The GMAT has one 30-minute essay: the Analysis of an Argument prompt. It has a pretty basic formula, and yes, we’re going to walk you right through it. Instead of arguing your belief, you will actually critique another author’s point.
However, this essay still requires the classic, 5-paragraph setup. In the first paragraph, you’ll need to take a stance that the author’s argument is either logical or illogical. Next, you will use 3-4 paragraphs of points to confirm your stance. Finally, you’ll put together a strong conclusion to sum it all up.
Example prompt:The Awesome Energy Riders have become an extremely popular toy line for the ACME Co. Management. Hollywood Pictures thinks that this success will translate to the silver screen and has bought the rights of the Awesome Energy Riders to make four pictures.
Directions: Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion, be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.
Before you jump into writing, try to come up with 3-4 high-level reasons why this argument is logical or illogical. Below you will find a very solid guide for writing your essay. In fact, this could be used for nearly any Analysis of an Argument essay.
Firmly state if you find the argument logical or illogical. For example: The argument to produce four Awesome Energy Riders pictures is very poorly reasoned. Based on the information given, it is nearly possible to conclude that the toy line’s success will translate into film success – especially the success of four films.
Remember that you are not arguing whether or not these films will be successful (although that can come into play), but rather you are arguing if the prompt given can determine if the films will be successful. In this paragraph, you could make the point that the prompt makes false assumptions, the most obvious of which is the assumption that toy success leads to film success. You could write about how the G.I. Joe toy line was one of the most successful and popular toy lines, but the movie was a gigantic flop. Additionally, many popular toy lines are derived from movies (like Disney films), but rarely do Hollywood studios base films off of toys. Toy Story is a prime example because the toys were derived from the film and not vice versa, which led to success on both fronts. The prompt falsely assumes that the success can translate, but previous history indicates it will not.
Additionally, make sure to understand the distinction between examples and points.“This argument makes false assumptions,” is a point. The unsuccessful G.I. Joe film is an example to support that point. Make sure you have a couple of examples to support each point you make. Sure, you could write an entire 5-paragraph essay outlining G.I. Joe in one paragraph, Toy Story in another, and a third, similar example in the next one to all support the false assumption point. However, that’s not nearly as creative as having 3-4 legitimate points and examples to prove all of them – each of which prove that the prompt is illogical.
The argument ignores critical factors. For instance, if James Cameron is writing this film and it has a $500 million budget and star-studded cast featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Natalie Portman, it may likely be successful. Yet, the argument given completely ignores any film production details, which can determine success. The argument also ignores its intended audience. It can be assumed these toys are popular with children, but how often do children make decisions to go to movies? Also, will these movies be appropriate for kids? These factors need to be considered.
The argument is based on emotional, not rational appeals, which makes it even more illogical. It does state that these toys are extremely popular; however, how long have they been popular? Most toys are only popular for a short period of time. The most popular toys are always the hottest, latest, must-have item, and toy manufacturers know that. So, they aggressively try to squeeze every dollar they can out of them before the fad is over, and the Hollywood studio is trying to ride this fad while it’s hot – but it won’t be hot for long, and they are letting their emotions impact sound business decisions.
Now, just wrap it all up. Make a conclusion statement that this argument is illogical because it makes false assumptions, ignores critical factors, and bases decisions on emotional appeals.