Should I Take the SAT Essay? What to Know and How to Decide

The SAT, short for the Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a standardized exam widely used for college admissions in the United States.

It is designed to assess a student’s readiness for higher education and is often required for university admission. One component of the SAT is the optional essay section.

In this article, we will explore whether or not you should take the SAT essay and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.

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What is the SAT Essay?

The SAT essay is an optional essay section on the SAT. It’s designed to measure your reading, analysis, and writing skills. The essay prompt will ask you to read a passage and then explain how the author builds an argument to persuade their audience.

You’ll need to analyze the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and other rhetorical strategies.

When you write your essay, make sure to include an introduction that summarizes the main points of the passage. Then provide examples from the passage to support your points in the body paragraphs.

Finally, end with a conclusion that ties together all of your ideas. Remember to use clear and concise language throughout your essay!

Is There A Reason Why I Should Take the SAT Essay?

Absolutely! Taking the SAT Essay can be a great way to showcase your writing skills to colleges. It is an opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of English and how to use it effectively.

The SAT Essay also provides valuable practice for those planning to take the ACT Writing Test, requiring you to analyze and evaluate a prompt. By preparing for the SAT’s essay portion, you will be better prepared for future essay-based exams.

Finally, some colleges may require you to submit an SAT Essay score and your application. Check each college’s requirements before signing up for the test to avoid missing out on potential opportunities.

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What Factors Should I Consider Before Choosing To Take SAT Essay?

Looking to write the SAT essay? Here are some of what you should consider before you decide:

Understanding the SAT Essay Section

The SAT essay is a 50-minute section that tests your reading, analysis, and writing skills. It requires reading a passage and writing an essay analyzing the author’s argument.

The essay is scored separately from the rest of the SAT and does not contribute to your overall SAT score.

Considering College Requirements

The first factor to consider when deciding whether to take the SAT essay is the requirements of the colleges you are interested in.

While some colleges do not require the essay section, others may recommend or require it. Research the admission requirements of your target colleges to determine if the essay is necessary.

Demonstrating Writing Skills

The SAT essay provides an opportunity to showcase your writing abilities. Taking the SAT essay can be advantageous if you are confident in your writing skills and believe you can produce a well-structured and thoughtful essay within the time limit.

Admissions officers may value strong writing skills, and a well-written essay could enhance your college application.

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Personal Preferences and Strengths

Consider your preferences and strengths when deciding whether to take the SAT essay. If you enjoy writing and feel it is one of your strengths, the essay section might be a chance for you to shine.

On the other hand, if you struggle with timed writing or find the essay format challenging, it may be better to focus your efforts on other sections of the SAT.

Preparation Time and Resources

Preparing for the SAT essay takes time and effort. If you decide to take the essay, you must dedicate additional study time to practice writing essays, analyzing arguments, and improving your writing skills.

Before deciding, consider whether you have the time and resources to prepare for the essay section adequately.

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What Else Do I Need To Know About the SAT Essay?

Here are a few more details to help you decide if you want to take the SAT Essay:

The Prompt and Passage

You will be presented with a passage to read and analyze in the SAT essay section. The passage is typically a persuasive or argumentative text, and your task is to evaluate the author’s use of evidence, reasoning, and stylistic or persuasive elements. Understanding the prompt and passage is crucial for writing a strong essay.

Scoring and Evaluation

The SAT essay is scored on a scale of 2 to 8 in three categories: reading, analysis, and writing. Two readers independently score your essay, and their scores are then combined.

A high-scoring essay demonstrates strong comprehension of the passage, effective analysis of the author’s argument, and clear and coherent writing.

Time Management

With only 50 minutes to complete the essay, time management is essential. It is important to allocate your time wisely, allowing for reading and understanding the passage, planning your essay, writing, and revising.

Practice timed writing exercises to improve your efficiency and ensure you can complete the essay within the time limit.

Essay Structure and Organization

To write a successful SAT essay, it is crucial to have a well-structured and organized response.

Begin with a clear thesis statement summarizing your main argument, then support it with evidence and examples from the passage.

Use paragraphs to separate your ideas and maintain a logical flow throughout the essay.

Writing Style and Language

In addition to analyzing the passage, the SAT essay assesses your writing style and language proficiency. Aim for clarity, coherence, and precision in your writing.

Use a variety of sentence structures, appropriate vocabulary, and transitions to convey your ideas effectively. Proofread your essay for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.

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What Are The Benefits of Writing The SAT Essay?

Writing the SAT essay can be a great way to boost your college application. Here are some of the key benefits:

Showing off your writing skills:

The SAT essay is an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to construct a well-thought-out argument and use strong evidence to support it. This is an essential skill for college, and having evidence of it on your application can impress admissions officers.

Preparing for college classes:

The SAT essay requires you to analyze complex texts and make arguments based on them, similar to what you will do in many college classes. Practicing this kind of analysis before you get to college can help prepare you for the rigor of college academics.

Improving your score:

Finally, if you take the time to practice and hone your essay writing skills, it can help improve your overall SAT score and make your college application stand out from the crowd.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I take the SAT essay if it is optional?

While the essay section is optional, checking the requirements of the colleges you are applying to is still recommended. Some colleges may have specific guidelines or preferences regarding the essay, and taking it might strengthen your application.

Can I take the SAT essay multiple times to improve my score?

Yes, you can take the SAT essay multiple times. However, it’s important to note that some colleges may only consider your highest essay score, while others may consider your scores from all test dates. Research the policies of the colleges you are interested in to understand how they evaluate multiple essay scores.

How can I prepare for the SAT essay?

To prepare for the SAT essay, familiarize yourself with the structure and expectations of the essay section. Practice timed writing exercises using sample prompts and passages.

Analyze persuasive texts to understand how authors use evidence and reasoning to support their arguments. Seek feedback from teachers or tutors to improve your writing skills.

Do colleges value the SAT essay?

The value placed on the SAT essay varies among colleges. Some colleges consider the essay as an important factor in their admissions process, while others place less emphasis on it. Research the policies of the colleges you are interested in to determine their stance on the SAT essay.

Can I change my decision to take the SAT essay on test day?

You can add or remove the essay section on test day if you initially registered for the SAT without the essay. However, there is an additional fee for making changes on test day. It is advisable to make a decision beforehand to avoid any last-minute complications.

How does the SAT essay affect my overall SAT score?

The SAT essay is scored separately from the rest of the SAT and does not contribute to your overall SAT score. It is essential to understand that the essay score is a standalone component and is not factored into the composite score received on the other sections of the SAT.


Deciding whether to take the SAT essay requires careful consideration of college requirements, personal strengths, and preferences.

It is important to research the colleges you are interested in and understand their essay policies.

If you choose to take the SAT essay, prepare adequately and practice your writing skills. Ultimately, the decision should be based on your circumstances and goals.



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