Writing Sample

Success in college, as well as your future professional endeavors, requires good writing skills. The ability to think critically and write effectively, utilizing the conventions of standard written English, is an essential outcome of a Milligan education.

Milligan College therefore requires many of our entering undergraduate students -– both first-time and transfer students –- to complete a writing sample prior to enrollment in the college. This writing sample is completed during a Connections orientation weekend or at the beginning of a student’s first semester at Milligan. The writing sample allows the writing staff to determine each student’s ability to evaluate and create a sustained argument. The results of this sample determine the appropriate writing course placement for each student.

Writing Sample Requirements
Students who must complete the sample include:

Possible outcomes for freshmen taking the writing sample based on ACT scores include:

Possible outcomes for transfer students or freshmen with dual enrollment credit for COMP 111 include:

Writing Sample Preparation
Because of its importance, we highly recommend that students consider their written responses carefully. The following information is provided to help you prepare. When taking the Writing Sample, you will have 60 minutes to respond to the given topic. A successful essay will be organized, clear, coherent, follow directions, and show command of writing style and Standard English practices.
Because the first semester of Milligan’s writing program focuses on argument, we need to evaluate your ability to evaluate and create a sustained argument. We will ask you to select one of the topics provided on the day of sample and write an analytical response. A strong response will include:

You will be notified in advance if you are required to take the Writing Sample. You may also contact your Admissions Counselor if you have any further questions.

Writing Sample Rubric

The following rubric is used to assess writing samples. Students are advised to consider these components of a successful sample prior to completing the assessment.



Score (0-4)


Establishes and maintains clear  thesis (connected to assignment)



Establishes clear topic threads



Develops topic threads with detail and evidence




Develops an objective, detailed argument that relies on sound evidence (observation, detail)



Consistently and appropriately uses transitional devices (addresses cohesion as well as coherence)



Organized according to logical structure



Draws sound conclusion that avoids simple summary



Uses clear and precise language



Demonstrates awareness of audience



Utilizes rules of Standard Written English, including basic mechanics and grammar.




Average Score

4= Excellent—masters skill

3=Good—shows above average understanding of skill

2=Satisfactory—average or adequate understanding of skill

1=Unacceptable—falls below basic competency requirement

0.0-1.6 COMP 093 plus COMP 111 for students without previous comp course credit

1.7-1.9 Maximum of 12 hours of composition tutoring for students with transfer credit (requires successful re-completion of writing sample after tutoring). Number of tutoring hours determined by Director of Writing.

2.0-4.0 COMP 111 for students with no previous composition credit.
No additional writing protocol for students with previous composition