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The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

Writing Sample

Part 1, Essay

One must point out that Demonax begins his assertion with “probably.” The statement then takes on a more questioning or probing tone, as if he is asking for a contradiction. This tone colors an attitude that is already filled with a sort of shrugging resignation or apathy. Demonax clearly believes that laws do not serve their intended purpose. It seems that, to him, that purpose would be to change the nature of people who are not “good.” He says, in effect, that good individuals do not need laws in order to be good and that bad ones will remain bad with or without laws.

This is probably true. However, it is not clear that Demonax explored the possibility that laws might serve another purpose. Among some probable other things, laws serve as guidelines by which individuals can operate in social groups. Even a very good person might want to know on which side of the street she should drive. Laws might also be a deterrent to bad behaviors as well. A bad person who might steal the purse of an elderly blind woman might be deterred by the knowledge that the law calls for a prison sentence for so doing. The individual is made no better by the law, but the life of the blind woman might be.

Laws are useful as a set of guidelines, rules, or agreements, accepted by a group of people who wish to live interdependently. They save time for people who otherwise would have to continuously be deciding upon the methods to use in everyday social interactions. More controversial, but also inevitable, is the fact that they also uphold a moral code that is agreed upon, ideally by the majority. Without any laws, we would, in fact, be less free to move about in more important endeavors because we would be constantly battling each other for time and space. Imagine an interstate highway with no traffic regulations, for example. Or imagine trying to maintain possession of one's home if there were no laws to say that it was your home between the time you left for work and the time you returned from work. As an effort to change the nature of a human being, laws are, indeed, probably useless. But, as an effort to change the nature of our social lives, they are clearly invaluable and mean the difference between living in civilization and living in chaos.

Part 1
Explanation of First Response: 5

The paper focuses on the statement and addresses each of the three writing tasks. In the first paragraph the writer begins the explanation of the statement by noting that it is qualified with the word “probably,” an explanation that is completed with a paraphrase of the quotation. The second paragraph presents specific situations in which laws do, in fact, serve good purposes. The final paragraph balances the extremes, exploring those things about laws that make them useful for people living together in social situations, which is a pragmatic position, but arguing that laws probably do not change human beings.

This is tightly reasoned essay that makes good use of concrete examples. The writing is clear, and the sentences are nicely paced. Paragraph two is potentially a strong one, with its example of the elderly woman's purse; but it would benefit from a bringing together of ideas at the end, a sentence to clinch the paragraph. With fuller development of this paragraph and a brief expansion of the idea in paragraph one that, to Demonax, laws do not serve their intended purpose, the essay would receive a 6 rather than a 5.

Part 2, Essay

With the thought of the concept of freedom comes naturally the question, from what? Freedom does not exist without the possibility, really the latent presence of restraint. What Gibran says is that an increase in one freedom would necessarily imply a restraint on another. This is because an increase in a person's freedom always means also an increase in his domain of responsibility. For example, as an infant, a person could be seen as either totally free or totally without freedom. An infant is totally free from responsibility and obligation, yet totally dependent on and restrained by his caretakers. What Gibran understands is that, the greater one's realm of existence and the broader one's scope of knowledge, the greater also is one's realm and scope of responsibility. As you commit an act, the act becomes a part of you, a fetter perhaps, and certainly a history or past to which you are then forever confined and from which you never will be free.

From this point of view, there are certainly no possible examples of a freedom that implies no restraints, for existence itself implies a certain restraint. Even a freedom to die would imply a restraint from the opportunity to live. The point is that one thing or act at a point in the realm of time and space forbids the existence of another at that point. With every act and thought then, we redefine our own existence; with definition comes restraint, and with restraint comes the inhibition of some freedom.

What Gibran is apparently trying to do is to point beyond an immediate goal of freedom to the new existence beyond it. For example, once a person is free of the yoke of his parents and family, that freedom puts a new and greater yoke, that of responsibility on his shoulders throughout the remainder of his life. Gibran is not arguing against freedom, however, but is suggesting a more mature, wiser view of freedom than that of freedom as an end in itself. As one's vision expands, one will have greater and greater freedoms. But with that vision will also come knowledge and with knowledge will come responsibility. And so, as we seek to broaden our scope of existence, we also seek to make our burden a bit heavier. And this becomes a good thing.

Part 2
Explanation of Second Response: 4

The paper addresses all three objectives, and it does an especially nice job with one and three. Paragraph one focuses sharply on the explanation of the quotation. This is perhaps the most difficult of the tasks for this quotation because of its seeming paradox. The paragraph also provides the example of the infant, who could be considered either totally free or totally without freedom. Paragraph two does not confront of the second task as directly as does paragraph one. Though there is a clear attempt here to explore the possibility of a freedom that would not imply a burden or an obstacle to a greater freedom, the paragraph stops short of providing a specific situation that illustrates the point. If there were a more direct confrontation of the second task, this essay would receive a higher rating. Paragraph three reconciles the extremes and examines the implications of the statement.

The writing in this paper is clear and well controlled. Each of the paragraphs is organized around a topic that gives unity to the paper. Its sentences are varied and flow nicely from one to the next. The weakest aspect of the paper is that it lacks concrete details to illustrate its points from the beginning of paragraph two to the end. With the addition of such details and with a direct confrontation of the task in paragraph two, its rating would move to 5 or 6.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesGuide to Medical & Dental SchoolsThe Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) - Overview Of The Mcat, Importance Of The Mcat, Contents Of The Mcat, Preparing For The Mcat