Jul 25, 2009
Hey guys,

I'm a Canadian applying to Ontario med schools, and as such I need to take the WS section pretty seriously (P/Q cutoffs, one time an R cutoff at Queen's!) Anyways, I've been working pretty hard at writing decent essays in 30 minutes, and I was hoping someone here could let me know where I'm at. To get you started, most of the grammar errors/typoes in the essay I already know about. I'm moreso looking for feedback on the quality of the arguments and the essay's overall integration. Thanks a lot all.

Here's my most recent essay (written in 30 minutes, untouched after):

Employers should not withhold information from their employees.
Describe a specific situation in which an employer might justifiably withhold information from employees. Discuss what you think determines when employers should withhold information from their employees and when they should not.

The workplace is an environment of productivity and "getting the job done," yet it also can be a habitat that spawns accidents, severe injuries, and in unfortunate circumstances, fatalities. What makes matters worse is that these sorts of events are often preventable, which makes people ask why the accident happened in the first place. The employer is often the first person questioned: why were safety measures not in place? Why did the worker not know about the apparent risks of the job they had, and why were the risks not mitigated? Often, it is a simple matter of there being no communication between the worker and employer. The employer may have just skipped the training sessions to get the worker right into the job, saving valuable dollars by not purchasing expensive training materials. As a result of this gross negligence on the employer's behalf, individuals are needlessly hurt. Employer's should not be allowed to withhold important workplace information from their employees.

In Ontario, the WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) has a set of principles that epitomizes the employee's right to workplace information. These principles focus around the worker's right to know about workplace hazards, the right to refuse unsafe work, and the right to report unsafe workplace conditions without being punished by the employer. Illustrated in another way, the WSIB forces employers to properly educate their workers on workplace safety, prevent accidents, and being safe in the workplace at all possible costs. Many corporations embrace this very notion in order to show that their workplace is a safe one. Petro-Canada, a large energy and oil company in Canada, operates under its primary value of "Zero Harm." The company owns many refineries and plants that can be extremely dangerous environments for a worker, yet the company has an incredible safety record. The demonstrated safety of the Petro-Canada worker is a direct result of the company's efforts to communicate work and safety information to their employees. This type of safety culture is one that agrees with the notion that employers must communicate workplace information to their employees. If the information was not distributed, the workers in the refineries would operate the equipment much more recklessly, surely resulting in a dire increase of accidents and fatilities.

However, there are instances when the employer does not have to share information with its employees. Generally, this type of information revolves around confidential and private information that is specific to the employees. Consider one of the employees at Petro-Canada that has suffered a great loss within his or her family. The employee recognizes that they cannot continue to work in a refinery envionrment that requires sharp and unimpeded thinking, and as a result has asked their supervisor for some time off to recover. The employer will of course let the employee take some time off, as it is a common policy to allow workers to take some time off in periods of great stress. A co-worker may notice that their peer has dissapeared and innocently may ask their supervisor why the co-worker is not at work. It is in this situation that the employer is justified in not sharing the information with the co-worker, as it is private information that the refinery employee entrusted with their supervisor. Further to that, the information has no bearing on the co-worker's ability to work safely and efficiently, and as a result it is not pertinent information to them. Clearly, there are cases that demonstrate an employer's right to withold information from their employees.

It has been shown that in some situations, employer's are not justified in withholding information from their employees. Yet, there still are acceptable situations in which the employer is allowed to purse their lips on specific items of information. The apparent contradiction is explained based on whether the information is required for a worker to complete their job safely and reliably. If the information is critical to a worker's health and safety, then the employer must not withhold it and instead should actively communicate it to its employees. However, if the information is private and will not affect a worker's day-to-day safety, then it is deemed not pertinent and therefore the employer has the right to withhold it from their employees.


Doctor Thunder
10+ Year Member
Jun 8, 2008
Somewhere in SE Wisconsin
Medical Student
Hey road,

I was a pretty decent essay writer in my time (I got a 'T' on the MCAT, which here in the states is about the same as any other letter :) ), but I haven't thought about it much since, so take this all with a grain of salt.

I think this is a pretty well written essay, you're on track to hit your goal of 'R'. I like the general layout, I can pretty easily see where you're addressing each point of the prompt. So that's all good.

It pays to remember though that the average MCAT essay grader will see your essay for 1 minute and make the decision. So with this in mind, I'd try to shorten up my prose a little bit. For this essay, I think there's some extra bits that can be cut out, especially in the first two paragraphs. For example, I'd probably cut the WSIB stuff, and jump right into Petro-Canada, with maybe one sentence to introduce it. Being concise while still adequately covering the question is the trick to blowing the roof off writing section scores. It will probably take well less than the whole half hour to type (remember 30 minutes is a hold-over from when these used to be paper/pencil), mine took about 20 minutes or so.

So, bottom line: solid stuff, cut out a little bit to make it grokkable in a minute and it'll be great stuff!
Jul 25, 2009
Thanks for your feedback Matt, it's very helpful and encouraging. Congratulations on your "T", by the way!