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GRE Argument: Bicyclists Wearing Helmet - With A Free Essay Review



Prompt:The following appeared in a health newsletter. "A ten-year nationwide study of the effectiveness of wearing a helmet while bicycling indicates that ten years ago, approximately 35 percent of all bicyclists reported wearing helmets, whereas today that number is nearly 80 percent. Another study, however, suggests that during the same ten-year period, the number of bicycle-related accidents has increased 200 percent. These results demonstrate that bicyclists feel safer because they are wearing helmets, and they take more risks as a result. Thus, to reduce the number of serious injuries from bicycle accidents, the government should concentrate more on educating people about bicycle safety and less on encouraging or requiring bicyclists to wear helmets." Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.

In this argument, the author concludes that the government should not concentrate on requiring bicyclists to wear helmets because wearing helmets may result in more risk-taking. To substantiate the conclusion, the arguer cites data in a ten-year nationwide study and the condition of bicycle-related accidents during the last ten year. However, this information alone cannot come to the statement and implication in the argument. The conclusion seems at first glance to be logical, but after examine the assumptions it based on, I found the conclusion somewhat unwarranted.

Firstly, the author assumes that the increase of accident rate attributes to bicyclists without mentioning the carelessness of car drivers. As it is called bicycle-related accidents, perhaps it is in fact the drivers responsible for the tragedy and bicyclists may be more badly hurt for not the protection of helmet. If it is true, encouraging bicyclists not to wear helmets cannot reduce the number of accidents, but make injuries more serious.

Secondly, the author compares the data of a ten-year study, assuming that road condition remains the same during the last ten year, which seems to be impossible. Perhaps the number of private cars increased by 200%, and put great pressure to the local traffic. To solve the problem, the government changed bicycle lanes to car lanes. Bicyclists are forced to ride among these cars resulting in these accidents. For that matter, the most effective way is to rearrange the national traffic system or carry out new traffic regulation.

Thirdly, the author assumes that bicyclists feel safer because of the helmets they wear. However, he provides no evidence to support it. Without a survey of the bicyclists wearing helmet, the assumption seems to be unwarranted. What’s more, by suggesting the government educate people about bicycle safety, the author makes the assumption that accidents happens due to lacking awareness of the traffic safety. Perhaps bicyclists are in a hurry and thus violate the regulation. For these bicyclists, further education may not receive the expecting result.

In summary, though the conclusion seems to be plausible, in fact, it lacks credibility because the assumption and implication it based on are somewhat unwarranted. To substantiate these statements, more evidence is needed concerning the road the condition, the use of car during the last ten years and the safety awareness of bicyclists.

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ESSAY REVIEW

The instructions don't require you to write an introduction that restates the issues raised in the prompt and offer your general view of those issues. There's no need to waste time doing that unless you cannot think of anything else to say, so I suggest that your first paragraph is unnecessary and suspect it won't score you any points. There's also no reason to summarize your claims, although there's no harm in doing so if you have time at the end of your essay. What you need to focus on, in any case, is actually answering the prompt: 1) explain how the argument depends on the assumptions you identify; 2) explain "what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted." Note that these instructions tell you exactly the type of sentences you need to write.

So let's look at the first assumption that you identify: "the author assumes that the increase [in the] accident rate [can be attributed] to bicyclists without mentioning the carelessness of car drivers." Here is how I think you should make this claim: "The argument depends on the assumption that the increase in the number of bicycle-related accidents is caused by cyclists taking 'more risks as a result' of their wearing helmets." Note that I'm using the language of the prompt and the language of the quotation from the health newsletter. What I have not done yet is fully explained why I think the assumption that I've made is an assumption. This is where the second part of your statement comes in: We know that that's an assumption because it is also possible that the increase in accidents could be caused by increased carelessness on the part of car drivers." Note the inclusion of the word "increased" in that explanation; we need to include that word if we want to offer the carelessness of drivers as a possible explanation of the _increased_ number of bicycle-related accidents. It would be better, however, to say that the increase in accidents could be caused by an increase in the number of careless car drivers on the road. It may be that the increase in the number of accidents is caused by car drivers becoming more careless (perhaps because cars are safer) or it may be just that the number of cars on the road has increased.

Your second claim is that "the author compares the date of a ten-year study, assuming that the road conditions remains the same during the last ten year[s]." A more straightforward response to the prompt might be this: "The argument depends on the assumption that road conditions have remained the same during the past ten years." You might then explain why that is an important assumption like this: "That is an important assumption because there are many possible changes in road conditions that might explain the increase in the number of accidents involving bicycles, such as etc." Note that here, in your third paragraph, you don't explain how the assumption, if incorrect, would impact the argument.

In your fourth paragraph, you do a better job of explaining "what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted." You say that "further education may not receive the expect[ed] results.” That's a good point. Another possible implication is that, if the cause of the increase in accidents is not increased risk-taking by cyclists, then the argument may result in more serious injuries (if cyclists are no longer encouraged or required to wear helmets). The problem of course is that you've mentioned something like that already (in your second paragraph) and perhaps you don't feel it's a good idea to say it in every paragraph. Perhaps the solution to this problem would be to deal with the implications in a separate paragraph. You can do that if the implication is the same for each possibly incorrect assumption of the original argument, as seems to be the case here.

Finally, when writing an essay like this, take a moment to think whether you might be missing something obvious. In this case, one obvious possible explanation of the increase in the number of bicycle accidents would be an increase in the number of bicyclists.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: queenaquin
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