GMAT Analytical Writing: Solutions to the Real Argument Topics

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GMAT Analytical Writing: Solutions to the Real Argument Topics

  • Are you able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of an argument?
  • Can you determine what additional information might make an argument easier to evaluate?
  • Can you create alternative, plausible explanations for the claims in an argument?

Because these skills are important for a successful career in management, the GMAT requires each test taker to complete the Analytical Writing Assessment, a timed task that reveals the writers analytical abilities and his or her facility in crafting a coherent evaluation of an argument.

The essays and prewriting activities in this book are intended to serve as models for the test taker to use when responding to practice arguments. Use them as is or to inspire yourself to create your own process. Either way, practicing for the AWA will ensure the best score possible on the test.

This book contains Sixty Sample Analyze an Argument essays along with the rubrics, prompts and tips to use when writing your own essays. The prewriting activities demonstrate how the writer selected a point of view and created evidence to use in developing the responses.


Table of contents

Introduction to the GMAT

Analytical Writing Assessment


Scoring Guide


Solved Argument Tasks with Strategies

Argument Task 1 - The Mercury

Argument Task 2 - Apogee company

Argument Task 3 - Financial magazine

Argument Task 4 - Health club managers

Argument Task 5 - Cerberus dog food

Argument Task 6 - Environmental protection

Argument Task 7 - Big Boards Inc

Argument Task 8 - Speedee Airlines

Argument Task 9 - Corporate newsletter

Argument Task 10 - Company that makes shampoo

Argument Task 11 - Olympic Foods

Argument Task 12 - Large city's council on the arts

Argument Task 13 - Company manufacturing parts for heavy machinery

Argument Task 14 - Magazine on trends and lifestyles

Argument Task 15 - Waymarsh students

Argument Task 16 - Daily Gazette

Argument Task 17 - Advertisement for Adams

Argument Task 18 - Acid-Ease and Pepticaid

Argument Task 19 - Restaurant industry in Spiessa

Argument Task 20 - Automobile manufacturing company

Argument Task 21 - Drug abuse

Argument Task 22 - City L

Argument Task 23 - Board to censor movies

Argument Task 24 - Synthetic Farm Products

Argument Task 25 - Coffee and cola

Argument Task 26 - Perks Company

Argument Task 27 - Fern Valley University

Argument Task 28 - Professor Taylor

Argument Task 29 - Avia Airlines

Argument Task 30 - University hospitals vs community hospitals

Argument Task 31 - Robin Good

Argument Task 32 - Recycling of newspaper

Argument Task 33 - Information technology department of advertising firm

Argument Task 34 - Excelsior Company

Argument Task 35 - Government funding of environmental regulatory agencies

Argument Task 36 - Safer workplace

Argument Task 37 - West Cambria

Argument Task 38 - Prime-time television programs

Argument Task 39 - How to Write a Screenplay for a Movie

Argument Task 40 - ElectroWares Company

Argument Task 41 - Tartfish industry

Argument Task 42 - Advertising spots on KMTV

Argument Task 43 - Plateau College

Argument Task 44 - Saluda Consolidated High School

Argument Task 45 - Books in electronic form

Argument Task 46 - Take Heart Fitness Center

Argument Task 47 - Bayview High School

Argument Task 48 - Store selling gourmet food items

Argument Task 49 - Ready-to-Ware

Argument Task 50 - Omnilixir

Argument Task 51 - Amusement parks

Argument Task 52 - The Clarion

Argument Task 53 - Capital Idea - Irongate district

Argument Task 54 - HuggyBunny

Argument Task 55 - Exeunt Theater Company

Argument Task 56 - Capital Idea investment firm - tartfish

Argument Task 57 - Avia Airlines - commuter route

Argument Task 58 - GBS Company

Argument Task 59 - Excel Meats

Argument Task 60 - Improving services for the city



a) 60 solved Argument topics with strategies to be used as a benchmark

b) Expert Strategies and simplified methods to produce focused responses

c) Scoring Guides for Argument tasks as per the GMAT Guidelines



STU013000 Study Aids – GMAT

STU026000 study aids – Guides


Introduction to the GMAT

The GMAT is the standardized test required by more than 5200 graduate schools as part of the application package to their business or management programs. Along with your undergraduate transcript, recommendations, work experience, etc., your GMAT scores will determine which college programs will grant you admission. Colleges consider these scores important for two main reasons. First, undergraduate courses and curricula vary from school to school, and second, in the same way that the SAT predicts success in college, the GMAT predicts a student's success in the challenging courses of graduate business and management programs. The higher the score you earn, the more likely you will gain admission to competitive programs at colleges around the country. You can check the websites of desired programs to see the range of scores they consider acceptable as well as the weight they assign to those scores.
The GMAT is composed of four parts: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal. The test will begin with a 30-minute Analytical Writing Assessment, followed by the 30-minute, 12-question Integrated Reasoning section. Next is the Quantitative portion, made up of 37 questions that you must answer in 75 minutes, and the Verbal portion, made up of 41 questions that also must be answered in 75 minutes.
Even though the test is used for admission to business or management programs, no specific knowledge in these areas is needed to successfully complete the test. All of the information you will need to answer any individual question appears in the question and the answers. The test is computer-adaptive. The degree of difficulty of the questions will change based on your answer history. You will never get many questions that are either too difficult or too easy for you. Your success will derive from your ability to read and follow directions and carefully scrutinize the information in the question or prompt. You will need to read and write in English and have basic math and English skills. The test is delivered in English on a computer, but no special computer skills are needed to complete the test. Basic word processing skills are necessary for composing the essay.
Because the results are important, you should spend some time practicing for the GMAT. At the very least, familiarize yourself with the question formats. Taking one or more practice tests will be most helpful in assuring a high score. Remember that the actual test is timed, so you should time yourself throughout one practice test.
The following strategies will help you complete the GMAT in a timely manner and insure that you get the highest score possible.
a) Pace yourself; use the allotted time wisely. An on screen clock will keep track of the time remaining and warn you when 5 minutes remain.
b) Never skim the questions and answers. You may miss important information.
c) You must confirm the answer you have selected before you can move on to the next question. As long as all of the answers appear on the screen, you can change your answer, but you cannot return to a question you have previously answered.
d) You cannot skip a question, so, if you are not sure of the answer, eliminate the choices that you can and select the best answer from the choices remaining.
e) Attempt to finish all of the questions, as leaving several unanswered can have a seriously negative effect on your score.


Analytical Writing Assessment

The AWA is the first of four parts of the GMAT, and you will have 30 minutes to plan and type your essay. You will begin by reading a brief argument in which the author may state a position, make a recommendation, or make a prediction. You may agree or disagree with the author's position, but refrain from stating your own opinion. Your task is to determine how sufficiently the writer has made his case and clearly communicate your critique of the argument in writing. Two independent readers will assign a score between 1 to 6. If their scores are not exact or adjacent, a third reader will evaluate your writing. The readers, who are college professors from a variety of disciplines, will use the following criteria to score your analysis: the overall quality of your ideas; your ability to organize, develop, and express your ideas; your including relevant supporting reasons and examples; and your control of the elements of standard written English.


The following directions appear after each argument, and you should read them carefully.


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.

While planning your response, focus on the suggestions in the directions. Use the erasable notepad to take notes to help you organize your analysis. Begin by identifying the audience for the argument. The author may have tailored the information in the argument to this audience, thereby creating some inherent biases. For example, a company's report to its stockholders may include information that makes a company seem more profitable than it really is and omit information that makes stockholders question their investment. A political endorsement will enumerate positive changes that the incumbent has facilitated and point out how his opponent disagrees with that incumbent's policies. An editorial, by its nature, expresses an opinion. Understanding how the audience may influence the type of information included in the argument will help you to single out the questionable assumptions in the argument. The author may have a vested interest in the point of view expressed in the argument. He or she may be a department head in a large company, and provide only positive information about his department's performance designed to insure job security or expansion of his department. Acknowledging hidden agendas will help you evaluate the argument.


Consider the source of the information presented in the argument. The author may cite polls or surveys. Although the survey or poll information may be accurate, it may not actually support the argument. The author may be using survey results to create an analogy, a conclusion drawn by arguing that there are clear similarities between two different events. Be wary of general descriptors like several, some, many, or recent. You should ask, "How many? How recent?"


Next, list the assumptions. Keep in mind that an assumption is not a fact, but it may be based on what appear to be facts in the argument. For example, the writer may say that over the last few years, gold chain sales at Jennie's Jewelry have declined by 20%. A recent survey shows that a significant number of women prefer sterling silver over gold, so Jennie should increase her sterling silver chain inventory to raise her profits. One questionable assumption implied in this statement is that Jennie's sales of gold chain were so high that a 20% reduction has had a big impact on her profits. Another is that Jennie can sell enough sterling silver to compensate for the reduction in gold sales. You might also assume that Jennie has taken no steps to compensate for the reduction in gold sales. The survey results cited here may also lead you to conclude that investing in more sterling silver is a good decision.

The directions tell you to consider alternative explanations or counter examples for the assumptions in the argument. In the case of Jennie’s Jewelry, you might think of reasons to explain the 20% decline in gold sales. A new jewelry store may have opened in town. The price of gold may be so high that Jennie bought less of it, and a smaller selection forced customers to shop elsewhere. The higher price may have discouraged customers from purchasing it. Jennie's Jewelry may have experienced an even greater reduction in sterling silver sales. A manufacturer may have closed its plant in Jennie's town, eliminating a significant number of jobs, so all businesses in her town may have suffered losses. If any of these conditions are true, the assumption is faulty. You might be able to draw on your own experience to develop an alternative explanation. It is likely that you live in a town whose independently-owned, small businesses have been affected by the opening of a new mall or big box store, and you can relate the impact of that in your analysis.

What additional information would help you to better evaluate the assumptions? The following pieces of information may help you: the portion of Jennie's total sales that can be attributed to gold jewelry; changes in the price of gold over the last few years; changes in the local economy; what is selling well at Jennie's Jewelry. If you know this information, you can determine if the author's recommendation is reasonable. Try manipulating some numbers that make a 20% decline in gold sales seem either significant or of little concern. For example, consider that gold sales account for 80% of Jennie's total sales. Losing one-fifth of those sales would result in gold sales equaling only 66% of total sales, a significant loss. Sales of other merchandise would have to increase from 20% of the total to 34% of the total. On the other hand, if the sale of gold jewelry accounts for only 10% of total sales for the store, a 20% decline, which would reduce the contribution to 8% of total sales, would be almost negligible.

Making separate lists for the assumptions and/or claims, alternative explanations or counter examples, and missing information will provide a visual aid to assist you in developing your evaluation of any argument. Now, you are prepared to begin composing your evaluation of the argument. You will be able to perform basic word processing functions like cut and paste, so feel free to begin writing about your ideas in any way that is comfortable for you. Some writers complete the introduction before moving on to the body paragraphs, while others prefer to write the introduction after developing their ideas in the body paragraphs. Whatever style suits you, keep in mind the following strategies.

a) Read the argument carefully; reread it as you write to insure that you maintain your focus.

b) Refer to your notes, lists, or outline as you write, but do not hesitate to include ideas that come to you as you write. Your prewriting is just a guide.

c) Fully develop your examples; do not simply list them.

d) In your discussion of alternative explanations or counterexamples, feel free to draw on your own experiences, observations, or readings.

e) Be sure to use a narrative format for your evaluation.

f) Leave some time to reread your response and make any necessary revisions.

g) Keep in mind that you are critiquing the argument, and you may point out both strengths and weaknesses.


Complete enough practice essays to become comfortable with the format. Take as much time as you need with the first few responses, but, eventually, you should complete some practice analyses while timing yourself. Ask someone whose opinion you respect to read some of your analyses and ask him or her to provide constructive feedback. Share the scoring criteria with that person, so he or she can phrase the feedback in the language of the scoring guide.


Scoring Guide

Your goal, after completing practice essays, is to use what you have learned to get the highest score possible on your analysis. In order to earn a score of 6, your analysis must be Outstanding. At this level, you will have created a response that demonstrates an insightful analysis of the argument after clearly identifying its important features. Your ideas will be organized logically and be connected with clear transitions to create a cogent response as you provide effective support for your points. Use a variety of sentence structures and apt and accurate vocabulary. Although your writing may have some minor flaws, you should strive for control of the conventions of standard written English, including grammar, usage, and mechanics.


Analyses at score point 5 are described as Strong. You have demonstrated the ability to identify the important features of the arguments and analyze them thoughtfully. Your analyses are not formulaic. Your analysis proceeds logically with appropriate transitions between ideas. You demonstrate control of language with sentence variety and appropriate vocabulary. Your response may contain occasional flaws in usage, grammar, and mechanics.

A score point of 4 is for analyses that are considered Adequate. You have delivered a competent critique of the argument. You are able to identify and analyze the important features of the argument. You may omit transitions between satisfactorily developed and well- organized ideas. You provide adequate support for the main points in your critique and demonstrate reasonable clarity and sufficient control of language. Although your analysis may have some flaws, your writing generally follows the conventions do standard written English.

Papers that are given a score of 3 are considered to be Limited. Although you demonstrate some ability to provide a written analysis of an argument, your flaws are evident. You have failed to identify or analyze most of the important points in the argument. Although some analysis is present, it addresses only tangential or irrelevant matters. Your reasoning is weak. Development of ideas lacks substance, and the organization lacks logic. The analysis may contain either occasional major errors or frequent minor errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics. There is little variety in sentence structure, and sometimes vocabulary is weak or inappropriate.

An analysis assigned a score of 2 is Seriously Flawed due to serious weaknesses in analytical writing skills. At this level, your response may state your own opinion on the subject of the argument. If you attempt a critique, you do not develop your ideas or provide relevant support for them. Your response is poorly organized and has serious and frequent errors in sentence structure. Numerous errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics interfere with meaning and coherence.

A Fundamentally Deficient analysis earns a score of 1. This paper lacks even the basic skills of analytical writing. Your writing demonstrates the inability to understand the argument, thereby preventing you from identifying important ideas. Any response at this score level has severe and persistent errors in language and sentence structure. The response is virtually incoherent as a result of pervasive errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics.

The final two scoring options are No Score and NR. Your response will earn a No Score if you simply attempt to copy the prompt, write off topic, write in a language other than English, or write using only keystroke characters. NR is assigned to blank responses.


The Analytical Writing Assessment does not measure the extent of your knowledge about any specific topic or academic content. The argument topics may be about business or any area of general interest. Use your familiarity with the scoring criteria and your practice writing analyses to approach the argument in a manner that displays your ability to think critically about the content of the argument and write your analysis in a thorough and well-developed manner. Express your ideas in an original manner, avoiding formulaic phrases and comparisons.


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