Each procedure or step of a hiring process is a "test" in that the applicant must "pass" a certain step in order to move forward in the process. Pursuant to Sec. 60-3.3, (see below) validation is required if the component, in this case reviewing a writing sample, results in adverse impact and there is no nondiscriminatory reason for the impact and there is no reasonable alternative for the component. Validation is not required if there is no adverse impact. In your example, it would be tough to argue in an audit that the writing sample is relevant to the job if it is not used as a screening measure. In other words, if the writing sample does not affect an applicant being hired, then it is not a best practice to have that as a part of the process. If you would like to review a writing sample, ensure that there is no adverse impact from this component of the hiring process. Sec. 60-3.3 Discrimination defined: Relationship between use of selection procedures and discrimination. (A) Procedure having adverse impact constitutes discrimination unless justified. The use of any selection procedure which has an adverse impact on the hiring, promotion, or other employment or membership opportunities of members of any race, sex, or ethnic group will be considered to be discriminatory and inconsistent with these guidelines, unless the procedure has been validated in accordance with these guidelines, or the provisions of section 6 of this part are satisfied.