Sample Response to GMAT AWA Argument Questions
The following appeared in an announcement issued by the publisher of The
Mercury, a weekly newspaper. “Since a competing lower-priced newspaper,
The Bugle, was started five years ago, The Mercury’s circulation has
declined by 10,000 readers. The best way to get more people to read The
Mercury is to reduce its price below that of The Bugle, at least until
circulation increases to former levels. The increased circulation of The
Mercury will attract more businesses to buy advertising space in the
paper.” Discuss how well reasoned . . . Etc.
The announcement concludes that the best option for increasing Mercury's
circulation to former levels is to lower its price below that of its
competitor, The Bugle. This conclusion is based on the fact that since
The Bugle was introduced, circulation has declined substantially. This
argument is not convincing as the author has made some questionable
assumptions that may or may not be true, given the data provided.
Firstly, the factors as to why the circulation has declined are unknown,
this may not have been related to the introduction of the Bugle at a
lower price. Furthermore price is not the only factor taken into
consideration by readers when deciding which paper to buy. Finally, the
goal of the Mercury is to attract more business to buy advertising space
and increased circulation is not necessarily the best way to achieve
First of all, the fact that the Mercury has lost 10,000 readers since
The Bugle first appeared on the market five years ago implies nothing.
Other factors may have contributed to this decline. For example, it
would be correct to say that for the last five years, or more, the
information revolution has changed the way that people access
information. More and more people are becoming Internet literate and
perceive it as a source of free and easily accessible information. News
is readily available on the Internet, leading readers away from
traditional forms of news such as newspapers. There is no indication in
the argument as to whether circulation has been declining even before
The Bugle. If so, then it will be apparent that factors, other than The
Bugle, have contributed to the poor performance of the paper.
Furthermore, the author did not rule out other factors that caused the
decreasing circulation. Price may not be the only factor influencing
readers whether or not to read a certain newspaper. Consider the
following situation. The Bugle is a tabloid newspaper while the Mercury
is aimed at a more educated audience. Lowering the price, although this
may result in a slight increase in readers, may not attract those
readers who prefer tabloid newspapers. This invalidates the assumption
that lowering the price of The Mercury will allow circulation to return
to former levels.
Finally, the newspapers wishes to achieve its ultimate goal of
attracting more business, and as a result increasing profits, to buy
advertising space it needs to take into consideration the other factors
that entice a business to advertise with a newspaper. The newspaper's
audience is an obvious example. An educated audience will attract a
specific, perhaps more prestigious class of business to advertise at a
high price. To lower the price of the newspaper, and in turn risk
changing the type of readers that buy the paper, will affect the number,
and type, of businesses that are willing to advertise.
In sum, the author’s conclusions can not be drawn from the data that has
been provided. The Mercury may not be losing readers as a direct result
of the introduction of The Bugle. Lowering its price, to below that of
The Bugle, may not increase the circulation of The Mercury to former
levels or help the paper to achieve its goals of attracting more
business to buy advertising space and thus increasing revenues.