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Which Colleges Require the SAT Essay? Complete List


Planning to take the SAT? Before you sign up, you need to decide whether you're going to take the test with or without the optional Essay. How should you pick? Well, some colleges require that you apply with the SAT with Essay; others don't care whether you submit an SAT score with or without the Essay.

In this article, I'll provide you with a complete list of colleges that require or recommend taking the SAT with the Essay.


UPDATE: SAT Essay No Longer Offered

In January 2021, the College Board announced that after June 2021, it would no longer offer the Essay portion of the SAT (except at schools who opt in during School Day Testing). It is now no longer possible to take the SAT Essay, unless your school is one of the small number who choose to offer it during SAT School Day Testing.

While most colleges had already made SAT Essay scores optional, this move by the College Board means no colleges now require the SAT Essay. It will also likely lead to additional college application changes such not looking at essay scores at all for the SAT or ACT, as well as potentially requiring additional writing samples for placement.

What does the end of the SAT Essay mean for your college applications? Check out our article on the College Board's SAT Essay decision for everything you need to know.


What Is the Optional SAT Essay?

The redesigned SAT debuted in March 2016 with a now-optional Essay section. For the Essay, you have 50 minutes to read a passage (similar to those you see on the Reading section) and write an essay dissecting how the author made the argument. Did the author use evidence to support the main claim? Appeals to emotion? Specific word choice?

If you take the SAT without Essay, the test length is three hours. However, if you take the SAT with Essay, the optional Essay adds 50 minutes. It also costs more to take the SAT with Essay: $64.50 vs $49.50 without the Essay.

Don't automatically assume you must take the Essay. Whether it's important for you depends on which schools (and scholarships) you're applying to and what the rest of your application looks like. I'll go into more depth later about how to decide which version of the SAT to take.


body_collegebuilding.jpgSee whether you need to take the SAT with Essay to end up here!


List of Schools That Require the SAT With Essay

Below, I've compiled a list of colleges that require or recommend taking the SAT with Essay. All data comes from the College Board and some individual schools we consulted separately.

Note: This list is subject to change, so make sure to double-check with each school you're applying to.



Require or Recommend

Abilene Christian University TX Recommend
Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences NY Recommend
Allegheny College PA Recommend
Augsburg University MN Recommend
Austin College TX Recommend
Benedictine University IL Require
Caldwell University NJ Recommend
California State University, Northridge CA Recommend
Central Connecticut State University CT Recommend
Central Michigan University MI Recommend
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania PA Recommend
City University London UK Require
College of Wooster OH Recommend
Colorado School of Mines CO Recommend
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art NY Recommend
Corban University OR Recommend
Cornerstone University MI Recommend
Dallas Christian College TX Recommend
Delaware State University DE Require
DeSales University PA Require
Dominican University of California CA Require
Duke University NC Recommend
Earlham College IN Recommend
Eastern Illinois University IL Recommend
Eastern Nazarene College MA Recommend
Eastern University PA Recommend
Endicott College MA Recommend
Five Towns College NY Recommend
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University FL Require
Gallaudet University DC Recommend
George Washington University DC Recommend
Georgia Highlands College GA Recommend
Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) GA Recommend
Greenville University IL Recommend
Gwynedd Mercy University PA Recommend
Hofstra University NY Recommend
Holy Family College WI Recommend
Holy Family University PA Recommend
Howard University DC Require
Husson University ME Recommend
Indiana University South Bend IN Recommend
Indiana University Southeast IN Recommend
Indiana Wesleyan University IN Recommend
Inter American University of Puerto Rico: Barranquitas Campus PR Recommend
John Wesley University NC Require
Juilliard School NY Recommend
Keiser University (West Palm Beach) FL Recommend
Kentucky State University KY Require
Lehigh University PA Recommend
Madonna University MI Recommend
Manhattan College NY Recommend
Martin Luther College MN Require
Marymount California University CA Recommend
Massachusetts Maritime Academy MA Recommend
McMurry University TX Recommend
Mercy College NY Recommend
Modern College of Design OH Recommend
Molloy College NY Require
Montana Technological University MT Recommend
Morehouse College GA Recommend
Mount Saint Mary College NY Recommend
Mount St. Joseph University OH Recommend
National-Louis University IL Recommend
New Jersey City University NJ Recommend
Nichols College MA Recommend
North Park University IL Recommend
Ohio University OH Recommend
Oregon State University OR Recommend
Purdue University Northwest IN Recommend
Randall University OK Recommend
Randolph-Macon College VA Recommend
Reading Area Community College PA Recommend
Rowan University NJ Recommend
Rutgers University—Camden Campus NJ Recommend
Rutgers University—Newark Campus NJ Recommend
Saint Michael's College VT Recommend
SciencesPo France Recommend
Seton Hill University PA Recommend
Shiloh University IA Recommend
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania PA Recommend
Soka University of America CA Require
Southern California Institute of Architecture CA Require
Southern Illinois University Carbondale IL Recommend
Southern Oregon University OR Recommend
Spring Hill College AL Recommend
Sul Ross State University TX Recommend
SUNY Farmingdale State College NY Recommend
SUNY University at Stony Brook NY Recommend
Tarleton State University TX Recommend
Texas A&M International University TX Recommend
Texas A&M University TX Recommend
Texas A&M University—Galveston TX Require
Texas State University TX Recommend
The King's College NY Recommend
United States Air Force Academy CO Recommend
United States Military Academy (West Point) NY Require
University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) CA Require
University of California, Davis (UC Davis) CA Require
University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) CA Require
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) CA Require
University of California, Merced CA Require
University of California, Riverside CA Require
University of California, San Diego (UCSD) CA Require
University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) CA Require
University of California, Santa Cruz CA Require
University of Evansville IN Recommend
University of Hawaii: West Oahu HI Recommend
University of La Verne CA Recommend
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor TX Recommend
University of Massachusetts Amherst MA Recommend
University of Minnesota: Twin Cities MN Recommend
University of New England ME Recommend
University of North Texas TX Require
University of Northwestern—St. Paul MN Recommend
University of Texas at Dallas TX Require
University of the Virgin Islands VI Recommend
University of Toledo OH Recommend
University of Washington Bothell WA Recommend
VanderCook College of Music IL Recommend
Virginia Union University VA Recommend
Wabash College IN Recommend
Webb Institute NY Recommend
Webber International University FL Recommend
Wesleyan College GA Recommend
West Virginia University Institute of Technology WV Require
Western Carolina University NC Require
William Jewell College MO Recommend


Surprisingly (and in contrast to how it's been in the past), top schools mostly do not require the SAT essay. Currently, no Ivy League School requires students to take the SAT with Essay; the same is true for Stanford, Caltech, Duke, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Northwestern, NYU, and UChicago. Many of these schools no longer even recommend students to take the SAT with Essay, which is a huge turnaround from just a couple of years ago.

Similarly, most liberal arts colleges do not require or recommend the SAT with Essay; however, there are some exceptions, such as Soka University, which does require it.

In general, most state schools also do not require the SAT with Essay, though there's still a significant portion that do. There tends to be some weird variance even within states. For example, all University of California schools require the SAT with Essay, but most of the California State University schools do not.

Regardless of the types of schools you're applying to, don't assume that they all ask for the SAT with Essay. Check with every school to make sure you understand their testing requirements.


body_essaywriting.jpgTo take or not to take, that is the question.


How to Decide Whether to Take the SAT Essay: 4 Questions

When making your decision about whether to take the SAT with Essay or the SAT without Essay, you'll need to consider the following four questions.


#1: Do Any Schools I Want to Apply to Require the SAT Essay?

If you're applying to any school that requires the Essay, then you must take the SAT with Essay. If you take the SAT without Essay, your application will be incomplete and you won't get admitted. By contrast, if you apply to any schools that don't require the SAT Essay, you can still take the SAT with Essay since these schools will accept both types of SAT scores (with or without Essay).

To reiterate, colleges that require the SAT Essay won't consider your score if you took the SAT without the Essay. The last thing you want to do is take the SAT without the Essay and get a good score—but then find out that one of your target schools requires you to take the SAT with Essay.

Remember that some colleges change their application policies from year to year, so make sure to double-check the testing policies of the schools you're applying to.


#2: Do Any Schools I Want to Apply to Recommend the SAT Essay?

If you're not applying to any schools that require the SAT Essay section but are applying to some that recommend it, then I'd still suggest taking it. This gives you another dimension schools can use to evaluate your application; however, there are some cases in which you shouldn't take the SAT with Essay.

If, for some reason, you do not qualify for SAT fee waivers and paying the extra cost to take the SAT with Essay would be a financial burden to you, then please don't feel as if you have to take it. In this case, it's fine to take the SAT without Essay instead.

In addition, if you really struggle to write essays under time constraints (due to anxiety), you might want to opt out of the Essay. That said, I only recommend this for students who normally have strong English and writing skills but struggle to write coherent essays when there's the added pressure of a time constraint.

For example, do you get As on essays you can work on at home but Cs on in-class essays because you get easily nervous? If that's the case, taking the SAT with Essay might not be a good idea.


#3: Am I Applying to Any Scholarships That Require an SAT With Essay Score?

Many scholarships (such as National Merit) require you to submit SAT scores, and some specifically want SAT with Essay scores.

Therefore, be sure to check the requirements of each scholarship you're planning on applying for. While scholarships that don't require or recommend the SAT Essay should still accept your SAT with Essay score, scholarships that require the Essay section will not consider your SAT score if you took the no-essay version.

#4: Will the SAT Essay Enhance My Application in Other Ways?

Generally speaking, taking the SAT Essay if it's not required won't add a lot to your application. In truth, colleges that don't recommend or require the Essay really don't pay much attention to it.

Nevertheless, the Essay might be helpful for international students who want to prove they have strong English skills and who think they'll do especially well on it. If you fall into this category and feel confident you'll get a high score on it (after doing practice essays, for example), definitely consider taking the SAT with Essay.

On the other hand, if you don't think you'll do well on the Essay, I recommend against taking it.


What's Next?

Need help preparing for the SAT? Read our ultimate study guide to get expert tips on prep and access to the best free online resources. If you're taking the test soon, learn how to cram for the SAT.

Want to learn more about the SAT Essay? Check out our step-by-step guide to writing a great essay.

Not sure where you want to go to college? Learn how to do college research right and figure out your SAT target score.


Ready to go beyond just reading about the SAT? Then you'll love the free five-day trial for our SAT Complete Prep program. Designed and written by PrepScholar SAT experts, our SAT program customizes to your skill level in over 40 subskills so that you can focus your studying on what will get you the biggest score gains.

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Dora Seigel
About the Author

As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.

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