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The GMAT essay contest

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I am currently studying for that wonderful graduate school admissions ranking machine that is the GMAT.

One section (the AWA or Analytical Writing Assessment) asks for two 30-minute essays on provided topics. No spell check, and grades are given on the basis of the logical strength of the argument (as opposed to its position).

Since I'll be doing a few of those, I thought it might be fun to post the subjects here, and let members give it a shot. You have 30 minutes, including reading time, and must turn off spell and grammar check. Bad S&G can drop you a grade (out of 6).

You could Google the search criteria, and the way it is graded, but I am less interested in GMAT-worthy answers, and more interested in seeing Objectivists' reasoned, logical, structured answers to the questions asked. This is of limited interest to me as my applied-for degrees only care about the quantitative section. But it should be fun, and good practice to argue with non-Objectivists about important issues (because it requires short and efficient answers).

Here's a couple from my book:

1. "The most important factor in choosing a career should be the potential salary." Discuss whether you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Provide supporting evidence for your views and use reasons and/or examples from your own experience.

And one that will particularly resonate with the Forum :D

2. The following appeared as part of an editorial in a business newsletter:

"Gasoline prices continue to hover at record levels, and increased demand from China and India assures that the days of one dollar per gallon gasoline are over. Continued threat of unrest in the oil-producing regions of the Middle East, Africa and South America means a perpetual threat to the U.S. oil supply. American leaders have acknowledged the need for new sources of power to fuel the hundreds of millions of cars and trucks in America. Despite this acknowledgement, the U.S. government has yet to provide substantial funding for this important research. Officials are relying on private industry and university researchers to undertake this research that is vital to the economy and national security. Given the long interval before new technologies are likely to become profitable and the tremendous cost, research into new fuels will be successful only if funded by the U.S. government using taxpayer funds." Examine this argument and present your judgement on how well reasoned it is. In your discussion, analyze the author's position and how well the author uses evidence to support the argument. For example, you may need to question the author's underlying assumptions or consider alternative explanations that may weaken the conclusion. You can also provide additional support for or arguments against the author's position, describe how stating the argument differently may make it more reasonable, and discuss what provisions may better equip you to evaluate its thesis.

[remember reading is included in the 30 min]


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