College Board Will No Longer Offer SAT Subject Tests or SAT with Essay
- January 19, 2021
- Last Updated September 15, 2021
As students and colleges adapt to new realities and changes to the college admissions process, College Board is making sure our programs adapt with them. We’re making some changes to reduce demands on students.
We are no longer offering SAT Subject Tests ™
We’ve reached out to our member colleges and they’ll decide whether and how to consider students’ Subject Test scores. Students should check colleges’ websites for the most up-to-date information on their application policies. Students will still be able to get and send Subject Test scores from previous administrations, just as they do for the SAT. Learn how
We've also discontinued the optional SAT Essay
The Essay is only available in states where it’s required as part of SAT School Day administrations. Students scheduled to take the SAT on a school day should check with their school about whether the Essay will be included.
Writing remains essential to college readiness and the SAT will continue to measure writing and editing skills, but there are other ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing, and the SAT will continue to measure writing throughout the test. The tasks on the SAT Reading and Writing and Language sections are among the most effective and predictive parts of the SAT.
What is the current 2021-2022 SAT administration schedule?
You can find SAT test dates and deadlines here .
Why did you discontinue SAT Subject Tests?
We’re reducing demands on students. The expanded reach of AP and its widespread availability means the Subject Tests are no longer necessary for students to show what they know.
I’ve already taken SAT Subject Tests. Will colleges still accept those scores?
We’ve reached out to our member colleges, and they’ll decide whether and how to consider students’ Subject Test scores. Students should check colleges’ websites for the most up-to-date information on their application policies. You'll still be able to get and send Subject Test scores from previous administrations, just as you can for the SAT. Learn how
How long will score sending for SAT Subject Tests be an option?
Students can continue sending their Subject Test scores.
How can I show my skills in specific subject areas without the opportunity to take SAT Subject Tests?
We’ve continued to enrich and expand access to AP courses, which let students showcase their skills through challenging coursework. Many colleges already use AP course participation and exam score as indicators of a student’s ability and interest in a particular subject area. And colleges also have access to information about student performance in key subject areas through their SAT scores, high school transcript, course selection, and other measures. Check directly with the colleges you plan to apply to for alternative ways to strengthen your applications.
Why are you discontinuing the optional SAT Essay?
We’re adapting to respond to the changing needs of students and colleges. This change simply streamlines the process for students who have other, more relevant opportunities to show they can write an essay as part of the work they’re already doing on their path to college.
Will colleges still consider Essay scores if I submit them?
Check with the colleges you’re interested in about their policies. If you take the SAT with Essay, colleges may consider your scores as part of their holistic review process. Students registered for the SAT with Essay can cancel the Essay portion if they choose to.
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The Optional SAT Essay: What to Know
Tackling this section of the SAT requires preparation and can boost some students' college applications.
Even though an increasing number of colleges are dropping standardized test requirements, students who must write the SAT essay can still stand to gain from doing so. (Getty Images)
Although the essay portion of the SAT became optional in 2016, many students still chose to write it to demonstrate strong or improved writing skills to prospective colleges.
In June 2021, the College Board opted to discontinue the SAT essay. Now, only students in a few states and school districts still have access to — and must complete — the SAT essay. This requirement applies to some students in the SAT School Day program, for instance, among other groups.
Whether or not to write the SAT essay is not the biggest decision you will have to make in high school, but it is certainly one that requires thought on your part. Here are three things you should know about the 50-minute SAT essay as you decide whether to complete it:
- To excel on the SAT essay, you must be a trained reader.
- The SAT essay begs background knowledge of rhetoric and persuasive writing.
- A growing number of colleges are dropping standardized test requirements.
To Excel on the SAT Essay, You Must Be a Trained Reader
The SAT essay prompt never comes unaccompanied. On the contrary, it follows a text that is about 700 words long or approximately one page. Before test-takers can even plan their response, they must carefully read and – ideally – annotate the passage.
The multifaceted nature of the SAT essay prompt can be distressing to students who struggle with reading comprehension. But the good news is that this prompt is highly predictable: It always asks students to explain how the author builds his or her argument. In this case, "how” means which rhetorical devices are used, such as deductive reasoning, metaphors, etc.
Luckily, the author’s argument is usually spelled out in the prompt itself. For instance, consider this past SAT prompt : “Write an essay in which you explain how Paul Bogard builds an argument to persuade his audience that natural darkness should be preserved.”
Due to the essay prompt’s straightforward nature, students should read the passage with an eye toward specific devices used by the author rather than poring over “big ideas.” In tour SAT essay, aim to analyze at least two devices, with three being even better.
The SAT Essay Begs Background Knowledge of Rhetoric and Persuasive Writing
Since your SAT essay response must point to specific rhetorical devices that the author employs to convince the reader, you should make it a point to intimately know 10-15 common ones. The more familiar you are with rhetorical devices, the faster you will become at picking them out as you read texts.
Once you have read the passage and identified a handful of noteworthy rhetorical devices, you should apply many of the same essay-writing techniques you already use in your high school English classes.
For instance, you should start by brainstorming to see which devices you have the most to say about. After that, develop a concise thesis statement, incorporate quotes from the text, avoid wordiness and other infelicities of writing, close with an intriguing conclusion, and do everything else you could imagine your English teacher advising you to do.
Remember to always provide evidence from the text to support your claims. Finally, leave a few minutes at the end to review your essay for mistakes.
A Growing Number of Colleges Are Dropping Standardized Test Requirements
In recent years, some of America’s most prominent colleges and universities – including Ivy League institutions like Harvard University in Massachusetts, Princeton University in New Jersey and Yale University in Connecticut – have made submission of ACT and SAT scores optional.
While this trend began as early as 2018, the upheaval caused by COVID-19 has prompted many other schools to adopt a more lenient testing policy, as well.
Advocates for educational fairness have long expressed concerns that standardized admissions tests put underprivileged students at a disadvantage. In light of the coronavirus pandemic , which restricted exam access for almost all high school students, colleges have gotten on board with this idea by placing more emphasis on other factors in a student’s application.
To assess writing ability in alternative ways, colleges now place more emphasis on students’ grades in language-oriented subjects, as well as college application documents like the personal statement .
The fact that more colleges are lifting their ACT/SAT requirement does not imply that either test or any component of it is now obsolete. Students who must write the SAT essay can still stand to gain from doing so, especially those who wish to major in a writing-intensive field. The essay can also demonstrate a progression or upward trajectory in writing skills.
The SAT essay can give a boost to the college applications of the few students to whom it is still available. If the requirement applies to you, be sure to learn more about the SAT essay and practice it often as you prepare for your upcoming SAT.
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Stressed about getting into college? College Admissions Playbook, authored by Varsity Tutors , offers prospective college students advice on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, SAT and ACT exams and the college application process. Varsity Tutors, an advertiser with U.S. News & World Report, is a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement. The company's end-to-end offerings also include mobile learning apps, online learning environments and other tutoring and test prep-focused technologies. Got a question? Email [email protected] .
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Get a personalized university shortlist based on your preferred course., the sat announces cancellation of essay & subject tests.
- Read Time 7 mins
- Updated On November 16, 2022
- Published In SAT 👩🎓
The results of the SAT, a standardised test, are essential for your entry to some of the most prestigious universities in the USA and Canada. It assesses an individual’s ability to solve mathematical equations and speak the English language. Over the years, the SAT has seen its fair share of alterations. Since the coronavirus hit our lives, we’ve been left to adapt to the realities of the world, especially students wanting to get admission into well-known universities. The College Board, the organisation which administers the SAT test , is also ensuring the universities adapt to the times. That is why they’re making some changes to reduce the demands of students as well. One of the major changes from their end is cancelling the SAT Easy test. This decision by the Board was taken last year. In this blog, we’ll cover this new change, what it means for the students, and how the SAT Essay Cancelled affect college admissions.
Table of Contents
SAT Essay Cancelled
As per the notification by the College Board, they will no longer offer the SAT Essay to high school students. It means that school students will no longer be able to schedule to take the SAT Essay exam. However, there’s an exception to this rule. If a student is required to take the SAT Essay exam as part of the high school graduation requirements, they may take the test. Although, there’s a good chance that the states requiring this will drop the requirement in the future. As a student, you must be up to date with the latest updates by staying in touch with your guiding counsellors or high school administrators.
SAT Subject Test Discontinued
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Like the SAT Essay, the College Board has also decided to cancel the SAT Subject Test. As per the Board, this test doesn’t offer the same value that it once did. The Board used to offer subject tests on topics like grammar, world history, Latin, modern Hebrew, and math.
Reasons For Discontinuing SAT Essay
As mentioned above, the Covid-19 pandemic has been hard for everyone. However, it was especially tough on high school students and the College Board. The SATs were cancelled repeatedly, while many institutes dropped the SAT requirement entirely in the 2020-2022 phase of admissions. The College Board felt that dropping the SAT essay would help reduce the demands for students for now and in the future. Many experts feel that this decision is also a timely and practical one because most universities don’t require SAT Essay scores as part of the admissions process. Many students had already started dropping the SAT Essay test before this notification. In 2020, hardly 57% of students took the essay section with the SAT exam. That is why it’s believed the College Board may have dropped the SAT essay for operational and financial reasons, as well. Getting rid of the essay portion makes the SAT test entirely multiple-choice, allowing automated grading to occur. As a result, the Board would not have to pay the essay scorers. Moreover, it would also pave the way for a level playing field. Many felt that SAT only catered to the privileged and affluent students. Getting rid of the SAT Essay and subject test requirements may enhance perceived accessibility in standardised testing. For similar reasons, the ACT might end up cancelling the ACT Essay, as well.
Reasons For Discontinuing SAT Subject Test
The main reason behind discontinuing the SAT Subject test is the expanded reach of AP exams. With each passing year, AP tests have become more widespread and cover a range of subjects. Moreover, eliminating the subject tests will open seats to students who need to take the SAT and haven’t had the chance to do so due to the coronavirus pandemic. The widespread availability of the AP exam had led to most universities eliminating the subject test requirements. Plus, the language subject tests were mainly being taken by native speakers. So, colleges were not getting vital information in making admission decisions through this test.
Impact of Cancellation on the Students
To put it simply, students wouldn’t be able to take the SAT Essay test unless it is a part of an SAT School Days Requirements. This notification is most impactful for students who had planned to use their essay scores to make their applications stand out from the crowd. For instance, there have been students in the past who’d hoped their essay scores would help overcome a low overall GPA or math score. However, that wouldn’t be an option for the students anymore.
Impact of Cancellation on Admission Process
If your college required the SAT essay in the past, there are going to be various changes that one may see in the admission process. While some universities or schools may drop the essay requirement, others may ask you to submit additional writing samples to fulfil that requirement. Something similar is also possible with departments that used the SAT Essay for the selection process. So, students applying to literature degrees or programmes that require lots of writing (rigorous writing skills) may have to submit additional college essays samples or take a department-specific placement test. However, this decision likely wouldn’t change anything for students applying to universities where the SAT Essay wasn’t a college admissions process requirement in the first place. The reason is that the admission process isn’t affected by the College Board’s policies.
Next Moves to be Made by the Students
Students should check with their potential universities and schools about the admission process. It’ll allow them to see how the new SAT Essay policies will affect their chances and college application. In such a scenario, admission counsellors can be a great help. Some colleges might ask for AP subject test scores or minimum grades in place of subject tests in specific courses from an applicant. SAT Exam For 2022
Encouraged by the coronavirus pandemic, the College Board has been making substantial investments in making the SAT more inclusive and relevant. That is why last year, the College Board announced to discontinue the SAT Essays and Subject Test. This decision was made by the board to reduce the demand on students for both the present and the future. Plus, they feel that these sections do not offer the same value that they once did. Many colleges had already removed SAT essays scores as a selection criterion some years back. Moreover, AP tests have become widely available and cover various subjects, making them a potent replacement for SAT subject tests. They are of greater importance than ever. While the SAT Essay was an optional essay, the decision of discontinuing it is a major one. For further info on the SAT, like the registration deadline and test date information, book a free counselling session on LeapScholar today .
Frequently Asked Questions
Will colleges still consider Essay scores if I submit them?
They might. It will vary from college to college. That is why it is best to check with the colleges that you are interested in studying about their application process. Some may consider or require an optional SAT essay as part of their holistic review process.
How can I show my skills in specific subject areas without the opportunity to take SAT subject tests?
Many colleges use AP scores as an indicator of a student’s ability and interest in a particular subject area. Plus, colleges also have access to the performance of an applicant in specific subjects areas through SAT scores, ACT scores, and high school transcripts, amongst others. So, you can check directly with the colleges you will apply to for alternative ways to support your application.
How can I make my college application stand out now that the SAT Essay is discontinued?
Some ways to make your college application or registration stand out are showcasing a potent GPA, strong test scores, extracurricular experience, work experience, compelling LORs, and volunteering experience.
Is the SAT Essay Cancelled? If yes, what is the main reason behind it?
As per the College Board, the primary reason for cancelling SAT Essay was to reduce the demand on students. However, reducing finances and making the SAT more accessible for students are also key reasons.
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The SAT Essay 2022-2023: What to Expect
Last updated: March 2022
How to write the SAT essay:
- Read the prompt to understand the task.
- Read the sample passage, underlining the examples and evidence.
- Come up with a thesis statement.
- Outline your SAT essay.
- Write a draft.
- Edit it: check arguments and evidence, make sure there’s a logic in the essay.
- Proofread your SAT essay: check grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc.
Good news for those afraid of SAT essays:
This section is optional now. It means they won’t require you to write the SAT essay this year.
Many colleges still recommend it to see your writing and critical thinking skills.
What are those colleges that require SAT essays? How long is the SAT with essays? How to write it? And what is the SAT essay, after all?
Keep on reading to find out all the details, and get ready to earn the highest score for your essay this year.
That’s what you’ll learn in this guide:
Table of Contents:
- The SAT essay: to take or not to take?
- How to decide when to take the SAT
- How to register for the SAT
- Top changes to SAT essays in 2022
- How to write SAT essay?
- SAT essay tips
- Colleges that require SAT essay
What is the SAT?
Invented by Carl Brigham in 1923 , the SAT is owned and developed by College Board. It’s a not-for-profit organization in the USA, with over 6,000 schools, colleges, and universities being its members.
The purpose of the SAT is to measure your readiness for college. It’s focused on the knowledge and skills you’ve got in high school, and it provides colleges with one common score to compare all applicants.
College admission officers review the SAT score alongside with your other achievements such as:
- Your high school GPA.
- The admission interview.
- Your personal essay .
- Letters of recommendation from your teachers.
- The classes you took in school.
- Your extracurricular activities.
The higher your final score, the more options you’ll have for admission.
The SAT includes three mandatory parts: Reading, Writing, and Math. As per 2016, an SAT essay is optional for applicants to take, though many colleges still require it.
You’ll have three hours to complete your SAT (without the essay). If you write the essay, you’ll have 3 hours 50 minutes to finish the whole test.
To succeed with the test, you should complete its all sections. If you leave some questions unanswered, your scores will be canceled.
The total you can get for your SAT is on a scale of 400–1600, with 200–800 for each of two sections: Reading and Writing + Math.
Okay, here’s a kinda SAT score calculator for you:
If you write an SAT essay, you can get an extra 2–8 points for each of three criteria. What are these criteria, and what is a good essay score?
Two graders from College Board score each SAT essay on a scale of 1-4 across three criteria:
- Reading: it should be clear from your essay that you’ve understood the material. So, cover its main points and show how they interrelate.
- Analysis: an essay should include persuasive claims about the text’s main points. So, evaluate them and provide supporting evidence for its claims.
- Writing: an essay should be structured well. So, present your arguments logically, vary sentence structure, state a thesis, and avoid grammar/spelling mistakes.
Summed together from two graders, your SAT essay score can range between 2 and 8 for each criterion.
In 2018, the average SAT essay score was 5 out of 8 for Reading, 4 out of 8 for Analysis, and 5 out of 8 for Writing. ( Source )
As you see, the analysis was the most challenging part for students. That’s because it differs from what you do in standard essays:
In high school, you mostly write persuasive essays to give your personal opinion on the topic. In the SAT essay, they ask you to analyze the author’s opinion. It’s more like writing an expository essay . And although the structure of SAT essays doesn’t differ from that of a standard essay, it may be difficult for you to logically link the arguments and evidence of another person in a new paper.
SAT Dates in 2022-2023
As a rule, the SAT takes place on the first Saturday of November, December, May, and June. Other dates include late January, March or April, and late August or October.
In other words, you can take the exam almost every month. Just make sure you are ready and don’t miss a registration deadline for your chosen data.
Here are the SAT dates for 2022-2023:
The SAT Essay: to Take or Not to Take?
As you’ve read already, an SAT essay is optional now. However, there are many colleges and universities in the USA that still require it from applicants. So, if you decide not to write the SAT essay, you won’t be able to apply to these schools.
Later in this article, you’ll find the list of colleges that require the SAT essay. Make sure yours is not there; otherwise, you’ll have to write an essay. If you are still unsure of what college to apply, writing the essay would come in handy anyway.
The SAT with essay costs $57 as opposed to the $45 for the SAT without an essay section.
Pros and cons of taking the SAT essay:
How to Decide When to Take the SAT
Think strategically when choosing the date for taking your SAT:
- How much time do you need to prepare? Map it out, set goals, visualize your plan – and you’ll know what SAT date fits you best.
- How busy are you with other tasks at the moment? With tons of other assignments and commitments to complete, you’ll hardly find enough time for preparation. So, choose the season when your schedule is not that crazy.
- What is your college application timeline? You’ll need the SAT completed before you submit the application, so time accordingly.
How to Register for the SAT
First of all, choose the date, based on the tips above. Try to complete your SAT registration as soon as possible, because the late registration usually needs an extra fee.
Also, decide if you take the SAT essay. For that, find out if your chosen colleges require such essays. Also, check if they ask applicants to take SAT Subject Tests (they are given by College Board on individual subjects).
You can complete the registration on the College Board website , or fill in the Student Registration Booklet and send it by email. ( Ask your school counselor for this booklet .)
You’ll need to upload a picture of yourself and provide all your personal data. Make sure the photo and info match with those in your ID. Also, pay a registration fee.
Once your registration is complete, print out the Admission Ticket: you’ll need it when come to take your test.
Top Changes to SAT Essays in 2022
In case you don’t know, the SAT has changed since 2016. Many educational blogs and websites wrote about it because it was the year of the biggest change to this test, and it impacted students greatly.
Time, format, scores, sections… Everything is different now!
Here go the most significant changes to SAT essays in 2020 and later:
- The SAT essay is optional now.
- Students have 50 minutes for writing it. (The old SAT gave them only 25 minutes.)
- This essay is argumentative now, and it asks you to analyze another essay. (The old SAT required to answer a theoretical prompt in your essay.)
- The SAT essay is scored separately now. (The old SAT had an essay as a part of the Writing section, and the score range for it was 200-800.)
More changes to the overall SAT test are gathered and turned into the infographic by Student Tutor. Check here for details.
Or, let’s turn to SAT essay examples!
That’s what an SAT essay task looked back in 2016:
As you see, it’s focused on a more theoretical response. Graders didn’t estimate any analytical skills.
And that’s the example of a new SAT essay task:
It requires a more argumentative and analytical approach from students. Graders can see your critical thinking skills, not just your personal opinion on a given theoretical prompt.
Both examples are taken from Allen Cheng’s article at PrepScholar. He shared the complete guide to the SAT new rules and its most meaningful changes for students.
How to Write SAT Essay?
Below, you’ll find SAT essay tips that can help to improve your scores. But now let’s turn to an essay structure and your step by step tutorial on how to write SAT essays.
Lucky you are, the SAT essay structure is similar to any standard academic paper teachers asked you to write in class. Known as a 5-paragraph essay , its basic parts are:
- Introduction: 2-3 sentences with a hook and a thesis statement.
- Thesis statement: a central argument of your essay, so take your time to craft it.
- Supporting paragraphs (two or three, if time) : each of them should include a topic sentence, evidence, and a concluding sentence to demonstrate how it refers to your thesis statement.
- Conclusion: 3-4 sentences, summarizing your arguments in a concise manner.
Given that you have 50 minutes for writing the SAT essay, make sure to allocate this time like a boss:
- Read the prompt: 1 minute .
- Read the passage, annotating the core info: 15 minutes .
- Outline the essay: 5 minutes .
- Write an essay: 25 minutes .
- Check an essay: 4 minutes .
Don’t hurry up to read the passage: pay attention to the task (prompt) itself, as it will help you understand what information and evidence to concentrate. So, here we have the first step to writing a good SAT essay: read the prompt before the passage .
After that, read the sample passage carefully . Underline the evidence and examples you can use to answer the prompt in your essay. Remember, that your SAT essay will be scored for Reading , so you’ll need to demonstrate that you understand the text’s main points.
To get a high score for Analysis , you’ll need to explain and evaluate the author’s arguments. So, when reading the passage, identify his central claim and instruments he uses to support it (reasoning, evidence, stylistic elements). Focus on the most relevant and persuasive ones.
State your thesis . It should sum up your assessment of the author’s argument. Make it concise and clear, but don’t add any personal attitudes. Remember: you analyze the author’s view rather than share your own. Stay objective when reading the passage and then creating your central claim.
Now it’s time for outlining your essay. Map out it briefly in the introduction, then specify topic sentences and evidence for each paragraph of your essay’s body. Write the draft , with an essay conclusion restating your thesis and summarizing the whole paper.
Check your SAT essay: make sure to use effective language and word choice. Use a variety of sentence structures but stay clear and informative. Your essay gets scores for Writing too, and high scores go to works that are “cohesive and demonstrate highly effective use and command of language.” ( Source )
So, avoid low-level vocabulary, correct all spelling and grammar mistakes, and check if you use the right transitional phrases to describe relationships between the arguments in your essay.
SAT Essay Tips
Everyone loves tips, especially if they help to achieve goals and conquer new peaks. And when your goal is a high score for an SAT essay, you need tips more than ever. No wonder:
Who doesn’t want to get a magic bullet to hit the target at one stroke, right?
We asked our team of professional academic writers to give readers their recommendations on essay writing, and here go the essay tips they’ve shared:
What you can do to earn high scores for the SAT essay:
- Understand the scoring system.
- Study essay samples; analyze their structure.
- Practice a lot: take sample prompts and spend 50 minutes on writing essays based on them.
- Learn to analyze texts and see central claims and evidence in them.
- During the SAT, read the prompt before the passage. Always.
- Use accurate facts: support your points with evidence from the passage.
- Be objective: answer the prompt but don’t add any personal opinion or points.
- Take your time to organize the SAT essay, and don’t forget to revise it.
- Make your essay longer than one page: though they say length doesn’t matter, your short response might be not enough for graders to see your writing skills — and you score for the Writing criterion will suffer.
- Follow standard tips for essay writing: use straightforward language, give a clear thesis, structure your essay logically.
- Use a timer when practicing your SAT essay: remember that you’ll have 50 minutes only, so make time for analyzing, planning, writing, and revising it.
Colleges That Require SAT Essay
Your decision to take the optional SAT essay might heavily depend on which college you are going to apply.
So, let’s check what colleges require SAT essays. If yours isn’t in the list, feel free to catch a break: you won’t have to prepare for this writing test and spend money on taking it. However, we would recommend you to double-check with each school at their official websites. (Rules change, you know, and the information tends to go out of date in time.)
We took the most popular colleges among US students only. If your school isn’t on the list, check SAT essay policies of all educational institutes at the official College Board website.
SAT Essay Examples
As mentioned, you need to practice a lot to write the SAT essay worth a high score. That’s true. But what else you can do is pre-plan the examples and evidence you’ll use in the essay! For that, analyze SAT essay examples available online.
Yes, the specifics of your prompt will differ; but they can help choose the types of examples you’ll use to explain the author’s argument.
College Board shares many SAT essay examples with detailed analysis and explanations of why they gave these or those scores to students. They’ll help you understand what to expect from your essay and what writing weaknesses of yours to improve.
This is the SAT essay example that has got 2/1/1 from graders.
(Oops, you better don’t write like that!)
And this work has got 4/4/4 points! See the difference:
(c) College Board
Additional Resources to Check:
- The SAT Student Guide 2022, College Board
- SAT Essay Practice on Khan Academy
- Practice With a Redesigned SAT Essay Prompts
- Best Books to Prepare for SAT
- SAT Essay Prompts: The Complete List
Our Writing Guides
3 thoughts on “ the sat essay 2022-2023: what to expect ”.
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Choose Your Test
Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the college board has ended the sat essay.
On January 19th, 2021, the CollegeBoard announced that it would stop offering the optional SAT Essay after June 2021.
This is a big change, and students are curious about how this may impact the college admissions process. In this article, we’ll cover these new changes to the SAT Essay testing process and help you understand what they mean for you.
Here’s what you need to know.
The College Board No Longer Offers the SAT Essay
As of June 2021, the College Board will no longer offer the SAT Essay to high school students. That means high schoolers will no longer be able to schedule or take the SAT Essay exam after the 2021 June SAT date (June 5, 2021).
There’s one exception to the no-more-SAT-Essay rule. If you’re required to take the SAT Essay as part of the high school graduation requirements for your state, you may still have to take the essay test!
States that require students to take the SAT to graduate also participate in SAT School Days . SAT School Days is when students are able to take the SAT for free during...well, a school day! The College Board will continue to administer the SAT Essay to students on School Days in participating states.
There’s a good chance that these states may drop the SAT Essay requirement in the future. Be sure to check with your high school administrators or guidance counselors for the most up-to-date information on whether you have to take the SAT Essay to graduate.
SAT Essay Options for Currently Registered Students
If you’re already scheduled to take the SAT Essay exam in 2021, you have a few options going forward.
First, if you've already registered for the SAT with Essay in March, May, or June of 2021, you can still take the essay test! You can write your essay, have it scored, and send it to your colleges...no changes necessary.
But you might decide you no longer need to take the SAT Essay as a result of these new changes. The College Board is letting students who’ve already registered for the SAT Essay cancel their registrations free of charge.
To do this, just log into your College Board online account and cancel the essay! In order to avoid any additional charges, make sure you cancel your SAT Essay test prior to the registration deadline.
Why End the SAT Essay?
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a tough year for both high school students and the College Board. Not only were SAT tests cancelled repeatedly, many universities dropped the SAT requirement entirely for 2020-2021 ...and in some cases, beyond .
In their official statement about dropping the SAT Essay test, the College Board acknowledged how hard circumstances have been for high school students because of the pandemic. The College Board explains that by dropping the SAT Essay, they're helping to “reduce demands on students” both now and in the future.
While the desire to help students is sincere, experts point out that the College Board may have made this decision for more practical reasons as well. In his article for Forbes , journalist Akil Bello points out that most universities don't require SAT Essay scores as part of the admissions process. That means the SAT Essay has been optional for most college-bound students.
As a result, many students had already stopped taking the SAT Essay —in 2020, only 57% of SAT test takers also took the essay portion of the exam. So the College Board may have dropped the SAT Essay for financial and operational reasons, too.
What Does This Change Mean for Students?
Starting in June 2021, students taking the SAT will no longer be able to take the SAT Essay exam (unless it’s part of an SAT School Days requirement).
Not being able to take the SAT Essay is most impactful for students who’d planned to use their essay scores to make their applications stand out. For instance, if you’d hoped your essay score would help overcome a low SAT Math score —or even a less-than-stellar GPA—then you’ll have to make your college application stand out in other ways. We recommend making sure your application has a spike , but you can also add extracurricular activities to your resume, boost your GPA , and raise your SAT score !
Additionally, if your college required the SAT Essay in the past, you may see some differences in the admissions process. Some schools may simply drop the essay requirement, while other schools may ask you to submit additional writing samples to fulfill that requirement.
The same will be true for departments that used the SAT Essay to determine whether to admit students . Students applying to degree programs that involve lots of writing—like English, History, or Journalism—may end up having to submit additional samples, or even take a department-specific placement test.
But what if the colleges you’re applying to never required the SAT Essay? If your dream school didn’t require the SAT Essay or consider SAT Essay scores, this change won’t really affect you. The admissions processes at these schools aren’t impacted by the College Board’s new policies, so your chances of getting in are the same as before the College Board’s announcement.
Our advice? Check with your potential schools to see how the new SAT Essay policies will affect your admissions process and chances. Admissions counselors will be happy to help you out!
- Now that the SAT Essay test is going away, you’ll need to think of new ways to make your college application stand out. Here are seven things that look amazing on college apps.
- Another great way to stand out from the crowd? Make a perfect score on the SAT . That’s not an impossible goal if you follow our advice to getting a perfect score.
- Maybe you’re new to the SAT in general. Don’t worry! Here’s a primer on the SAT to get you started.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.
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Unit 7: Lesson 1
The sat essay: overview.
- The SAT Essay: What to expect
- Using Khan Academy’s SAT Essay Practice
The SAT Essay
- New Hampshire
OK—I know I'm writing the SAT Essay, and I'd like to do my best. What's next?
- 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, to add power to the ideas expressed."
The Passage: What to expect
- stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.
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Which Colleges Require SAT Essay in 2022-2023?
If you’re wondering which colleges require sat essay in 2022-2023, this guide has all you need to know — including how to decide whether to take the essay..
Updated by TCM Staff on 3rd September 2022
3rd September 2022
College Board has recently made major changes to the SAT essay that can affect your application
If there’s one thing that many college applicants tend to feel intimidated by, it’s the need to do well in standardized tests like the SAT. Although fewer colleges and universities continue to require the submission of standardized test scores, many still do require them. And if doing well in the SAT wasn’t stressful enough, some colleges also require the SAT essay — so there’s an additional bit of pressure to do well in that, too. If you’re one of the thousands of applicants wondering which colleges require SAT essay scores to be submitted, this comprehensive guide is for you.
The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is a centralized examination that evaluates examinees on four grounds: critical reading, writing, mathematics, and the optional SAT essay.
However, College Board announced in January 2021 that it would stop offering the SAT essay effective immediately. This means that no more colleges require you to take the SAT with an essay.
Read on to find out everything you need to know, including what the SAT essay is, how it is scored, what schools require the SAT essay, and more information about the news from College Board.
What is the SAT Essay?
The SAT Essay is a supplementary segment of the centralized Scholastic Aptitude Test.
If you’ve heard about the SAT and the essay before, then you might be asking the question “is the essay required on the SAT?” The answer is simple.
There was a time when an essay was a required portion of the test and everyone simply had to take it as part of sitting for their SATs. Because it was pretty much a required section of the SAT during that time, all colleges that required the SAT also required the SAT essay.
The essay evaluates the candidate’s comprehensive, writing, and time management skills. An argumentative passage is laid out for the applicant to study, analyze, and summarize. College Board usually assembled sample SAT essay prompts for assistance. During the essay, examinees are allotted 50 minutes to read the prompt, analyze it, and write their responses in essay form.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that College Board made the essay optional in 2016. For this reason, many colleges and universities began dropping it from their application requirements. Even then, many colleges and universities continued to require the essay or at least recommend students to take it and submit their scores alongside their application.
Editor’s note: College Board has made a big announcement in 2021 that renders this information invalid. See their announcement below.
How is the SAT Essay Scored?
To understand how the SAT essay is scored, we must first take a closer look at the essay itself.
Every SAT Essay is comprised of a passage around 650-750 words long. You are given 50 minutes to read, analyze, and then respond to this prompt. The primary purpose of these essays is the assessment of your analysis skills. Strong essays focus on how you use evidence and reasoning alongside any other rhetorical techniques in building your convincing argument.
Essays are the same in every test. The only thing that will change is the passage or prompt you’ll be tasked to respond to.
Once you’ve completed your essay, two scorers will evaluate it. These scorers must assign a score between 1 to 4 in the three categories of reading, analysis, and writing. Once the scorers give you their ratings, scores are added up to give you a total between 2 and 8 for each of the three categories. But what do the scores mean?
- Reading - Graders will score you based on how well they think your essay showed your understanding of the passage and whether you used textual evidence to demonstrate this understanding.
- Analysis - Your score in this section is determined by how well you have analyzed the text. It also considers how you performed in explaining this analysis with reasoning, evidence, and other rhetorical techniques for persuasion.
- Writing - Your writing score is effectively based on how well you’ve used language. It takes into consideration factors such as how skillful you were in crafting responses, how clear your essay’s structure is, how clear your essay’s point or thesis is, and so on.
Do Ivy League Schools Require the SAT Essay?
It may seem surprising, but if you look at which colleges require the SAT essay, you may notice that most top schools do not make it a requirement.
In recent years, no Ivy League schools have required applicants to submit their SAT scores with the essay. The same applies to other prestigious top-notch schools such as Caltech, Stanford, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, NYU, MIT, and more.
Many liberal arts colleges also did not require or recommend you take the SAT with the essay.
However, it’s not just the essay that a good number of schools have been dropping as a requirement.
Many Schools Have Been Dropping the SAT Requirement
Many colleges and universities have begun dropping the standardized test requirement entirely, including some highly prestigious institutions such as Harvard University, Yale University, and Princeton University. These three institutions, among many others, have made SAT and ACT scores entirely optional in their application process. Submitting your scores will get them considered during these schools’ holistic admissions process, but your SAT scores will not put you at an advantage over others who have chosen not to submit theirs.
The trend of dropping standardized test scores as a requirement was noted even as early as 2018. However, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has accelerated this process and prompted plenty of other institutions to make their testing policies more lenient overall. This trend is welcomed by critics who have for a long time expressed how standardized testing might put underprivileged and underserved students at a disadvantage.
To compensate for dropping the standardized testing requirement, colleges and universities have instead started placing more weight on the other factors comprising a student’s application. For example, to test a student’s writing ability, colleges will look more closely at the applicant’s personal statement or their grades in subjects like English.
Editor’s note: It’s worth mentioning that some institutions, such as Harvard, have simply suspended the requirement for the coming years. However, there is no telling whether Harvard will actually reinstate this requirement after this suspension period.
College Board’s Massive Announcement in January 2021: No More SAT Essay
In a surprise announcement on January 2021, College Board stated that they are no longer offering SAT Subject Tests and the optional SAT essay. As such, both were discontinued effective immediately and were completely phased out from the SATs. Moving forward from that point, the SAT essay is no longer available — unless in circumstances outlined below.
Students from certain states may still be required to sit for the essays if it is a part of their SAT School Day administrations .
Through SAT School Day administrations, College Board allows schools, districts, and states to offer their juniors and seniors an equalizing opportunity: sit for their SATs during a regular school day in their home school.
Few states continue to require the essay during SAT School Day administrations.
States that continue to require it in the academic year 2021 to 2022 include:
- New Hampshire
College Board advises that if you are scheduled to take your SATs on a school day, you should inquire with your school if the essay will be required.
Why Did College Board Discontinue the SAT Essay?
According to College Board in its FAQ , they chose to discontinue the SAT essay simply because they are adapting to students’ and colleges’ changing needs. College Board believes that discontinuing the essay allows for the streamlining of the entire process, especially for students who have more relevant methods or opportunities to show their reading, analysis, and writing skills.
College Board states that despite this discontinuation, they will continue measuring students’ writing and editing skills in other ways. An example would be the tasks on the SAT’s reading, writing, and language sections. If you wish to demonstrate your skills in reading, analysis, and writing, it may benefit you to prepare better for the pertinent SAT sections.
Should I Take the SAT Essay? How to Decide
At this point, you are no longer given the decision of whether to take the SAT essay or not. Unfortunately, since the essay has been entirely discontinued, you will not be able to sit for it anywhere. The exception, of course, is if the essay is included as part of your SAT School Day administration. And again, if the essay is included, you are simply required to take it, with no option to avoid it.
For this reason, if you are scheduled to take your SAT on a school day, you may want to check with your school guidance office and find out whether the essay will be required. Doing so well ahead of time can help you prepare well for the SAT essays so you can up your chances of getting a good score.
Which Colleges Require SAT Essay in 2022?
After all that news, you may still be wondering “which universities require SAT essay?”
In light of College Board’s huge announcement in January 2021 that eliminated SAT subject tests and essays entirely, it is no longer possible to take the SAT essay unless in certain circumstances. It is for this reason that no more colleges or universities require students to take the SAT essays .
However, if you do take the essay, you can continue to submit your scores alongside your application. Admissions officers may choose to consider your essay scores along with the rest of your application, though the choice to do so is almost always up to their discretion.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do any colleges require sat with essay.
There was a time that there were indeed colleges and universities that required applicants to submit their SAT scores with an essay. However, since January 2021, College Board no longer offers the SAT essay. If you’re wondering about colleges requiring SAT essay, as of today there are no longer any.
Is the SAT essay still required?
If you’re wondering what colleges require the SAT essay, the answer is none. In January 2021, College Board discontinued SAT subject tests and the otional SAT essay, which means no more schools require it.
Does UCLA require SAT with essay?
UCLA was previously one of the schools that require SAT essay from their applicants. However, this is no longer the case since the essays have been completely discontinued.
Is SAT essay required for Harvard?
For the past couple of years, Harvard has suspended its requirement for standardized tests like the SAT or ACT in their applications to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions. Harvard has pushed this suspension to the 2026 application cycle. Harvard no longer requires the SAT essay either, but if you have managed to take it you can still submit your scores for consideration .
Does SAT essay affect your score?
Since the SAT essay became optional, it no longer affects your overall SAT score. Essay scores are shown separately on your report. Note that the optional essay has been discontinued since January of 2021, and you can only take the essay under rare special circumstances discussed in the article above.
If you’re in the middle of preparing your applications for your dream schools, it only makes sense to wonder which colleges require SAT essay. Only a year or so ago, there would’ve been a big list of colleges that require the SAT essay, despite it being an optional section of the standardized test.
However, since College Board discontinued SAT subject tests and the optional essay in January of 2021, there are no longer any colleges requiring you to submit your essay scores with your application.
If you have managed to take the essay, you may still be able to submit your scores for consideration. Good luck!
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Should I Take The Sat Essay? How to Make a Decision
Should i take the sat essay.
Are you preparing for the SAT examination? Great! Then you need to figure out if you want to take the test with the Essay or not. If you are worried about “ Should I take the SAT Essay “, then let me tell you, you are not alone. With so many announcements and prohibitions, this can be difficult to decide.
On 21st January, the College Board declared that it is not mandatory to take the Essay part of the SAT examination. This is because many schools have kept the SAT Essay optional. They don’t care whether the candidates submit the SAT score with an Essay or not.
Yet some schools consider the SAT score with Essays. They have introduced an optional Essay section along with SAT. So, if you are wondering, ‘ Should I take the SAT Essay ‘ or not, don’t worry! In this guide, we’ll assist you with all the information you need to know before you decide. Let’s begin with which schools need SAT with Essay scores.
Which Schools Need SAT with Essay?
Generally speaking, most state schools don’t need the SAT with essays, while a significant number of them do. However, even within states, there are a lot of odd variances. For instance: All California schools need The SAT with Essay. But most California State University schools do not.
There are colleges that require you to take the SAT with Essay to apply. Those are –
- Benedictine College
- Delaware State University
- City University of London
- University of DeSales
- California Dominican University
- Agricultural and Mechanical University of Florida
- Howard College
- All of the universities in California
- Kentucky State University
- John Wesley University
- Southern California Institute of Architecture
- Martin Luther College
- Molloy College
- Schreiner Uni
- Soka Uni of America
- United States Military Academy (West Point)
- University of North Texas
- West Virginia Institute of Technology
- Texas A&M University—Galveston
- Western Carolina University
Don’t assume that all schools need the SAT with Essays. Instead, check with each school’s testing criteria to know if they need one. This will help you decide on ‘ Should I take the SAT with Essay ‘ or avoid it.
Purpose of the SAT Essay
As per the College Board, the SAT essay is “about the actual world.” Students will have to write analytical answers for 3 hours when their brains are exhausted! This is intended to prove a student’s writing talents in the setting of college readiness.
How to Appear For the Essay Section
Students must analyze a passage and respond to the author’s reasoning in writing. On Test Day, the SAT Essay prompt will always be the same. The only difference will be the passage that students must analyze before responding.
It’s worth noting that questions don’t ask the candidates whether they approve of the author’s point of view. Besides, they don’t even ask to check its rationale. Students need to identify the tools or “rhetorical tactics” that the author employs to persuade the audience. The passages will be equal in length and structure to those on the SAT’s Evidence-Based Reading test. But they will be much more controversial. Speeches or editorials make up a large part of the Essay. These could be from any time.
Students Who Should Opt For SAT Essay
Although the SAT Essay has become optional, it can benefit some students. Especially the ones who meet the following criteria. Having said that, if you meet any of the criteria mentioned below, the answer to “ Should I take the SAT with Essay ” should be yes.
- You want to showcase your analytical writing abilities.
- You want to major in a field that values analytical writing.
- You can’t showcase your analytical writing abilities on any other exam.
1. You Want To Showcase Your Analytical Writing Abilities
Students who failed as analytical writers in high school can use the SAT’s optional Essay to measure their progress. Brilliant results in the Essay can be rewarding to students who had a less-than-satisfactory marks in English or literature. Students can take this test to show how they have improved their writing skills. To sum up, if any students feel that poor results in English in high school can lower their chance of admission, they can start preparing for the SAT Essay examination.
2. You Want To Major In A Field That Values Analytical Writing
Many academic fields consider writing skills necessary. Various branches of science and mathematics also consider it essential. Besides, it is also beneficial for students planning to pursue humanities. Since schools need students to conduct research papers, this can be essential. Thus, strong writing skills can help in easier admission to college.
3. You Can’t Showcase Your Analytical Writing Abilities On Any Other Exam
While wondering whether “ Should I take the Essay on the SAT “, ask yourself if you can show analytical writing abilities in other exams. If yes, you can skip the examination. If not, this is a good chance.
Many schools do not provide CLEP, AP English language, or similar classes. Thus, SAT Essay provides an alternate way to show improvements in college-level writing. SAT Essay also provides an opportunity for all candidates to prove their writing abilities. Besides, it also gives chances to 11th and 12th-grade students to showcase their college writing abilities.
Questions Helps You Determine Whether to Take the SAT Essay
While deciding on “ Should I take the SAT with Essay “, consider these four questions to help you make decisions.
Do any of the Schools I’d like to Apply to Require an SAT Essay?
It is essential to know whether the school you are applying for needs an SAT Essay. If it does, you have to sit for the SAT Essay examination to show the results. However, if you don’t sit for the examination, your application will remain incomplete. Therefore, you will not get admitted to your desired school.
On the contrary, if you wish to apply to a school that does not need an SAT essay, your score with an Essay won’t matter. You can avoid that examination. To be clear, institutions that need the SAT Essay will disregard your score if you take the SAT without it.
The final thing you want to do is achieve a solid score without the Essay, only to discover that your target schools need you to take the SAT with Essay. Remember that some institutions’ application policies change from year to year. So double-check the testing rules of the institutions to which you’re applying.
Do any of the Schools I’d like to Apply to Suggest the SAT Essay?
This is another important question you need to ask. Even if you’re not planning to enroll in any institution that needs the SAT Essay section , we will still recommend taking it. This will broaden your school list for admission. Besides, this will add another dimension to your application that schools can consider. But, there are some situations where you can go without taking the examination.
If you are not eligible for SAT fee waivers and paying the extra cost to take the SAT Essay is a financial strain for you, please do not feel obligated to take it. In this situation, taking the SAT without the Essay is alright. Additionally, if you have difficulty writing essays under time limits, you may skip the Essay. But, this is only for students who have excellent English and writing skills but find it difficult to compose logical essays due to time pressure.
Are there any Scholarships that Need an SAT Score with an Essay?
Many awards like the National Merit Scholarship Program demand SAT results. But some demand SAT plus Essay scores. As a result, double-check the criteria of every scholarship you intend to apply for. Scholarships that do not need or recommend the SAT Essay will accept your SAT with the Essay result. But scholarships that do need the Essay part will not take your SAT score into account if you complete the no-essay version.
Is the SAT Essay Going to Help Me in Other Ways?
If it isn’t compulsory, taking the SAT Essay won’t add much to your application in general. In reality, universities that don’t suggest or need the Essay don’t give it much thought. Nonetheless, the Essay may be helpful for overseas students who wish to show their command of the English language. If you fall in the same group, consider taking the SAT with Essay. If you believe you’ll achieve a good score, there is no harm in trying. But, I recommend against taking the Essay if you do not think you’ll do well on it.
Hopefully, the guide has helped clear your dilemma on “ Should I take the SAT Essay . ” If it has, then why are you delaying? Start preparing for the examination today to get a good SAT essay score. But if you decide to skip the test, keep preparing for the SAT without worrying about the essay section.
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On January 19th, College Board announced a few significant updates in regards to its SAT Suite of Assessments, including the elimination of the optional essay portion of the SAT and the discontinuance of the SAT Subject Tests (SAT II tests). Let’s take a look at these changes and how they might affect students’ plans for the spring of 2021 and beyond.
In the release, College Board announced that the optional essay will be discontinued from the SAT following the June 2021 test date, with the exception of school day administrations in states which require the essay for evaluative purposes. Students currently registered to take the exam with essay between now and June will have the option to cancel the essay portion via their online account with no change fees up until the test’s registration deadline. In their statement, College Board observed: “This decision recognizes that there are other ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing. At the same time, writing remains essential to college readiness, and the SAT will continue to measure writing and editing skills.”
Although the vast majority of colleges no longer require (or even recommend, in many cases) students to submit SAT Essay scores, it is somewhat unclear what effect College Board’s announcement will have on the few schools that still utilize the essay portion of the exam in the admission process. Ultimately, the best advice for students and families is likely to check with any colleges they are interested in to see what they recommend, but it seems likely that the SAT essay will not play any role in college admissions for any students in the class of 2022 and beyond.
As a tutor aware of the pressures facing students preparing for the test, I see the announcement as a welcome change. The removal of the optional essay, which was only valued by a small number of schools and did not contribute to students’ overall composite score out of 1600, does offer many benefits to students preparing for the SAT. In addition to reducing the cost of the exam by $15, it shortens the already lengthy test by nearly an hour, which may allow students to devote more energy and focus to the four primary sections (Reading, Writing and Language, No-Calculator Math, and Calculator Math) which contribute to their overall score. Additionally, it allows students to allocate more study time towards other endeavors, whether those be further test prep, academic coursework, extracurricular activities, or even developing a stronger college admissions essay.
College Board Will No Longer Offer SAT Subject Tests
College Board also announced its discontinuation of the SAT Subject Tests, also known as SAT II tests, effective immediately in the U.S. and beginning June 2021 internationally. U.S students registered to take SAT Subject tests in this spring will have their registrations cancelled automatically and their registration fees refunded. Because the SAT Subject Tests are often used for a wider variety of purposes internationally, College Board will offer two final administrations of the exam to international students in May and June of 2021. As to how this might affect the applications of students who already took any SAT Subject Tests, College Board states:
We’ve reached out to our member colleges, and they’ll decide whether and how to consider students’ Subject Test scores. Students should check colleges’ websites for the most up-to-date information on their application policies.
Ultimately, this probably will not have a large role on the college admissions process for most schools . As of the time of the announcement, very few schools recommended students submit SAT Subject Test scores, and while each college is free to decide how to handle scores from previous administrations of the test and what effect this may have on its admission policies, it is rare for a college to alter its admissions policy in a way which penalizes a student for events that are beyond their control.
College Board attributes its decision to discontinue the tests to the widespread availability of its AP testing, which they consider to render SAT Subject Tests as unnecessary in demonstrating students’ academic knowledge. Both AP exams and SAT Subject Tests are designed as content specific, supplemental exams which allow students to demonstrate their proficiency and interest in specific subjects, and both differ significantly from the standard SAT in their reliance on students’ prior knowledge and comprehension rather than on critical analysis and general problem solving ability. However, there are also some key differences students may wish to be aware of when deciding how to alter their test prep in absence of the SAT Subject Tests . Firstly, because AP exams offer students opportunities to earn valuable college credits, the level of rigor on the exams is closer to that of a first-year college course than to the high school curriculum covered on the SAT Subject Tests . Additionally, there are several key differences in the structure and scoring of the exams:
While the long term effects that these changes might have on students currently preparing for the exams of spring 2021 and beyond remain to be seen, understanding their immediate effects can help students develop effective plans and ease concerns. Additionally, the cancellation of the SAT Subject tests will likely allow schools to offer a greater number of seats to students seeking to register for the SAT this spring.
I would encourage any students or families with questions or concerns to reach out to their guidance counselor or a test prep professional to discuss how this impacts their current plans.
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The Definitive Guide to the SAT 2023
Jan 2, 2023 | Articles , SAT , Standardized Tests | 0 comments
Junior year rolls around, and with it comes excitement for the future—and standardized tests. Standardized tests like the SAT are important, not just for college admissions, but also to minimize future college debt by increasing the scholarships and financial aid you earn. But what is the SAT test and how can you prepare to increase your SAT scores? This blog walks you through the basics of the SAT, how SAT scores work, and ways to increase your scores.
What is the SAT?
What are the sections of the SAT?
The first SAT section is Reading which includes complex reading passages to test critical reading and thinking skills. It also asks “best-evidence” questions where students find the sentences in the passage that provide support for their answer to a previous question.
In the next section, Writing & Language, the majority of questions focus on grammar and punctuation. The rest of the questions focus on content and vocabulary. The SAT was reformatted in 2016, and the vocabulary tested is no longer as challenging as it once was.
The Math sections require a deep understanding of algebra, but the test provides basic geometry formulas. Calculators are only allowed on the second math section, and not all questions are multiple-choice. With two math sections, math consists of 50% of the overall SAT score.
No Science section exists on the SAT as on the ACT, but knowledge of interpreting charts, tables, and graphs is assessed throughout all test sections.
How long is the SAT?
The timing is split between the four sections on the SAT:
- Reading Comprehension (65 min)
- Writing & Language (35 min)
- Math without a calculator (25 min)
- Math with a calculator (55 min)
Timing is an advantage on the SAT, especially compared to the ACT. The SAT gives you 3 hours (180 minutes) to answer a total of 154 questions. The ACT, however, is only 2 hours, 55 minutes but has 215 questions to answer.
How many questions are on the SAT?
The SAT includes 154 questions.
- The Reading section includes 52 questions in 65 minutes (75 seconds per question)
- Writing & Language includes 44 questions in 35 minutes (about 48 seconds per question)
- Math without a calculator is 20 questions in 25 minutes (75 seconds per question)
- Math with a calculator is 38 questions in 55 minutes (about 87 seconds per question)
What are the SAT test dates?
The SAT test is offered seven times each year in March, May, June, August, October, November, and December. This provides multiple opportunities to take the test and increase your scores. Many schools, especially in states where the SAT is mandated for all high school juniors, also offer the test during the school day for students, generally in the spring. Check with your school to see if and when they offer the SAT.
What is the average SAT score?
The SAT score range is from 400 to 1600. The average SAT score for the class of 2021 was 1060 , up slightly from 2020. ( Curious what that would be on the ACT? ) The highest SAT score is a 1600, and, according to the College Board’s latest score report , only 8% of all test-takers scored higher than a 1400. No one scored below a 590, and 12% of test-takers scored between 600 and 790.
How do you register for the SAT?
Register for the SAT at www.collegeboard.org . Test centers can be found on the SAT website , and you can search by state and test date. Plan to bring a photo ID with your admission ticket on test day. You can use a driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued photo ID. If you don’t have any of these IDs, the SAT offers alternative methods to prove identity. When you register, you can also include information to allow colleges and scholarship organizations to contact you.
How much does the SAT cost?
For the 2021-22 school year, taking the SAT costs $55. A $30 late registration fee is added if you register after the regular deadline. You can send up to four score reports for free up to nine days after the test date. Additional score reports or reports ordered after you take the test are $12 per report. The SAT offers fee waivers to eligible test-takers (free & reduced lunch, receiving public assistance, etc). Those waivers allow students to take up to two free SATs (with or without the essay) and to send unlimited score reports. If you think you may be eligible for a fee waiver, work with your school counselor to submit the request.
When should you take the SAT?
Taking the PSAT is a good introduction to the format and content of the SAT. The PSAT can be taken during sophomore or junior year of high school. Students may only qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program by testing during their junior year. Signup for the PSAT is done through your school. After taking the PSAT, consider taking the SAT at least four times. No one gets their best score the first (or even second) time. This usually means taking the test twice junior year and twice senior fall. This increases the chances of a scoring your best and boosting potential scholarships and financial aid!
Should you take the SAT or ACT?
All colleges accept both the ACT and SAT, so try both and then decide where to focus your effort. The SAT has two Math sections compared to only one for the ACT. The ACT, however, has a Science and Data Interpretation section. In general, the content on the SAT is more challenging, but more time is given per question, compared to the ACT. Th e most important thing is to take either test multiple times. Improve your scores through practice.
How long does it take to get SAT scores?
SAT multiple-choice scores are usually reported within 2-3 weeks of your test date. The College Board website has a schedule by individual test date. All score reports are sent to your selected colleges within ten days.
How do you improve your SAT scores?
Practice and preparation are two of the biggest ways you can improve your SAT score. Find SAT prep that’s fun and engaging but also gives you strategies to help take the test. Not all test prep is created equal, so research, read reviews, and look past flashy guarantees. OnToCollege offers an effective video course that not only gives you strategies, but also practice tests and solution videos to help you learn from your mistakes. Use actual SAT practice tests as you study, (three are included in our course) to learn the format of the test. Then take the actual SAT multiple times, ideally twice your junior year and twice your senior year.
Register for a OnToCollege SAT free trial to start test prep for free!
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