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Chapters from M.S.S thesis as writing sample

Don't Panic

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I am international applicant preparing to apply to the PhD program in Anthropology for the Fall 2014 semester.  One of the universities requires I send them a writing sample. I have to submit it as an e-mail attachment. They do not have any word or page limits.


I intend to submit chapters from my M.S.S thesis. But I only have the paper copy of my M.S.S thesis.


First, do I re-type the chapters or is scanning them okay?


Second, can I submit my entire M.S.S thesis since there is no word or page limits? In that case isn’t scanning it the only option?


Also, I am having second thoughts. Would it be better if I submit a paper? In that case I may have to write it from scratch because nothing I have written during my university life feels up to the mark to me.


As you may gather from this I am generally feeling unsure about my writing abilities. I did great on my TOEFL and my GRE writing score was above average but my confidence level is low to say the least. I feel like nothing I submit will be good enough.


Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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If you're not feeling confident about your writing, I doubt that writing a whole new paper under the time pressure will help much. It's probably a better use of your time to get someone (a friend who is a native speaker, a professor or someone who provides editing services perhaps) to look at what you already have. Realistically speaking, even if you had the time, is there really another topic that you've done Masters-level research on that you are now able to write up? I can only guess that your thesis work is the deepest and most extensive that you've done to date, and it makes the most sense to submit that work from that perspective, too. 


I think that scanning the thesis is not going to look good to some people but I don't know that re-typing it is a good use of your time right now, either. My advice would be to scan it so you have something prepared and then see if you have the time to type it up. Maybe that, too, can be outsourced to a friend or family member? As for what to submit -- assume that even though there is no official page limit, at least some admissions committee members won't read the whole document. They have many writing samples to read! So, if they only read, say, 20 pages, would the first 20 pages of your thesis be the best example of your work? If not, I think it's still fine for you to submit the whole thesis but I would send it with an instruction to concentrate on pages XX-YY (or chapter X) with a short description that situates it in the larger context of your thesis. That will also help anyone who is interested in reading more find the parts that they are interested in. Maybe if it's a smaller section you could type up just that part of the work. If not, just make sure that the scan is clear and not crooked, and maybe explain the issue in a short note at the beginning, because I bet it will be kind of unusual. 

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