I have been virtually ignoring the LSAT writing sample sections when doing my PrepTests, but I figured I ought to attempt at least one prior to taking the real deal tommorrow. So I did the one from PrepTest 39 under realistic testing conditions (timed, hadn't seen the problem before, etc.). I think it's pretty good, but I wanted to get some feedback from anyone else willing to provide it. If you don't have the prompt, let me know and I can type it out, but for now I'll just put my essay. I am copying this letter for letter out of my book, so any mispellings, etc. were present in the real test (though unfortunately I can't simulate my chicken-scratch handwriting). Note, if anyone wants me to critique theirs, I would be happy to.
Here it is:
While Susan's desire for autonomoy in her work might lead her to choose the second excavation site, it is important for her to remember that a short- term scarifice of autonomy may provide greater opportunities to gain prominence. Further, prominence itself often leads to other autonomous projects that would not be available to lesser-known archaeologists. Finally, it is crucial to note that the reverse is not necessarily true - autonomous work, absent major discoveries, does not lead to prominence. Thus, Susan's goal should be a short-term increase in prominence resulting in a long-term increase in both prominence and autonomy; this would lead to maximal satisfaction of both her career goals.
Following this criteria, it is clear that Susan should participate in the first excavation opportunity. If she is fortunate enough to make a major find, her reputation - and thus prominence - in the archaeological community would increase. If she was not able to make an important discovery, she could still benefit from associations with the other prominent archaeologists at the site. By visibly collaborating with the leaders in her field, Susan's archaeological peers will hold her in higher esteem. Finally, by participating in the first excavation, Susan will not be completely forfeiting the autonomy she desires; she will still have exclusive control over an excavation.
Choosing the first excavation guarantees Susan a gain in prominence, while still permitting some degree of autonomy. Further, her gain in prominence will lead to more autonomy and greater prominence in the future. In contrast, the second site maximizes her short-term autonomy, but at the risk of neither autonomy nor prominence in the future. Susan should choose the first site.