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 student ID, email, and password

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 answer 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. After you complete the form, you will receive a link to your writing sample prompt at the email you provided in the form.

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.

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. 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 submit the form you will have 2 hours to access the link and complete your writing sample. Please ensure that you are ready and have enough time to complete the sample in one sitting.
  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 hlcox@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.

Once you close the tab, Microsoft automatically uploads your essay for the faculty to review, and effective April 3 you can expect to receive a confirmation email within a few hours. See below for information about where to view and how to interpret your writing sample results. Please allow 4-5 business days for your writing sample results to become available to view in UAOnline. Contact hlcox@alaska.edu if you don't receive your results within the expected amount of time, or if you don't receive a confirmation email. 

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

Writing Sample Results

Effective April 3rd 2023, Writing Sample results can now be viewed in UAOnline. Follow these steps to find your results in UAOnline:

  1. Visit alaska.edu/uaonline.
  2. Log in with your UA username and password.
  3. At the top of the page, click on Student Services and Account Information.
  4. Scroll down to Student Records and click on it.
  5. Scroll to the bottom and click on View Test Scores. 

Your writing sample results will be called "Writing Sample Anchorage" on the View Test Scores page in UAOnline. The date next to your results is the date your results were entered, not the date you took your Writing Sample. 

Writing Sample Results

UAA Class You can Take

111 WRTG A111
192 You are cleared to take WRTG A110, but if you would like to take WRTG A111, you must take it with the ALP section. Please consult your academic advisor for more details.
110 WRTG A110
092 You are cleared to take WRTG A090, but if you would like to take WRTG A110, you must take it with the ALP section. Please consult your academic advisor for more details.
090 WRTG A090
080 WRTG A080

If you have any questions, please reach out to your academic advisor. If you do not know who your academic advisor is, please contact the phone number: 907.786.0338.