New Trend in College Admissions: Graded Papers

Save your best graded papers! A new trend in college admissions is that more and more colleges are requiring a graded writing sample in lieu of the writing section on the ACT or the SAT, or as part of their test-optional admissions requirements. So don’t throw your best papers away – keep them! Teachers usually do not keep copies of student papers in their files.

For admissions purposes, papers must come from either your current or prior academic year. For example, if you apply in the fall of your senior year, the paper must be from a class taken during your junior or senior year.  

Some notes:

• Some schools, like Princeton, prefer papers from either English or history classes. Brown said it would accept papers from an English, literature, history, economics, or other humanities or social studies class. We recommend that you check the admissions requirements of each school you plan to apply to. The paper needs to be well-written, well-organized, and from a challenging class.

• Some schools require that the paper includes a grade and the teacher’s comments, and if the grade and comments are available as a separate document, for you to include this as well. So, save the comments along with your paper.The best comments will show that your teacher has thoroughly and thoughtfully reviewed the paper. This may mean asking a teacher to re-read something that s/he has already graded. This is one more reason to build good relationships with a few of your teachers; another reason is for recommendation letters.

• Desired lengths for graded papers vary, so save all your best papers. The general preference is 3-5 pages. 

• Choose your topic wisely. You may not want to submit a paper on a controversial topic.

• Some schools say there is no need to submit a graded paper if you have submitted the essay section of the SAT or the writing section of the ACT. 

IMPORTANT ICC TIP: In everycase, before submitting (or not submitting) a graded essay, check the admission requirement of each school. Requirements for the writing sample vary.

Schools accepting graded papers include Brown, Princeton, Amherst, Brandeis, Stetson and about 40 other Common Application member colleges. We see this as a new trend and believe other colleges will begin following suit. 

Save those stellar graded papers!!!

Need help bringing out your best writing a high school paper? Contact our sister company Edit the Work as soon as possible because they can help edit a paper so that a college sees a student’s best writing (before a teacher grades the paper).

For any and all help with the college admissions process, including choosing the right paper to send to admissions, contact us at International College Counselors.