SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Which Colleges Require the SAT Essay? Complete List

Posted by Dora Seigel | Apr 29, 2017 8:00:00 AM

SAT Logistics, SAT Essay

Planning to take the SAT? Before you sign up, you need to decide if 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.

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SAT Essay Prompts: The Complete List

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Apr 6, 2017 5:00:00 PM

SAT Writing, SAT Essay

The SAT Essay has changed drastically from what it looked like from March 2005-January 2016. On the plus side, you’ll now be asked to do the same task every time: read an argument meant to persuade a broad audience and discuss how well the author argues his or her point. On the minus side, you have to do reading and analysis in addition to writing a coherent and organized essay.

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the 11 real SAT essay prompts that the CollegeBoard has released (either in The Official SAT Study Guide or separately online) for the new SAT. This is the most comprehensive set of new SAT essay prompts online today.

At the end of this article, we'll also guide you through how to get the most out of these prompts and link to our expert resources on acing the SAT essay. I’ll discuss how the SAT essay prompts are valuable not just because they give you a chance to write a practice essay, but because of what they reveal about the essay task itself.

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The Ultimate SAT Essay Study Guide: Tips and Review

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Mar 9, 2017 12:00:00 PM

SAT Essay


We've written the best guide to the SAT essay available anywhere.

To craft this guide, we have carefully read all official material available on the SAT essay from the College Board and read the best SAT books we could find and extracted the most important things you need to know to succeed on the essay section. Based on this research, we're confident that this is the most complete and comprehensive resource available for the SAT essay.

This guide gets deep into every aspect of the SAT essay, from the rubric to prompts to the nuts and bolts of how to write a high-scoring essay. You'll learn the best tips and strategies to use to maximize the value of your SAT essay practice as well as how much time to devote to prepping for the essay.

If you're looking for a comprehensive guide to SAT essay and how to improve your SAT essay scores, this guide is invaluable. Rather than trying to put all the information we've distilled into one long article, we've created this multi-sectioned guide to serve as a table of contents to each of our more in-depth articles.

We'll start by taking a high-level look at the importance of the SAT essay to colleges and which schools care about your SAT essay score. The next section delves into more of the details of the SAT essay prompt and rubric and outlines step-by-step how to write a perfect-scoring SAT essay. The third part of this guide takes you through tips and strategies to use with the SAT essay. Finally, we'll end with a brief rundown of our articles on the old SAT essay, which have some general writing guidance that's still useful for the current essay.

We suggest reading through this guide in order your first time through, as you would any other test prep resource. Alternatively, if you're just looking for a refresher on certain areas, you can use this guide as a reference you can jump around in as needed.

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Does Messy Handwriting Hurt Your SAT Essay Score?

Posted by Dora Seigel | Jul 9, 2016 8:30:00 AM

SAT Essay

Worried about your messy handwriting? It’s tough not to have sloppy handwriting when you’re given only 50 minutes to read a passage, analyze it, and write an essay. How will your handwriting influence your SAT Essay score? Can it cause a lower score? Or even lead to a score of zero? I’ve got the answers along with more SAT Essay advice.   

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Does the SAT Essay Matter? Expert Guide

Posted by Ellen McCammon | Apr 14, 2016 8:00:00 PM

SAT Essay

In days of yore, the SAT essay was very different. For starters, it was a required portion of the exam, scored as part of the writing section. You had a measly 25 minutes to give and support your opinion on such deep philosophical issues as the importance of privacy or whether people perform better when they can use their own methods to complete tasks.

Things are very different now. Along with the SAT itself, the SAT essay has been completely revamped and revised. Among other things, it is now an optional portion of the exam. In light of this SAT essay renovation, many schools will no longer require that students take the SAT essay when they take the exam.

But what do all these changes mean for you? Is the SAT Essay important?

Read on for a breakdown of the new SAT changes, some information on what schools continue to require the SAT essay, why schools do and don’t require this portion of the exam, and how to figure out if the SAT Essay is necessary or important for you.

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Should I Take the SAT Essay? How to Decide

Posted by Christine Sarikas | Apr 7, 2016 9:00:00 AM

New SAT, SAT Essay

The SAT has recently undergone some major revisions, and one of the biggest changes is that its previously required essay is now optional. This can be confusing for some students and parents. Should you take the essay? Will colleges require the essay or not? Will taking the essay make your application stronger?

Read on for answers to all these questions. This guide will explain what the SAT essay is, what the pros and cons of taking it are, and how you can make the best choice for you.

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SAT Essay Rubric: Full Analysis and Writing Strategies

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Aug 12, 2015 9:00:00 AM

SAT Essay

We're about to dive deep into the details of that least beloved* of SAT sections, the SAT essay. Prepare for a discussion of the SAT essay rubric and how the SAT essay is graded based on that. I'll break down what each item on the rubric means and what you need to do to meet those requirements.

On the SAT, the last section you'll encounter is the (optional) essay. You have 50 minutes to read a passage, analyze the author's argument, and write an essay. If you don’t write on the assignment, plagiarize, or don't use your own original work, you'll get a 0 on your essay. Otherwise, your essay scoring is done by two graders - each one grades you on a scale of 1-4 in Reading, Analysis, and Writing, for a total essay score out of 8 in each of those three areas. But how do these graders assign your writing a numerical grade? By using an essay scoring guide, or rubric.

*may not actually be the least belovèd.

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6 SAT Essay Examples to Answer Every Prompt

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 23, 2015 7:02:00 PM

SAT Essay

Just as with most essays, the major secret to excelling on the SAT essay is to pre-plan the examples and evidence you want to use.

"But wait!" I hear you cry. "Can you do that on the new SAT essay? Isn’t the point of the essay that you’re supposed to be using information from the passage in your answer, which you don’t know about ahead of time?"

The answer: Yes and no. While the specifics of each example will obviously change, depending on the passage, the types of examples you choose to discuss (and the way you explain each example builds the author’s argument) can be defined, and thus prepared for, ahead of time.

In this article, we give you 6 good SAT essay examples you’ll be able to find in nearly every prompt the SAT throws at you. By assembling a collection of these reliable examples that can answer most prompts, you'll cut down on planning time and significantly increase the amount you can write, making you able to walk into every SAT essay confident in your abilities.

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How to Write an SAT Essay, Step by Step

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 18, 2015 10:16:00 PM

SAT Writing, SAT Essay

SAT Essay writing requires a very specific set of skills. It's a little daunting to think that you only have 50 minutes to read a passage, analyze it, and then write an essay. But don't worry—getting a top SAT essay score is within everyone's reach! The most reliable way to score high is to follow our SAT essay template for every essay and to prepare well beforehand. 

In this article, we'll show you how to write a great SAT essay. We'll take you through all the steps you need to follow when writing the SAT essay to show you how you can put together a killer essay yourself.

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SAT Essay Tips: 15 Ways to Improve Your Score

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 16, 2015 6:57:00 PM

SAT Writing, SAT Essay

Whether you've never written an SAT Essay or didn't get the score you wanted on your last test, you can benefit from knowing more: both about the Essay itself, and what really matters when the graders are reading your essay.

Here are 15 tips to master the SAT essay. If you can reliably follow all these points, you'll be able to get at least a 6/6/6 on the SAT essay - guaranteed.

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How to Get a Perfect 8|8|8 SAT Essay Score

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Jan 13, 2015 12:41:00 PM

SAT Writing, SAT Essay

The SAT Essay is scored separately from the rest of the SAT now, thanks to the changes that went into effect in March 2016.

While the essay is now optional (you don't automatically have to take it every time you take the SAT), some colleges still require students to submit SAT essay scores with their applications. Learning how to consistently write a perfect SAT essay will be a huge boost to your application to these schools.

In this article, we'll discuss what it takes to get a perfect 8/8/8 on the SAT essay and what you need to do to train yourself to get this top score.

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