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GRE AWA Essay (Bookstore Cafe) - With A Free Essay Review
The following is a recommendation from the Board of Directors of Monarch Books.
"We recommend that Monarch Books open a café in its store. Monarch, having been in business at the same location for more than twenty years, has a large customer base because it is known for its wide selection of books on all subjects. Clearly, opening the café would attract more customers. Space could be made for the café by discontinuing the children's book section, which will probably become less popular given that the most recent national census indicated a significant decline in the percentage of the population under age ten. Opening a café will allow Monarch to attract more customers and better compete with Regal Books, which recently opened its own café." Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order 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 author recommends that oopening a cafe will in Monarch book store will help in attracting customers and also suggests to discontinue the children's section and open cafe in that space. To support this, the author cites the fact that there is decrease in percentage of population under age 10 in recent national census.
To begin with, the author assumes that discontinuing the children's section and opening a cafe in that space would attract customers. This may not necessarily be the case. The number of customers may decrease by few numbers as the customers who come to the store only to get the childrens' books may not show up after removing this section.
The author suggests to remove the children's section assuming that it would beome less popular and provides a census report. The report states that there is decrease in popuplation under age 10 nation wide and not in the particular place where the Monarch Books is located. So there might be very small decrease in the place where the shop is located. So removing children's section may result in losing regular customers.
Additionally, even if we assume that there is a decrease in population, there is no information regarding the customers who get books from children's section. We cannot tell for sure that only children below 10 years of age use the children's section. Parents or primary school teachers may use the section aswell. So removing the children's section may result in Monarch losing its customers to its competitors.
The author also assumes that opening a cafe will attract more customers. Author has also stated that this will help Monarch to better compete with its competitor Regal Books which has opened a cafe recently. The author has not mentioned if there was increase in number of customers in Regal after opening a cafe and if that increase is only due to opening a cafe and not due to any other reason.
Hence the author provides no evidence for the assumptions made and hence the arguement is not convincing enough.
Your essay is a fairly reasonable answer to the question, What are the assumptions underlying the Board's recommendation? Unfortunately, that is not the prompt you are required to respond to. You need to identify specific questions that would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation is likely to have the predicted result. While your essay correctly identifies a number of assumptions underlying the recommendation, and while your identification of those assumptions could easily be rearticulated in the form of questions that need to be answered, you don't explicitly identify such questions. For essays such as this, it is very important to do what you are prompted to do. Prompts like these are specifically designed to leave open the possibility that in the imagined scenario the recommendation would indeed have the predicted result. So what else would you need to know if you wanted to assess the likelihood of that result? That's basically what you've got to write about. Neither of the first two paragraphs do this, nor does the last, so they may as well all be deleted.
The third paragraphs considers the possibility that there might be a relatively small decline in the percentage of the local population under age ten. That's a reasonable consideration. So what you need to do is turn it into a question that would need answering, like this: "One question that would need answering is whether the percentage of the local population (the store's customer base) under age ten has declined to the same significant degree as the national population." Once you've done that, you then need to explain how the possible answers to that question would help to evaluate the recommendation, like this: "If the answer to that question is 'yes', then the board is more likely to be right in predicting a decline in the popularity of the children's books section than it would be if the answer were 'no.'" If you don't think that's a very satisfying response, then you could improve it with a "because clause," like this: "because it seems reasonable to assume that there is a strong correlation between the number of children's books sold and the number of children in the local population." (You might still be dissatisfied, for any number of reasons, but we can only cover so much, which is why we avoid making absolute claims, and include phrases that allow a little wiggle room: "it seems reasonable to assume." If it were me, however, I would just ask if there has been any decline in the number of children's books sold. (Why use population as a proxy for the population of the children's section, when you have a direct measure of its popularity?)
In your penultimate paragraph you note that the recommendation says nothing about the impact of Regal's new cafe on that bookstore’s popularity. That's a good point, and while you don't put it precisely in the form of a question, the question that needs to be answered is in this case so obvious that it might not be necessary (but I would recommend erring on the side of caution, and writing the question as a question). Still, you certainly must clarify how the possible answers to the implied question would help you evaluate the recommendation, even if the point you want to make seems obvious: "If there was an increase in the number of customers in Regal after opening a cafe, then ..."
Upshot: Read the prompt. Answer the prompt.