The Writing Test for Non-Native Speakers of English

Your ability to write well in English is the key factor in determining how successful you are in your academic studies in the United States.

For this reason, universities and colleges in the United States take their students’ writing samples very seriously. Nearly every educational institution in the USA now requires all students, both foreign and native born, to produce a writing sample as part of the entrance requirements.

Depending upon your results on the Michigan test, you may be asked to complete a writing sample/assessment. This sample, along with your results on the Michigan Test, will determine which English course(s) you will need to take.

Here is some information about the writing sample.
  1. You are encouraged to take the test on a computer, but you may use pen and paper if you do not have computer skills.
  2. You will be given two (2) topics, but you must choose and write about only one (1) of the topics.
  3. You will be given one hour to complete the test.
  4. You will NOT be allowed to use any outside resources. You cannot use a dictionary, thesaurus, style-book, notes or the Internet.
To get the best results we recommend the following:
  1. Take enough time to read the four topics carefully and select the one topic that will allow you to write the best paper you can.
  2. Spend some time thinking about what you are going to write before you start writing. You may want to note ideas and/or vocabulary that you want to include. You may do this on scrap paper that will be provided.
  3. Write the best multi-paragraph essay you can. For example, write complete sentences; do not make a list. Write in paragraph form using topic sentences, examples and details. Try to use sentences of different lengths, some long and some short. For the best results, write an essay that is well organized logically around a thesis statement (main idea).
  4. Finally, save time to revise what you have written. Read it over carefully to be sure your ideas are clear. Then proofread for grammar and punctuation. It is okay to cross out words and write corrections above them. Never leave a writing exam early. There is always something that could be improved.
One last thing...if you have studied English in an academic setting, please review what you have learned about good writing in English. Come well-rested and do your best.


Sample writing test questions

Below are sample questions. These questions will NOT be on the actual exam. They are only examples so you can see the type of questions that may be asked. You may want to use these as a practice test. Get a pen, some paper, and something you can use to keep time. When you are ready, begin reading the questions.

Remember you only have 60 minutes.


  1. Which is more important in choosing a career, money or happiness? Why?
  2. People often make judgements about others based on first impressions. Describe a time that you did this. Do you think this is a good practice? Were your judgements accurate or inaccurate?
  3. Some people believe that the way a person dresses and presents him or herself tells us a lot about his or her character. Do you believe this is true? Give examples.
  4. What one invention in the world do you believe has had the greatest impact on life today?