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Questions about writing sample


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For the first time ever I heard about something called writing sample through this forum, I always check a university's website for the requirement for PhD admission and never noticed any mention of it, is it a requirement or supplemental material and what should you write about in writing sample and finally what is the difference between it and SOP?

Many thanks in advance.

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The writing sample is -- as the name says -- a sample of your writing. It's a lengthy(ish) paper that should demonstrate both your ability to do research, think critically and construct an argument, and write about it in a coherent and compelling manner. For most people, the writing sample is a paper they wrote for a class, a senior's thesis or a chapter of a Masters thesis. Some people will write a new paper from scratch, if they don't have anything good or long enough, but it's important to get comments from a professor and not just submit something that hasn't gone through some serious editing. I've seen page counts that go anywhere from 10 to 50, but I think 20-25 pages is a good average length. 


The SOP is a short 1-2 page document that states the reasons you are applying to the school, your past preparation, your future goals and why you chose that particular school. There are several good advice threads in the forum about how to construct the SOP. 


I'm not in your field and I don't know what the norm is, but if your applications don't require a writing sample, then you don't need to worry about creating one. Just make sure it's really not required. 

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