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Quantitative vs. Qualitative sample


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I'm trying to decide which writing sample to submit for Fall 2018 admissions. I don't have much of a quant background (intro stats is as high as I went), and my best quant paper is less than stellar. It's well written, but i think it's a rather pedestrian statistical analysis. My other options are all primarily qualitative, and a case study on Venezuela I did last year is probably my best overall sample. I'm leaning toward simply polishing that sample, but I've heard admissions committees stress quantitative backgrounds pretty heavily. Is it worth attempting to complete a new quant-oriented sample before the application deadline? (Additional information: my Quant GRE is 160)

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I know we hear "quantitative, quantitative, quantitative", but I think it also has a lot to do with the programs to which you are applying and what you are hoping to do research-wise. I have a very weak quantitative background (and a worse Q GRE than you), but I don't anticipate pursuing much quantitative research, and I made my research interests (and methodological interests) fairly clear throughout my application. It really depends on what you are hoping to do, and whether or not you need to demonstrate that you can do that work if it is necessary for the research projects that you want to pursue.

Edited by tkid86
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In my case, I will be submitting a polished qualitative research paper as a writing sample. I am not concerned about not submitting a quantitative piece, as my application demonstrates in other places (SOP, LOR, CV, etc.) that I have significant quantitative training. 

My point is that you don't need to submit a quantitative piece. Try to highlight your quantitative skills (if you have any) in other parts of your application. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

My two cents: I submitted an aggressively qualitative sample with all my applications, including some for places with very strong quantitative orientations. My quantitative GRE score also happened to be similar to yours. I had a pretty good cycle. 

My interpretation: obviously I am just one data point, but my experience is consistent with the argument that you should submit whatever your best work is, regardless of where it fits in the qual-quant spectrum. Writing samples get used in different ways by different committees, but in general I think their purpose is to demonstrate that you can ask interesting questions, come up with interesting answers, and test your answers in interesting ways. Like @deutsch1997bw said, there are other parts of the app that are designed to help you signal that you have (at least the potential to acquire) good quant skills. I would go with your strongest sample. It sounds like that's the Venezuela one. 

Again, though, these are just my two cents! Good luck.

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