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Program wants a "Summary Sheet" for my writing sample, help?

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Posted

Okay, I'm having an "app requirement that broke the camel's back" moment, but I thought that I'd put this out there to see if anyone has input...

I'm finishing online submissions for a program this weekend (all online documents are to be uploaded by 11:59 p.m. Monday, January 23rd). This was supposed to just consist of double checking ALL format requests, reading everything over again a few more times, and then submitting. However, I just read some fine print that stipulates that the writing sample is to be "12-25 pages, including summary". That's the first time that I've laid eyes on the "including summary" qualifier.

What would you include in a summary?

The sample is comprised of a few sections of my MA thesis. The thesis was 100+ pages, so I was sure to include the intro, as well as a content note on the cover page, table of contents and bibliography to contextualize the piece. I'm at a 25-page limit right now, so I guess I'll start with weaning out a page from somewhere... I was considering, for the summary page, my thesis abstract and then a little paragraph describing the chapters that I've included and their role in the project. The "Introduction" chapter contains an in-depth description of how the thesis unfolds and what each chapter accomplishes, so I could also make reference to this on the summary sheet (for example: "for further elaboration on the contents and role of each chapter, see "Introduction", pages 9-12 of this writing sample") Or is that too much?

I'm kind of low on steam, your insight would be very much appreciated!

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Posted

Is it possible that you are overthinking this? Does the application actually ask for a summary of the contents of the writing sample or does just state that anything that is part of the writing sample be within the 25 page limit? FWIW it sounds like the content note you have on the cover sheet as well as the introduction would suffice as a "summary", so just keep everything within the limit and I think you're good to go!

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Posted

Is it possible that you are overthinking this? Does the application actually ask for a summary of the contents of the writing sample or does just state that anything that is part of the writing sample be within the 25 page limit? FWIW it sounds like the content note you have on the cover sheet as well as the introduction would suffice as a "summary", so just keep everything within the limit and I think you're good to go!

Thanks for the feedback fuzzylogician!

To the question of whether or not I'm overthinking this... Yes, I would concede that that is certainly a possibility!

The program's application webpage specifies that the contents of the application include transcripts/GRE/SoP and "Writing Sample: A paper (12-25 pages, including summary) which the student feels represents his or her best work must be uploaded."

Not a lot of detail... I spoke with a friend of mine applying for the same program, and she said that she just wrote a page on the content of the sample; she admitted that she liked my idea better to use my abstract as a thesis summary and then just a sentence or two on the role of the chapters that i picked to represent the wider work. So I think I'll go with a harmonized, cover all bases approach: keep the title page intact (as you recommend), and use the "summary" page for summation of both the big project and the chapters that appear in the sample; and I'll edit out a page from the biblio (i'll just rip some sources that don't make any sense as a stand alone; i.e. ones that don't add anything to someone's understanding of the project without the context of the chapter in which they appear).

And I'll try to freakin' relax!

Thanks!

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Posted

I see that your deadline of Jan. 23rd has now passed, but you might find this to be useful:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/726/07/

Sometimes "abstract" and "summary" are used interchangeably, but they're actually a little different depending on the nature of your work. Hopefully whatever you decided to submit will do the trick!

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