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GRE Argument Essay: Central Plaza Store - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt: “The following appeared as a letter to the editor from a Central Plaza store owner. ‘Over the past two years, the number of shoppers in Central Plaza has been steadily decreasing while the popularity of skateboarding has increased dramatically. Many Central Plaza store owners believe that the decrease in their business is due to the number of skateboard users in the plaza. There has also been a dramatic increase in the amount of litter and vandalism throughout the plaza. Thus, we recommend that the city prohibit skateboarding in Central Plaza. If skateboarding is prohibited here, we predict that business in Central Plaza will return to its previously high levels.’ 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 proposal is to prohibit the skateboarding for restoring the normal business of Central Plaza. It offers an interesting argument but to move forward on the proposal requires more information and thought.
First of all, is the decrease in business of store owners of Plaza due to the skateboarding? Many store owners believe so, but does this opinion reflects the view of all store owners? Does an appropriate survey have been carried out to determine the decrease in shoppers in Central Plaza? If yes, then how is skateboarding related to the drop in the number of shoppers? It may be possible that there are some other reasons for the decrease in number of shoppers like rise in prices or a recent opening of a new mall or market. And skateboarding which is life of Plaza is able to bring some shoppers because the people who come for this popular sport may occasionally be looking for some items in different shops.
The next question to be answered is how skateboarding is contributing to the litter and the vandalism. Is it the only source of litter? Are there any other sources? Are there proper dustbins employed at Plaza? Has the cleaning staff been appointed and assigned duties? These questions are relevant because there might be other shops or sources which are a source of litter for e.g. food courts. And it is also possible that dustbins are not put up or used or cleaning staff is neglecting their duties. Is there any evidence showing that it is skateboard users that pollute the environment and damage the facilities? Perhaps it has something to do with the special activities or exhibitions hold in the plaza.
Thus, even if the skateboarding is banned within the Plaza, there is no clear indication that it will bring back the days when shoppers flock at Central Plaza. The shop owners should further investigate the problem and justify whether the skateboard users are the real cause behind the reduction of shoppers or the cause is something entirely different.
You do quite a good job here of identifying a series of questions that might be relevant to evaluating the recommendation but there are so many questions identified in your essay that you have no time to address each of them adequately, so you resort to the unreliable expedient of treating a number of questions as a group; sometimes you can get away with that, and sometimes you cannot. I think you ought to prioritise a smaller number of very important questions and explain the implications that answers to those questions might have in greater detail. There are indeed very many questions that one could in principle ask, but in a timed examination, one cannot address very many questions. It would be reasonable, however, to conclude by noting that you have not had time to address several additional relevant questions, which you could then list.
In your second paragraph, you identify four questions, but then only comment that there may be other explanations of the decline in business. You conclude the paragraph with a statement that might be true enough, but is not directly relevant to the task of responding to the prompt. What you ought to do instead is explain precisely how different possible answers to your questions would help you evaluate the specific recommendation in the letter. But that’s hard to do if you’ve got four questions in your head. How about starting with your conclusion, rephrasing that as a question; i.e., skip the first four questions, and turn your fifth sentence into THE question of the paragraph: “Are there other possible explanations of the decline in business in the plaza?” Explain, as part of your discussion, why that is a good question to ask (in the form of statements about possible alternative explanations: there may have been a recession that caused consumers to cut back on spending; there may, as you say, be a new mall in town). Then, crucially, explain the significance of those possible answers: “In the event that there are convincing alternative explanations, it is unlikely that banning skateboarding will not etc.”
The same kind of approach should be taken to your second paragraph. Identify a single specific question. Explain why it’s an important question. Explain how its answer would specifically help in the evaluation of the recommendation. It is much better to do this, in my view, than it is to postpone consideration of the possible significance of the questions until the final paragraph because if you do the latter, then you rely too much on your reader to fill in the gap between your specific questions and the general conclusion. For instance, the statement “there is no clear indication that it will bring back the days when shoppers flock to Central Plaza” is just too general to be of help, and too vague. It is not clear exactly how it derives from possible answers to the questions you have identified. I’m sure if I thought about it for a few seconds, I would probably figure it out, but your task as a writer of this kind of essay is to save me the trouble of thinking, because I’m paid (If I’m a GRE essay grader, which of course I’m not) a paltry sum to spend two minutes reading and evaluating your essay. So don’t tell me to think; tell me what to think.
By the way, I think you miss out on one of the crucial questions that one might ask, and I mention it only because it is the type of question that is appropriate to many of these “argument” topics, since many of them include the same kind of assumption about what is the cause and what is the effect. The question of course is some version of the chicken and egg question. In this case, something like this: Which came first, the decline in business or the increase in skateboarding? The letter doesn’t say, and it’s not inconceivable that the decline started first. Skateboarders, after all, may be inclined to go where there are fewer people, and may have been attracted to the plaza because of the decline, rather than being the cause of the decline. Of course that wouldn’t rule out the possibility that skateboarding caused additional declines; but it would weaken the proposition that banning skateboarding would restore business to its previous levels.
P.S. Let me stress again: it’s not a bad idea to conclude with an acknowledgement of the fact that are many other questions that could be asked (when that is true) and you can specify some of those other questions that you have not had time to deal with.