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Essay Guide
Chapter 1:
AWA Introduction
Chapter 2:
Analysis of Issue
Chapter 3:
Analysis of Argument
w3a: dissection
w3b: finding errors
w3c: template
w3d: timing
Chapter 4:
Improving Your Writing
Chapter 5:
Real Essay Questions
Chapter 6:
Take Practice Questions
Timed Essays:
Take practice essays

10 most common errors


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Chapter 3: Analysis of Argument

What is an Argument?

      A strong argument attempts to persuade the reader to accept a point of view. As such, it consists of a proposition, a declarative statement which is capable of being argued, and a proof, a reason or ground which is supported by evidence. The evidence, in turn, is composed of relevant facts, opinions based on facts and careful reasoning. If you are analyzing an argument, you should look for both of these: a proposition and the evidence supporting the proposition.

      In the same way that an analysis of issue essay must start with a thesis, so also an essay that analyzes an argument must start with a topic sentence which provides for the analysis of a proposition. Every argument should have a proposition, and the identification of this proposition is crucial to the writing of an analysis of an argument. For instance, the following could appear in the analytical writing section of the GRE:

     The two clauses beginning with since provide evidence in support of the proposition. In turn, the proposition itself is framed by the second sentence.

Since the world population will double to 11 billion people by the middle of the 21st century and since food production will not show a corresponding increase, efforts should be made to limit population growth. Governments must institute population control policies to insure an adequate food supply for future generations.

     One aspect of argumentation that needs special attention is the use of terms. In an argument, all of the terms should be clear and well-defined. If the terms are unclear, proof is likely to be impossible, creating a weak argument. One type of weak term is the emotionally loaded term. Terms such as "socialized medicine" evoke emotional responses and, thus, obscure the argument. Thus, anyone who writes an analysis of an argument should examine the terms used and be sure that the writer avoids emotive, subjective terms. To the extent of your ability, make sure that the writer defines terms clearly and objectively.

     In addition, the people who write and grade the analysis of an argument section for the GRE expect the following:

i) They want an essay that analyzes the several aspects of the argument with critical insight.

ii) They want a cogently developed essay that is logical.

iii) They want a coherent essay with well-chosen transitional devices.

iv) They also expect an essay that uses varied sentence structure and vocabulary.

v) They expect an essay that is free of mechanical errors in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar and errors in the use of standard written English.

     As in the case of the analysis of the issue, the topic sentence must contain the germ of the idea that permeates the entire paragraph. Each example or illustration must be connected to that idea with transitional markers such as for example, furthermore, therefore, thus or moreover.

>>continue to Analysis of Issue: Dissect Arguments (page 2 of 5 of chapter 3)