MCAT Writing Sample
The writing sample consists of two essays each one completed in a
timed 30 minute session. Each essay is a response to a given statement,
for example, "True leadership leads by example rather than by command".
Your response will be graded by how well you respond to three tasks:
- Task One: Thesis Provide your interpretation or
explanation of the statement.
- Task Two: Antithesis Offer a concrete example that
illustrates a point directly opposite to the one expressed
or implied by the statement.
- Task Three: Conflict Resolution Explain how the conflict
between the viewpoint expressed in the statement and the viewpoint
described in the second task might be resolved.
AAMC has published a list of possible test statements for use in
Two graders will score your essay independently on a 1 to 6 point
scale (see below). If these scores differ by more than 1 point, a third
(senior) grader determines the score.
||Fulfills all three tasks; major ideas are substantially
developed; shows clarity, depth and complexity of thought; uses
language in a sophisticated manner.
||Fulfills all three tasks; major ideas are well developed;
shows clarity of thought, with some depth or complexity;
demonstrates strong control of vocabulary and sentence
||Addresses all three tasks; major ideas are adequately
developed; shows clarity of thought, and may show evidence of
depth or complexity; the essay is coherent with some focus;
demonstrates adequate control of vocabulary and sentence
||May neglect or distort one or more of the tasks or present
only minimal treatment of the topic; major ideas are somewhat
developed; shows clarity of thought but may be simplistic; the
essay is coherent but may not be focused; while some mechanical
errors may be present, some control of vocabulary and sentence
structure is evident.
||Serious neglect or distortion of one or more of the tasks;
problems with clarity or complexity of thought; the essay may
lack coherence or integration; there may be numerous errors in
mechanics, usage, or sentence structure.
||Demonstrate a lack of understanding of the writing
assignment; serious problems in organization; there may be so
many errors that the ideas are hard to follow
Your four scores (two readings of two essays) are added to produce a
score in the range 4-24. The numerical score is converted to the scaled
alphabetical score ranging from J to T. Generally J-M correspond to the
lowest quartile, Q-T the top quartile, with a median near O.
AAMC will additionally send each medical school that you apply to a
photocopy of your writing sample. Thus this writing sample will probably
be joined with your application when the admission committee considers
Do all three tasks. An essay, perfect in every way, that fails
to do the three tasks demonstrates your inability to read directions and
will receive a low grade.
Do "prewriting": make notes before writing complete sentences.
It is suggested that you spend 5 of your 30 minutes "outlining" and
thinking before you start to write.
Your essay is a first draft. It is important to write the best
essay you can in about 25 minutes. Do not polish until all three tasks
have been completed. Feel free cross out, make insertions, etc. (It is
suggested that you write on every other line to make the final edit
There is no right answer. Your answer will be judged on the
above criteria, not on political (or other) correctness.
Specific examples improve essays. You will often be required
to supply an example for the second task, but other examples may
strengthen your essay.
Mechanical errors will count. Proper usage, sentence
structure, and yes, even spelling and legibility will affect your score.
These are secondary issues. Try to get them right the first time, and
hope to have time for a final proofread.