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Writing Section

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by whoisthedrizzle, May 17, 2007.

  1. whoisthedrizzle

    whoisthedrizzle 2+ Year Member

    There's a ****load of info on this site about science and verbal prep, but I haven't seen much in the way of the writing section. I'd like to hear from people that have taken the MCAT about what was most helpful in preparing for that section. It would be easiest if you posted your responses like this:

    1. Writing Score on MCAT
    2. Prep Method
    3. How it helped you on the test

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  3. gentlegiant3

    gentlegiant3 2+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2007
    1. N
    2. None
    3. I probably would have done better if I had practiced, but I felt my limited study time was much better spent preparing for and studying the Sciences.
  4. jochi1543

    jochi1543 President, Gunner Central 2+ Year Member

    Apr 4, 2007
    Alberta, Canada
    1. Writing Score on MCAT T

    2. Prep Method
    None, unless you count 10 years of undergrad and high school education that was very humanities- and language-focused. Unfortunately (lol), I've always been a very good writer, so this may not be very helpful to you.
    I wrote a practice essay and submitted it to a friend who wrote the test 4 times and he told me not to bother practicing anymore because he was certain that I'd get an R or above. I'm glad he was right.

    3. How it helped you on the test - not relevant.

    However, here's some advice:

    1) Address all 3 tasks. Nobody cares how great your command of language is and how great your examples if you fail to address one of the questions posed in the topic. Ensuring that you follow directions will automatically put you in the acceptable score range.

    2) Don't worry if you are not some sort of major literature or history connoseur and can't come up with impressive real-life examples to support your statements. I did not use a single example that pertained to an actual situation - they were all hypothetical in nature. Obviously, both my essays must have impressed all the readers for me to end up with the highest possible score.

    3) To get into that R-S-T range, ensure that you have a solid structure to your essay. Ease into it with the intro (which should address the "explain the above statement" task), present multiple arguments in the main body, and then finish off with a conclusion which quickly summarizes your general sentiments on the topic. I believe one of my essays was a 3-paragraph set-up like that, and my second one was longer, at about 5 paragraphs, as I chose to demonstrate 3 different situations in which a given statement would not apply.
  5. Zendoc

    Zendoc 2+ Year Member

    Apr 18, 2007
    California Baby Yeah!
    Score: R
    Strategy: I agree with the other people, addressing the tasks is the most important thing. I know people who are terrific writers but consistently scored poorly on the writing sample because they just couldn't follow directions...don't make this mistake. For one hour, just play THEIR game and write exactly what they ask you to write. Beware of the counterexample trap! Example: a propt could say something like: Success comes from hard work. First it will tell you to explain what that means. (I usually give an example to illustrate my point even though one is not asked for. This helps get the message across and can contribute to unity in the overall essay.) Then the prompt will instruct you to do something like: give an example of when success did not come from hard work. YOU HAVE TO BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL HERE! A lot of people make the mistake of doing somthing like giving an example of an UNSUCCESSFUL PERSON WHO DIDN'T WORK HARD! This is totally different and does not address the prompt, yet it is one of the easier mistakes to make.

    Another thing: you create your own box. What I mean by this is that you have total power when you are initially explaining what the prompt means. If you define success to mean winning your fourth grade student elections, that is totally fine, but success has to mean that all the way through. Once you create your box, stay in it and you will have a powerful, unified essay.

    Last thing that really helped me: MCAT studying sucks balls! (excuse the language)...The only fun thing I allowed myself to do during MCAT studying was watch a movie at the end of the day after hours of hard work. However, the way I would justify this is I would mentally catalog the situations in the movies or the dilemmas of the characters as examples for my essay. This is an easy thing because no matter what topic they give you, I am sure you can think of a movie you saw that somehow relates.

    Anyhoo, I'm blabbing now, good luck :)
  6. ieatrice


    May 16, 2007

    do be somewhat careful with the counter example. absolutely make sure it addresses their second question. anything will work as long as you state in the 3rd paragraph (if you're doing the typical T-A-S structure taught by Princeton - thesis, antithesis, and synthesis) the circumstances and situations under which it works for the counter example and antithesis; the same applies for the prompt in the last paragraph as well.

    budget your time wisely. make sure all questions are addressed. about 10 minutes for each paragraph.
    no need to write like a grad student.
    make it simple. concise. easy to read. use very obvious transitions and conclusions (i.e. on the other hand, therefore, hence, in conclusion)
    moderate any extreme language in the prompt by stating, "in some instances", etc.
    i find that a lot of people focus too much on how to write rather than what it is they're writing. i'm by no means a writing expert. i hate writing. but at least my writing is straight-forward enough that a middle schooler can understand it and my examples are very clear. just address the prompt and answer the questions and you're good to go

    examples are somewhat important depending on the prompt. easiest way to come up with examples: watch the news and keep a running tab of certain events you think applies to certain topics.
    try to have examples for technology, politics and government, advertising, etc.

    pick a question or two for each topic and come up with an example or two along with a counter example. you'll find that you'll be able to use the same examples for questions of the same topic.

    so that's what i did. didn't do much but think of examples and ended up with an R.

    as long as your structure is very clear and your ideas flow from one to the next, you'll be good to go. at least shoot for the 3 paragraph structure with a example supporting the prompt, counter example supporting the opposite of the prompt, and a synthesis paragraph that showcases the different circumstances under which works for which.

    good luck.
  7. badasshairday

    badasshairday Vascular and Interventional Radiology 10+ Year Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    Writings sample isn't a big deal. The only reason it is in there is to screw you over if you get a low score and to make you more fatigued by the time you get to the bio.
  8. KeKe88

    KeKe88 2+ Year Member

    May 16, 2007
    I agree with the previous post. I've heard that the writing sample is not as significant-- sadly won't help you that much if you score really well but may hurt you if you do badly...

    With that said, any advice on how to structure the essay so that it flows well & also covers all the questions (# of paragraphs, etc)?

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