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What to Include in Your Writing Sample

When applying for college, there are several things you need to include in your application. One of these is a writing sample. What should you include in your writing sample? Here are some tips on what to include and what not to include:

Be Specific

The key to good writing is being specific. You cannot assume that your reader knows anything about the topic you are writing about. The more you know about the topic, the more you can write about it. What this means is that, when asking for a writing sample, you should include as much detail as possible. Think of a time when you were reading a magazine, watched television, or went online; you have a general idea of what was presented, but you need to be more specific.

For example, suppose you are applying for a job as a journalist at a newspaper. One of the requirements for this job is that you must have a good writing sample. If you are applying via an admissions website, include the name of the publication, the type of publication (i.e., online or offline), the type of content (i.e., journalism, literary, or scientific writing), and the name of the publication.

More specific still, if you are writing about events that happened at a specific place and time, include the place and time. For example, if you are writing about an event that happened at a specific building in New York City on April 5, 2018 at 12:00 pm, include the date and time of the event (i.e., April 5, 2018 at 12:00 pm). If you do not include the place and time, the reader may assume that the event took place at a different location or at a different time.

Be Concise

When writing, you should keep your readers in the dark as little as possible. If you have a long writing sample, the reader may get bored or distracted. Concise is better: shorter sentences and paragraphs make for more interesting reading. Moreover, concision keeps the reader engaged in your content. Your writing sample should be concise and easy to understand. While it is acceptable to write a little bit about yourself in your writing sample, you should not go overboard. A couple of sentences about your family will not hurt either, especially if they are nice enough to let you write the bio!

Be Organized

When you are writing, you need to have some sort of structure in place. Without a clear plan, your writing is likely to be chaotic and disorganized. Your writing sample should have at least a basic outline that ties together your various thoughts and ideas. What is more, you should follow this outline consistently, or at least make sure that your essay follows the same structure wherever it appears. Otherwise, the reader may get confused and might lose track of your thought process. To make matters worse, some essays are so disorganized that they are practically unreadable. You can never go back and change something you have written, so be careful when selecting this type of sample.

Include Only Relevant Information

Include only relevant information in your writing sample. It is a given that you are applying for a certain job and that your resume and cover letter are meant to get the reader’s attention. However, in your writing sample, you should avoid including information that is not related to the job that you are applying for. What’s more, you should not include information that could be easily found through targeted searching. For example, if you are applying for a job as an editor, do not include information about your hobbies or clothing; these are not relevant to the job.

Avoid Plagiarism

Plagiarism is copying and pasting material from one place and claiming it to be your original work. When applying for college, you should not include any plagiarism in your application materials. This is simply because your application will be checked for plagiarism, and you do not want to risk being accused of plagiarism. What’s more, engaging in plagiarism is a serious offense that could lead to expulsion from school. If you discover that you have included any plagiarism in your application materials, you must remove it immediately.

Be Authentic

While we want to believe that all the material you include in your application is your own original work, you should not lie about the source of your content. Your application materials should reflect what you are really like, without exaggeration or omission. Authentic writing is the key to getting your application noticed. Even if your application is not selected for the position you are applying for, having an authentic writing sample will still open many doors for you.

Include only relevant information in your writing sample. Be concise but not too brief. Organize your thoughts and ideas in a logical manner. Avoid plagiarism. Be authentic, and make sure that your application materials are up to date.