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Sample Response to GMAT AWA Argument Questions

3. The following appeared in a memorandum issued by a large city’s council on the arts. “In a recent citywide poll, fifteen percent more residents said that they watch television programs about the visual arts than was the case in a poll conducted five years ago. During these past five years, the number of people visiting our city’s art museums has increased by a similar percentage. Since the corporate funding that supports public television, where most of the visual arts programs appear, is now being threatened with severe cuts, we can expect that attendance at our city’s art museums will also start to decrease. Thus some of the city’s funds for supporting the arts should be reallocated to public television.” Discuss how well reasoned . . . Etc.

The author concludes that the city should allocate some of its arts funding to the public television in order for the attendance at the city art museums not to further decrease. The argument is based on the two assumptions: 1) the number of audience of art programs on public television is appropriate to that of local art museums, and 2) the public television faced of severe funding cuts. While this argument is somewhat convincing, it is not sound because its line of reasoning is not compelling.

First of all, the author commits the “Confused Cause and Effect” fallacy. The argument depends on the assumption that increased exposure to the visual arts on public television has caused a similar increase in local art-museum attendance in the past years. However, the poll that increased art-museum attendance is statistically correlated with similar increases in television viewing of visual-arts programs, does not necessarily mean that the increased television viewing of arts is the cause of the rise in museum attendance. There may be other factors relevant to increased interest in the local art museum during the past years. For example, some larger social or cultural factors may cause greater public interest in municipal art museums.

Second, the argument does not address the effectiveness of citywide poll conducted five years ago. The survey may be biased. If the respondents do not properly represent the whole residents, then the poll is not convincing. Moreover, since the survey was conducted five years ago, the statistics can become invalid and can no longer be used as future prediction.

In conclusion, the argument is not convincing enough and would be strengthened if the author were to eliminate other significant factors that might have caused the increase in visits to the local art museum, as well as to address the soundness o the survey conducted five years ago.

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