When submitting a writing sample for a graduate school application, what exactly are review boards looking at?
I ask, because when looking at my own writing I find it is difficult to judge beyond the grade I was given and when I can judge, there are different strengths and weaknesses.
For example, writing wise (clarity, concision, etc.), my strongest writing sample is on a topic that was written for a course in my field (Art History) but is still relatively tangential to the field itself (about visuality rather than Art History per se). That being said, topic wise, I have a paper that was written on the same topic as my fourth years honours thesis (still a work in progress) that speaks to the areas that I want to continue studying. It is still a good piece of work that received an A grade, but I personally feel that the writing and organization is weaker.
Which is better to send as a writing sample? The more on topic, but weaker piece, or the stronger tangentially-related piece.