In 2016, the SAT Essay became an optional section on the exam. The new standardized test is scored out of 1600 without the essay, which is scored separately on a scale of 2 to 8 for Reading, Analysis and Writing. Students who choose to complete the SAT Essay have 50 minutes to write, versus 25 minutes on the old test. Despite the argument that the SAT Essay is now easier, some students rejoice that it’s optional. Yet, is it always wise to skip the SAT essay? We outline 4 scenarios to help you make an informed decision.

I Don’t Know Where I’ll Apply

Between sophomore and junior year, some high school students still have no clue where they’ll apply to college in the fall of senior year. If you are one of these undecided students, it’s best to take the SAT Essay. When you could be applying to a mix of required and optional schools, you don’t want to give up on a dream school because you opted out of the essay.

My List of Schools Is Divided

There is no formula that schools use to decide whether to require the SAT Essay. Students may be surprised to know that not all Ivy Leagues recommend it – Cornell, Brown and UPenn are optional schools. In any case, if you’re applying to 5 essay-required and 5 essay-optional schools, you will not have a choice but to take it. Plus, if your scores are great, they can give you a leg up on the competition at optional schools.

I’m Applying to Competitive Colleges

Although not all top schools require the SAT Essay, an impressive score can be used to your advantage. Many students who apply to competitive schools have similar resumes – awesome grades, a laundry list of extracurricular activities and plenty of community service. If you score between 6 and 8 on each section of the essay, it could set you apart from another student who looks like you on paper, but did not send in SAT Essay scores.

My Top Schools Do Not Require It

Some students know exactly where they want to go to college. Rather than applying to every school under the sun, they have a defined list of schools. If none of them require SAT Essay scores and you already have a good college resume, go ahead and skip it.

In conclusion, there are many more benefits of taking the SAT Essay than not. Even if you do not end up sending your scores in, you will be more prepared to face the writing challenges of college. Students will likely perform better under timed conditions and other stressful deadlines from their practice on the SAT Essay. The new format also teaches students about passage analysis and can improve reading comprehension. Interested students can learn more about our Essay Writing Services and SAT Test Prep Classes today.