The SATs are often a daunting topic. However, there’s something that’s often glossed over – the SAT essay. While the essay is optional, it’s only a small fee more than the test itself, and it can add to your application. However, it isn’t easy or something to be taken for granted – you have to prepare for it and be knowledgeable regarding the topics covered and the rubric. In this post, we’ll talk about how to write the essay and the cases in which it’s essential. We’ll also discuss the circumstances in which the essay is required, and when you can opt not to take it.

Related: 7 Ways to Prepare for the SATs and ACTs

What is The SAT Essay Prompt?

The SAT essay prompt is as follows:

What Topics As you read the passage below, consider how the author uses

  • Evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
  • Reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
  • Stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, adds power to the ideas expressed.

The prompt will also give you a larger piece of writing to analyze. It will typically provide the author, the publication from which the piece was taken, and the year it was written. Your job for the essay is to find the purpose of the writing and analyze what tools the author uses to achieve its purpose.

If you’re preparing for your college/ university application our blogs provide great insights to help you in your journey.

What Does The SAT Essay Measure?

The SAT Essay is graded in three parts, according to the rubric. The three components are Reading, Analysis, and Writing. The reading score is determined by how well you comprehend the text – if you have the right main themes and ideas demonstrated in your essay, you’ll likely get this point. The analysis section is a measure of your analytical ability – did you correctly identify the author’s strategies in the texts? More importantly, did you justify your analysis and relate it to the effect on the audience? Finally, the writing section is a test of your writing ability. To get full points, use complex sentences and a nuanced vocabulary when communicating your ideas.

Why Should You Write The SAT Essay Even If It’s Optional?

a student walking out of a classroom

Although many colleges are SAT optional, there are still several other reasons to take it. Before you decide whether or not you should take this $15 essay for about one hour, you should consider the potential benefits.

Related: Traits that Colleges Look for in Applications

An Opportunity to Shine

If you are a good essay writer or are exceptionally talented at literary analysis (akin to the AP Literature exam or some parts of the AP Language exam), you will have a good chance of getting a good score on the essay. Even if the essay is optional, a good score can boost your application or potentially get you college credit later. Therefore, even if it may not be required, you should still consider taking the exam if you can prepare or feel that you are already prepared – you never know when it may come in handy, and it may make your college application look even better.

Might Not Be Optional

Just because the College Board no longer requires the SAT Essay, doesn’t mean that you won’t have that essay requirement yourself, specific to a particular college or university’s application requirements. On the contrary, several colleges do require the essay. To be sure, you should check your college’s admissions website to see the requirements. You should also check the credit by exam policy for the college – a good score on the essay may get you credit for a required introductory rhetoric class. Even if that isn’t the case, as mentioned before, this essay may be the boost that’s the difference between you getting or not getting into your dream school. 

Your School Requires It  

As mentioned above, several schools require the SAT essay. There are multiple reasons this essay may be required. Firstly, this essay is often used to check if your admissions essays were copied – a high score on the SAT essay will validate that a good admissions essay was your own work and not plagiarized or written by a freelancer. Moreover, your SAT essay may entirely replace the admissions essay – some colleges don’t have any optional essays, so a good SAT essay score could prove that you’re a good writer despite a lack of admissions essays.

Overcome a Deficiency 

Several other scores can determine whether you are a good writer – the AP Language score, the AP Literature score, the ACT essay, and several other tests. However, if one of these scores isn’t good enough to represent your abilities accurately, then a good score on the SAT essay can prove your writing capability. As a result, the SAT essay can help you overcome a deficient score and prevent the admissions officers from assuming you are a poor writer. While this doesn’t apply to everyone, it is an essential and potentially make-or-break decision.

Related: Liberal Art Colleges vs. Universities: What You Need To Know

Why Shouldn’t You Write The SAT Essay?

typing on a laptop computer

On the other hand, there are several cases in which the SAT essay is not necessary. Although this is rarer, the essay’s cost and time mean you should at least consider omitting the essay entirely. 

Your School Doesn’t Require It.

If all the schools you will be applying to do not at all require the essay, then there is no reason to take it. While some schools are test-optional, a test blind school will entirely object to reviewing the essay. In this case (and assuming the School will also not accept the essay for course credit), there is no reason to take the essay. However, make sure you thoroughly review your schools’ policies, as they may change and may accept the essay in some cases. Also, be sure you are not planning on applying to any more schools later – doing so could require the SAT essay that you may not have.

Not Prepare

If you don’t think you are prepared enough to score well on your essay, then you should not take it – a poor score could hurt your application, and sending an SAT may require you to send the corresponding essay score. Even if you use the College Board’s score choice, your essay score that corresponds to a subsection score will be sent. While a neutral or above-average score will not hurt your application, a bad score due to lack of preparation or practice can hurt your application and make it harder to get into your ideal institution. As a result, if you’re going to opt to take the test, make sure you have a lot of practice with formal writing and literary analysis.

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Final Thoughts 

The College Board SAT essay is not for everyone. Even if you believe you are ready, it may have no impact on your application whatsoever. For that reason, you need to consider the benefits and potential disadvantages of taking the SAT Essay. This essay isn’t something to be taken lightly – any score above an 18 is extremely difficult and a sign of great analysis, reading comprehension and writing ability. A good score requires practice and strong writing skills. Nonetheless, make sure you are well informed before you decide – this decision could be one that alters your entire college application and admissions decision.