Writing Samples

Students studying in a sunlit lounge by large windows.

Preparing for a Writing Sample

Welcome to the Department of Writing at UAA! We offer a wide range of academic writing courses with various levels of learning outcomes, and our commitment to your success begins with helping you find the right place to start. For many students, a writing sample is an important part of that process.

The writing sample asks you to write a few paragraphs summarizing and responding to a complex reading that is typical of the readings students are assigned in our entry-level writing courses. Read this passage carefully using active reading strategies you've already learned such as identifying main points. Also pay close attention to the writing prompt. Answer everything that it asks of you and consider using the prompt as a tool for organizing your work.

As you write, summarize the reading thoroughly, noting its main ideas and key details. Then, in your response, show your own original thinking in the way you interact with the reading. Before you finish, proofread your work with care.

A panel of professors will read your writing sample and discuss which of our courses will be a good match for you. They will assess your writing holistically with an emphasis on reading comprehension, idea development, organization, sense of audience, language conventions, and how you interact with the source material.

Don't stress over your writing sample, but do be sure that it represents your best work. Keep in mind that this isn't an exam, but a way of showing your professors your strengths as a reader, writer, and critical thinker so they can help you find the best place to begin your writing studies at UAA. 

Before you get started, you will need:

  • A computer or laptop
  • Your University of Alaska email and password

Submitting your Writing Sample

You can access the Microsoft Form to submit your writing sample from this page at your convenience.

Please note that the automated submission process will time out after 2 hours, so be sure to complete your writing sample and close your essay within that time frame.


Instructions for Completing the Writing Sample

When you open the Microsoft Form, you will be asked to provide some basic contact information, as well as questions regarding your comfort level and experiences with reading and writing. These questions help provide context for the writing faculty as they consider the course that is best for you.

Steps to take:

  1. Log into Microsoft 365: you will need your UA username and password (see screenshots below if you want to see what the login looks like)
  2. Begin your Writing Sample: click the button below that says "Click Here to Begin Your Writing Sample"
  3. Fill out the Microsoft Form and click submit; you will receive an email with the link to your Writing Sample prompt: Please note, once you click submit you will have 2 hours to complete your writing sample. Please wait until you are ready to complete the sample.
  4. Check your email for your Writing Sample link (the email you provide in the contact info of the Microsoft Form) - the link will break after the 2 hours are up, and you will not be able to access it again. If you do not receive the email, please check your spam folder. If you still have not received it, please email jcbruner@alaska.edu.
  5. Read the prompt, and write your essay response
  6. Close your essay's browser tab - congrats! You are done with your Writing Sample.

 Please note: You will not receive any confirmation email that you are finished. Once you close the tab, Microsoft automatically uploads your essay for the faculty to review.

Click Here to Begin your Writing Sample

How to log into Microsoft

You should see this screen when you click on "Login to Microsoft 365". Please enter your University of Alaska email address. 
Microsoft - Sign in - Email, Phone, or Skype


You should see this screen after you type in your UA email and hit "Next". Once you enter your password, and are logged into Microsoft, scroll down and click on the button that says "Click Here to Begin your Writing Sample". 
University of Alaska - Enter password - Password