GMAT Preparation Sample Essay AWA
Rankings of cities can be helpful in comparing different cities for people who are planning to move. The argument in the article is weak for 5 reasons.
First, it doesn't explain what survey methods are used in determining the top cities. The reader is left to wonder how the author developed the list of cities to include in the survey. Were all cities in the U.S. surveyed? Were cities screened by population or by the average cost of a home? If the author only created a list of cities they were familiar with or if they developed the list based on cities that are paying them to do research and write favorable press releases, the argument's credibility is significantly weakened, unless the author is an expert on cities.
Secondly, the author's background is never mentioned. What authority does the author have to develop the list of cities in the first place? We don't know if the author has written books on the topic or if they are a travel editor at the NY Times or the editor of Fodor's. Being an editor at either of the previous publications or having an advanced degree in some statistical surveying method would lead credibility to the author's conclusions and work.
Third, the argument doesn't describe what the demographics are of the people who were surveyed. Different demographics of people value things differently. If I am not similar to the people surveyed, their opinions won't matter to me or I might not be as comfortable or happy as they are in the cities they think are great. What is the definition of "good" for schools? If I have different standards than they do, what good are their opinions. For me, good is dependent upon how many students go to Ivy League schools and do well there, where other people measure good by the percentage of students that go to college after graduating from high school. Affordable housing depends on one's income. The essay doesn't describe what "affordable" means. For some people, a $75,000 house is affordable, for others, a $7,500,000 house is too small. How many people were surveyed? If not enough people were surveyed from a random population, the results might not be statistically significant or representative of the total population.
Fourth, it would be helpful to have a city name or the list of cities to see how City L compared to other cities which which I am already familiar. In order to be able to agree with the author's methodology, I need to see if the results make sense based on what I already know. Having city profiles or comparisons to the major cities in the world would strengthen the believability and aid understanding.
Fifth, it doesn't tell me how many cities were in the survey. Is City L 14th out of 100 or 14th out of 14? Obviously, being 14th out of 100 is better than being last.
Lists are always a popular part of publications, ranging from largest businesses in a category in Crain's New York, the richest people in America in Forbes, or the best schools in the United States in U.S. News & World Report. One of the things that makes U.S. News & World Report so useful is the detailed explanation of the methodology of how the authors arrived at the rankings, what was considered, school size, alumni giving, interviews with professors, class size, selectivity, etc. The author of this argument fails to mention the survey methods, establish credibility, give an explanation of the demographics of the people surveyed, compare the cities mentioned to familiar cities, or tell how many cities were in the list. An explanation or inclusion of the previously mentioned factors would lend credibility and perhaps increase the acceptance and reliance of people on the author's work.