How much weight is it if you are an Asian URM?
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It's not just about how much you study, it's also a matter of strategy - figuring out exactly what you need to know, how you can express what you know on exams etc.
I studied HARDER/LONGER than a lot of people who probably did as well as I did if not better than I did last semester. I'm still busting my butt -- I'm probably studying even harder than I did last semester, but I accept that regardless of my efforts there will be people that will do better than I will.
do you think schools reject bc of an unimpressive option essay? assuming the rest of your application is good? ... or is it just a question of whether you take the time to write an optional essay?
some of mine kind of sucked... i'm getting increasingly paranoid the longer i wait to hear...
I am of the opinion that if you are going to do an optional essay, it should be well-written and at least seem sincere. I doubt that just doing it earns you points.