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GRE Pool of Argument Topics

May 26 2023



This is the second part of the series where we talk about the Analytical Writing Assessment section of the GRE. In this edition we focus on the Argument task. Read on.

In the argument task of the GRE, it is common to encounter arguments that rely on certain assumptions. These assumptions may be unstated or implicit but are crucial for the argument to hold true. Here are some types of assumptions commonly found in the GRE argument task:

Commonly used Logical Fallacies

  1. Causal Assumptions: Arguments often make assumptions about cause and effect relationships. They may assume that one event or factor directly causes another without providing sufficient evidence.
    Example: "The new marketing campaign resulted in increased sales. Therefore, the marketing campaign was the sole reason for the increase."
  2. Sampling Assumptions: Arguments may make assumptions about a sample being representative of a larger population. These assumptions imply that the observed characteristics or behaviours of the sample can be generalized to the entire population.
    Example: "In our survey of 100 customers, 80% rated our product highly. Therefore, the majority of customers are satisfied with our product."
  3. Assumptions about Similarity: Arguments may assume that two or more things or situations are similar enough that what applies to one also applies to the others.
    Example: "This study showed that drug X is effective in treating a specific type of cancer. Therefore, drug X will be equally effective in treating other types of cancer."
  4. Assumptions about Intentions or Motives: Arguments may assume certain intentions or motives behind people's actions without providing sufficient evidence.
    Example: "The CEO's decision to lay off employees shows a lack of concern for their well-being."
  5. Assumptions about Causality and Correlation: Arguments may assume that two variables are causally related simply because they are correlated, without considering other possible factors or explanations.
    Example: "Countries with higher chocolate consumption have more Nobel laureates. Therefore, eating more chocolate increases intelligence."
  6. Assumptions about Key Terms or Definitions: Arguments may rely on assumptions about the meanings of certain terms or concepts, assuming that everyone shares the same understanding of those terms.
    Example: "Everyone knows that organic food is healthier than conventional food."

Sample GRE Argument Task

"The city council is considering implementing a new policy that would ban smoking in all public parks. Proponents of the ban argue that it would promote a healthier environment and reduce the exposure of children to secondhand smoke. However, this proposal is misguided and unnecessary. Smoking is already prohibited in many indoor public spaces, and individuals should have the freedom to smoke outdoors if they choose. Additionally, enforcing a smoking ban in parks would require allocating significant resources to monitor and enforce the policy, which could be better used for other purposes. Furthermore, the ban would infringe upon the rights of smokers, who should be allowed to engage in a legal activity without unnecessary restrictions. Therefore, the city council should reject the proposed smoking ban in public parks."

GRE Argument Question

Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions, and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.

Here is a Sample Response for the GRE Argument Task

The argument posits that implementing a smoking ban in public parks is misguided and unnecessary. While the argument raises some valid points, a closer examination reveals several flaws in the reasoning and use of evidence.

Firstly, the argument suggests that since smoking is already prohibited in many indoor public spaces, individuals should have the freedom to smoke outdoors if they choose. However, this overlooks the fact that outdoor public spaces, such as parks, are often frequented by families and children. By allowing smoking in such areas, the argument fails to consider the potential harm caused by exposing nonsmokers, particularly children, to secondhand smoke. Thus, the argument's stance on individual freedom disregards the importance of public health and the rights of nonsmokers.

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Secondly, the argument claims that enforcing a smoking ban in parks would require significant resources that could be better utilized elsewhere. While enforcement may require resources, the argument fails to provide evidence or data to support this claim. Without such evidence, it is difficult to assess the true impact on resource allocation. Additionally, the argument assumes that resource allocation is a zero-sum game, disregarding the potential long-term health benefits and cost savings associated with reducing the negative health effects of smoking.

Moreover, the argument assumes that the ban would infringe upon the rights of smokers. However, it is important to note that smoking is a legal activity, not a fundamental right. Public policies often regulate legal activities for the greater welfare of society. The argument does not sufficiently address the balance between individual rights and the well-being of the general public, particularly in the context of public spaces shared by diverse individuals.

To strengthen the argument, the author could provide statistical evidence on the adverse health effects of secondhand smoke on children and nonsmokers, reinforcing the need for a smoking ban in public parks. Additionally, presenting data on successful enforcement of smoking bans in other areas and the associated positive health outcomes would bolster the argument's credibility.

While the argument against implementing a smoking ban in public parks raises valid concerns about individual freedom and resource allocation, it overlooks the health risks posed by secondhand smoke and fails to provide sufficient evidence to support its claims. By considering the broader public health implications and providing stronger evidence, the argument could be more persuasive.

Download Pool of Argument Topics

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GRE Pool of Argument Topics
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