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GRE Argument Essay: Alpha And Zeta - With A Free Essay Review
‘The following appeared in a memo from a vice president of a large, highly diversified company. "Ten years ago our company had two new office buildings constructed as regional headquarters for two regions. The buildings were erected by different construction companies—Alpha and Zeta. Although the two buildings had identical floor plans, the building constructed by Zeta cost 30 percent more to build. However, that building's expenses for maintenance last year were only half those of Alpha's. In addition, the energy consumption of the Zeta building has been lower than that of the Alpha building every year since its construction. Given these data, plus the fact that Zeta has a stable workforce with little employee turnover, we recommend using Zeta rather than Alpha for our new building project, even though Alpha's bid promises lower construction costs." Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.’
First of all, the author recommends Zeta over Alpha since the building built by Zeta years ago seemed to have higher quality compared to the one built by Alpha. However, this can only show that Zeta constructed a better building than Alpha ten years ago; it is not convincing enough to predict that Zeta will still do a better job today. It is possible that during this ten years, due to the poor management, the quality of Zeta’s building has dropped, whereas Alpha now can construct buildings with better quality. Thus, the first question that needs to be answered is whether Zeta consistently has a better reputation for their buildings than Alpha does. If Zeta consistently has a good reputation for their buildings, then, it would strengthen the author’s recommendation. However, if the evidence shows that the quality of Zeta’s buildings has dropped, and their qualities are not as good as Alpha’s buildings, then, the author’s recommendation would not be reasonable.
In addition, the author implies that the building built by Zeta is better than Alpha’s building since the building’s expenses or maintenance last year were half those of Alpha’s, and the energy consumption of the Zeta building has been lower than that of the Alpha building every year since its construction. However, it is possible that the maintenance cost for the Alpha building was only high last year due to internal renovation, while in other years, the maintenance costs for the Alpha building were low. Considering the energy consumption, it is also possible that people did not heavily use Zeta building, and there are less people work in Zeta building. Both alternative possibilities can contribute to lower energy consumption. Therefore, the second question needs to be answered is do people heavily use both buildings, and were the maintenance costs for Zeta building consistently lower than those of Alpha. If it is shown that the maintenance costs for Zeta building were consistently low, and people use Zeta building as heavily as they use Alpha, then, the recommendation would be reasonable. Otherwise, the author’s recommendation would be undermined.
Finally, the author recommends Zeta over Alpha, because Zeta has a stable workforce with little employee turnover. However, a stable workforce with little employee turnover does not necessarily guarantee Zeta can build better buildings. Thus, the third question needs to be answered is whether employees are more well-trained or professional in Zeta compared to those in Alpha. Although Zeta has a stable work force, if Zeta workers are not well-trained or more professional, they might not do a better job than Alpha. For this reason, the recommendation would be inappropriate.
To sum up, in order to evaluate the recommendation, several questions need to be answered, does Zeta consistently have a better reputation for their buildings, do people use Zeta building as heavily as Alpha building, and are workers in Zeta more well-trained and professional than those of Alpha.
Your discussion here is generally reasonable. You note that the original argument is based on a comparison of ten-year old buildings, and so suggest that we need to know whether Zeta consistently has a better reputation for its buildings. What you really want to know of course is whether Zeta still constructs buildings of superior quality, and "reputation" is not the only or necessarily the best measure of that. But the question is reasonable. Note, however, that the reference to low employee turnover could be taken to address, in part, the question of consistency, and so could usefully be dealt with in this paragraph.
The second question you identify is also reasonable. As I may have mentioned before, if you try to find a more general form of the questions you identify, you need to worry less about covering all the possible scenarios that would explain the phenomena you are interested in. Here, for instance, only asking about how "heavily" the buildings are used will not help one understand differences in energy usage caused by different regional climates.
Finally, your focus is on the question of the quality of the buildings, which is fine, but there are other aspects of the recommendation that you don't consider; e.g., whether the difference in maintenance and energy costs is significant relative to the difference in construction costs, and perhaps whether there are other construction companies worth considering.