nishi

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I have completely neglected the writing section. I just can't bring mysef to write 2 essays which i will later have to self grade.

For people not taking a review course, how much time are you spending on the writing section?
 

Jezzielin

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nishi said:
I have completely neglected the writing section. I just can't bring mysef to write 2 essays which i will later have to self grade.

For people not taking a review course, how much time are you spending on the writing section?
Hello, I am in Kaplan but I never come to the times when we review writing. I know the basic set up so the only time I spend on it is when I take a practice MCAT. I am more worried about the passages, which are so much more important to your score than the J-T essays!

Good luck! :D
 

liverotcod

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For last April's test, I spent about 3 minutes preparing for the WS. I probably should at least have done a couple timed practice samples, but I couldn't bring myself to either. I got a Q, so that's OK I guess.
 

lorelei

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You should make sure to familiarize yourself with the instructions and the type of prompts that come up. The instructions are always the same pattern: 1, explain the statement, 2, give a counterexample, 3, describe when the statement applies and when it doesn't.

If you follow the instructions, you are basically guaranteed a decent score (4 on each essay, which works out to approximately P). If you don't, even if you write well, you may not do well.

Personally I don't think it's worth practicing a lot to get your writing skills from 4 or 5 to 5 or 6 territory. Just do a couple of practice essays to make sure you're familiar enough with the requirements to get at least a 4.

I just did practice essays when I took a full-length timed test, which was about 3 times, and I got an R. (Doing the full-length thing is important.)
 

run_4ever

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I have not spent any time on the writing sample. Maybe a couple of weeks before the real deal I will do a few essays, but for right now I am intent on the material for PS,VR and BS. I do plan to include it in the last few practice exams though. Do adcoms really pay that much attention to the writing sample? I have always heard it doesn't really matter that much. Anybody else?
 

diosa428

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I've also heard it really doesn't matter (although you obviously don't want to get a J). A few ppl have told me to read some issues of Time or Newsweek just to make sure I have some topics that I can use to give examples. I guess it's better than nothing, but I don't really understand how you can be sure that you can use the stuff in these magazines as examples. Does anyone have any other ideas of classic stuff that would make a good writing section example? (obviously it depends on the question, but...)
 

Prophecies

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The writing section doesn't matter--I don't think any school really cares. Plus, if they wanted to see how well you write then they could examine your personal statement more carefully. Anyway...I spent zero time preparing for the writing sample...made an M...got an interview at all the schools I applied to (Texas schools, Hopkins, Duke, Dartmouth, NYU, others...). Don't think it's a big deal.
 

newyorkcougar

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It is generally understood that the writing passage is more a handwriting sample than anything. You should spend more time getting ready for the other passages.

However, the essay format they want you to use is very specific. It was not at all like the hamburger five-paragraph essay you learned to write in junior high, so you should practice it a little.

On the actual MCAT, I just made an outline on the margins and wrote as much as I could and I got an R (which is a pretty good score). It didn't seem to impress anyone. They were more enthusiastic about my 12 on the VR. So I recommend putting more energy into VR. Good luck.
 

Reimat

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So, for those of us not in a review course where our writing samples would be graded, should we just look at the examples on the aamc website? or is there somewhere the essay format is better explained?
 

newyorkcougar

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Your premed advisor may have some advice about getting your practice essays looked at.

I think the biggest issue is the same as with the rest of the MCAT...the time restraint. Just practice trying to write something decent in the time limit. The essays on the website are, I think, the best resource for examples of what they are looking for.

And again, don't worry so much about the essays. Just focus on VR.
 

stoleyerscrubz

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The kaplan books seem to have a good outline on how to write for the writing sample. I'm going to borrow the book from the library to go over that for about 2 hours next weekend.
 

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Bah, do people actually study for the writing???? That always baffled me.

I used my WS time to mentally prepare for the Bio section. Naturally, I got a sucky score on the writing... but a pretty decent one on the bio. I always liked numbers rather than letters anyway. ;)
 

Nutmeg

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I think that what is most important is that you be prepared to write without a computer--meaning print quickly but legibly (unlesss they're offering the computer-based test yet--are they?) and being able to exercise proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and not relying too heavily on MS Word underlining your mistakes for you. I mean, it's nice to have something insightful to say on the subject, but generally that's probably not too likely. The primary importance is clarity, not substance (IMO). While a high WS score won't lend much to your transcripts, I think a crappy grade can likely screw you.
 

lorelei

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Grammar and spelling don't contribute much to your score, unless they're so bad they distract the reader from what you're actually saying.

My knowledge comes mostly from grading Kaplan writing samples, but basically you MUST follow the instructions, which are kind of weird but always the same. Having a better example, more insight or depth, or better writing will move you up from 4 to 5 to 6, but if you haven't fulfilled all three tasks, you can't get more than 3. Most people don't write anything particularly brilliant.

Anecdotally, a friend of mine who had to have me proofread his college papers because his spelling was so bad spellcheck couldn't even give suggestions, got an S on his writing sample.

But yeah, I doubt many adcoms care if you got a P or an S or whatever; much less so than the difference between say a 10 and 13 on verbal.