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Princeton Review gave me a 3.5 on my AWA - suggestions to im

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yoshidos Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
06 Feb 2017
3 messages

Princeton Review gave me a 3.5 on my AWA - suggestions to im

Post Wed May 24, 2017 2:05 am
Elapsed Time: 00:00
    Hi -

    Did a practice PR test and received the following feedback and grade (3.5) from PR on my AWA (which is copied below). I didn't find their critique terribly helpful, so would greatly appreciate it if others could chime in on how I can improve. Thank you!

    PR RESPONSE: 3.5. Your response showcases a clear introduction and a conclusion. You have taken the position that the argument is not well reasoned and tried to critique the flawed assumptions. You have also given valid suggestions to strengthen the argument. However, recognize and critique all the flawed assumptions based on the arguments conclusion clearly. Always brainstorm first before penning down your essay. Best of luck!


    "The term 'couch potato' may seem harmless, but television watching has been shown to shift mental activity from higher brain regions to lower ones. That is because TV is a one-way medium, reducing one's tendency to engage and interact. Using a computer, on the other hand, is a two-way activity that encourages interaction. Since many television watchers report feeling sluggish and even sleepy after several hours' viewing, it is clear that switching off the TV and switching on the computer will result in increased energy, brain activity, and mental sharpness."


    The author of the argument above claims that because television (TV) watching forces people to shift mental activity from their higher brain regions to lower ones, shifting TV time to computers would be a healthy change for all people to make. The argument says that because using a computer is "two-way activity" (compared to TV, which is a "one-way medium"), computers encourage people to interact and engage, and thus, enhance one's "energy, brain activity, and mental sharpness." However, there are several problems with the reasoning laid out in this argument. First, it makes no comment on the potential risks of high computer usage; second, it doesn't address how computers could be used as substitutes for activities normally reserved for televisions; and third, it provides no concrete evidence or data to support the claims. Given these flaws, the argument remains unconvincing.

    First, although the author provides some explanations for why TVs can have a negative impact on one's health, it completely ignores any negative side effects of computer usage. For example, there have been numerous studies linking the use of laptops and computers to wrist injuries; back problems, as well as eye problems (given the proximity of the device to one's body/face). It also ignores potential psychological effects as computers can be mobile as opposed to televisions which are usually large and immobile. It could be argued that this mobility creates opportunities for people to become more dependent on their computers, using them not only at home in their living room (where their TV is), but also at school or work, in bed, or in other facets of their life. These potential physical and psychological side effects directly contradict the author's claims of "increased energy, brain activity, and mental sharpness."

    Second, the author makes a large leap of faith that computers always encourage "two-way activity." People still use televisions to watch their favorite TV shows and movies at home; however, use of computers to replace the TV's functionality in this regard has increased dramatically as streaming sites such as Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have grown in popularity. People using these types of sites to watch their favorite content (as opposed to watching the content on TV) are still engaging in a "one-way medium," which, the author would argue, causes sluggishness and sleepiness. Completely overlooking this trend undermines the author's credibility and claims.

    Finally, the author's arguments are further weakened by the fact that no hard evidence or data is provided to back up the author's various claims. Have there been studies that track people who switch from TV usage to computer usage, and their associated energy levels or brain activity? Is there hard data to back up the claim that computers encourage interaction and engagement? Other basic data - such as the average number of hours a typical person spends on their computers vs. watching television - would have provided additional context to the overall argument. By solely relying on qualitative claims, the author misses out on an opportunity to present the argument in a more convincing fashion.

    In conclusion, the author's argument regarding television and computer usage is flawed for the reasons mentioned above. The argument could have been strengthened if it: 1) acknowledged potential health risks of high computer usage; 2) demonstrated how people are not simply replacing televisions with computers for the same activities; 3) provided more specific data or referenced studies that support its claims. Without this, the debate around if transitioning from a television screen to a computer screen can help shift mental activity will continue.

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