When asked to assess the logical merit of an argument on the AWA, it can be very helpful to have an index of common logical flaws to look for. This article has been written with GMAT perspective. However its equally relevant for GRE test takers. Here are two more common flaws that you can find and point out to raise your score on the AWA.
Assuming that correlation means causation
The correlation/causation flaw is probably something you’ve heard about before, but it’s important to know how to point out this flaw on the GMAT. The basis of a correlation is that two things go together. The rains come, and the umbrellas come out. The sun goes down, the lights come on. The lightning comes, then the thunder comes. Wait, you may be saying, aren’t those the examples of causation? No, because correlation looks only at the perspective of the observer. From the observer’s perspective, all we can see is that these two things seem to go together. In order to get causation, we need to insert an explanation. Without the explanation that the sun going down causes a lack of light which causes people to turn on lights to compensate is only one possibility. From the observer’s perspective, it could be instead that the turning on of the lights somehow caused the sun to go away, or that some higher power caused the two things to happen at the same time. Remember, for the sake of the GMAT, when two things happens together that merely means they’re correlated. Causation can only be found by the explanation, and you always have to assume you’ve found the right explanation. Point out that assumption and you’re on the path to a better AWA score.
Equating unequal terms
Our brains have a wonderful ability to make connections. Unfortunately, that can serve as a disadvantage on the AWA section of the GMAT. For instance, you might see the prompt discuss an increase in revenue and equate that with being a good thing.However, what we really care about is profit, and if your brain simply equates revenue and profit, you’re missing a great opportunity to point out a logical gap. In the same vein, you might see an increase in the percentage of paying customers. Make sure that you aren’t making the leap to see that as an increase in the number of paying customers. Reading carefully and being picky and precise about these connections is essential.
Keep these additional logical flaws in mind, and you’ll be able to spot them when they appear on your AWA essay prompts!