GRE Analytical Writing / Argument

GRE Analytical Writing ANALYZE AN argument


 

Practice Test One

 

ANALYZE AN argument
 


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 theargument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.


 

Score 6 Responce

It might seem logical, at first glance, to agree with the argument in Dr. Karp’s article that children in Tertia actually are raised by their biological parents (and perhaps even, by implication, that an observation-centered approach to anthropological study is not as valid as an interview-centered one). However, in order to fully evaluate this argument, we need to have a significant amount of additional evidence. The argument could end up being much weaker than it seems, or it might actually be quite valid. In order to make that determination, we need to know more then analyze what we learn.

    The first piece of evidence that we would need in order to evaluate Dr. Karp’s claims is information about whether or not Tertia and the surrounding island group have changed significantly in the past 20 years. Dr. Field conducted his observational study 20 years ago, and it is possible that Tertia has changed significantly since then. For example, if we had evidence that in teh intervening years Westerners had settled on the island and they introduced a more typical Western-style family structure, it would certainly weaken Dr. Karp’s argument. In that case, the original study could have been accurate, and Dr. Karp’s study could be correct, as well, though his conclusion that Dr.Field’s method is ineffective would be seriously weakened.

    Another piece of evidence that might help us evaluate this claim involves the exact locations where Dr. Karp’s interviews took place. According to this article, Dr. Karp and his graduate students conducted interviews of “children living in the group of islands that includes Tertia.” If we were to learn that they never interviewed a single Tertian child, it would significantly weaken the conclusion. It could turn out to be the case, for example, that children on Tertia are raised communally, whereas children on other islands nearby are raised by their biological parents.

    In order to fully evaluate this article, we would also need to learn more about the interview questions that Dr. Karp’s team used. What exactly did they ask? We don’t know, nor do we know what the children’s responses actually were. What did they say about their biological parents? The mere fact that they speak more frequently about their biological parents than they do about other adults does not meant hat they are raised by their biological parents. It would significantly undermine Dr. Karp’s argument if it turned out that the children said things like how much they missed their parents or how their parents had left them in a communal environment. Without knowing WHAT the children said, it is hard to accept Dr. Karp’s conclusion.

    It is slightly more difficult to discuss the evidence we might need in order to evaluate the more interesting claims in Dr. Karp’s article, namely his extension of the results of his study to a conclusion that interview-centered methods are inherently more valid than observational-centered approaches. In order to fully evaluate this claim, in fact, we would need to look at many more examples of interview-based and observation-based anthropological studies and we would also need to look into different study designs. Perhaps Dr. Field did not conduct an effective observational study, but other observational approaches could be effective. In order to make such grandiose claims, Dr. Karp really needs a lot of additional evidence (ideally a meta-analysis of hundreds of anthropological studies).

    Clearly, then, we need to have additional evidence in order to get a more complete understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of Dr. Karp’s article. We need to know about Tertia and the surrounding islands, whether or not they have changed over the past 20 years. We also need to know about study design (Dr. Karp’s and Dr. Field’s).And we really need a lot more information if we want to extend the results of a study about one island culture to all anthropological fieldwork

 

Reader Commentary

This outstanding response clearly addresses the specific task directions and presents a cogent, insightful analysis by specifically detailing the impact that different pieces of evidence would have on the argument. The introductory paragraph sets up the organization of the response, and each body paragraph provides the sort of compelling development typical in responses that receive a score of 6. For example, after the writer discusses possible evidence that Tertian child-rearing practices have changed over the past 20 years, he or she clearly explains the impact information about those changes might have on the argument, saying, “In that case, the original study could have been accurate, and Dr. Karp’s study could be correct, as well, though his conclusion that Dr.Field’s method is ineffective would be seriously weakened.” Not only is this argument compelling, but it also demonstrates sophisticated syntax and facility with language.There is more insightful development in the fifth paragraph, in which the writer examines Dr. Karp’s claims about interview-based studies. Although there are a few typos and minor errors here, nothing in the response distracts from the overall fluency of the writing. Sentences like this one demonstrate the fluent and precise diction and varied syntax that are evident throughout the response: “It could turn out to be the case, for example, that children on Tertia are raised communally, whereas children on other islands nearby are raised by their biological parents.” Because of its compelling and insightful development and fluent and precise language, this response fits all of the bullet points for a 6.


Score 5 Responce

There seems to be an abundance of evidence that, if we were to examine it closely, might make us reconsider Dr. Karp’s argument here. If we look first at the evidence that might weaken this argument, we can see a lot of the problems with Dr. Karp’s article. It would certainly weaken the argument if we were to discover that Dr. Karp and his students did not actually conduct any of their interviews on the island of Tertia itself. Looking closely at the article, we see that Dr. Karp claims the interviews were conducted with children from the island group that includes Tertia. There is no evidence that they interviewed Tertian children. It would definitely weaken the argument if we were to learn that they interviewed children only on islands close to Tertia. Those islands may or may not have similar child-rearing traditions, and geographic proximity does not guarantee societal similarity.

    Another piece of evidence that would weaken the argument could come from transcripts of the interviews themselves. Dr. Karp’s article makes the claim that the children “spend much more time talking about their biological parents than about other adults,” but he gives no indication of what exactly they say about their biological parents. After all, the children may be talking about how they never see their parents.

    One more important piece of evidence that might undermine the argument Dr. Karpis making in this article. He admits that twenty years have passed since Dr. Field’s study was conducted, but he does not provide evidence that proves child-rearing techniques have not changed significantly in that time. Any number of factors could have led to a significant shift in how children are raised. Influences from other cultures, significant catastrophic events, or a change in government structures could have led to a change in family dynamics. Any evidence of such changes would clearly undermine Dr. Karp’s argument.

    If we went looking for evidence that could strengthen the argument, we might also find something interesting. Obviously, some of the evidence above might strengthen the argument if they were NOT as discussed above (e.g., if there were evidence that theTertian islands have NOT changed since Dr. Field’s study or if there were transcripts that showed the children spoke about how much they loved living with their biological parents). However, if we discovered that there are numerous interview-based studies that confirm Dr. Karp’s findings, it would go a long way toward bolstering his claim about Tertian child-rearing AND his claim about interview-centered studies being more effective. Another piece of evidence that would strengthen Dr. Karp’s argument is undermining Dr. Field’s original study. Maybe Dr. Field was sloppy, for example.

    Dr. Karp’s article, then, ends up looking like something of an empty shell. Depending on the evidence we find to fill it out, we may discover that it is quite convincing, or we could determine that he is full of hot air.

 

Reader Commentary

This strong response presents a generally thoughtful and well-developed analysis of the argument, and it follows the specific task directions quite clearly. This writer approaches the task by first discussing the evidence that might weaken Dr. Karp’s argument and then, in somewhat less depth, considering the evidence that could strengthen it. In both cases the writer analyzes the ways in which the evidence would bear on the argument. For example, the writer notes, “Influences from other cultures, significant catastrophic events, or a change in government structures could have led to a change in family dynamics. Any evidence of such changes would clearly undermine Dr. Karp’s argument.” Although the development presented here is strong, the response does not present the compelling development required for a 6. For instance, in the first para-graph there is some repetition, and in the third paragraph the reader must fill in the implications of potential “changes” in Tertia, which are not fully fleshed out. How could a catastrophic event or a change in governmental structure have led to changes in child-rearing traditions? The development, then, is strong but not outstanding. Also, the response demonstrates some facility with language, though it does not convey meaning skilfully enough to merit a score of 6. In general, the response demonstrates strong writing skills, in spite of some minor errors like the sentence fragment that begins paragraph three. Sentences like this one demonstrate the quality of the writing seen throughout the response: “Those islands may or may not have similar child-rearing traditions, and geographic proximity does not guarantee societal similarity.” In terms of writing skill and analysis, then, this response earns a score of 5.


Score 4 Responce

Dr. Karp’s arguments that his research proves that obervation-centered research is invalid and that his interview-centered method “will establish a much more accurate understanding of child-rearing traditions there and in other island cultures” need more support. While the findings from Dr. Karp’s interviews do challenge Dr. Field’s results, one then cannot make the assumption that Dr. Field’s research is invalid. This essay will attempt to explain three ways in which Dr. Karp can strengthen his argument.

    First, Dr. Karp should provide more information about the content of the interviews.Misinterpretation from observation can be as likely as misinterpretation in interivews. It is possible that while children may spend more time talking about their own biological parents, other people from the village are still assisting in most of the rearing of the child. Perhaps asking the children how much time they spend with their parents, who disciplines them, and other specific questions about rearing would provide a more complete answer about who exactly is raising the children.

    Second, Dr. Karp could provide some information about societal changes in the past twenty years. If there have been significant changes on the island of Tertia, it is possible that both anthropologists are correct. Twenty years ago, the entire village raised children, and now, biological parents raise their own children. Recents events could explain the change - such as introduction of Western mass media or changes in government (monarchy to democracy). Perhaps even interviewing adults to get abetter understanding on child rearing. Not to mention, interpretting information from children and using that information to generalize about an entire island is not the most effective means.

    Thirdly, Dr. Karp needs more proof that the observation-centered approach to studying cultures in invalid. A potential mistake in one article can hardly invalidate an entire method of research. Other anthropologists who employ the interview-centered method need to dispute the work of anthropoligsts who use the observation-centered approach. Only when a significant amount of research can be disproved can an entire method of research be invalidated.

    To conclude, Dr. Karp needs to do more research and provide more evidence before his large claims can be fully supported. In fact, it will take more than Dr. Karpalone to prove observation-centered method of research is invalid and further, that theinterview-centered method is better. In terms of his own research, Dr. Karp needs to conduct more interviews on the Tertia islands and scientifically prove Dr. Field’s research wrong.  

 

Reader Commentary

This adequate response manages to identify some important features of the argument, presenting a competent examination and generally following the task directions. The response does not merit a score of 5 or 6, however, because it does not present compelling or insightful development. The response identifies basic points about the content of the interviews, possible changes in Tertia, and observation-centered studies, but these points are developed only adequately. Development in paragraph four (“Thirdly . . . ”) is generic and thin, and the final paragraph just recapitulates the assertions made earlier. The response does follow the specific task instructions, but it does not develop its discussion of specific evidence fully. For example, there is a claim that“specific questions about rearing would provide a more complete answer about who exactly is raising the children,” but the response does not explain what sorts of questions would give which answers or how those answers would strengthen or weaken the argument. Also, language control in this response is merely adequate, not strong. There are some typos and other errors (e.g., a sentence fragment in paragraph 3: “Perhaps even interviewing adults to get a better understanding on child rearing”), but the response generally demonstrates control of the conventions of standard written English, and main points are made with reasonable clarity. Because of its adequate control of language and competent analysis, this response earns a score of 4.


Score 3 Responce

It will be very inappropriate to condemn Dr. Field’s observations and findings. A critical look and analyses of the argument shows that details of Dr. Field’s work was not given out. In fact, it is sad on the side of the writer to think that Dr.Fields work is invalid.

    First, the fact that the children of Tertia spend much time talking about their biological parents than about other adults in the village can be interpreted in a different way. The writer did not give any clue on what exactly the children were saying about their biological parents. It could be that they were talking about their parents irresponsibility of rearing them by themselves than leaving them in the hands of the whole community to bring them up. In fact, the argument could have been strengthened if the writer gave what exactly the children were talking about.

    On the other hand, the writer failed on his or her part as a researcher to look at the time frame from the time Dr. Field did his analyses to the the time writer also conducted His or Her research. This would have given him the insight as what new developments has taken place within the twenty years gap that Dr. Field did His analyses. The writer’s argument would have given a lot of meaning if the writer had research into the cultural developments that has taken place since the time Dr. fields last visited and did completed His work at Tertia.

    Also, as a reader, the tone this writing is not very convincing. It almost seems like Dr. Karp is making Dr. Fields look bad, instead of supporting his own research with information. He really only says one sentence about his own research, the rest of it is about how Fields work is not as good and saying things about Fields work. He needs to have more details about his own work to really sell the reader on it. He needs to write more about what the interview-centered method is, since he does not even say what it is. This will be more convincing if it is less of an attack on Dr. Field and more about the researches.

    On the whole the writer’s work is incomplete and His or Her criticisms are unfounded. The writer needs to change the qualitative way of His or Her research into amore quatitative approach. If done in this way the impact of His or Her findings will be very strong and convincing.

 

Reader Commentary

Although this response analyzes some important features of the argument, it is limited in development and often lacks acceptable clarity in expressing its ideas. In particular, this response contains occasional major errors and frequent minor errors that can interfere with meaning. Misused words, subject/verb agreement problems, and other lapses occur throughout the response. In addition to the problems with language control, the response demonstrates limited relevant development. It is true that the response makes an attempt to follow the specific task instructions, identifying the fact that the argument might be strengthened by evidence that the children were talking in a positive manner about their parents. However, the response does not explain exactly how this evidence would strengthen the argument. Similarly, there is discussion of the elapsed time between the two studies, but the response does not clarify how information about the “cultural developments” over the past 20 years would strengthen the argument Dr. Karp is making. Additionally, some of the points the response is making are not actually relevant to an analysis of the logic of the argument. The discussion ofDr. Karp’s tone in the fourth paragraph, for example, is a rhetorical critique, not a logical one. There is an attempt to talk about evidence (“He needs to have more details . . . ”), but the focus in this paragraph is on “selling” the reader, not creating a per-suasive argument. Because of its limited development and language control, this response earns a score of 3.


Score 2 Responce

The argument is on the article written by Dr. Karp , an anthropologist and his study and the new plan to study the same in the tertia region. Dr.Karp has written an article on Children in Tertia and about the culture.

    The arguement is that they have not mention the type of intreview and the type of questions of the interviwes. They haven’t indicate the education level in the children and the background of the children. What are all the things the team is going to observe and study on the child rearing tradition is not clearly mention.

    The team is going to study and correlate the tradition with the other island culture but there is a possibility of different environment of other island or differnt biological parents. The resource availability on one island is different than the other is also apossibility . In that situation it is not possible to correlate the culture between to iceland.

    There is a possibility , Dr. Field’s interview time , lacking of infrastructure in the tartia. There was no developement of schools and other refreshment activity or the parents may not spent enough time with the children due to various reasons and that effect to the children , so they might have spend more time talking about their biological parent.

    To support the argument more information about the nature, cultural background and also the type of infrastructure presence in the area is require, the kind of study carring out in the study area is require. Which would help to give more support the argument.

 

Reader Commentary

This response demonstrates serious weaknesses in analytical writing. There seem to be some attempts at logical analysis, though none that specifically and clearly examine the evidence that might weaken or strengthen the argument. Additionally, there is little or no relevant or reasonable support for the writer’s points. In large part, the lack of logical development seems to be due to the serious and frequent problems with language control seen throughout the response. There are basic errors in just about every sentence of the response, and these errors frequently interfere with meaning. This sentence exemplifies the problems seen throughout the response: “There was no developement of schools and other refreshment activity or the parents may not spent enough time with the children due to various reasons and that effect to the children , so they might have spend more time talking about their biological parent.” The writer is attempting to discuss some points that are relevant to an analysis of this argument, but meaning is obscured by all of the errors present. However, some meaning can be discerned, and these errors are not severe enough to drop the score to a 1.


Score 1 Responce

Twenty years ago Dr field an anthropologist found result after reserch that in small village of tertia children reared by entire village but according to dr karp he talked most of the children that they talk about there boilogical parents. so it conclude that the reserch of dr field is unvalid now and what type of methods dr field used may be not cover all aspects of there culture and also other cultures of other islands. reared the children by entire village is not logical but in some cultures there are some surprizing customs . so may be dr field did not anlysed the culture of that island on various parameters , which we are using now a days. intrveiw with children and observing their behaviour is important because some time the person talk one thing and behave indifferent way look like either he not telling correct or he is showing his altitude in misguiding way. i think the behaviour of the children shows proper report of reserch and you can observe their altitude to the other adult peoples of the village and to their own biological parents.The expert reserch scholer can easily feel their emotions and behavour during some time stay with their culture. dr field maybe more research time, maybe, for longer.

 

Reader Commentary

This fundamentally deficient response mainly consists of a summary of the prompt, and although there is some evidence of understanding, the response provides little evidence of the ability to develop and organize an analysis of the argument. Also, severe problems in language persistently interfere with meaning. In fact, the material that does not come directly from the prompt is more or less incomprehensible.


 

Practice Test two