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Writing Sample- kinda freaking out.


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Hey everyone!


So, my writing sample for my application to one of my top choices was a few pages too long, and one of my letter writers told me it should be fine. But then, I read on Splintered Mind Blog that it's good to apologize for too-long samples in an abstract. I'm not freaking out that the note I included at the beginning of my sample makes me sound douche-y, and I'm terrified they will be thrown off by it.


Does anyone have thoughts on this? I'm not sure if this makes a difference, but the paper I'm using got an R&R with a really good journal, so I was super hesitant to cut it down. It really is my best work as the longer version.


Here's the "note": 



Note: I have eliminated a section of this paper on “sharing resentment,” in which I attempt to

show that individuals can share the emotional experience of resentment, for the purpose of

length. I apologize that my writing sample is still slightly over 20 pages, but I think that

shortening the paper further would take away from the quality of the sample. If the faculty would

like to focus on just a few sections, pages 5-10 demonstrate my theoretical contribution to

resentment, and pages 11-21 apply this contribution and illustrate its practical significance.

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I think you're fine. Mine clocked in at exactly 20 pages Times New Roman and 6300 words (including bibliography). That word-count exceeds some posted criteria for a desired average for length at some depts. However, it's not a fixed average I take it, so I think in the end you're okay. And I have a couple acceptances under my belt at the moment, so I know at least it's gone over well for those schools!

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You shouldn't have a problem. But I wouldn't have included a note. My sample was also a little too long so instead I narrowed the scope. In the introduction I explained the nature of the paper, thus embedding the research on broader topic.


In my case, I tend to be indifferent to the readers so maybe that's why I didn't think of a clarification like yours. Don't worry!!!

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My writing sample was about 20 pages, which fit the requirements of most departments. A few required 15 pages or less, however...I just sent the 20 page paper anyway, and I didn't note that anywhere on the application. I was waitlisted at one of the 15-page departments, and I haven't been accepted anywhere else. It's not like they're going to throw your app out without looking at it if you're off by a few pages. Perhaps they will be less inclined to read the whole sample, though.

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If a writing sample is longer/shorter than the required length, I would (and did) email the graduate director well before the deadline. (I am saying this for future applicants). It's not usually a problem either way, however, but one graduate director did tell me to add a note to the top of the piece stating that I had been advised to to submit the (in this case) shorter piece.

Again, perhaps it's not a problem. But not following basic application instructions could plant a negative seed or simply make a poor impression. Assuming that one can submit whatever they'd like, when there are clear instructions, is never a good idea, IMO. However, i think it'd be less of an issue to have a slightly longer writing sample than a SOP that's too long.

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I had a long paper as well (25 pages- 9k words), but merely directed readers to the most substantial sections of my argumentation.  Some departments requested as little as an 8 page paper, and I just added a note about which sections to read if the committee wished to shorten it.  For the life of me, I can't imagine 8 double spaced pages being enough to give a solid impression of one's philosophical chops.


So far it has been fine, and one of the schools has actually made an offer, so I wouldn't worry about it.  My Masters advisor advised me on this course, so I wouldn't think you should be in much trouble!

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