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Writing Sample | Milligan

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 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:

  • Students who are transferring one or more writing courses to Milligan College
  • First-time freshmen who earned ACT scores of 20 or below in English or Reading
  • First-time freshmen who earned SAT Critical Reading scores of 490 or below

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

  • *Placement in COMP 093, Writing Strategies for College Success
  • *Exemption from COMP 093, Writing Strategies for College Success

*All students must complete COMP 111, Winning Arguments: Rhetorical Composition to fulfill general education requirements. The writing sample does not exempt students from this course unless they have previously completed the equivalent of COMP 111 at another academic institution

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

  • Placement in COMP 093, Writing Strategies for College Success and/or COMP 111, Rhetorical Composition
  • Placement in tutoring hours through the Milligan College Virtual Writing Center
  • Exemption from COMP 111 and/or COMP 211 based on the number of writing courses the student has completed successfully at another institution

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 80 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:

  • A strong thesis
  • A consideration of multiple perspectives and a demonstration of logical argument
  • Developed paragraphs with strong lead topic sentences
  • A demonstration of strong introduction and conclusion strategies
  • Use of standard English grammar and mechanics
  • Objective evidence (that is, an argument that is not wholly reliant on emotion or opinion)

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.

Category Score (0-4)
Content 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)
Organization Organized according to logical structure
Conclusion Draws sound conclusion that avoids simple summary
Style/Diction Uses clear and precise language
Demonstrates awareness of audience
Conventions Utilizes rules of Standard Written English, including basic mechanics and grammar.
Total Average Score


4= Excellent—masters skill3=Good—shows above average understanding of skill2=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 credit1.7-1.9 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 credit.