Deciding On Taking the SAT With Essay: Pros & Cons

Instructor: Leah Salyer
The new SAT offers you the choice of taking the exam with or without the essay, but deciding which version of the test to complete can be a difficult decision. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of completing the SAT essay and find out how your essay scores might affect your college career.

Pros of Taking the New SAT Essay

There are a few pros to consider when deciding whether or not to take the SAT with essay, such as school admissions policies and the strength of your writing skills. These pros are outlined in detail below.

Some Schools Recommend or Require It

When making this choice, you'll want to consider the admissions policies of the schools you're interested in applying to. Some schools require students to submit SAT essay scores in order to complete the application process, while other schools recommend it. Taking the SAT with essay can ensure you meet their application criteria.

It Shows Your Writing Skills

The writing prompt you'll be given is very similar to a college essay assignment. If writing is an area where you excel, choosing to take this version of the test gives you the chance to demonstrate that you can handle writing a college essay. You can also set yourself apart from other applicants by showing off your critical-thinking skills and your ability to analyze an argument.

Cons of Taking the New SAT Essay

Cons to consider when making the decision about which version of the SAT to take include the stress that comes with preparing for and completing the essay. These cons are explained below.

You'll Be Writing Under a Time Limit

Your writing skills may be up to par or better, but many people struggle when forced to deal with time constraints. The SAT essay lasts 50 minutes, during which time you must not only read the passage given, but also develop your response. Writing a clear, organized essay with well thought out ideas might be tough to do in the time frame provided.

More Prep Time Is Involved

You will need to divide your study time between the optional and required sections of the SAT. This can be tricky, as you'll want to do well on both parts of the test. Plus, honing your ability to write well in a limited amount of time takes several hours of practice.

Essay Writing Divides Your Focus

Shifting gears on test day from the required portion to the essay portion can also be complicated. If you do decide to take the essay, it may be beneficial to look into test-taking strategies that can help you switch from one train of thought to another and prepare you to deal with this challenge as it arises.

SAT Essay Prep Resources

Check out the resources below when debating whether or not to take the SAT with essay. You'll learn more about this version of the test and get tips for writing a successful essay. Each collection of video lessons is self-paced and includes short quizzes you can use to test your understanding of the following writing topics:

These links are part of a complete SAT Prep: Practice & Study Guide resource that covers all sections of the test.

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