GRE Analytical Writing / Issue

GRE Analytical Writing ANALYZE AN ISSUE


Analyze an Issue Task
Understanding the Issue Task

The Analyze an Issue task assesses your ability to think critically about a topic of gen- eral interest according to specific instructions and to clearly express your thoughts about it in writing. Each issue topic makes a claim that test takers can discuss from various perspectives and apply to many different situations or conditions. The issue statement is followed by specific instructions. Your task is to present a compelling case for your own position on the issue according to the specific instructions. Before begin- ning your written response, be sure to read the issue and instructions carefully and think about the issue from several points of view, considering the complexity of ideas associated with those views. Then, make notes about the position you want to develop and list the main reasons and examples that you could use to support that position.

It is important that you address the central issue according to the specific instruc- tions. Each task is accompanied by one of the following sets of instructions.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or dis- agree 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 considera- tions shape your position.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or dis- agree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific cir- cumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or dis- agree 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.

Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both of the views presented.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or dis- agree with the claim and the reason on which that claim is based.

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.

The GRE readers scoring your response are not looking for a “right” answer—in fact, there is no correct position to take. Instead, the readers are evaluating the skill with which you address the specific instructions and articulate and develop an argu- ment to support your evaluation of the issue.


Understanding the Context for Writing: Purpose and Audience

The Issue task is an exercise in critical thinking and persuasive writing. The purpose of this task is to determine how well you can develop a compelling argument supporting your own evaluation of an issue and to effectively communicate that argument in writ- ing to an academic audience. Your audience consists of GRE readers who are carefully trained to apply the scoring criteria identified in the scoring guide for the Analyze an Issue task.

To get a clearer idea of how GRE readers apply the Issue scoring criteria to actual responses, you should review scored sample Issue essay responses and reader com- mentary. The sample responses, particularly at the 5 and 6 score levels, will show you a variety of successful strategies for organizing, developing, and communicating a per- suasive argument. The reader commentary discusses specific aspects of evaluation and writing, such as the use of examples, development and support, organization, language fluency, and word choice. For each response, the reader commentary points out aspects that are particularly persuasive as well as any that detract from the overall effectiveness of the essay.

 

Preparing for the Issue Task

Because the Issue task is meant to assess the persuasive writing skills that you have developed throughout your education, it has been designed neither to require any par- ticular course of study nor to advantage students with a particular type of training.

Many college textbooks on composition offer advice on persuasive writing and argumentation that you might find useful, but even this advice might be more techni- cal and specialized than you need for the Issue task. You will not be expected to know specific critical thinking or writing terms or strategies; instead, you should be able to respond to the specific instructions and use reasons, evidence, and examples to support your position on an issue. Suppose, for instance, that an Issue topic asks you to con- sider a policy that would require government financial support for art museums and the implications of implementing the policy. If your position is that government should fund art museums, you might support your position by discussing the reasons art is important and explain that government funding would make access to museums avail- able to everyone. On the other hand, if your position is that government should not support museums, you might point out that, given limited governmental funds, art museums are not as deserving of governmental funding as are other, more socially important, institutions, which would suffer if the policy were implemented. Or, if you are in favor of government funding for art museums only under certain conditions, you might focus on the artistic criteria, cultural concerns, or political conditions that you think should determine how — or whether — art museums receive government funds. It is not your position that matters so much as the critical thinking skills you display in developing your position.

An excellent way to prepare for the Issue task is to practice writing on some of the published topics. There is no “best” approach: some people prefer to start practicing without regard to the 30-minute time limit; others prefer to take a “timed test” first and practice within the time limit. No matter which approach you take when you practice the Issue task, you should review the task directions, then carefully read the claim and the specific instructions and make sure you under- stand them; if they seem unclear, discuss them with a friend or teacher

think about the claim and instructions in relation to your own ideas and expe- riences, to events you have read about or observed, and to people you have known; this is the knowledge base from which you will develop compelling rea- sons and examples in your argument that reinforce, negate, or qualify the claim in some way

decide what position on the issue you want to take and defend

decide what compelling evidence (reasons and examples) you can use to sup- port your position

Remember that this is a task in critical thinking and persuasive writing. The most successful responses will explore the complexity of the claim and instructions. As you prepare for the Issue task, you might find it helpful to ask yourself the following ques- tions:

What precisely is the central issue?

What precisely are the instructions asking me to do?

Do I agree with all or with any part of the claim? Why or why not?

Does the claim make certain assumptions? If so, are they reasonable?

Is the claim valid only under certain conditions? If so, what are they?

Do I need to explain how I interpret certain terms or concepts used in the claim?

If I take a certain position on the issue, what reasons support my position?

What examples—either real or hypothetical—could I use to illustrate those reasons and advance my point of view? Which examples are most compelling?

Once you have decided on a position to defend, consider the perspective of others who might not agree with your position. Ask yourself:

What reasons might someone use to refute or undermine my position? How should I acknowledge or defend against those views in my essay?

To plan your response, you might want to summarize your position and make brief notes about how you will support the position you’re going to take. When you’ve done this, look over your notes and decide how you will organize your response. Then write a response developing your position on the issue. Even if you don’t write a full response, you should find it helpful to practice with a few of the Issue topics and to sketch out your possible responses. After you have practiced with some of the topics, try writing responses to some of the topics within the 30-minute time limit so that you have a good idea of how to use your time in the actual test.

It would probably be helpful to get some feedback on your response from an instructor who teaches critical thinking or writing or to trade papers on the same topic with other students and discuss one another’s responses in relation to the scoring guide. Try to determine how each paper meets or misses the criteria for each score point in the guide. Comparing your own response to the scoring guide will help you see how and where you might need to improve.


The Form of Your Response

You are free to organize and develop your response in any way that you think will effec- tively communicate your ideas about the issue and the instructions. Your response may, but need not, incorporate particular writing strategies learned in English compo- sition or writing-intensive college courses. GRE readers will not be looking for a par- ticular developmental strategy or mode of writing; in fact, when GRE readers are trained, they review hundreds of Issue responses that, although highly diverse in con- tent and form, display similar levels of critical thinking and persuasive writing. Read- ers will see, for example, some Issue responses at the 6 score level that begin by briefly summarizing the writer’s position on the issue and then explicitly announcing the main points to be argued. They will see others that lead into the writer’s position by making a prediction, asking a series of questions, describing a scenario, or defining critical terms in the quotation. The readers know that a writer can earn a high score by giving multiple examples or by presenting a single, extended example. Look at the sample Issue responses, particularly at the 5 and 6 score levels, to see how other writers have successfully developed and organized their arguments.

You should use as many or as few paragraphs as you consider appropriate for your argument—for example, you will probably need to create a new paragraph whenever your discussion shifts to a new cluster of ideas. What matters is not the number of examples, the number of paragraphs, or the form your argument takes but, rather, the cogency of your ideas about the issue and the clarity and skill with which you commu- nicate those ideas to academic readers.

 

Practice Test One

 

ANALYZE AN ISSUE 
 

The best way to teach is to praise positive actions and ignore negative ones

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.


Score 6 Responce

The recommendation presents a view that I would agree is successful most of the time, but one that I cannot fully support due to the “all or nothing” impression it gives.

    Certainly as an educator I agree fully that the best way to elicit positive response from students is to make use of students’ positive energy and then encourage actions that you would like to see repeated. It is human nature that we all want to be accepted and achieve on some level, and when people in authority provide feedback that we have done something well, the drive to repeat the action that was praised is bound to be particularly strong.

    This blanket statement would obviously pay dividends in situations in which a teacher desires to have students repeat particular behaviors. For example, if an educator is attempting to teach students proper classroom etiquette, it would be appropriate to openly praise a student who raises his or her hand when wishing to speak or address the class. In such cases, the teacher may also help shape positive behaviors by ignoring a student who is trying to interject without approval from the teacher. In fact, the decision to ignore students who are exhibiting inappropriate behaviors of this type could work very well in this situation, as the stakes are not very high and the intended outcome can likely be achieved by such a method. However, it is important to note here that this tactic would only be effective in such a “low-stakes”situation, as when a student speaks without raising her hand first. As we will discuss below, ignoring a student who hits another student, or engages in more serious misbehaviors, would not be effective or prudent.

    To expand on this point, it is important for teachers to be careful when working with the second half of this statement, only ignoring negative actions that are not serious.Take for instance a student who is misbehaving just by chatting with a fellow class -mate. This student might not be presenting much of a problem and may be simply seeking attention. Ignoring the student might, in fact, be the best solution. Now assume the negative action is the improper administering of chemicals in a science experiment or the bullying of a fellow student. To ignore these negative actions would be absurd and negligent. Now you are allowing a problem to persist, one that could potentially lead to much bigger and more dangerous issues. In a more serious situation, addressing the negative actions quickly and properly could stop the problem it in its tracks. It is for reasons like this that I do not advocate the idea that a teacher can be successful by simply ignoring negative actions.

    I do, however, greatly support the idea that the central focus of teaching should be to build on and encourage positive actions. However, the author’s all-encompassing statement leaves too many negative possibilities for the classroom. Perhaps a better way to phrase this statement would be to say, “The best way to teach is to praise positive actions and ignore negative ones that are not debilitating to class efficiency or the safety of any individual”.

    Thus, in the original statement, there are indeed some good intentions, and the recould be a lot of merit in adopting its basic principles. Data proves that positive support can substantially increase motivation and desire in students and contribute to positive achievements. In fact, most studies of teaching efficacy indicate that praising positive actions and ignoring negative ones can create a more stable and efficient classroom. It needs to be stressed, however, that this tool is only effective at certain levels of misbehavior. As mentioned above, when the behavior is precipitated by feelings of revenge, power or total self-worthlessness, this methodology will likely not work. It is likely to be very successful, however, when the drive behind the misbehavior is simple attention seeking. In many of these instances, if the teacher demonstrates clearly that inappropriate behavior does not result in the gaining of attention, students are more likely to seek attention by behaving properly. Should the student choose this path, thenthe ignoring has worked and when the positive behavior is exhibited, then the teacher can utilize the first part of the theory and support or praise this behavior. Now it is much more likely to be repeated. If the student does not choose this path and instead elects to raise the actions to a higher level that presents a more serious issue, then ignorance alone cannot work and other methods must be employed.

    In conclusion, one can appreciate the credo expressed in this instance, but surely we all can see the potential error of following it through to the extreme.


Reader Commentary

This response receives a 6 for its well-articulated, insightful analysis of the issue. Rather than simply rejecting or accepting the prompt, the writer argues that the recommendation made by the prompt can often be true but is too “all or nothing” to be endorsed without qualification. The writer turns this idea into an insightful position by providing examples and evidence to fully and persuasively support its nuanced argument. The response offers nicely detailed situations that provide compelling support for a claim that the recommendation can, in fact, work. At the same time, it also highlights the recommendation’s limits using additional specific, detailed examples. Particularly persuasive is the fourth paragraph, in which the writer compares the impact of ignoring minor behavioral problems like talking in class to the potential costs of ignoring more serious issues like bullying. Thus, the writer recognizes that the prompt’s claim, as well as his/her own, is inevitably dependent on the specific context for its success or failure. Throughout the response, the writer demonstrates the ability to convey ideas fluently and precisely, using effective vocabulary and sentence variety. This sentence demonstrates the level of language facility seen throughout the response: “It is human nature that we all want to be accepted and achieve on some level, and when people in authority provide feedback that we have done something well, the drive to repeat the action that was praised is bound to be particularly strong.


Score 5 Responce

I partially agree with the statement “The best way to teach is to praise positive actions and ignore negative ones”. Children should be rewarded when they perform well; however, they should not be ignored for performing sub-optimally. For purposes of this essay, the term “actions” is defined as behaviors within the classroom.

    Utilizing positive reinforcements, such as tangible rewards, can be a good method to teach children. If the teacher praises children for actions that are desirable, then the children are more likely to repeat those actions. For example, a student who completes an assignment on time and does a good job is likely to want to do a good job on the next assignment if he gets positive feedback. Likewise, the children who are not currently engaging in the desirable actions may be more inclined to do so in order to recieve the positive reinforcement.

    Conversely, children should not be ignored for negative actions. If a child is not exhibiting appropriate behavior in the classroom, then it is the teacher’s responsibility to encourage the child to perform optimally. Ignoring something doesn’t make it go away, actions and consequences do. A student who is being disruptive in class will continue to be disruptive unless the teacher does something about it. However, the teacher’s actions need be appropriate.

    Before the teacher attempts to modify a child’s behavior, the teacher needs to try and identify the reason behind the behavior. For instance, children who leave their seat often, stare in to space, or call out of turn may be initially viewed as having poor behavior. However, the teacher may suspect that the child has an attentional problem, and request that the child be tested. If the child does have an attentional problem, then the teacher can work with a related service, such as occupational therapy, to alter the classroom environment in order to cater to the needs of the child. For instance, the teacher could remove some of the stimulating bulletin board displays to make the room more calming to the child. If the child becomes more attentive in class, then the teacher was able to assist the child without scorning them or ignoring them. The teacher met the needs of the child and created an environment to enable the child to optimally perform in the educational setting.

    On the other hand, if the child is tested, and does not have any areas of concern that may be impacting the educational performance in the classroom, then the negative behavior may strictly be due to defiance. In such a case, the teacher still should not ignore the child, because the negative actions may hinder the learning opportunity for the remaining children in the class. As a result, a child who is being disruptive to the learning process of the class should be set apart from the class so that they do not receive the positive reinforcement of peer attention.

    The teacher should not ignore the student who is misbehaving, but that does not mean that the teacher just needs to punish. It is better to address the child privately and make sure the child is aware of the negative actions. Once the child is aware, then the teacher should once again try to determine the reason why the child is behaving in a negative manner. Perhaps the child’s parents are in the middle of a divorce and the child is outwardly expressing his frustration in the classroom. Or the academic content of the class may not be challenging enough for the child and so he is misbehaving out of boredom. Whatever the reason behind the behavior, the key factor is that the teacher works with the child to try and identify it. Simply punnishing or ignoring the child would not solve the problem, whereas working to create a plan for success in the classroom would. Likewise, rather than punnishing and defeating the child, the teacher is working with and empowering the child; a much more positive outcome to the situation.

 

Reader Commentary

This strong response presents a thoughtful and well-developed analysis of the issue. In this case the writer argues that teachers need to modify their approach based on con-text and observation, meaning that a blanket approach cannot be successful. The writer supports this position with relevant reasons and examples that present logically sound support. Note that the task instructions ask writers to discuss circumstances in which adopting the recommendation might or might not prove advantageous, and this response does that quite clearly. In the second paragraph, the writer gives an example of a student who completes an assignment on time and receives positive feedback, showing how the recommendation could prove advantageous. Other examples show circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would not be a good idea, and these various points are brought together to support the writer’s position that teachers have to look at the context of the situation and cannot rely on simply ignoring negative actions. This response also demonstrates facility with language, using appropriate vocabulary and sentence variety. Sentences like this one demonstrate the writer’s command of the conventions of standard written English: “If the child does have an attentional problem, then the teacher can work with a related service, such as occupational therapy, to alter the classroom environment in order to cater to the needs of the child.”There are some minor errors, but overall the response demonstrates strong control of language. Although the response is clearly stronger than a 4, which would simply present a clear position on the issue according to the task instructions, it does not reach the level of a 6 because it does not develop its points in a way that creates a cogent and insightful position. It does, however, present a generally thoughtful and well developed analysis of the issue, leading to a score of 5.


Score 4 Responce

I absolutely agree with the first section of the statement above, but find fault with the latter half.

    There is no doubt that praising positive actions is an excellent way to teach, and this method is most clearly exemplified when dealing with much younger children. When a young child is learning basic social behavior, it is imperative that he is encouraged to repeat positive actions. For example, when a child voluntarily shares his toys with another, if a teacher rewards that behavior, the child will understand that this is a good practice, and likely share again in the future.

    In contrast, if a child displays negative behavior by stealing a toy away from his playmate, it would be very dangerous for the teacher to ignore this action, for then the child may never recognize that this is unacceptable. In this instance, the child has not learned from the situation at all. So what should a teacher do when faced with such a situation? Punishment is not necessarily the optimal choice, either. Rather than scolding a child for mistreating his playmates and sending him off to a corner, a teacher would be wise to demonstrate the positive alternative: to share his toys instead. In this case, rather than ignoring or punishing negative actions, the teacher could seize the opportunity to reinforce positive behavior, and further extend the child’s learning experience.

    In summary, positive reinforcement is certainly an excellent method for teaching new methods or behaviors, and encouraging a student to learn more. However to ignore, rather than recognize and correct negative actions, would be a disservice to the student, for he would not know what conclusion to draw from his action.

 

Reader Commentary

This adequate response follows the task directions and presents a clear position on the issue, supporting its main points with examples that are relevant, if only adequately developed. For instance, the discussion in the second paragraph of a teacher who reinforces the positive behavior of sharing a toy is certainly relevant and on-task (i.e., it describes a situation in which adopting the recommendation would be advantageous).However, the development of this idea does not lead to generally thoughtful or insightful analysis. Instead, it is simply presented as an example. In addition to its adequate development, this response also demonstrates sufficient control of the conventions of standard written English, and its main points are made with reasonable clarity. Some of the sentences demonstrate the syntactical variety normally seen in responses that receive higher scores (e.g., “Rather than scolding a child for mistreating his playmates and sending him off to a corner, a teacher would be wise to demonstrate the positive alternative: to share his toys instead”). However, the overall use of language in this response is merely adequate.


Score 3 Responce

Praising postive actions and ignoring negative ones may be a good way to teach but not the best way. Ignoring negative actions could negate all the postive praises given to an individual, having negative actions go unchecked will lead to habits formed that would overwhelm any positive actions that are complementary to an individuals learning process.

    For instance, in a classroom full of eight-year old kids; if during a lesson they are making a lot of noise, having this ignored would tell the kids that it is okay to be disruptive in class. The individuals in that class would develop the habit of being distruptive hence hindering their learning process. However if the eight-year old kids were immediately told to stop the distruption then it will never become a habit.

    Every action needs to have a related consequence follow in a learning environment.In the early years of education, the way they are taught becomes a lifelong habit which is hard to change in later years. If negative actions are not assigned a related consequences then teaching becomes ineffective because the students negative actions soon diminish the ability to do well in school. The way postive actions are dealt with should also be done with negative actions rather than being ignored which in turn enhance the learning environment.

 

Reader Commentary

Although this response has minor errors in its use of language, it receives a 3 primarily for insufficient overall clarity and for the limited development of its claims. The writer does make an attempt to follow the specific task instructions, and the response has aclear position on the issue, arguing that it is not acceptable practice to ignore negative behaviors. However, the development provided in support of that position is limited. The example of “eight-year old kids” making noise during class can be seen as a situation in which following the recommendation is not advantageous. Instead of developing that point in a logically persuasive way, however, the writer proceeds to make an unsupported assertion about the consequences of following the recommendation (“The individuals in that class would develop the habit of being distruptive hence hindering their learning process”). Another issue that keeps this response at the 3 level is a lack of clarity, particularly in the final paragraph. The final sentence demonstrates this problem with clarity: “The way positive actions are dealt with should also be done with negative actions rather than being ignored which in turn enhance the learning environment.” Problems with the structure of this sentence make it difficult to determine the writer’s intended meaning.


Score 2 Responce

I don’t agree with this afirmation, because I think is very important to praise positive actions but also is important to sign the negative ones, in some situations acording to the students level, grade, etc., could be better to put more emphasis in the positive things and if not ignore all the negative ones, do not give so much importance to them, this is particulary important in the lowest levels of education.

    But in another situations you must sign the negative things, trying to avoid that the students can repeat them in the future, because I think you can also learn from the negative situations.

    For this reason I believe that is important to praise positive actions but is also important no to ignore the negative ones, because in a given situation the student can have troubles recongnising what is right and what is wrong. And finally as a conclusionI think that the best way to teach is combination of praise positive things but also to sign the negative ones.

 

Reader Commentary

This response clearly fits several characteristics of a 2, as defined by the scoring guide.It is seriously limited in its development, organization, and focus. The response repeats itself rather than developing any of its statements, pointing to an inability to organizea response capable of supporting any specific claims with relevant reasons or examples. Additionally, serious language control problems frequently interfere with mean-ing. Thus, even though the writer does seem to be making an attempt to respond to the specific task instructions, the response merits a score of 2.


Score 1 Responce

Write a response in which you disuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.

    Author says that The best way to teach is to praise positive actions and ignore negative ones. I agree to this recommendation. Explaining, I strongly believe that the best way to teach is not to praise positive action and ignore negative ones but is makeing everyone to be a good ones. Specific crimstances lead me which adopting the recommendation as the following:

    First, we will lost the good children who have negative maner if we ignore them.Children are future, not all. Praise in negative should not be, teaching to children to best way. I strongly believe adopting this recommeindation would be not advantages.

    second, negative ones in today may be a great people in the future. Not only ones behave do worse they are teenage. Teenage in today is not easy for all! Negative ones can not better, if only prainse positive actions, ignore negative one. Negative ones maynot positive be having, but if we praise them only, they not think they should bepositive person later.

    conclusion, specific circumstances are which adopting the recommendation would not be advantage, I am not agree to the the recommendation. Ignore negative manor when they will not be positive behavrio in futre. But they can, if do not ignore them. weshould not ignor negative person but should make them think that they can be a goodman future like positive person.

 

Reader Commentary

This response has severe and pervasive problems in language and sentence structure that, as stated in the scoring guide, consistently interfere with meaning and result in incoherence. The response begins by repeating the prompt, but then the severe problems with language control and organization undermine any evidence of the ability to understand the prompt or to present and develop a clear position. For example, it is not clear what the writer means by the claim that the best way to teach is “makeing everyone to be a good ones.” Severe problems with language control in that sentence and throughout the response prevent it from developing a coherent position on the issue or responding to the specific task instructions. Although the writer makes an attempt at organization, with points marked as first, second, and conclusion, the response actually exhibits little or no evidence of the ability to develop any potential understanding of the prompt into a logical position on the issue.


 

Practice Test two

 
ANALYZE AN ISSUE
 

   Some people believe that corporations have a responsibility to promote the well-being of the societies and environments in which they operate. Others believe that the only responsibility of corporations, provided they operate within the law, is to make as much money as possible.

Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both of the views presented.


 

Score 6 Responce

It is not uncommon for some to argue that, in the world in which we live, corporations have a responsibility to society and to the environment in which they operate. Proponents of this view would argue that major environmental catastrophes (e.g.,
the oil spill in the Gulf) are key examples of the damage that can be wrought when corporations are allowed to operate unchecked. Yet within that very statement lies a contradiction that undermines this kind of thinking — it is necessary for outside forces to check the behavior of corporations, because we do not expect corporations to behave in such a manner. In fact, the expectation is simply that corporations will follow the law, and in the course of doing so, engage in every possible tactic to their advan- tage in the pursuit of more and greater profit. To expect otherwise from corporations is to fail to understand their puropose and their very structure.
The corporation arose as a model of business in which capital could be raised
through the contributions of stockholders; investors purchases shares in a company, and their money is then used as the operating capital for the company. Shareholders buy stock not because they are hoping to better make the world a better place or because they have a desire to improve the quality of life but because they expect to see a return in their investment in this company. The company may itself have generally altruistic goals (perhaps it is a think tank that advises the government on how to improve relations with the Middle East, or perhaps it is a company built around finding alternative forms of energy), but the immediate expectation of the investor is that he himself will see dividends, or profits, from the investment he has made. This is even more true in the case of companies that are purely profit driven and which do not have goals that are particularly directed toward social improvement—a description that applies to the vast majority of corporations.

Is it a bad thing to have a corporation negatively affect the environment (and by extentsion, its inhabitants)? To pump noxious fumes into the atmosphere as a by-product of its manufacturing processes? Of course, and this is why agencies such as the EPA were established and why governments—federal, state, and local—are expected to monitor such companies to ensure that such practices fall within the boundaries of legal expectations. Any and all corporations should be expected to temper their pursuit of profit with the necessity of following those safeguards that have been legislated as protections. But the assumption that corporations have an inherent obligation or responsibility to go above and beyond that to actively PROMOTE the environment and the well-being of society is absurd.

Engaging in practices to adhere to legal expectations to protect society and the environment is costly to corporations. If the very purpose of a corporation is to generate profits, and the obligation to adhere to safety expectations established by law cuts into those profits, then to expect corporations to embrace such practices beyond what is required is to presume that they willingly engage in an inherently self- destructive process: the unnecessary lowering of profits. This is antithetical to the very concept of the corporation. Treehuggers everywhere should be pleased that environmental protections exist, but to expect corporations to “make the world a better place” is to embrace altruism to the point that it becomes delusion.

This is not to say that we should reject efforts to hold corporations accountable. In fact, the opposite is true — we should be vigilant with the business world and maintain our expectations that corporations do not make their profits at the EXPENSE of the well-being of society. But that role must be fulfilled by a watchdog, not the corporation itself, and those expectations must be imposed UPON the corporations, not expected FROM them.

Reader Commentary

This response receives a 6 for developing an insightful position on the issue in accor- dance with the assigned task, skillfully weaving a position that takes into consideration both of the statements in the prompt. Beginning in the first paragraph, the writer rejects the idea that corporations themselves “have a responsibility to promote the well- being of the societies and environments in which they operate.” In the second para- graph, the writer offers compelling reasons for this rejection by discussing the purpose and structure of corporations. The writer then considers the role of government in pro- moting corporations’ social and environmental responsibility, developing the position fully. A cogent statement of the writer’s position appears at the conclusion of the response: “we should be vigilant with the business world and maintain our expecta- tions that corporations do not make their profits at the EXPENSE of the well-being of society. But that role must be fulfilled by a watchdog, not the corporation itself.” The response as a whole is logically organized, with each paragraph serving as a stepping stone in the development of the writer’s position. It also demonstrates the writer’s ability to convey ideas fluently and precisely, using effective vocabulary and sentence variety. This sentence demonstrates the level of language facility seen throughout the response: “If the very purpose of a corporation is to generate profits, and the obligation to adhere to safety expectations established by law cuts into those profits, then to expect corporations to embrace such practices beyond what is required is to presume that they willingly engage in an inherently self-destructive process: the unnecessary lowering of profits.” Here the writer has skillfully maintained control of complex syn- tax and diction while making a logically compelling point. The sentence demonstrates the outstanding nature of this response.


Score 5 Responce

In order to survive, corporations must make money. Successful corporations try and make as much money as possible. Yet this incentive to make money does not mean that a corporation can be a detriment to the society in which it operates. Corporations have a duty and a responsability to ensure the well being of the society in which they are a part.

Contributing to the well being of a society is actually benefical to a corporation
in many cases. One of these is making sure that workers are well taken care of. Absenteeism and neglect while on duty are a big problem for corporations, as is attracting the best workers, who hopefully will lower the risks caused by absenteeism and neglect. One way that corporations can attract these workers is by offering them generous benefits. If, for example, an employer includes with employment a good health care plan, they will be able to attract better workers than one that does not, and that will aid the corporation greatly. Health care plans provided by employers mean that these people have at their disposal health coverage, which means that they have the care they need if they get sick. This also might encourage preventive care, something that has been shown to reduce the cost and risk of developing other major ailments.

Another area where corporations providing support for themselves and society is
in the creation of human capital. Globalization and increased education means that employers need a better educated workforce more than ever. One way that employers can contribute to this is by sponsoring worker training programs, or paying for their employees to return to school. This creates a more educated workforce for employers, as well as may increase the loyalty of employees to an employer. An employee who received an education sponsored by an employer may be thankful for receiving that education, and may work harder for that employer. This creates a benefit for employers and employees.

The main reason that corporations have a duty to contribute to the well being of society is that they are a part of the society. Even though they have an economic desire to make a profit, corporations also should think long term about actions they take which could hurt their company. A good example of this is BP, after the recent oil spill in the gulf. Their desire to make a profit meant that they did not keep up on all of their safety regulations and standards, and the result of the then faulty equipment caused a massive spill. This cost them huge amounts of money to clean up, as well as the fines they had to pay for causing this. The biggest loss for BP however is that there brand name will be associated in the US and abroad as the company that caused this giant oil spill. As the spill was happening, many people boycotted the company, resulting in lost potential revenue. They may realize that as they lose business to people upset by the spill, that making sure a spill didn’t happen in the first place was cheaper.

Another reason corporations have to ensure the well-being of a society is that by makign a society better off, a company may have more consumers. This is especially true for corporations that sell goods for middle and upper class consumers. If a corporation tries to bring people up and increase the overall economic well being of society, they may find that more and more people have to ability to afford their goods.

This could generate huge new profits for this corporation, since their pool of potential consumers has gone up considerably. Concentrating on the long term here means that corporations can increase their pool of potential consumers.

By denying responsabilty to a society, a corporation is only looking at the possible short term profits, not the potential long term ones. While in the short term it may work for a corporation to ignore their societal responsability, it is advantageous in the long term for the entire corporation to make sure society is getting better. The potential for new markets, products, production processes and other beneficial factors that come from promoting well being is quite large. This is something that corportions should be ready and willing to take advantage of, and something that society should hold them accountable for.

Reader Commentary

This strong response receives a 5 for its thoughtful, well-developed analysis of the issue. In this case, the writer argues that corporations do indeed have a responsibility to promote the well-being of the societies and environments in which they operate, offering several reasons and well-chosen examples to explain why it is in the interests of corporations to fulfill these responsibilities. The writer clearly follows the task direc- tions by addressing the two views provided by the prompt, both explicitly in the open- ing paragraph and more subtly throughout the response. While the writer clearly signals at the beginning his or her alignment with the first position (“Corporations have a duty and a responsability to ensure the well being of the society of which they are a part”), the paragraphs that follow in fact acknowledge the writer’s opening state- ment (“In order to survive, corporations must make money”). In areas such as employee health care and education, as well as in relation to broader issues such as the environment and the general level of prosperity in society, the writer argues that cor- porations should strive to meet their social obligations because in the long term, it is economically advantageous to do so. The various reasons and examples offered are brought together to support a thoughtful position that implicitly suggests that the two views are not as mutually exclusive as they might first appear. The response also demonstrates considerable facility with language. There are some minor errors, but overall the writer’s control of language is strong, demonstrating sentence variety and appropriate use of vocabulary. The response lacks the superior fluency and precision of a 6 but nevertheless conveys meaning clearly and well. Discernibly stronger than the adequate level of analysis in a 4, the response has thoughtful, nuanced analysis of the issue that earns it a score of 5.



Score 4 Responce

While some people may believe that corporations have a responsibility to protect society, others believe that the only purpose of a corporation is to make money. I agree that making profits is important. In the grand scheme of things, though, all companies have a responsibility to watch out for their customers. Their customers are how they make their money. If they’re not watching out for their customers, they obviously will see a drop in their profits.

Consider light bulbs. This is an invention that has all kinds of potential for serious accidents. It is basically just a glass globe with electricity running through it! If a bulb gets too hot, it could potentially start a fire. Similarly, if someone removed the glass from around the tungsten wire, you’d basically have an exposed electrical wire that could hurt anyone who touched it. Makers of light bulbs know and understand all these dangers. They want consumers to purchase their products, so the first and smartest way to make that happen is to ensure that the products are safe and thus more attractive to the customer base. If everyone who used light bulbs was afraid of getting zapped profits would obviously go down and light bulbs would not be a very profitable enterprise.

This same thinking applies to all major products. The automobile is one of the most dangerous tools man uses. Tens of thousands of automobile drivers die every year in accidents. Insuring that the vehicles contain designs and parts that promote customer safety is a main focus of car manufacturers. Certain parts of of cars were built with promoting driver’s well-being in mind. For instance, air bags, anti-lock braking systems, online crash reporting. These features are considered standard now, and they were all developed to increase the safety of consumers. These features were not cheap to develop, but car manufacturers improved their profits anyway because they developed products with public safety in mind, which is what customers expect. If this symbiosis relationship wasn’t true, then we would still have cars without airbags or even seatbelts. Worrying about the safety and actually improving it for customers is not just a basic responsibility of corporations, but it drives their profits, too.

In conclusion, its pretty clear that a corporation’s desire to make more profits is in line with a corporation’s responsibility to consumers. Increasing the focus on consumers, worrying about taking care of them and the environment, can only lead to bigger profits and success for corporations in the long run.
 

Reader Commentary

This adequate response follows the task directions and presents a clear position on the issue. It supports and develops its position competently, using relevant examples. In accordance with the assigned task, the response addresses both of the competing posi- tions. Specifically, its position and the examples it develops argue that businesses can care about both profits and ethical responsibility through the ways they develop prod- ucts. The development of examples and ideas, while adequate, is not as thoughtful or compelling as would be needed to earn higher scores. For instance, both of the exam- ples the response uses are about product safety; the discussion of automobile design does not advance the position much more than the prior discussion of lightbulb pro- duction. Language control in the response is also competent. It demonstrates sufficient control of the conventions of standard written English, and its main points are made with acceptable clarity. The response features a few grammatical and mechanical errors (e.g., “Certain parts of of cars...” and “symbiosis relationship”) and some awk- ward sentences. However, for the 4 range, GRE raters allow for minor errors in responses like this one that holistically demonstrate sufficient clarity and control. Over- all, then, this response demonstrates adequate development and control of language, making the score of 4 appropriate



Score 3 Responce

Corporations can be viewed as both beneficial and bad. This statement addresses both views that many people have about corporations. Views come from personal experiences and is the reason why some people like corporations and why some people do not.

Half of this argument deals with people that like the idea of corporations. Some people believe that corporations help stmiulate societies and promote the well being of society. These people are ones that have never encountered a corupt corporation. Just like in any other aspects of life, people can get images of something as being good if they only brush the outside. It isn’t until they are being faced with a problem within a particular corporation where they either work for them or have just dealt with them. Also, people that are benefited from corporations are obviously going to like the idea of an corporation.

The other side of this argument is that many people believe corporations are just money hungry. This can be seen in many corporations throughout America. Many small business owners will side with this argument. The problem lies that this is corporate America and the little businesses are being taking over by larger corpora- tions. As Mark Twain once said, “The vast amount of money is only in a couple of hands”. This statement still lies true today. In addition, corporations are large and with that being said they lead to more lines of coruption. In small buisnesses, the owners can oversee their store entirely. Can these corporation owners really oversee every- thing that is going on? Ask any employee at a corporate office if they believe their workplace is being ran how they think the corporation would want it. One is likely to find the answer that it is not.

Just like any other issue there are two sides to the story. The problem with this issue is that most will agree that corporations are only there to make money. They don’t care about the people that are helping them make money. They only care at the end of the day how much money they made.
 

Reader Commentary

This response receives a score of 3 primarily because it is limited in focus. Rather than addressing the conflicting views of corporate responsibility given in the prompt, the response instead incorrectly casts the two positions as “people that like the idea of cor- porations” and people who “believe corporations are just money hungry.” The writer proceeds to develop an explanation of these two positions, citing the various qualities that lead each group of people to their beliefs, but the response concludes by declaring that “there are two sides to the story” without adopting any position of its own. This highlights another limitation of the response, the fact that it does not completely address the specific task directions. Although the response does discuss the two oppos- ing positions, it never discusses which view more closely aligns with the writer’s own. The response does contain adequate organization, and the writing demonstrates a suf- ficient control of language. Sentences such as “Just like in any other aspects of life, people can get images of something as being good if they only brush the outside” are typical of the writing in this response and, despite the presence of some errors, demon- strate a sufficient control of the conventions of standard written English. However, even though the response demonstrates some qualities of a 4, its problems with focus and its failure to develop a clear position on the issue in accordance with the assigned task mean that it merits a score of 3.



Score 2 Responce

I think corporations have a responsibility to not only follow the law but also work with the societies and enviroments they are in. Our societies and environments in this age are affected by corporations’ operations. An example of this is BP’s accident in the Gulf of Mexico — they might have been following the law and regulations, but once an accident happens, our societies and environments are affected. Many fishermen and businesses around the area have been affected by the accident. Now BP faces so many liabilities and needs to pay money. As a result, they are loosing more than they made in the past.

It is also important that corporations makes as much as money possible. If they do well, there might be more employment opportunities for people and more taxes for the city, states and federal which help our country’s economy better.

However, there are always choices that corporations can take and they can make money by promoting the well-being of the societies and environments. It might cost them more but it will also help to save thier expenses.

Reader Commentary

This seriously flawed response attempts to address the task directions by considering both of the views presented in the prompt. The first paragraph seems to embrace the first view given in the prompt when it asserts that “corporations have a responsibility to...work with the societies and environments they are in.” The writer uses the exam- ple of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to demonstrate that “our societies and envi- ronments in this age are affected by corporations’ operations,” but, apart from restating these same claims, the paragraph provides no real support for this position. Instead, the writer moves on to a discussion of the financial implications of the oil spill for BP. The second paragraph then makes an abrupt transition to a discussion of the prompt’s second view and again seems to embrace this position when it claims that “it is also important that corporations makes as much as money possible.” This position is supported with a single relevant but undeveloped reason. Although the writer attempts to reconcile the two positions in the last paragraph by arguing that “there are always choices that corporations can take and they can make money by promoting the well- being of the societies and environments,” the response provides no support for this position beyond its unsupported and contradictory claim that “it might cost them more but it will also help to save their expenses.” Overall, then, this response provides few examples in support of its claims. The response’s poor focus and its very limited sup- port, then, warrant a score of 2.



Score 1 Responce

It is certainly true that some people believe that corporations have a responsibility to promote the well being of societies and environments. On the other hand, some other people argue that the only responsibility of corporations, provided they operate within the law, is to make as much money as possible. It is easy to see why it would be difficult for some people to decide between these two positions.

The responsibility of all citizens of a society, including corporate citizens, is ultimately to further the well being of the society as a whole. It takes little more than examining the recent United States financial crisis to see the ill effects suffered by society at large when corporations focus on maximizing profits.

Reader Commentary

This response earns a score of 1 because it provides little evidence of the ability to develop an organized response. The first paragraph begins with a nearly word-for-word restatement of the prompt, which increases the length of the response but does not demonstrate the ability to develop a position on the issue in relation to the specific task instructions. The final sentence in the first paragraph is analytically empty in that it could be applied to any prompt that asks writers to discuss two competing positions. The writer does nothing to relate that sentence to this specific prompt. The second paragraph, then, is all that the writer has provided in terms of original analysis of the issue. Although it does demonstrate understanding of the issue, it fits the “extremely brief” description from the scoring guide description of a 1. Because of the extreme brevity of its analysis, then, this response merits a score of 1.