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Writing Sample - Submitting a Paper Not Written for a Course?


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I'm starting to get ready to apply for PhD programs in art history, maaaybe this next application cycle, probably the one after it. I'm a little worried about how long it will take me to apply, as I need to write a writing sample.

I've been out of school for six years, and frankly none of the writing I did in my MFA program is good enough to submit. I think I might have thought it was okay six years ago, but it really doesn't reflect my current abilities. I'm not too worried about producing a strong sample, as I feel really confident in my writing skills. BUT one of the schools I'm applying to specifically asks for a paper written as part of a student's MA degree.

How strict do you all think this requirement is? I'm afraid that submitting something written as part of my last degree will actually hinder my chances, but I also know how important it is to follow guidelines.

 

Edited by adjunctlifer
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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm definitely not an expert in this (I'm just in the stage of prepping to apply to grad programs too!), but I would suggest trying to revise a paper you wrote for your MFA so that it better reflects your current abilities. I think it's fairly common to make revisions to papers written for class before submitting them for other applications, so this might be a way for you to follow the guidelines while still reflecting how your writing skills have developed since your MFA.

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Thanks for replying, @sorenerasmus. It's actually really great to hear that answer, because it makes me realize that I probably wasn't asking a question as much as looking for reassurance. Because of the nature of an MFA program, I didn't really produce any papers of any significance, and I'd have to revise what I did write SOOO much that I might as well write another paper.

So ... now I just need to find the time to write a new paper! Ugh.

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  • 2 months later...

I'm definitely not an expert, either, but I think they probably say that they want a paper from a "masters" because they want to avoid unpolished undergraduate papers. I actually found it really helpful to follow an online guide I found to drafting a new essay almost from scratch. (It was an old paper, but I revised it a lot.) 

The guide is here: https://www.amazon.com/Arthur-William-Wright/e/B08CL4ZTN1/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

Basically, it walks you through the steps to drafting a graduate school writing sample in the humanities: laying out your literature review, methodology, and theoretical framework; analyzing your archive of sources; and explaining the consequences for future researchers.

I do think, though, that drafting a new essay or really heavily revising an essay is the way to go. At least for me, the work I actually did for courses was too specific to those courses. It did not fit my application portfolios.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 8/22/2020 at 1:15 AM, Ranbir said:

I'm definitely not an expert, either, but I think they probably say that they want a paper from a "masters" because they want to avoid unpolished undergraduate papers. I actually found it really helpful to follow an online guide I found to drafting a new essay almost from scratch. (It was an old paper, but I revised it a lot.) 

The guide is here: https://www.amazon.com/Arthur-William-Wright/e/B08CL4ZTN1/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

Basically, it walks you through the steps to drafting a graduate school writing sample in the humanities: laying out your literature review, methodology, and theoretical framework; analyzing your archive of sources; and explaining the consequences for future researchers.

I do think, though, that drafting a new essay or really heavily revising an essay is the way to go. At least for me, the work I actually did for courses was too specific to those courses. It did not fit my application portfolios.

Thanks for sharing that useful link!

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