3rd Attempt - Experts Please rate my Essay. Thanks!!

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The following appeared in a strategy memorandum of an investment company:

"Over the past several years, investment in precious metals, such as gold and silver, has proven to be one of the most profitable investment strategies for our firm. Over the next decade, the demand for these metals is expected to be strong, largely driven by the economic growth of large emerging markets--China, India, and Russia. Thus, our investors are best served by increasing their exposure to precious metals to take advantage of this unique profit-making opportunity."

RESPONSE:
Argument says over the past several years, investment in precious metals, such as gold and silver, has proven to be one of the most profitable investment strategies for our firm. In addition it is stated demand for these metals is expected to be strong, largely driven by growth of large emerging markets - China, India, and Russia. Thus, firm concludes their investors are best served by increasing their exposure to precious metals to take advantage of this unique profit-making opportunity. At first glance argument seems convincing however going in details it is full of flaws.

Firstly, when author states investment in precious metals, such as gold and silver, has proven to be one of the most profitable investment strategies for the firm - there is no evidence stated for same. May be it is firms belief but in reality this is not the case. Or, may be firm concluded this based on survey that included investors who have invested in gold and silver and gained profit. But, this doesn't reflect the majority of investors.

Secondly, author is assuming demand for gold and silver is expected to be strong and is largely going to be driven by economic growth of emerging markets. It might happen that markets such as China, India, and Russia do not have economic growth that author is relying upon and in turn effects gold and silver prices in negative sense.

Thirdly, author states investors are best served by increasing their exposure to precious metals to take advantage of this unique profit making opportunity. Again, without data this conclusion is falling flat. Author do not have data to support the claim and also he didn't provide any time frame. May be, even if authors assumptions are true gains in precious metals are short term rather than long term. For example, lets say investments in gold and silver are giving returns of 5% every year but investing in blue chip stocks gives 100% return in 5 years. Thus, its clear over the span of 5 years investors are not best served.

To conclude, argument is based on unsubstantiated premise and weak assumptions due to which it does not hold any water. Author could have compared past investments and corresponding returns in precious metals with other investments by stating facts and figure to make the argument more stronger. Overall arguments seems to be unconvincing and left open for debate.

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by DominateTheGMAT » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:09 am
Hi Sood16,

The organization of your essay is excellent, the number of key points you make is perfect, and your writing style is great for an essay like this.

The major flaw I seen in your essay is in the analysis of the argument itself -- which of course is the main thing you want to do well. In general, the criticisms of the argument that you make in each of your three main points are with the premises the author uses, not with the logic of the argument itself. For example, in your first major paragraph you say that "there is no evidence stated" for the claim that the firm's investments in heavy metals have been a profitable investment strategy for the firm. Instead, you should be talking about how that claim may not logically leads to the conclusion.

As a general rule, you want to take stated premises as fact. Instead, what you want to do is call into question how that stated premise leads to the author's drawn conclusion. In other words, you want to attack the underlying assumption the author is making to tie the premise(s) to the conclusion. Remember this: To weaken an argument, attack the assumption (not the premise); to strengthen an argument, support the assumption (not the premise).

(BTW, this is the same thing you're looking to do in GMAT Critical Reasoning question).

For example, in your third paragraph, don't just say that "without data this conclusion is falling flat." Instead, question how the premise that there will be strong demand for metals in the coming years logically leads to the conclusion that it's the BEST option for their investors. Are there no other investments that might be better? Would a balanced portfolio not better serve their investors? You might also call into question the causal relationship between strong demand and good financial investing -- i.e. just because we see strong demand for heavy metals, how does that CAUSE it to be a good investment for their investors? That's obviously an assumption the author is making, so challenge it a little bit.

The most important thing you can do to improve your GMAT essays, I think, will be to learn some of the most common argument patters (faulty causal relationship, faulty analogy, faulty generalization) and challenge those underlying ASSUMPTIONS the author makes in his argument rather than questioning the premise(s) itself.

Hope this helps!

Brett
Brett Ethridge
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