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Trouble with Writing Section Examples

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obgyny

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I apologize if this has been asked many times before...

...but I'm not so good with timed essays. My mind completely blanks after reading the statement and it's difficult for me to come up with specific examples for the Thesis and Antithesis. History is not my subject. I never took any history in college and I took the bare minimum History in high school. I remember the big events of course (i.e. Civil War, WWII, etc etc), but not much specifics (i.e. dates and names). Does anyone have any suggestions where I can brush up on my history/current events? Or know any good sources for writing section examples?

Also, TPR says never to use hypothetical examples, but I've been reading on the sdn threads that hypothetical examples are accepted in the MCAT. How badly would the use of hypothetical examples affect the writing score?

Thank you in advance for any advice!
 

KPCOFGS

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I don't know when you're signed up (or if you are at all) to take the MCATs, but I spent the summer both studying and reading the New York Times every day (mostly because I was bored) and that gave me quite a bit to build on when it came time to practice essay writing. Also, I find that if you just look up a few of the most key events; namely, Lincoln's presidency and the Civil War, FDR's New Deal stuff, the Civil Rights Movement, etc., you'll probably be able to pick one and adapt it as necessary.

Otherwise, I took a Kaplan course and they told us that hypotheticals were okay; however, I myself avoided them on the actual MCAT (took it on 8/21 so I don't have results yet). Just be sure to clearly answer the prompt and I think you'll be fine!
 

lstone13

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I also used current events for my examples. I'm awful with history, and I figured I would probably mess up the date or location of some event I cited.

Also, I do not think hypotheticals are a bad idea. As long as you can explain them clearly, you should be fine.

One more thing, I found that the TPR advice on the writing section wasn't very good. I like Kaplan's advice better. What I decided to do was have a template/outline ready to go for any prompt.
 

obgyny

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I don't know when you're signed up (or if you are at all) to take the MCATs, but I spent the summer both studying and reading the New York Times every day (mostly because I was bored) and that gave me quite a bit to build on when it came time to practice essay writing. Also, I find that if you just look up a few of the most key events; namely, Lincoln's presidency and the Civil War, FDR's New Deal stuff, the Civil Rights Movement, etc., you'll probably be able to pick one and adapt it as necessary.

Otherwise, I took a Kaplan course and they told us that hypotheticals were okay; however, I myself avoided them on the actual MCAT (took it on 8/21 so I don't have results yet). Just be sure to clearly answer the prompt and I think you'll be fine!

I'm planning on taking the MCAT in January. I've been taking an extended MCAT class from Princeton Review since July (it ends in January). Unfortunately, I can't spend all day everyday studying since I work full-time, but I'm trying to fit in studying whenever I can.

Thanks for the advice, I got a little book that summarizes US History so I can read up on the key events. Good luck on your MCAT!
 

obgyny

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One more thing, I found that the TPR advice on the writing section wasn't very good. I like Kaplan's advice better. What I decided to do was have a template/outline ready to go for any prompt.

I agree! I feel like I'm still a little lost with the writing section and I don't think TPR really gave out any good advice. I'll have to check out Kaplan's method, thanks!
 

dingyibvs

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Just read a few sample essays, and follow their format. You don't need to write particularly well, you just need to follow the instructions and include relevant discussion(analyses of good sample essays should give you that). That way, you can get at least a mediocre score, which is all you need. The only way the WS section can affect your application is if you did terrible. Mediocre or high WS scores don't really help or hurt you.
 

sedaniel

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As a Verbal Instructor for TPR, I have to say that current events are the best thing to use as examples in your essays. I suggest to students that they either read the newspaper or check out news websites online, or watch the news at some point every day during the months/weeks leading up to their test. Also, if you have an iPod, NPR has podcasts that you can download to your iPod and listen to while driving or walking to class or work (this is what I did when I was studying for my test).

http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_directory.php?type=main&id=-1

Don't stress too much about the historical examples if you know your current events. Lastly, hypotheticals are acceptable but current events make for a stronger essay, so I would always recommend that you try to think of a current event before making up a hypothetical.
 

obgyny

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As a Verbal Instructor for TPR, I have to say that current events are the best thing to use as examples in your essays. I suggest to students that they either read the newspaper or check out news websites online, or watch the news at some point every day during the months/weeks leading up to their test. Also, if you have an iPod, NPR has podcasts that you can download to your iPod and listen to while driving or walking to class or work (this is what I did when I was studying for my test).

http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_directory.php?type=main&id=-1

Don't stress too much about the historical examples if you know your current events. Lastly, hypotheticals are acceptable but current events make for a stronger essay, so I would always recommend that you try to think of a current event before making up a hypothetical.

Of course I'll try to come up with real examples if possible, but I just wanted to make sure that I'll be okay if I blank out during the MCAT and can only think of a hypothetical situation. That makes me feel a little better :) . But don't they have prompts specifically about history as opposed to current events?

Thanks, I really appreciate all the responses!!
 

sedaniel

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Of course I'll try to come up with real examples if possible, but I just wanted to make sure that I'll be okay if I blank out during the MCAT and can only think of a hypothetical situation. That makes me feel a little better :) . But don't they have prompts specifically about history as opposed to current events?

Thanks, I really appreciate all the responses!!

I've seen a handful of prompts where historical examples would have been good but even with these, there was usually a way to write the essay using current events instead. In an ideal world, you'd know a bunch of current events and a bunch of historical examples during the test, but like I said, if you have to focus on one thing, I'd worry about current events more than historical events.
 
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