Jump to content

Humanities Writing Sample - Length Requirements?


bassoonbassoon
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm applying to Philosophy MA programs for the Fall 2017, and most programs write that they "prefer" writing samples at x length, but a handful write that they require samples "no more than 5,000 words." I have a sample that is nearly 7k words that I'd prefer to use for all of my applications - so how seriously should I treat these length requirements? I can't imagine cutting it down 3-4 pages while saying all that is necessary for the thesis, and if I changed the thesis slightly I could make it 3k words, but not 5k.

At most, what's the worst that could happen? Admissions folk won't reject me outright for including a sample going over length requirements, would they?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It really depends on the programs. I'd imagine that some programs will cut applications based on the inability to adhere to a set of written directions. When some programs receive more than 200 applications, one has to be considerate of the fact that there has to be some cutting fairly early in the process. Writing Samples and Statement of Purposes are an easy way to access whether the student is interested in your university or merely just applying to as many schools as they can as quickly as possible. A university wants to ensure that the student wants to be there, can handle written instructions, can research and would make a good fit.  Test scores and ability to follow application guidelines are an easy way to weed out people and give them more time to focus on the other tasks they have to work on.

It's also possible they'll only read up to ~5000 pages and then stop reading and form an assessment based on that. On another hand, the inability to cut down a paper to their requirements might symbolize that one does not know how to properly edit down one's own work which is a crucial thing for publications.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's common to select an excerpt from a longer paper for a writing sample. It does not have to be the entire paper as long as it adequately showcases your argument style. If you do so, you should also include a summary of the portions you cut out so that it does not hinder the readers' comprehension of the excerpt.

Edited by ThousandsHardships
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, ThousandsHardships said:

It's common to select an excerpt from a longer paper for a writing sample. It does not have to be the entire paper as long as it adequately showcases your argument style. If you do so, you should also include a summary of the portions you cut out so that it does not hinder the readers' comprehension of the excerpt.

One of the programs I'm looking at specifically says not to send an excerpt of a thesis or longer work - would it be reasonable to send the entire thesis in this case? It's 60 or so pages which is way too long for any committee to read...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/28/2016 at 9:35 PM, DBear said:

One of the programs I'm looking at specifically says not to send an excerpt of a thesis or longer work - would it be reasonable to send the entire thesis in this case? It's 60 or so pages which is way too long for any committee to read...

I don't think sending a 60-page thesis is a good idea, unless they specifically say that you can send in 60 pages. Is there a well-argued portion of your thesis that could potentially stand alone if you simply cap on an intro and a conclusion and edit a bit to replace any missing context?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 2016. 10. 28. at 5:08 PM, ThousandsHardships said:

It's common to select an excerpt from a longer paper for a writing sample. It does not have to be the entire paper as long as it adequately showcases your argument style. If you do so, you should also include a summary of the portions you cut out so that it does not hinder the readers' comprehension of the excerpt.

Thanks, that's what I'm planning to do.. I thought this part would be relatively easy but I find myself second guessing myself at every turn :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.