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Editing the sample?


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How much editing did you do? And who did you go to for help? Or did you just do it yourself?

I have two samples, and I plan to submit them both whenever I can. One is a conference paper. I worked side by side with my mentor on it and she critiqued it like mad, and then I reworked it and submitted it. I got word back from the session organizer (pretty quickly) and the organizer called it excellent. Should I edit more? Or can I do a read through to check for obvious errors and then send it on its way?

My second is a piece I wrote and my mentor edited. She and I are listed as authors, but I am lead author. It has been published on many newsfeeds and even been used in undergraduate classes. I think that is probably good to go, right?

Thank you!!

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I edited mine so many times that I could literally recite it. The final draft was proofread by a professional proofreader. I was lucky because the charge was very reasonable.

Do you really need to submit two samples? I worry that the adcomm will end up reading only one. If I had to choose I'd go for the second one. Why would you doubt it? It's been published and used in undergrad classes!

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If I were you I would submit the first one, and mention the second as a publication in your CV. That way they can read the second one as well, even if it's not formally submitted as a writing sample. If the first one is excellent, then by doing this you will be allowing the admissions folks to read two great writing samples, without necessarily submitting two. I thought about using my one published work as a writing sample, but then I worried that doing so would create the impression that I have only written one decent piece of work over the past 4 years.

I am submitting four different writing samples to different departments. This has required (and is requiring) lots and lots of editing! All my essays are far too long, so I have had to completely restructure a couple of them to allow for editing them down by several pages (I took one from 50 to 25 pages). If your sample has been looked over by an advisor and you have received positive feedback about it, then as long as it is the appropriate length you probably won't need to edit it too much, if at all. For mine, I have tried to go back and make the introductions simpler. When I initially wrote the essays, they were for specific professors who I knew would understand the basic issues at hand, so I did not explain everything as clearly as I would if I had been writing for a wider, less specific audience. So I changed this in my writing samples. I also wrote abstracts for each writing sample to facilitate reading/skimming the work with a fuller understanding of my main arguments.

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That might be the way to go.

Wow, four samples that are far too long? Prolific. Are you already in a Masters program?

The longest paper I have written for undergrad is less than 10 pages. I have always been amazed at how many people are cranking out much longer works.

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It's just because the coursework/assessment system is different here. I'm an undergraduate, but we only have 1-3 pieces of coursework per semester in each course. Some departments only require one essay (3500 words) per semester, whereas mine requires two 3000 words per semester plus an assessed presentation. Whine insertion: yes, that means that I get the same number of credits as people in other departments for doing 3x as much work!!

Anyways, the coursework only accounts for 40% of my grade, with the exam counting for 60%. So coursework isn't as important over here - we have less of it, i.e. fewer but longer essays. As such I have never written anything under 2000 words, and in my final two years (i.e. when I've written all my better work) I don't have anything under 3500 words. Makes MA applications asking for under 10 pages a real pain! But in the end, I'm okay with word/page limits, because it means that I can submit my dissertation as a writing sample without actually finishing it first.

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