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I’m applying for an MA in English for spring entrance, and I have a question. The app says academic writing samples should be between 10 and 20 pages long. All my academic samples (lit analysis, not creative writing) are 8 pages at most. Should I submit two? Try and extend one? Or submit one as is and hope for the best?

 

Any advice would be lovely! 

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Don’t submit as is. It’s possible they won’t notice or care, but why run the risk of being rejected for something so small? Following instructions is a part of graduate work, so I’d avoid raising red flags wherever possible.

Whether one or two will depend on if two are even allowed. Nevertheless, even if they are, I would recommend expanding one. Most graduate courses have you submit a final paper of 15-20 pages. Showing an ability to do that is helpful, as weaving convincing arguments together is an important skill (though synthesizing is also an important skill).

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I would not send in any application materials that don’t meet requirements! Personally, I took an 8 page paper over the summer and expanded it to 15 by incorporating new sources and delving more deeply into a couple of pieces of the original that were especially interesting to me but not fully developed. The professor whom the original was for thankfully offered to look over the new version prior to me sending it out with my applications, which was really helpful, as sometimes it was fairly challenging to see where the new pieces fit into the old, etc. Good luck!

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I submitted a 15 page WS (a section of my undergrad thesis) to the program I am attending in the fall which had a 20-25 page requirement on the website. However, this was after substantial, substantial revision and editing. I truly felt like it was the best I could possibly write at the time. I would suggest that you take a few months rewriting the paper you feel most excites you and best fits your interests. For example, if you want to study Early Modern literature, don't submit a sample on modern Irish lit. If, after many rounds of editing and reworking, you feel that you have your best work, submit it. I would imagine it would be more than 8 pages by then.  

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What should I do when a school says their requirement is "less than 15 pages" or "less than 10 pages".  Do people just send in a paper of any length that's less than that?  One school on my list had a flat number of 15 pages.  What's the wiggle room on WS like these?

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On 8/4/2019 at 11:35 AM, thepeeps said:

What should I do when a school says their requirement is "less than 15 pages" or "less than 10 pages".  Do people just send in a paper of any length that's less than that?  One school on my list had a flat number of 15 pages.  What's the wiggle room on WS like these?

I always assumed there was no wiggle room (excluding works cited pages). If they ask for 15 pages, try to get as close to that without going over as possible. Why give them anything to complain about? For the “less then 10/15” requirements, obviously you wouldn’t want to send in a 5 page paper. While I would recommend getting close to the limit (this is one of your few chances to show the admission committee your academic strengths, so show as much as you can!), if you have a complete, polished 12 page paper, I don’t think those extra three pages would be anything to stress about. 

As a side note, I don’t understand why they don’t just use a word limit! That seems so much clearer and easier to me  

 

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On 8/4/2019 at 12:35 PM, thepeeps said:

What should I do when a school says their requirement is "less than 15 pages" or "less than 10 pages".  Do people just send in a paper of any length that's less than that?  One school on my list had a flat number of 15 pages.  What's the wiggle room on WS like these?

I would say get as close to the requirement as you can. The program that I am attending in the fall had a 20-25 page requirement on their website. I submitted a piece that was 15 pages, the best section from my undergrad thesis. So, some programs may not really care as long as the writing is strong and unique. 

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