Argument – school survey

I wrote this 3 weeks before GMAT.

A recent nationwide study of high school reveals that percentage of students who graduate on time is higher for private schools than for public schools. For this reason, Bedford Falls parents who want their children to graduate from high school on time should send their children to private schools.

The author’s argument that students of private schools usually pass on time compared with students of public schools rests on several assumptions and lacks sustainable information. The author merely states the survey results but doesn’t explain the reasons or justify the inference he makes. In the discussion, I shall present assumptions and missing information which weakens the argument along with the remedies which can strengthen it.

First, the author does not state whether the nationwide survey include all public schools. It also does not state whether there were enough number of public schools present in survey compared with private schools. What if the survey includes 99 private schools and only 1 public school? In this case, any summarized results can not be useful in making any judgment.  

Second, the argument rests on the assumption that it’s the private school environment which makes the difference in higher percentage of students passing on time. However, what if there are several other factors which contribute to students’ success in exams. Typically, those students who attend private schools come of economically better background. They may not be working while they are studying. In contrast, it’s observed the students of public schools work along with their studies. Hence they may not be able to give complete attention to studies. So, in this case one’s financial situation also affects outcome of study. 

Finally, the argument does not specify anything regarding admission criterion of private schools. What if they have a very complex system to select students for future classes? This way they are denying education to those who may not be able to pass such test. Consequently, this type of selection procedure ensures that private schools have only relatively brilliant students. On the other hand public schools generally allow even the poorest of poor to study. So the public schools generally represent all classes of society. Hence, it’s likely that they might have less percentage of students passing on time. 

The argument can be strengthened if the highlighted missing information is provided. It can also be strengthened if two equally brilliant students with similar background are chosen. One is admitted to a private school and other one is admitted to public school. If the student of private school passes on time and student of public school don’t then the argument holds true. If such experiment is conducted over a period of time and similar results are found then the argument can be stronger. 

In summary, the author’s argument lacks sustainable grounds and depends upon weak assumptions as described the paragraphs above. Therefore, I do not accord with the argument unless it’s strengthened by other contributing factors and suggested survey results, as mentioned in fifth paragraph. 


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