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Writing sample length question


MtrlHstryGrl
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Hello!

I am applying to PhD programs in the fall, and I am looking over a potential writing sample. Currently the sample is 23 pages, including 4 pages of endnotes and 4-ish pages of bibliography. For schools with a page limit of 15 pages, would this be acceptable?

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1 hour ago, MtrlHstryGrl said:

Hello!

I am applying to PhD programs in the fall, and I am looking over a potential writing sample. Currently the sample is 23 pages, including 4 pages of endnotes and 4-ish pages of bibliography. For schools with a page limit of 15 pages, would this be acceptable?

I recommend getting the writing sample down to the recommended limit. Do a pass through the original document to find opportunities for shorter sentences. Do another pass looking for examples that you can cut. Set your target word count at 3,750 for principal text, cut the bibliography, keep the end notes. Put the revised version aside for weeks, if not months, and then circle back to it and do more cutting.

The skill you're developing through this process is the ability to summarize complex works into one or two sentences. 

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21 hours ago, Sigaba said:

I recommend getting the writing sample down to the recommended limit. Do a pass through the original document to find opportunities for shorter sentences. Do another pass looking for examples that you can cut. Set your target word count at 3,750 for principal text, cut the bibliography, keep the end notes. Put the revised version aside for weeks, if not months, and then circle back to it and do more cutting.

The skill you're developing through this process is the ability to summarize complex works into one or two sentences. 

Thanks! I cut out the bibliography and some things that were irrelevant to the overall paper, so I am just going to keep workshopping it. 

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3 minutes ago, MtrlHstryGrl said:

Thanks! I cut out the bibliography and some things that were irrelevant to the overall paper, so I am just going to keep workshopping it. 

If you have the time, please consider the benefits of rewriting the sample from scratch. (The challenges may make such an exercise not worth the pain.)

Something to keep in mind is that not all members of the admissions committee will read every word of every writing sample. So, as you rank your priorities and budget your time, the statement of purpose probably should be the focal point of your efforts.

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