Hello, I'm preparing for the GRE and am especially struggling with the Analytical Writing session. The prompts just don't give me enough information to work with, and the 30 minute timeline is pretty annoying as well. I'll try to get input on several of my practice argument/issue analyses. Response to Analyze an Issue should focus on persuasive writing; Analyze an Argument on analytical writing. Both should demonstrate critical thinking. I appreciate any help, particularly on the substance of the essay and organization of ideas (not as concerned with grammar). Here's the first:
To get a better sense of the recreational needs of the community, the Teeburg Town Board sent a questionnaire addressed to the "head of household" in every home in the town. The board asked a series of questions designed to zero in on residents' recreational preferences, in hopes of finding three they might fund in the upcoming year. The board was gratified to get a reasonable return rate of nearly 40 percent of all questionnaires. Based on that response. the hoard recommended that the following top vote getters be added to the town budget: a snowmobile trail, a skeet-shooting range. and a putting green.
Critique the reasoning used in the argument presented above by examining assumptions, assessing evidence, or suggesting ways to make the argument stronger or easier to evaluate.
While the Teeburg Town board is on the right track (gaining residents' input), there are several problems with their approach. More of the population should be included in this interest-gathering initiative. Also, recreational preferences and changes to the budget are unrelated issues. The board should ask directly for approval of budget changes.
In addressing the questionnaire to the "head of household" of each home, the board is limiting participation from the other members of the family. Specifically, children will probably have little to no input in answering such a questionnaire. Since the younger citizens of Teeburg also have recreational needs, their wishes should be taken into account. One way of doing this is by distributing questionnaires [aimed at students] to teachers of local schools and having them tally the students' preferences. To include everyone in the younger generation, these should be passed out at both public and private schools, primary and secondary, and even colleges and universities.
One underlying assumption is that Teeburg will be able to fund the three choices. However, even if the board believes that the initial implementation will be covered under the current budget, they should consider the future costs of maintaining such recreational facilities. Putting greens, for example, generally require tremendous effort and money to be kept up to par. And this might cause taxes to be raised in the future, something that few residents want.
Another way the board might gauge resident preferences is by observing existing recreational facilities and deciding which contribute the most to the residents. By observing how frequently a park is visited, for example, and comparing that with attendance rates at the town swimming pool, the board can see which types of activities residents are actually engaging in. The expansion funds could then be used at improving or expanding existing facilities, if needed.
Lastly, before adding any items to the town budget, the board should publicize the potential change and collect feedback from area residents. This does not need to be a formal election, but might include a notice in the local newspaper, town hall meetings, and appearances on TV and radio by board representatives. The board may find that residents are actually opposed to adding the top 3 vote-getters to the budget. The board cannot imply that facilities for such activities are wanted by residents, even if the same people choose these activities as their personal favorites.
The board should augment their current data with input from other demographic sectors. And by observing how existing recreational facilities are being used [and whether or not they could use the funding], the board can obtain a better sense of the community's recreational needs. Further, any changes to the budget must be extensively publicized before these changes are made; since residents ultimately fund the budget, they should have direct input on how it is spent [the board cannot make inferences for them].