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Intro to Argument Task

In this video, we are going to meet the argument task. On a very high level, what is the argument task? Then exactly, what must we do once we see the argument task? So let’s first start off here and talk about what we need to do. We need to challenge an argument, and this is important because in the issue statement, you’re actually the one providing the argument.

In this case, though, someone, and that someone being GRE or ETS, is going to provide you with an argument, and you have to discuss ways that this argument can be improved. Now, let’s take an actual look here at an argument, and we’re gonna see this statement.

I’m going to read where it says “The government”. “The government in Littleville plans to build a large mall in a newly constructed zone just outside the city. Littleville hopes to attract many wealthy clients who it believes will shop at the Littleville Mall’s many planned boutique stores.

Ten years ago Bigsburgh, a city in the same province, built an upscale mall in it’s fashionable downtown district. The mall was an instant success, so Littleville Mall can expect a similar return of revenue in the first year of its opening”. So you can see here that, “Oh, OK. We have this argument statement”. It’s much longer than the issue, and it’s making certain assumptions.

And you have to go through this and pick it apart and say, “Well, why is this argument not valid?” And that’s the key here when I say challenge the argument, and then when you improve the argument, it means what could this argument find out, or what could it try to prove to improve it? To strengthen the argument?

You must, however, never start defending the argument at this point and saying, “Yeah I think Littleville’s plans are really going to work out, and boutique stores are going to attract all these clients”. Do not agree.

It’s all about the argument not being valid and challenging it. That’s important. Probably the most important part of the argument task. Now, we’ve seen this example argument. Let’s actually talk about the direction. What it’s going to be asking. It’s going to ask you to identify the assumptions again.

What are some assumptions that are going on here when we’re talking about Littlesville and Bigburgh? Are there some that are stated or some unstated? Again, your job is to say, “How are these assumptions weakening the argument, and what can you do to strengthen the argument?” So you can always say something along the lines of “The argument will be strengthened if”… But again, always pick apart the assumptions.

Now the specific directions, as we can see here, are a little bit more involved than up here. This is my watering down, or simplifying, of these directions. But here you can see, write a response in which you examine the stated or unstated assumptions.

This part here, be sure to explain how their argument depends on the assumptions and what implications their argument, blah, blah, blah. Basically, what I said over here is a good way to simplify things.

You can see that there’s little twists on that. Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument. Explain how the evidence would weaken. Again, weaken or strengthen. And so you’re more or less doing the same thing, but when you read down here, just make sure that if there are any twists in the wording. That you do pay attention to them, but again, you’re mostly doing this.

As far as directions go, there’s about five of them total here, too. And it’s good to go on the GRE.org site, and go to their sample pool of argument topics. There, you will see all the different directions and will get a feel for the argument task.

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