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.

TCM Staff

3rd September 2022

College Board has recently made major changes to the SAT essay that can affect your application

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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:

  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • Oklahoma

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.

Conclusion

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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