn infant monkeys produce up to twice as much of the hormone cortisol, which primes the body for increased activity levels, as do their younger siblings. Firstborn humans also produce relatively high levels of cortisol in stimulating situations (such as the return of a parent after an absence). The study also found that during pregnancy, first-time mother monkeys had higher levels of cortisol than did those who had had several offspring."

Write a response in which you discuss one or more alternative explanations that could rival the proposed explanation and explain how your explanation(s) can plausibly account for the facts presented in the argument.



This study seems to be making significant assumptions and correlations that would require further studies to confirm. First, it seems to imply that firstborn offspring produce more cortisol because a first time mother also produces more cortisol during the first pregnancy. 


More information regarding the environment would be necessary. Perhaps the increase in cortisol in the mothers is not directly related to the birth order but instead on the fact that the mother feels more alone during a first time pregnancy than when she already has another offspring to comfort her. Similarly, with a firstborn infant monkey the fact that they are the oldest could increase their feelings of attachment to the mother and therefore they are reacting to an unfamiliar monkey as a thread. While the younger offspring may either be too young to quite grasp the situation or too young to have developed the necessary attachment feelings to the mother.


Thus, the levels of cortisol may alternatively be related to the child’s developmental stages, the amount of bonding and attachment it has been able to create for the mother and younger siblings and the environment itself. It is not necessarily a direct result of birth order or due to first time mothers also having more cortisol during the first pregnancy.


WC: 212


Edited by amph
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