Should I Take the SAT Essay?

The SAT Essay has changed in recent years. When it was first added to the general SAT in 2005, it was an opinion-based essay. However, when the SAT changed in 2016, the SAT became an analytical essay. In the current version of the SAT, students are given a source text and asked to provide an analysis of the argument presented in the text.


SAT Essay Prompt

The SAT Essay prompt is written here, exactly as you will see it on Test Day:

“As you read the passage below, consider how [the author] uses

  • 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.

Source Text Will Appear Here

Write an essay in which you explain how [the author] builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience that [author’s claim]. In your essay, analyze how [the author] uses one or more of the features listed above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of [his/her] argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage.

Your essay should not explain whether you agree with [the author’s] claims, but rather explain how [the author] builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience.”

There are three different scores for the SAT Essay: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Each category will be scored on a scale of 1 to 4. Two raters will review your essay, so the scores you receive will range from 2 to 8 in each category.

Why Take the SAT Essay?

It’s important to keep in mind that you cannot take the SAT essay without taking the general SAT. That means that if you don’t take the SAT essay at the time of your general SAT and later decide you want an SAT essay score for your applications, you’ll have to retake the entire SAT.

While some colleges don’t consider your SAT essay while evaluating college applications, many do. What happens if you decide at the last minute to add one more school to your college list, and that school requires an essay component? Unfortunately, you would have to sign up to take the general SAT (this time including the SAT Essay) all over again. Research the universities to which you’re planning on applying ahead of time so you know whether or not you’ll need an SAT essay score for your application. But better yet, just plan on taking the SAT Essay any time you take the official exam.

Preparing for the SAT Essay

The SAT Essay is standardized, just like the general SAT. This means that Kaplan knows exactly how the SAT Essay is presented, what the essay graders are looking for in your essay, and how to analyze the source text and write a quality essay in the fifty minutes you’re given to get it all done. The SAT Essay doesn’t have to be a major source of stress! If you prepare, you’ll know how to score well and hopefully boost your chances of getting into the college of your choice.