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Hey folks -


Just started the "do a bunch of practice tests" stage of my MCAT prep, and since there's no good way gauge proficiency/progress on WR samples just by doing them, I was wondering if anyone wanted to take a look at a few of mine, give some feedback and maybe a rough score estimate. I'm going to post two below but feel free to read just one. Thanks a bunch!


Prompt: Citizens who enjoy a country's benefits during peacetime have a responsibility to support their nation in times of war.


Societal constructs inherent to the country in which one lives are the foundation of the protection of a citizen's basic rights. These benefits are made possible by the peacetime freedom of a country to act in its own citizen's best interests; accordingly, when this freedom is threatened by war with an aggressive foreign nation, it is incumbent on each citizen to act to protect their country's independence by supporting the war effort. In WWII-era Britain, for instance, fascist Germany sought to take away the basic rights and freedoms afforded British citizens by their current government. In this case, it was in the common interest of all citizens of Britain to band together in the war effort against the invading Germans in order to preserve their way of life. Because the war directly affected the continual provision of basic rights and liberties to its citizens, it became the duty of each individual to act in support of the war effort.


Though many wars are fought for the noble cause of universal freedom for its citizens, other wars are fought for motives which are not so universally applicable. When Britain joined the American invasion of Iraq, the benefits of this declaration of war to the citizens of Britain were not as clear as when they declared war six decades prior. Though there were many valid arguments for the justification of such a declaration, those who opposed the war made coherent arguments as well. Since the societal benefits and freedom of its citizens did not directly hinge on the outcome of the war and rational arguments against the declaration of war existed, it cannot be definitively stated that each member of Britain owed it to his compatriots to support the war effort.


There are many historical instances of wars which were fought for the very independence of a country and its citizens' ability to make decisions on their own behalf, of which Britain's plight in WWII was only one example. In such cases, those who oppose their country's war efforts weaken their compatriots' ability to fight for their freedom, and unjustifiably undermine the very existence of their country. However, in wars fought by countries for objectives less universally beneficial to each of its citizens, it should remain the right of an individual to support or oppose the war in accordance with their ethical feelings on the matter.

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As promised, the 2nd:


Prompt: In business, competition is superior to cooperation.


With few exceptions, rival companies within the same industry compete for the business of a limited market. One company's gain of market share is another company's loss; it therefore is essential to the success of a company to outcompete those who vie to provide the same product to the public, making cooperation between companies counterproductive in all but a few cases. In no sector is this better exemplified than in the automobile industry. The need for cars is held relatively constant by the number of individuals in a given market, and many manufacturers directly compete with one another to sell their products to this limited number of consumers. Only by providing a car which is judged to be better than those of all its rivals can a car manufacturer sell its good, and succeed in its industry. With that in mind, sharing its trade secrets with a rival manufacturer would mitigate the advantages a company has in capturing market share, weakening its sales and hurting the bottom line.


However, certain advances in technology benefit all members of a given industry, boosting profits of each of its constituent companies independent of their individual market share. In these rare cases, it behooves rival companies to work together to develop this advancement for the greater good of the industry at large. The development of a car which does not rely on fossil fuels is an example of such an advancement. If a car which ran not on gasoline but on electricity or hydrogen gas could be mass-produced economically, automobile manufacturers would cease to be reliant on the continuous drilling for a non-renewable fuel source, extending their ability to sell cars past the ever-looming deadline of when global oil supplies run out. Furthermore, the total market share of car buyers would increase, as those who refuse to drive a car due to their environmentally harmful burning of fossil fuels could be convinced to buy a more environmentally friendly vehicle. Since the development of such a car has proved to be an elusive undertaking, car manufacturers would in this case benefit from pooling their development teams and resources, cooperating for a common research advancement.


Competition is normally superior to cooperation in business for the simple reason that every edge over one's competition is an edge in their fight for the business of consumers. However, When cooperation would result in an advancement in technology which would benefit all competitors within an industry, like the development of an electric or hydrogen car would provide the automobile industry, it is in the best interest of all members of the given industry to band together for their mutual benefit.

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No takers? :(


P for Essay#1

-good examples, 2nd argument is weaker, and so the essay is unbalanced

-some issues with writing mechanics


O for Essay#2

-prompt is more difficult

-a more concrete example would be beneficial, i.e. naming Ford Focus, or Ford F150 competing in a particular automobile domain, etc.,

same for counter-argument

-counter-argument may need further elucidation

-some issues with writing mechanics

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Hmm. There was another thread posted earlier that had some problems similar enough to yours that for a second I thought you were the same guy, posting a second thread instead of continuing the first. Check out http://www.premed101.com/forums/showthread.php?t=50082, the advice there is very applicable.


Things I notice consistently in both essays:

1) you don't make a clear thesis statement immediately. While this isn't strictly necessary, it's a very solid way to get your point clear right away. You should, in the first couple sentences, have made a statement that sets the stage for the entire essay. Otherwise you sound like you are rambling.

2) you don't define terms. Treat this like a formal debate... you need to make it clear what you mean when you say "business", "competition", and "cooperation". This will make you sound smart, make your reasoning clearer, and force you to consider what you are writing more from the beginning.

3) you don't link your points together, so everything feels tossed together. You need things like an introduction paragraph, introductory sentences to each body paragraph, and a detailed conclusion. You have the beginnings of some of these things but they are underdeveloped.


PastaInhaler's points are also all correct.


Here is a list of things you should do that will strongly benefit your essays.

-make a clear outline before starting.

-Include an introductory paragraph that outlines your overall argument and contains definitions of terms. Introduce the idea that the prompt is both correct and incorrect depending on the situation (even if you don't really believe so, you will surely be able to find a way to argue this for any prompt!).

-Tie your body paragraphs together conceptually both through the introduction and by making clear concluding/connecting sentences at the end and/or introductory sentences at the beginning

-Try to think of concrete examples, not abstract concepts. If you can't think of a real example, throw away the idea and think of a new one where you can.

-Include a conclusion that explains again how your body paragraphs address the prompt and the thesis statement you made in the introduction.


I made a sample outline of this in the thread I linked above, for a different prompt: http://www.premed101.com/forums/showpost.php?p=560031&postcount=12 Take a look at how it is structured.

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