Should You Attempt the Essay?


The now optional SAT essay provides an extra challenge that not all are willing to step up to

At the end of the treacherous SAT waits the optional essay portion, the final speed bump for those waiting to finish the SAT. While regarded as not mandatory and a tiring extension to a difficult test, the essay section may be a very beneficial opportunity to impress colleges, especially if writing and English are strong suits of the student.

Before March of 2016, the writing portion was mandatory and was similar to the persuasive essays seen on the writing SOLs. Now, however, it is completely optional and not choosing to take it will not harm the tester’s scores.

For colleges, only about ten percent require the essay portion in order to gain admission, according to Compass Prep. However, many schools like to see that the student attempted the essay despite the score given. The test is graded based on a 1-8 on analyzing and writing a piece on what writing tools the author uses to prove or strengthen his or her argument. This type of essay is known as a Rhetorical Analysis essay. If the student has taken AP Language, the SAT essay will be familiar due to the writing pieces focused on in the course. Test takers are given 50 minutes to write.

As stated before, the essay portion is the final section of the SAT and can seem pointless if it’s only optional. While it can be tiring and redundant after long hours of testing, colleges appreciate the effort put into giving it a try. Potomac Falls English teacher and SAT tutor Amy Trickett also recommends taking the essay.

“If you are applying to a school that recommends the essay, I would take it, for your score could give you a leg up in the competition,” said Trickett. “If you are not sure which schools you are applying to, I would take it just in case you need.”