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Sample Essay to Real GRE Argument Questions

Direction: Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument.

Topic # 1: "The study of history has value only to the extent that it is relevant to our daily lives." Sample Response

Topic # 2: The following is a letter to the editor of an environmental magazine

"The decline in the numbers of amphibians worldwide clearly indicates the global pollution of water and air. Two studies of amphibians in Yosemite National Park in California confirm my conclusion. In 1915 there were seven species of amphibians in the park, and there were abundant numbers of each species. However, in 1992 there were only four species of amphibians observed in the park, and the numbers of each species were drastically reduced. The decline in Yosemite has been blamed on the introduction of trout into the park's waters, which began in 1920 (trout are known to eat amphibian eggs). But the introduction of trout cannot be the real reason for the Yosemite decline because it does not explain the worldwide decline." Sample Response

Topic # 3: The following is a letter to the editor of the Atticus City newspaper

"Former Mayor Durant owes an apology to the city of Atticus. Both the damage to the River Bridge, which connects Atticus to Hartley, and the traffic problems we have long experienced on the bridge were actually caused 20 years ago by Durant. After all, he is the one who approved the construction of the bridge. If he had approved a wider and better-designed bridge, on which approximately the same amount of public money would have been spent, none of the damage or problems would have occurred. Instead, the River Bridge has deteriorated far more rapidly over the past 20 years than has the much longer Derby Bridge up the river. Even though the winters have been severe in the past several years, this is no excuse for the negligence and wastefulness of Durant."  Sample Response

Topic # 4: The following is from an editorial in the Midvale Observer, a local newspaper.

"Ever since the 1950's, when television sets began to appear in the average home, the rate of crimes committed by teenagers in the country of Alta has steadily increased. This increase in teenage crime parallels the increase in violence shown on television. According to several national studies, even very young children who watch a great number of television shows featuring violent scenes display more violent behavior within their home environment than do children who do not watch violent shows. Furthermore, in a survey conducted by the Observer, over 90 percent of the respondents were parents who indicated that prime-time television--programs that are shown between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.---should show less violence. Therefore, in order to lower the rate of teenage crime in Alta, television viewers should demand that television programmers reduce the amount of violence shown during prime time."  Sample Response

Topic # 5: The following appeared in the editorial section of a health and fitness magazine.

"In a study of the effects of exercise on longevity, medical researchers tracked 500 middle-aged men over a 20-year period. The subjects represented a variety of occupations in several different parts of the country and responded to an annual survey in which they were asked: How often and how strenuously do you exercise? Of those who responded, the men who reported that they engaged in vigorous outdoor exercise nearly every day lived longer than the men who reported that they exercised mildly only once or twice a week. Given the clear link that this study establishes between longevity and exercise, doctors should not recommend moderate exercise to their patients but should instead encourage vigorous outdoor exercise on a daily basis."  Sample Response

Topic # 6: The following appeared in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper.

"Too much emphasis is placed on the development of reading skills in elementary school. Many students who are discouraged by the lonely activity of reading turn away from schoolwork merely because they are poor readers. But books recorded on audiocassette tape provide an important alternative for students at this crucial stage in their education, one the school board should not reject merely because of the expense involved. After all, many studies attest to the value of allowing students to hear books read aloud; there is even evidence that students whose parents read to them are even more likely to become able readers. Thus, hearing books on tape can only make students more eager to read and to learn. Therefore, the school board should encourage schools to buy books on tape and to use them in elementary education." Sample Response

Topic # 7: The Trash-Site Safety Council has recently conducted a statewide study of possible harmful effects of garbage sites on the health of people living near the sites. A total of five sites and 300 people were examined. The study revealed, on average, only a small statistical correlation between the proximity of homes to garbage sites and the incidence of unexplained rashes among people living in these homes. Furthermore, although it is true that people living near the largest trash sites had a slightly higher incidence of the rashes, there was otherwise no correlation between the size of the garbage sites and people's health. Therefore, the council is pleased to announce that the current system of garbage sites does not pose a significant health hazard. We see no need to restrict the size of such sites in our state or to place any restrictions on the number of homes built near the sites.  Sample Response

Topic # 8

As people grow older, an enzyme known as PEP increasingly breaks down the neuropeptide chemicals involved in learning and memory. But now, researchers have found compounds that prevent PEP from breaking neuropeptides apart. In tests, these compounds almost completely restored lost memory in rats. The use of these compounds should be extended to students who have poor memory and difficulty in concentrating-and therefore serious problems in school performance. Science finally has a solution for problems neither parents nor teachers could solve.  Sample Response

Topic # 9: In a study of reading habits of Leeville citizens conducted by the University of Leeville, most respondents said they preferred literary classics as reading material. However, a follow-up study conducted by the same researchers found that the type of book most frequently checked out of each of the public libraries in Leeville was the mystery novel. Therefore, it can be concluded that the respondents in the first study had misrepresented their reading habits.  Sample Response

Topic # 10: A recent study shows that people living on the continent of North America suffer 9 times more chronic fatigue and 31 times more chronic depression than do people living on the continent of Asia. Interestingly, Asians, on average, eat 20 grams of soy per day, whereas North Americans eat virtually none. It turns out that soy contains phytochemicals called isoflavones, which have been found to possess disease-preventing properties. Thus, North Americans should consider eating soy on a regular basis as a way of preventing fatigue and depression.  Sample Response


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