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    Quite a few people have been asking me for help on AWA. So here goes – An actual GMAT AWA Sample Reply – (written by me under timed conditions in 25 minutes sometime in Dec ’14 – Yes, I used to strain myself to deliver the entire 600 word ordeal in that much time)

    “In order to avoid the serious health threats associated with many
    landfills, our municipality should build a plant for burning trash. An
    incinerator could offer economic as well as ecological advantages over the
    typical old fashioned type of landfill: incinerators can be adapted to generate
    moderate amounts of electricity, and ash residue from some types of trash can
    be used to condition garden soil.”

    Discuss how well reasoned… etc.

    The
    argument that the municipality should build an incinerator for burning trash to
    avoid the serious health threats associated with traditional landfills is not
    entirely logical and convincing since it overlooks several key concerns that
    must be addressed in order to substantiate the argument. Moreover, the
    statements that follow the main conclusion offer discrete pieces of evidence to
    make a weak attempt to prove the main conclusion. These certainly do not lend
    support to the main argument and definitely do not prove its main conclusion.

    More
    importantly, we do not get to see the line of reasoning employed by the author
    to support the main conclusion. We just see a few examples of benefits that
    offer a little support but fail to address the argument’s main flaws. The
    argument is vulnerable to several important concerns as mentioned below:

    First, the
    argument claims that the incinerator is beneficial since it provides certain
    economic and ecological advantages over the earlier method of using landfills.
    It provides examples to show how electricity can be generated and ash being
    produced can be re-used to condition garden soil. However, the argument fails
    to address the main concern of the people – the health threats. If the new
    incinerator causes more pollution or does not reduce the types of threats
    already posed by landfills, it will certainly prove not to be beneficial for
    the society at large. For example, using an incinerator may cause more air
    pollution as compared to dumping the waste in landfills and this is an
    important aspect that is not addressed in the argument.

    Second,
    the benefits obtained from using the incinerator are again subject to concern.
    The by products from the incinerator, such as ash, if used to condition and
    fertilize garden soil can lead to other important disease causing problems if
    it subsequently mixes with the ground water supply and contaminates the same.
    There is a need to also identify the types of trash that will be burnt in the
    incinerator, since medical waste from hospitals and mortuaries would need to be
    disposed of with a high degree of caution. 
     

    Third, the
    argument does not also consider the kind of health concerns that the people are
    worried about and also does not mention any other benefits of using the
    incinerator. It seems that there is a trade-off between the two sides and
    certainly, more information is necessary to determine whether the incinerator
    would prove to be beneficial or would it prove to be an added concern for the
    society. By just mentioning two potential benefits, the conclusion that the
    incinerator is more beneficial is definitely not strengthened as there could be
    other disadvantages of its use that could overtake any positive aspects of its
    use.

    Last, the
    argument also fails to consider any other possible options of the disposal of
    waste apart from incinerators and landfills. Also, there are several types of
    incinerators – based on whether they are open or closed to the atmosphere, the
    amount and types of waste they process, the efficiency of processing etc. Since
    the argument does not mention the specific type of incinerator being used, we
    cannot conclusively determine whether the usage of a particular type will be
    beneficial or not. Some types of incinerators may satisfy and help in the
    mitigation of health risks, while the others may not.

    Since the
    argument leaves out several key issues, it is not sound and persuasive. It
    would have been more thorough it if discussed the items discussed above,
    instead of simply providing discrete pieces of evidence to make a weak attempt
    to prove the main conclusion. In order to decide whether the incinerator would
    be a good idea or not in a logical manner, we would require information about
    the demographics of the society, the kind of health concerns that people have
    and the benefits and disadvantages of using the incinerator. Only then can the
    argument be strengthened and all the flaws addressed to derive a sound
    conclusion. (662 words)

    Let’s discuss the flaws/positives in the above response and the sample essay template used here : smiley:

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