How To Choose A Grad School Writing Sample

grad school writing sample


 

How To Choose A Writing Sample?

There is skill in selecting a grad school writing sample, one that has to weigh multiple variables: subject, authorship, status of venue, length, peer review (if applicable), and suitability to the program. There is no single rule that will govern this decision. It has to be decided, for most candidates, on a case by case basis.
But in general, there are a few principles that can help to govern your decision, and they’re listed here.
[WARNING: These principles apply primarily to choosing a grad school writing sample humanities and humanistic social sciences, where co-authorship is not the norm.]

 

 

Sole-author above all

It is critical to submit something sole-authored rather than co-authored, if at all possible. For the purposes of a graduate application, the admissions committee needs to know it’s your work.

 

Published, if possible

It is good to submit something published (or in press / forthcoming) because … well, it’s just more impressive. You look more like a peer when you submit something published, and it goes a long way to convincing the committee that you’re more than capable of handling graduate level work–afterall, you already published something!

 

Higher status beats lower status

If you have several articles, the one in the most-respected journal/venue is going to work hardest for you. If you were able to get something published on The Atlantic, for example, that would be better than something that just appeared in a school newspaper. An article you wrote for a McKinsey competition would beat out a class assignment, etc.

 

Subject must match program

If you have several options, choose the one that is suited to the job at hand, even if that means going downward slightly in status of venue. You need to prove your expertise in the field and area of the program to which you’re applying.

 

Length matters, but not that much

If the program specifies a “2-page writing sample,” don’t sweat it if yours is 1.5 pages or a few lines over 2 pages. Don’t waste your precious time trimming a thesis chapter to length. Above all, don’t rewrite a piece just to meet some arbitrary page length dictated by application. That said, don’t flout the rules entirely, if you completely disregard the guidelines this will irritate the admissions committee.

 

It’s fine to submit a senior thesis chapter

While a published article or piece of writing that received an award is great, the thesis chapter remains the norm, and yours will get a serious reading.

 

 

With these guidelines you should have a good idea of how to choose a grad school writing sample for your applications. If you have specific questions, please comment below!

 

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How To Choose A Grad School Writing Sample

grad school writing sample April 18th, 2016


 

How To Choose A Writing Sample?

There is skill in selecting a grad school writing sample, one that has to weigh multiple variables: subject, authorship, status of venue, length, peer review (if applicable), and suitability to the program. There is no single rule that will govern this decision. It has to be decided, for most candidates, on a case by case basis.
But in general, there are a few principles that can help to govern your decision, and they’re listed here.
[WARNING: These principles apply primarily to choosing a grad school writing sample humanities and humanistic social sciences, where co-authorship is not the norm.]

 

 

Sole-author above all

It is critical to submit something sole-authored rather than co-authored, if at all possible. For the purposes of a graduate application, the admissions committee needs to know it’s your work.

 

Published, if possible

It is good to submit something published (or in press / forthcoming) because … well, it’s just more impressive. You look more like a peer when you submit something published, and it goes a long way to convincing the committee that you’re more than capable of handling graduate level work–afterall, you already published something!

 

Higher status beats lower status

If you have several articles, the one in the most-respected journal/venue is going to work hardest for you. If you were able to get something published on The Atlantic, for example, that would be better than something that just appeared in a school newspaper. An article you wrote for a McKinsey competition would beat out a class assignment, etc.

 

Subject must match program

If you have several options, choose the one that is suited to the job at hand, even if that means going downward slightly in status of venue. You need to prove your expertise in the field and area of the program to which you’re applying.

 

Length matters, but not that much

If the program specifies a “2-page writing sample,” don’t sweat it if yours is 1.5 pages or a few lines over 2 pages. Don’t waste your precious time trimming a thesis chapter to length. Above all, don’t rewrite a piece just to meet some arbitrary page length dictated by application. That said, don’t flout the rules entirely, if you completely disregard the guidelines this will irritate the admissions committee.

 

It’s fine to submit a senior thesis chapter

While a published article or piece of writing that received an award is great, the thesis chapter remains the norm, and yours will get a serious reading.

 

 

With these guidelines you should have a good idea of how to choose a grad school writing sample for your applications. If you have specific questions, please comment below!

 

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@
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