Consider the following example:

Stimulus:  Toads cause warts. I touched a toad last week and now I have a wart. Therefore the toad was responsible.
Question Stem:  How would you rate the accuracy of the above statement? Support your position with reasons and examples.

1. The Stimulus

In the first part of the Analysis of Argument question, the writer tries to persuade you of their conclusion by referring to evidence. When you read the arguments in these questions, be on the lookout for assumptions and poor critical reasoning used to draw a conclusion.

2. The Question Stem

Question stems will ask you to decide how convincing you find the argument. You will be asked to explain why an argument is not convincing, and discuss what might improve the argument. For this task, you’ll need to: (1) analyze the argument itself and evaluate its use of evidence, and (2) explain how a different approach or more information would make the argument better (or possibly worse).

They say: Explain what, if anything, would make the argument more valid and convincing or help you to better evaluate its conclusion.

Translation: Spot weak links in the argument and propose changes that would strengthen them.

3. Attack the Argument

Each argument’s stimulus has been intentionally “loaded” with flaws or fallacies that you should acknowledge and discuss. If you fail to see the more fundamental problems in the argument, you will not get a high score.

The purpose of the essay is for you to critique the reasoning in the argument. Your personal opinions are not relevant. Instead your essay needs to focus on flaws in the argument, and how the argument could be strengthened.

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