Student Writing Samples
The following samples are meant to provide new college students with some helpful context. New students to MCC, some who may have been away from school environments for a period of time, often wonder about the expectations for writing as they enter a college environment. And although schools districts and states in this country have curriculum guidelines and assessments for writing for Kindergarten through high school graduation, some students entering MCC may not have had the many years of ongoing writing experiences needed to develop their writing abilities as others entering college. Below are some links to writing samples gathered from students at a variety of academic levels and written for a) a variety of college courses across the academic disciplines, b) first-year college English Composition courses, c) basic writing or pre-college level writing courses taken on a college campus, d) high school courses and/or assessments, as well as e) middle school classes and/or assessments, and f) elementary school classes and/or assessments.
COLLEGE LEVEL WRITING SAMPLES
Writing Samples In a Variety of Disciplines and Courses
MCC Writing Samples from a variety of courses across the curriculum
Writing Across the Curriculum & In the Disciplines: A Journal of Student Writing from Middlesex Community College provides student writing samples from the following classes: Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Anatomy & Physiology 1, Art on the Web, Child Growth and Development, Early Childhood Education–Supervised Field Placement and Seminar, Film Analysis & Production, Microcomputer Applications, Music Appreciation, Nursing Care of the Adult 1, Introduction to Philosophy, Piano III, Popular Culture and Society, Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Statistics, and Tourism Geography. Follow this link to an electronic copy of this complete journal.
CONNECT Writing Outcomes and Rubric for First-Year Writing
CONNECT is "A Southeastern Massachusetts Public Education Partnership" of Bridgewater State College, Bristol Community College, Cape Cod Community College, Massasoit Community College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, & University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. The following outcomes and rubric grid was created by the CONNECT First-Year Writing Group and is used across these public colleges in southeastern Massachusetts
Freshman English Composition– 2nd semester level (equivalent to ENG 102 at MCC)
Victimized Against Her Will in Naguib Mahfouz's "The Answer is No" by Doris Osiimwe-Johnson (a literary research paper)
(This paper can be found in Writing Across the Curriculum & In the Disciplines: A Journal of Student Writing from Middlesex Community College; available in electronic form)
Tiara Trudelle: All for Love (courtesy of CONNECT: A Southeastern Massachusetts Public Education Partnership, which includes Bridgewater State College, Bristol Community College, Cape Cod Community College, Massasoit Community College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, & University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth)
Sue Mechler: Finding Cape Cod (courtesy of CONNECT: A Southeastern Massachusetts Public Education Partnership, which includes Bridgewater State College, Bristol Community College, Cape Cod Community College, Massasoit Community College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, & University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth)
Freshman English Composition– 1st semester level (equivalent to ENG 101 at MCC)
Deborah Marcelonis: Overspending is Responsible for the College Cost Crisis
NOTE : Some colleges teach the researched essay and/or the research paper in the second semester of English Composition. This student's research paper was written in her second semester composition course at a college in southeastern Massachusetts (courtesy of CONNECT: A Southeastern Massachusetts Public Education Partnership, which includes Bridgewater State College, Bristol Community College, Cape Cod Community College, Massasoit Community College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, & University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth).
ENTERING COLLEGE: WRITING PLACEMENT ESSAYS
The ACT system is one that many colleges around the country use for placement testing. Here are the detailed scoring guidelines that indicate level of writing proficiency, from 1 (low) to 6 (high):
Although these scores may be used by individual colleges in a variety of ways and at times in combination with reading placement scores, generally a score of 1 or 2 would place a student in a basic writing or pre-college level writing course, 3 - 5 would place a student into an English Composition course, and a 6 might place a student beyond English Composition 1.
The following link provides sample student essays, one sample at each of these 6 different levels: http://www.actstudent.org/writing/sample/index.html
BASIC WRITING or PRE-COLLEGE LEVEL WRITING SAMPLES
The following samples are from MCC Basic Writing (ENG 071) students who completed their essays in a proctored environment in two blocks of time. Students are given 50 minutes during the final class to read the assignment options and begin their essays; all writing and materials are collected and then redistributed during final exam period where students have two additional hours to complete their essays. The essays are then read by two different English instructors who grade it as passing or not passing based on the following Basic Writing essay criteria for an in-class or timed essay:
- A relatively well-developed and expressed main idea
- A sense of introduction, conclusion, and organization
- Most paragraphs developed around appropriate topic sentences
- Sufficient relevant supporting details
- Few if any fragments or run-ons that suggest lack of sentence sense
- Appropriate capitals and end marks
- A reasonable grasp of rules for commas and apostrophes
- Few serious spelling errors
NOTE: Sample Essays #1, 2, & 6 below were in response to the following assignment option:
Though opinions may vary greatly, after at least twelve years of school, most college students know an excellent teacher from a poor one. Drawing from your personal experiences, knowledge, observations, and analysis, state and explain what you believe are the main qualities of a good teacher. Use specific examples (but please no names) and clear explanations to support your general ideas about what makes a good teacher.
NOTE: Sample Essay #5 below was in response to the following assignment option:
Write an essay giving advice to high school students on what they can do to be best prepared for the academic and personal challenges of college.
Basic Writing Sample Essay #1 (meets the above Exit Criteria; Passing)
Basic Writing Sample Essay #2 (meets the above Exit Criteria; Passing)
Basic Writing Sample Essay #5 (does not meet the above Exit Criteria; Not Passing
on Exit Criteria #1, #2, #5, #7)
Basic Writing Sample Essay #6 (does not meet the above Exit Criteria; Not Passing
on Exit Criteria #3, #5, #6, #7, #8)
HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL WRITING SAMPLES
Samples from local high school - 10th Grade Classes (Acton – Boxborough High School)
"Penalty! 10 Yards on the Offense for Lack of Integrity!: Editorial on Cheating in Professional Sports Today" (persuasive essay)
"The 7th and 8th Grade Boys Football Team. But By "Boys", I Mean Boys and a Girl" (narrative essay)
MIDDLE SCHOOL LEVEL WRITING SAMPLES
8th Grade Writing Samples
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL LEVEL WRITING SAMPLES
Grade 4 Writing Samples
When I started my first job as a professional newspaper reporter (This job also served as an internship during my junior year in college — I just didn’t leave for about 6 years.), I quickly realized that all my experience, and all my years of journalism education had not been enough to help me write stories about drug busts, fatal car accidents and tornadoes. All the theoretical work I’d done, and all of the nifty little scholastic and collegiate stories I had done, did not prepare me for real world writing.
At that point, I had to find a solution quickly. After all, I had a deadline to meet, and it was only a few hours away.
One of my colleagues, who also served as a mentor, had the solution. She introduced me to the newspaper’s “morgue.” This was a room filled with filing cabinets in which we kept old — dead — stories arranged by reporter. Whenever I wasn’t’ sure how to write a story, all I had to do was check the morgue for similar stories. If I needed to write a story about a local drug bust, for example, I’d find another story on a similar incident, study its structure, and mentally create a formula in which to plugin the information I’d gathered.
Once I’d gained more experience, and had internalized the formula for that particular type of story, I felt free to branch out as the situation — and my training — warranted.
I do the same thing when I want to write a type of letter, brochure, or report that I’ve never written before.
This is what writing looks like in the real world.
Research by “Write Like This” author Kelly Gallagher indicates that if we want students to grow as writers, we need to provide them with good writing to read, study, and emulate. My personal experience backs this up, as does the old adage “all writing is rewriting,” oft quoted by everyone from LA screenwriters to New York Times bestselling authors.
Of course, if you’re a new teacher like me, there is one problem with providing mentor texts to my students: I have a dearth of middle school level writing sitting around in my file cabinets.
Fortunately, the Internet is full of sources, so I scoured the bowels of Google to find examples. I know how busy you are, so I’m sharing.
Expository writing examples for middle school
Below are several sources of expository writing samples for middle school students.
Finally, here is an article in the New York Times that will help you teach your students real-world expository writing skills.
Descriptive writing examples for middle school
Narrative writing examples for middle school
Argumentative/persuasive writing examples for middle school
Reflective writing examples for middle school
If you know of any other online writing example sources, please feel free to share them in the comments below.
I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma graduate student, and a NBPTS candidate. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify my students’ voices and choices.
Filed Under: PedagogyTagged With: writing examples, writing samples