Princeton Graded Paper: How to Approach It

In 2018, news emerged that Princeton University would no longer require applicants to submit the SAT or ACT essay as an admission requirement. According to the university, the additional cost required to sit for the essay was proving prohibitive for some applicants. 

 

Instead, the Ivy League institution now requires all students to submit a graded writing sample from high school in order to be considered for admission. Keep reading to learn about the requirements for the Princeton graded paper, along with tips on choosing the best sample of your writing.

 

Overview of the Princeton Graded Paper

 

The graded written paper for Princeton is a new admissions requirement, so it’s natural that applicants would have questions and concerns. Designed to help admissions officers evaluate a student’s academic writing, the Princeton graded paper should show that the applicant can thrive at a rigorous Ivy League institution. Additionally, the admissions department is seeking insight into the contributions the student would make to the larger academic community. 

 

When choosing a graded paper for Princeton, it’s important to be sure that your writing sample meets all the requirements. According to the Princeton website, the paper should be:

 

  • Expository in nature (i.e. no creative writing)
  • 1-2 pages in length
  • From an academic course (ideally English, history, or social studies)
  • Written during the last three years of high school, including senior year

 

If the teacher graded the paper and included comments, be sure to include those, as well as the grading rubric used. However, it’s worth noting that Princeton is more concerned with the quality of a student’s writing than the grade they received. 

 

Requirements for Non-traditional Applicants

 

Princeton University encourages submissions from homeschooled, international, and transfer students and recognizes that providing a graded paper can be more challenging for these applicants. To that end, the school offers special guidelines for submission.

 

  • For homeschooled applicants, the graded written paper for Princeton can have comments from whoever taught the course, even if that person was a parent or guardian. 

 

  • For transfer students, it’s fine to select a paper completed within the last two years of schooling. Moreover, transfer students can submit graded papers from subjects other than English and history; however, those subjects are the preferred options. 

 

  • Finally, international students should note that their papers must be submitted in English and come from O- or A-level coursework. International applicants should also submit an English-language rubric with their paper. 

Tips for Picking a Graded Paper to Submit

 

If you’re like most high school students, you probably have several options to consider for the graded written paper for Princeton. Here are some tips on choosing the best paper to showcase your writing abilities and insights. 

 

1. Be mindful of length. 

 

Although the suggested Princeton graded paper length is 1-2 pages, some students may feel that they don’t have a strong enough paper in that range. If that’s the case, you can submit a longer paper. For best results, avoid submitting any sample longer than 3-5 pages.

 

2. Pick a paper from a subject you care most about. 

 

English and history are the preferred subjects for the Princeton graded paper. However, the admissions committee will review any sample of expository or analytical writing. If you’re looking to strengthen your application narrative, you may want to consider choosing a paper from a school subject related to your intended major.

 

Just be sure that the paper would be easy to understand for someone who might not be a specialist in that subject. When in doubt, ask for a second pair of eyes. Our free Peer Essay Review tool might be a good place to start!

 

3. Don’t worry too much about your grade.

 

The fact is that no two instructors grade exactly the same. In other words, what one teacher considers an “A” paper might only merit a “B” in another class. With that in mind, students should aim to submit a paper they consider reflective of their best work over one with a higher grade.

 

4. Pick a paper with thoughtful comments, if possible.

 

Instructor comments provide valuable information and context for admissions officers. Some teachers provide more comments than others, but when possible, it’s a good idea to submit a paper with comments over one with just a grade.

 

How to Submit Your Graded Paper

 

Applicants have two options when submitting their graded paper for Princeton. The first option is to submit the paper online along with the completed Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application.

 

The second option is to mail, email, or upload the graded written paper to your applicant portal.

 

Whichever option you select, be sure to include the grade, teacher comments, and rubric with your paper. You should also make sure the paper is sent in prior to the due date of your other applications materials.

 

Leaders in college advising, CollegeVine is passionate about helping all students achieve their future academic and career goals. If you have a question about the graded written paper for Princeton or another aspect of your school applications, you can submit it on our Q&A forum to get answers from peers and experts. We look forward to making your college dreams realities.

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April Maguire
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.