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Writing Sample Guide

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What is a writing sample?

A writing sample is a supplementary document for an application often requested for positions and programs that require frequent writing or research. It is used to gauge a candidate’s writing skills. When reviewing a writing sample, tone, relevancy, grammar, spelling, attention to detail, and adherence to the word count (if one is provided) are all of importance.

How to choose a writing sample?

When choosing the writing sample think about the style of writing you would like to convey.  Make sure to choose something that is relevant to what you are applying for.

Writing samples can consist of:

  • Research papers
  • Narrative papers
  • Professional blog posts
  • Journal articles
  • Press releases
  • Other written contributions

How long should a writing sample be?

Always make sure to review the guidelines for the writing sample, as you may be provided with instructions on how long the writing sample should be. If you are not provided with that information, a good rule of thumb is for the writing sample to be 1-2 pages double spaced. Try to be concise and effective with the space that you have. If you decide to use a paper or article that is longer than the length the employer has allotted you (or 1-2 pages), it is ok to provide excerpts if your samples are too long. If you provide an excerpt, make sure to provide at notation at the top that explains it is an excerpt and what paper the excerpt is from.

What if you don’t have a writing sample?

If you don’t have a writing sample, it is acceptable to create a new sample to use for the application.

Additional Tips

  • Always submit your best writing
  • Pay close attention to what you are being asked to submit
  • Follow the application instructions and do not be afraid to reach out for clarity if you are unsure about something
  • Proofread your document to avoid errors and typos
  • Provide clean copies of your writing sample. Make sure to submit copies free of comments

Further Assistance

If you need assistance with your writing sample, please make sure to utilize your campus resources:

  • Career Center
  • TWP Writing Studio
  • Graduate Writing Lab
  • English for International Students

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4 Examples of Academic Writing

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Written by  Scribendi

The best way to understand what effective academic writing looks like is to review academic writing examples.

Let's begin with four of the most common types of academic writing: research proposals, dissertations, abstracts, and academic articles. We'll be examining each type of writing and providing academic writing samples of each. 

Whether you aim to earn funding for a passion project or are stymied by how to format an abstract, these academic writing examples will help you nail your next undertaking.

Academic Writing Example 1: Research Proposals

A research proposal is an outline of the proposed research of a PhD candidate, a private researcher, or someone hoping to obtain a research grant . 

Your proposal should put your best foot forward: It details your intended research question and how it relates to existing research, makes an argument for why your research should be chosen for advancement or funding, and explains the deliverables you hope to achieve with your research. 

A more detailed look at what proposal writing is and what goes into a research proposal may also be beneficial. Every proposal is different because every project is different. Proposal requirements also differ according to the university or funding agency that reviews the proposal. 

Research Proposal Structure

A cover letter summarizing your proposal and showcasing why you should be chosen

An introduction or abstract

An explanation of the background, purpose, and significance of your research

A research plan or methodology that includes a timeline (a Gantt chart may be beneficial)

A projected budget, if applicable

Academic Writing Sample: Research Proposal Excerpt

Building on the work of the three foundational sociological theorists—Marx, Weber, and Durkheim—and Mark Traugott's theory of the "insurgent barricade," this proposed research will analyze the appearance, use, and disappearance of barricade warfare as an effective battle strategy. 

Focusing on these three theorists, this research will determine which theory or theories best explain the life cycle of barricade warfare, focusing in particular on its disappearance. A brief but comprehensive history of barricade warfare will be provided in addition to the theoretical explanations of barricade warfare's utility.

Research Proposal Writing Tips

Before you format your proposal, contact your targeted university, private organization, or funding agency to confirm what they require for proposals. Then, try to follow this format as closely as possible.

Be detailed when outlining your goals and your funding needs. Connect the objectives of the research to the resources you're requesting.

Be realistic in what you ask for as far as resources—don't ask for more or less than you need, and show evidence to justify your choices.

Don't dedicate too much text in your proposal to describing past research. A summary of key points, arguments, theories, and how your research will build on them should suffice.

Remember that no matter how good your proposal is, it might be rejected. You're likely up against dozens or even hundreds of other candidates who have equally sound proposals. Don't be discouraged if this happens. See it as a learning opportunity for your next proposal.

Academic Writing Example 2: Dissertations

A dissertation is a body of writing that represents original research and is generally written as part of a PhD or master's program. 

Typically, it builds on previous research in the field to make a significant contribution or advancement. You may benefit from more detailed information on what a dissertation is , how to write a dissertation , and how to edit a dissertation .

Dissertation Structure

Introduction/background and the significance of the study

Literature review

Methodology

Results/findings

Conclusion/contribution to the body of research

Academic Writing Sample: Dissertation Excerpt

There are two options for choosing a unit of analysis for this phenomenon: the social artifact (erected barricades) or the social interaction (the collaboration of insurgents engaged in barricade warfare). The best choice is social interaction. 

Most individual occurrences of barricade warfare involve the construction of more than one barricade, and the number of barricades is not necessarily a valid indicator of the sociological magnitude of an insurgence. The most relevant choice is an insurgence, the event of a conflict involving barricade warfare.

Dissertation Writing Tips

Remember to bear in mind the significance of your study. It doesn't have to be paradigm shifting, but you want to infuse the dissertation with reminders of why your research is important.

Don't get bogged down in trying to show that your research is one of a kind or uniquely contributive to the body of research. It likely isn't, and it's more effective to show how you are building on previous research .

Remember to check with your college or university to ensure that you're formatting your dissertation according to the school's expectations.

Ask your advisor questions when you need to.

Be prepared to make alterations to your dissertation according to your thesis committee's suggestions. This doesn't mean you did a bad job—it just means there's room for improvement.

Academic Writing Example 3: Abstracts

The abstract is actually a component of other forms of academic writing, such as scholarly articles and dissertations. The abstract acts as a comprehensive outline of your paper in paragraph form. 

Abstract Structure

Results 

You may want to read more about what abstracts are and why they are important in preparing yourself for writing one.

Academic Writing Sample: Abstract

Barricade warfare has occurred across several spectra, but most notably, it occurred almost exclusively in a 300-year period between the 16th and 19th centuries. Each instance had an inciting incident, but a common thread was the culture of revolution: a revolutionary tradition based on the belief that injustice was being carried out and that, in this case, barricade insurgence was the way to resolve it. 

This study uses the theories of Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim to analyze barricade warfare, its appearance, and its disappearance. Ultimately, neither theory can independently explain this phenomenon. 

Marx offers a reasonable explanation for why barricade warfare may have died, but his theory is difficult to test empirically and fails to explain the absence of recurrences. Conversely, Durkheim's theory is much easier to observe and can explain why barricade warfare has not experienced a renaissance. However, he offered no reason as to why it died in the first place. 

These two theoretical orientations complement each other nicely and, ultimately, neither can stand alone.

Notice that this abstract comes in at under 200 words (a common limit) but nevertheless covers the background of the study, how it was approached, and the results and conclusions of the research. 

If you are struggling to meet a word count, check out 10 Academic Phrases Your Writing Doesn't Need .

Abstract Writing Tips

Be conscious of your word count. Stay under the limit.

Check with your school or target journal to make sure special formatting is not required.

Don't use abbreviations or citations in the abstract.

Don't simply restate your thesis or copy your introduction. Neither of these is an abstract.

Remember that your abstract often gives readers their first impressions of your work. Despite its short length, it deserves a lot of attention. 

Academic Writing Example 4: Articles

Academic articles are pieces of writing intended for publication in academic journals or other scholarly sources. They may be original research studies, literature analyses, critiques , or other forms of scholarly writing.

Article Structure

Abstract and keywords

Introduction

Materials and methods

References and appendices

Academic Writing Sample: Article Excerpt

"Those great revolutionary barricades were places where heroes came together" (Hugo, 2008). This description by Victor Hugo of the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris comes from his seminal work of fiction, Les Miserables. 

Although the account is fictionalized, it is deeply representative of what historian Mark Traugott (2010, p. 225) terms the "culture of revolution." This spirit of heroic response to social injustice swept across Europe during the second half of the millennium and was characterized in part by barricade warfare. 

The phenomenon of the insurgent barricade has essentially disappeared, however, leaving no trace of its short-lived but intense epoch, and the question of why this happened remains a mystery. The theories of Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim, when taken together, provide a compelling explanation for the disappearance of barricade warfare, and the tenets of each theory will be examined to explain this phenomenon.

Article Writing Tips

Follow these detailed steps for writing an article and publishing it in a journal .

Make sure that you follow all of your target journal's guidelines.

Have a second set of educated eyes look over your article to correct typos, confusing language, and unclear arguments.

Don't be discouraged if your article is not chosen for publication. As with proposal writing, you are up against countless others with equally compelling research.

Don't be discouraged if the journal asks you to make changes to your article. This is common. It means they see value in your article, as well as room for improvement.

Whether you're applying for funding, earning an advanced degree, aiming to publish in a journal, or just trying to cram your 4,000-word study into a 150-word abstract, hopefully these academic writing examples have helped get your creative juices flowing. 

Go out there and write! With these academic writing samples at your side, you are sure to model your academic writing appropriately.

Achieve Your Academic Goals

Hire an expert academic editor , or get a free sample, about the author.

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"The Complete Beginner's Guide to Academic Writing"

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academic writing sample length

Writing academically: Paragraph structure

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Paragraph structure

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“An appropriate use of paragraphs is an essential part of writing coherent and well-structured essays.” Don Shiach,   How to write essays

PEEL acronym - Point, evidence, explanation, link

  • A topic sentence – what is the overall point that the paragraph is making?
  • Evidence that supports your point – this is usually your cited material.
  • Explanation of why the point is important and how it helps with your overall argument.
  • A link (if necessary) to the next paragraph (or to the previous one if coming at the beginning of the paragraph) or back to the essay question.

This is a good order to use when you are new to writing academic essays - but as you get more accomplished you can adapt it as necessary. The important thing is to make sure all of these elements are present within the paragraph.

The sections below explain more about each of these elements.

academic writing sample length

The topic sentence (Point)

This should appear early in the paragraph and is often, but not always, the first sentence.  It should clearly state the main point that you are making in the paragraph. When you are planning essays, writing down a list of your topic sentences is an excellent way to check that your argument flows well from one point to the next.

academic writing sample length

This is the evidence that backs up your topic sentence. Why do you believe what you have written in your topic sentence? The evidence is usually paraphrased or quoted material from your reading . Depending on the nature of the assignment, it could also include:

  • Your own data (in a research project for example).
  • Personal experiences from practice (especially for Social Care, Health Sciences and Education).
  • Personal experiences from learning (in a reflective essay for example).

Any evidence from external sources should, of course, be referenced.

academic writing sample length

Explanation (analysis)

This is the part of your paragraph where you explain to your reader why the evidence supports the point and why that point is relevant to your overall argument. It is where you answer the question 'So what?'. Tell the reader how the information in the paragraph helps you answer the question and how it leads to your conclusion. Your analysis should attempt to persuade the reader that your conclusion is the correct one.

These are the parts of your paragraphs that will get you the higher marks in any marking scheme.

academic writing sample length

Links are optional but it will help your argument flow if you include them. They are sentences that help the reader understand how the parts of your argument are connected . Most commonly they come at the end of the paragraph but they can be equally effective at the beginning of the next one. Sometimes a link is split between the end of one paragraph and the beginning of the next (see the example paragraph below).

Paragraph structure video

Length of a paragraph

Academic paragraphs are usually between 200 and 300 words long (they vary more than this but it is a useful guide). The important thing is that they should be long enough to contain all the above material. Only move onto a new paragraph if you are making a new point. 

Many students make their paragraphs too short (because they are not including enough or any analysis) or too long (they are made up of several different points).

Example of an academic paragraph

Using storytelling in educational settings can enable educators to connect with their students because of inborn tendencies for humans to listen to stories.   Written languages have only existed for between 6,000 and 7,000 years (Daniels & Bright, 1995) before then, and continually ever since in many cultures, important lessons for life were passed on using the oral tradition of storytelling. These varied from simple informative tales, to help us learn how to find food or avoid danger, to more magical and miraculous stories designed to help us see how we can resolve conflict and find our place in society (Zipes, 2012). Oral storytelling traditions are still fundamental to native American culture and Rebecca Bishop, a native American public relations officer (quoted in Sorensen, 2012) believes that the physical act of storytelling is a special thing; children will automatically stop what they are doing and listen when a story is told. Professional communicators report that this continues to adulthood (Simmons, 2006; Stevenson, 2008).   This means that storytelling can be a powerful tool for connecting with students of all ages in a way that a list of bullet points in a PowerPoint presentation cannot. The emotional connection and innate, almost hardwired, need to listen when someone tells a story means that educators can teach memorable lessons in a uniquely engaging manner that is   common to all cultures. 

This cross-cultural element of storytelling can be seen when reading or listening to wisdom tales from around the world...

Key:   Topic sentence    Evidence (includes some analysis)    Analysis   Link (crosses into next paragraph)

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How to choose a writing sample for graduate school

academic writing sample length

If you’re serious about pursuing a post-bachelor’s degree, it’s never too early to start gathering all the materials you’ll need. Most programs will ask you to submit one of the following: an essay response to a prompt or a writing sample. If you’re in need of guidance on the latter, keep reading for advice on how to select and prepare an impressive writing sample for your graduate school application.

We gathered expert insight from Dr. James R. Martin, an associate professor and assistant director of interdisciplinary leadership at Creighton University. Dr. Martin has reviewed hundreds of applications throughout his career, so consider his advice about what makes a great graduate school writing sample. But first, it’s important to understand the purpose of this application element.

What is a writing sample for grad school and why is it important?

Writing samples are a key part of most grad school applications. They show the admissions committee the quality of your previous work and demonstrate interest and proficiency in your chosen field.

According to Dr. Martin, reviewers are generally evaluating samples for the following criteria:

  • Solid writing skills : Is all spelling and grammar accurate? Is it free of typos?
  • Organization and clarity : Is there a logical flow to the ideas presented? Is the purpose of the sample clearly identified and accomplished?
  • Critical thinking : Does it demonstrate a thorough understanding of the topic, including consideration of alternate theories or approaches? Are all claims backed by reliable research?
  • Consistent citations and references : Have sources been properly cited throughout the work? Do all citations have a corresponding reference?

How to choose a writing sample for grad school

Some schools don’t specifically state what kind of writing sample they are seeking. In that case, it’s best to err on the side of academic work. Some common writing sample examples include essays, dissertations, theses, journal articles, capstone projects or research papers. If possible, you want to submit a piece that demonstrates your proficiency in analyzing a topic in the same (or related) field as the program for which you are applying.

There are some professions and corresponding graduate school programs that accept work-related writing samples, such as white papers, policy briefs, news articles and grant applications. If you’re pursuing higher education in marketing, communications, public relations, public policy or other similar fields, these could be good writing sample ideas.

However, Dr. Martin cautions prospective students to vet their choices carefully. If you do send in materials you wrote for work, make sure you’re the only author — and write a secondary note explaining the context and authorship. After all, reviewers are evaluating you , not your team.

How long should a writing sample be?

There’s no simple answer for this question, as the target length depends on the program you’re applying for. The importance of reading and following all of the instructions carefully throughout your application cannot be overstated.

If your desired school doesn’t state specific requirements, Dr. Martin advises choosing an academic paper. Or better yet, you can take the initiative to reach out for clarification.

“Most departments have a director of graduate studies or admissions specialist who would be happy to have a conversation,” he says. “This interaction could end up working in your favor down the line.”

Components of a good graduate school writing sample

Now that you know how you will be evaluated and what kind of sample to submit, you need to make sure your work is as polished as possible. Whether you choose an academic paper or other professional work, apply these writing sample tips before submitting:

  • Have someone you trust read it and provide feedback that you can choose whether or not to implement. 
  • Run the entire paper through a spelling and grammar check multiple times. You could also consider using a free tool like the one available at Grammarly.com .
  • Make sure there are no typos, formatting discrepancies, comments or tracked changes, run-on sentences, repeated paragraphs, etc., in the final version.
  • Rename your document to include important information that will make it easier for busy admissions staff to find. (Try using the following example: Writing sample_Name of applicant_Title of paper or project.)
  • •Make sure your citation style is consistent and correct throughout the entire document.

Your writing sample format will vary depending on the type of sample you choose. But if you are submitting an academic paper, make sure it contains all of the following sections, at minimum:

  • Introduction
  • List of references

Craft a solid grad school application

With the tips stated above, you should have everything you need to begin choosing and refining your writing sample for graduate school. If you’re still not feeling confident, take the following advice to heart:

“Remember that the writing sample is just one piece of your application, and we evaluate it as a whole,” Dr. Martin shares. “As a Jesuit school we strive to meet people where they are. We want to help them succeed.” Now that you have some writing sample examples and advice, you can focus on other important elements of your application. Check out our article “ How to Secure the Best Letters of Recommendation for Grad School .”

If you’re looking for a high-quality and best value graduate school program, review the requirements for Creighton University by visiting our How to Apply page .

Considering grad school?

Regardless of where you are in your journey, our admissions advisors are ready to help you take the next step.

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Whether you are applying for a job, internship, or to graduate schools, you may be asked to provide a writing sample. Writing samples allow an employer or graduate program to judge your ability to convey a written message and should be taken seriously.

When choosing a sample, consider the writing style that you will be using at your job, internship, or graduate program. Writing samples can come from your coursework and/or work experiences. Typical samples include:

  • Academic papers
  • Policy briefs or memos
  • Published articles
  • Blog posts or web content
  • Press releases

The purpose of a writing sample is to demonstrate your ability to write professionally and clearly. When selecting your sample, try to find one that is relevant to the position or program for which you're applying. Where possible, your sample should reflect the organization's style and tone. Don’t hesitate to revise your writing sample as needed.

Many employers will specify the desired length of your writing sample. If no desired length is given, choose a writing sample that is two to five pages long. If you'd like to highlight a section of a longer paper, be sure to include your best two to five page selection. To provide context to the reader, you should start the sample with a brief paragraph about the topic of the paper and the course for which it was written.

Spelling and Grammar

There are no excuses for spelling or grammatical errors in a writing sample. Be sure to proofread the entire piece and have a trusted friend, colleague, or reliable software check your work.

  • If you don’t provide a writing sample when required, your application may be considered incomplete and discarded.
  • Select your best writings or revise those that have good potential (e.g., your “B”- graded papers).
  • Make sure your writing sample is appropriate and relevant to your reader (your targeted employer, or targeted grad program). If you don’t have one, create a new piece.
  • Do not use your high school writings, not even award-winning ones.
  • Provide your own work. If you have relevant writing prepared as group/team projects, select only those excerpts that you authored. Describe the context of the sample in a brief note prefacing the writing sample.
  • If you cited works in the sample, include the bibliography.
  •  Make sure that your sample has a clear title. Don’t forget to put your name on the byline.

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A writing sample is required for all programs. Some programs may have specific requirements when submitting a sample; please check the department’s website for further information.

The writing sample is not a paper written specifically for your application but a written work submitted for either a grade or publication. The preferred paper to submit is one closely related to the field of study you wish to pursue in the Division. Departments prefer single-author papers, and should you submit an item with a collaborative work, all writers’ names should be included with your name highlighted, along with a memo explaining your contribution to the work.

PhD programs strongly prefer a singular writing sample. MA programs also prefer a singular, cohesive work; however, they will accept two shorter argumentative papers.

The writing sample must be in English. Multiple writing samples must be combined into a single pdf before upload.

The writing sample should be 20 to 30 pages for PhD programs, or 15 to 20 pages for MA programs, excluding bibliography or appendices. Writing samples longer than 30 pages are read only at the discretion of the departmental review committee. Applicants who would like to submit longer samples such as an M.A. thesis are strongly encouraged to provide an excerpt shorter than 30 pages, and which includes a one-page coversheet contextualizing the excerpt within the larger body of work.

We do not set a requirement for formatting or font; however, applicants are encouraged to use one of the common academic formatting styles in their field (APA, Chicago Manual of Style, MLA, etc.).

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Paragraphing (Length Consistency)

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Paragraphs are units of thought with one adequately developed idea. Listed here are some rules of thumb to use when paragraphing. As your writing improves, you'll be able to break these "rules" to meet your own needs. Until then, these suggestions can be helpful.

  • Put only one main idea per paragraph.
  • Aim for three to five or more sentences per paragraph.
  • Include on each page about two handwritten or three typed paragraphs.
  • Make your paragraphs proportional to your paper. Since paragraphs do less work in short papers, have short paragraphs for short papers and longer paragraphs for longer papers.
  • If you have a few very short paragraphs, think about whether they are really parts of a larger paragraph—and can be combined—or whether you can add details to support each point and thus make each into a more fully developed paragraph.

You can check on whether your paragraphs are balanced by looking at your paper.

Some balanced pages:

These images show text that is balanced on pages. The left image shows text that is left-justified. The right image shows text that is centered.

Paragraph Balance

Unbalanced pages with ideas not equally developed:

These images show text in unbalanced boxes to illustrate the need to balance paragraphs and sections in your paper.

Unbalanced Paragraphs

Use the following graphics as a tool to organize your paper with one main idea in each box. Use as many pages and boxes as needed.

These images contain line drawings of three boxes one on top of the other. The first box on the page contains the word introduction. The last box on the page contains the word conclusion.

Graphics to Help with Balance and Organization

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Guide to Submitting a Writing Sample

Source: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/guide-to-submitting-a-writing-sample 

Writing samples are used by employers to evaluate your writing skills, tone and style. If you are applying for positions that require strong writing skills, you might be asked to submit a writing sample.

While some employers might ask you to email or upload your writing sample as part of your application, others might ask you to bring it to your interview or possibly email it after your interviews to help employers make a decision. In this guide, we discuss what employers look for in a writing sample, how to choose a writing sample, how to write one and how to submit it.

What is a writing sample?

A writing sample is a supplemental document for a job application often requested for jobs that include a significant amount of writing, like those in journalism, marketing, public relations and research. Employers might also ask for a writing sample if you will be responsible for writing and communicating important information or correspondences. For example, if you are applying for a job in HR at a small company, you might be responsible for sending company-wide information. In this case, the employer will look for candidates with strong writing skills who can clearly communicate important information across the company.

What do employers look for in a writing sample?

Different employers look for different details in your writing sample depending on the job, company and industry. Every employer, however, will look for tone, style and writing skills including content, grammar, spelling and punctuation. While the specific writing style of the company can often be learned on the job, employers might be looking to hire someone with a certain level of writing skills at their first day on the job.

How long should a writing sample be?

In most cases, your writing sample should be around 750 words or between one and two pages. Like your resume, employers have a limited amount of time to review your writing sample. A brief, impactful writing sample is better than a long, less impressive one. Often times, employers will provide a specific page or word count they require from your sample. If you decide to submit a research paper or other lengthy document, you can make it shorter for the employer by selecting a certain passage or section.

How do I choose a writing sample?

While some employers might give you a writing assignment with a specific prompt, others might simply ask you to provide a sample from your past work. Choose a writing sample that is relevant for the job you’re applying for. Here are some examples you may want to consider:

  • Research papers from a job or class
  • Narrative papers from a job or class
  • Other writing assignments
  • Press releases
  • Articles or other contributions

When deciding which piece of writing you should submit, consider the following ideas:

Follow the employer’s instruction

The employer might ask for a specific type of writing like a research paper or a piece covering a certain topic. Read the employer’s instructions carefully before making a writing sample selection.

Consider relevant writing samples

When deciding on a writing sample, you should consider only those writing pieces that are relevant to the position. For example, if you are applying for a scientific research position, you should select a research paper from your most recent position or highest level of schooling. If you are applying for a position in PR, you should submit a press release or other relevant documents.

Find relatable topics

Along with selecting a relevant writing style, you should try to find a sample that also relates to the subject matter of the position. Submitting a sample with content similar to what you’ll be writing about on the job will help employers relate your writing skills directly to the job.

Align your writing with the company’s tone

You should select a piece of writing that is relatable for the company. For example, you should not submit a sarcastic, irreverent writing sample for a company with a professional, helpful brand image. Alternatively, you might not submit a modest, simple writing sample to a company that’s sole focus is risk and creativity. You can find clues about a company’s tone by researching their website,  Company Page  and recent news articles or press releases.

You should also read several pieces of writing that the company has already published. This could include reading their company blog, website or research papers.

Make sure it is up to date

Selecting a writing sample that is older than one year might contain out of date or irrelevant content. If you are selecting an old writing sample, be sure to carefully review and update it to reflect the most recent ideas. You also want to demonstrate that you have recently had to use your writing skills—if you send an employer a writing sample from several years ago, they may assume that you have not done any writing since then.

Avoid sensitive subject matter

Unless specifically requested by the employer, you should avoid sensitive content like politics, religion or personal information. You should also review your writing sample to exclude any confidential information like third-party contact information or private company information like financial or other data.

What if I don’t have a writing sample?

You might not have a writing sample if you have no professional experience or have not previously held a job where you produced applicable pieces of writing. If this is the case, it is acceptable to write a new sample for the employer. This way, you’ll be able to write a fresh, relevant passage that is specific to the position you’re applying for.

Pay close attention to the employer’s direction regarding the writing sample, research the company for clues on tone and style and review your document carefully for grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes.

How to submit a writing sample

Before submitting a writing sample, you should proofread it several times to ensure it is free of errors. It is critical to achieve as close to perfection as possible in a writing sample, as your writing skills are the key focus of this document. It might be helpful to read your document backward—doing so presents the words in a new order and makes it easier to catch mistakes. You might also consider asking trusted friends or family to review your writing sample.

Whether you submit an entire piece or part of a writing sample, it can be helpful to write a short introductory paragraph for context. You might include it directly on your sample, on a cover page or in your email. For example:

“Please find my writing sample for the Sr. Product Research position attached to this email. This sample is a passage from a larger study about how product simplicity impacts consumers. I believe it showcases my ability to clearly communicate results from an important project that lead to key achievements for the company.”

After you’ve polished your writing sample, you should follow the employer’s instructions when submitting it. You might be asked to upload your sample on an online application, email it or bring it to your interview. If you are bringing your sample to an interview, you should bring at least five hard copies in case you have multiple interviewers. If you are applying to several writing jobs, you might consider creating an online writing portfolio that you can easily send to employers.

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TOEFL iBT ®  Test

The premier test of academic English communication

Learn more by selecting any step in your TOEFL iBT ®  journey.

TOEFL iBT Test Writing Section

The TOEFL iBT test Writing section measures your ability to write in English in an academic setting, and to present your ideas in a clear, well-organized way.

There are two writing tasks.

  • Integrated writing task (20 minutes) — read a short passage and listen to a short lecture, then write in response to what you read and listened to.
  • Writing for an Academic Discussion task (10 minutes) — state and support an opinion in an online classroom discussion.

You'll type your responses on a computer keyboard.

Test time:  It should take about 29 minutes to complete the Writing section.

Scoring: Writing tasks are scored based on the  Writing Scoring Guides (Rubrics) (PDF)  by a combination of AI scoring and certified human raters. Raw scores are converted to a scaled section score of 0–30.

Practice Your Writing Skills

Explore a variety of official prep offerings to practice your English-writing skills with TOEFL ® TestReady ™ . Get insights and feedback on your grammar, usage, mechanics and more.

Writing videos

Watch these videos to learn about the questions in the Writing section, plus helpful tips.

Video About Integrated Writing

Question 1: Integrated Writing

Read a passage and listen to a lecture. Then write a response comparing them.

View Transcript

Video About Independent Writing

Question 2: Writing for an Academic Discussion

Share your opinion in an online discussion with a professor and other students.

Do you need to be an expert on the topics?

The writing tasks measure your English proficiency, so you don't need deep knowledge on a specific topic to get a high score. Score raters recognize that each essay is a first draft, and you can receive a high score with an essay that contains some errors.

Regarding Literary Analysis Paper. Answered

The university I applied for (honors college) has asked me to write a literary analysis paper(A full-length academic writing sample: 3-5 page literary analysis paper with a central thesis and strong supporting arguments). I had written an essay previously on Shakespeare's hamlet in the following way:

"The following is the literary analysis essay about King Claudius, the villain in Shakespeare's play Hamlet, which is provided below. Claudius can be regarded as sad, but not necessarily sympathetic, according to this persuasive thesis. Claudius' soliloquy in Act III of the play is used in this sample Shakespeare essay to demonstrate that he expresses sorrow for his deeds but is too preoccupied with his material possessions to repent. "

Thesis Statement:

" At the end of Hamlet, King Claudius has lost everything. The new king of Denmark, Fortinbras, does not even recognize the previous monarch but gives Hamlet the warrior's funeral (V, ii, 381). The audience, on the other hand, does not feel sorry for Claudius; instead, they are relieved that the evil has been beaten. Claudius was a greedy, crafty man, yet Shakespeare depicted him as a complex, "grey" figure, neither fully good nor completely wicked. Claudius is a fascinating figure to observe because of this trait, and he provides a unique case study on how a guy who makes horrible judgments may lose himself in the process. Claudius' demise serves as a cautionary tale for those who wish to perform heinous and unnatural acts. "

But I'm wondering if this can be a literary analysis paper.

It is the starting passage. In this essay I've mainly written about Claudius(The Villain of the story). I've added the thesis statement to the question. Not specifically a character analysis paper but I am asking if this can be used as a literary essay and thank you for your response.

Earn karma by helping others:

This could certainly be considered a literary analysis paper, and a well written one at that! It has a thesis and conveys an argument about the text by analyzing key lines and aspects of the plot.

I would recommend reviewing your paper before submitting it to make sure that your analysis is specific enough. The meat of your paper should involve sentences which prove your central argument that Shakespeare depicts Claudius as a "grey" figure.

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    Regarding Literary Analysis Paper. Hello, The university I applied for (honors college) has asked me to write a literary analysis paper (A full-length academic writing sample: 3-5 page literary analysis paper with a central thesis and strong supporting arguments). I had written an essay previously on Shakespeare's hamlet in the following way: