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Sample Response to GMAT AWA Argument Questions

5. 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 this goal.

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.

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