Kate Sundquist 5 min read 11th Grade, 12th Grade, SAT Info and Tips

What Colleges Require the SAT Essay?

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If you’re going to be applying to college soon, there’s a good chance that you’re already thinking about the SAT. Most colleges still require standardized test scores, and millions of students across the country tackle this exam each year. 

 

As you begin your college search, it’s important to understand the exact standardized test requirements of the colleges on your list. Some will be test-optional. Others require scores from the SAT or ACT. In addition, some will require that you submit scores from the optional essay portions of these tests. There may also be schools that require or recommend SAT Subject Tests. Knowing the exact testing policy at each school you’re considering will help you plan your test taking strategy, and begin test prep well in advance. 

 

If you’re planning to take the SAT, you won’t want to miss this complete overview of what colleges require the SAT essay. 

 

What is the SAT Essay? How is it Scored?

 

Before we dive into which schools require it, let’s take a closer look at what exactly the SAT essay is, and how it is scored. 

 

On the SAT Essay, students are provided with a written argument that they must read and analyze. Students have 50 minutes to read the passage, plan the essay, and write their response. Most successful responses stick to the standard five-paragraph essay format. To see an example prompt and scoring rubric, check out the Essay Sample Questions on the College Board website. 

 

It’s important to note here that the SAT Essay score is separate from your overall composite SAT score. It does not impact the score ranging from 400-1600 as reported on your score report. Instead of being included in your composite score, it is provided in addition to it. 

 

The Essay is scored on a scale from 2-8 in three areas of evaluation—Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Each essay is reviewed by two scorers, and scores between 1-4 are awarded in each dimension. These scores are then added together so that you’ll receive three scores for the SAT Essay—one for each dimension—ranging from 2–8 points. A perfect score on the essay would be 8/8/8, but the mean score on the essay is a 5 for Reading and Writing, and 3 for Analysis. This means if you can achieve any score over 5/3/5, you have scored above average on the essay. For a more complete look at how the test is scored, don’t miss our post What is a Good SAT Essay Score?

 

Should I Take the SAT Essay?

 

First of all, the SAT essay is technically an optional section, so no, you are not required to take it. That being said, some colleges do require applicants to take the SAT with Essay. If you choose not to take the essay portion of the test, you will not be an eligible applicant for any of these schools. 

 

The SAT Essay used to be required at many top colleges, but it has become optional at many schools. Now, among elite schools, only the University of California schools require the Essay. Other selective colleges like Duke University, Amherst College, and Colby College recommend the Essay, but it’s not required. 

 

Take a look at the colleges on these lists, and see if there are any you plan to apply to. Also be sure to double-check on your schools’ webpages, as these policies can change. 

 

If you think you might change your mind about which schools you want to apply to, you should take the SAT Essay to leave those doors open. This is why we generally recommend taking the essay, regardless of whether or not it’s required. After all, you can’t go back and just take the SAT Essay if you decide to change your mind and apply to a school that requires it—you’d have to retake the entire SAT.

 

Some colleges don’t require the essay, but do recommend it. In these cases, we always direct students to do what the college recommends. 

 

That being said, there is currently no option to withhold your essay score if you do terribly on it. Your essay scores will always be reported with your other test scores from that day, even to colleges that don’t require them. 

 

What Colleges Require the SAT with Essay?

 

There colleges request scores from the SAT with Essay in order to apply.

 

Schools that Require the SAT Essay:

 

  • All of the University of California schools
  • Benedictine University
  • City University London
  • Delaware State University
  • DeSales University
  • Dominican University of California
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
  • Howard University
  • John Wesley University
  • Kentucky State University
  • Martin Luther College
  • Molloy College
  • Schreiner University
  • Soka University of America
  • Southern California Institute of Architecture
  • Texas A&M University—Galveston
  • United States Military Academy (West Point)
  • University of North Texas
  • West Virginia University Institute of Technology
  • Western Carolina University

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These schools do not require the SAT Essay, but do recommend that students submit it. At CollegeVine, our best advice is to always follow a college’s recommendations. 

 

Schools that Recommend the SAT Essay:

 

  • Abilene Christian University
  • Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Allegheny College
  • Amherst College
  • Art Institute of Houston
  • Augsburg University
  • Austin College
  • Caldwell University
  • California State University, Northridge
  • Central Connecticut State University
  • Central Michigan University
  • Cheyney University of Pennsylvania
  • Coastal Carolina University
  • Colby College
  • College of Wooster
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
  • Corban University
  • Cornerstone University
  • Dallas Christian College
  • Duke University
  • Eastern Illinois University
  • Eastern Nazarene College
  • Easternn University
  • Endicott College
  • Five Towns College
  • Gallaudet University
  • George Washington University
  • Georgia Highlands College
  • Greenville University
  • Gwynedd Mercy University
  • High Point University
  • Hofstra University
  • Holy Family University
  • Husson University
  • Indiana University South Bend
  • Indiana University Southeast
  • Indiana Wesleyan University
  • Inter American University of Puerto Rico: Barranquitas Campus
  • Juilliard School
  • Keiser University (West Palm Beach)
  • Lehigh University
  • Madonna University
  • Manhattan College
  • Marymount California University
  • Massachusetts Maritime Academy
  • McMurry University
  • Mercy College
  • Modern College of Design
  • Montana Tech of the University of Montana
  • Morehouse College
  • Mount Saint Mary College
  • Mount St. Joseph University
  • National-Louis University
  • New Jersey City University
  • Nichols College
  • North Park University
  • Occidental College
  • Ohio University
  • Oregon State University
  • Purdue University Northwest
  • Randall University
  • Randolph-Macon College
  • Reading Area Community College
  • Rowan University
  • Rutgers University—Camden Campus
  • Rutgers University—Newark Campus
  • Saint Michael’s College
  • Sciences Po
  • Seton Hill University
  • Shiloh University
  • Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
  • Silver Lake College of the Holy Family
  • Southern Illinois University of Carbondale
  • Southern Oregon University
  • Spring Hill College
  • Sul Ross State University
  • SUNY Farmingdale State College
  • SUNY University at Stony Brook
  • Tarleton State University
  • Texas A&M International University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas State University
  • The King’s College
  • United States Air Force Academy
  • University of Evansville
  • University of La Verne
  • University of Mary Hardin—Baylor
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • University of Minnesota: Twin Cities
  • University of New England
  • University of Northwestern—St. Paul
  • University of the Virgin Islands
  • University of Toledo
  • University of Washington Bothell
  • VanderCook College of Music
  • Virginia Union University
  • Wabash College
  • Webb Institute
  • Webber International University
  • Wesleyan College
  • William Jewell College

 

If any of the schools you are considering appear on either of the lists above, we recommend taking the SAT with Essay. In fact, we recommend that most, if not all, students take the SAT essay since it leaves more doors open in your college search. However, if you’re absolutely sure you won’t be applying to colleges that require or recommend the SAT with Essay, you can skip it.

 

Regardless, as you consider which colleges to add to your list, you’ll want to be certain you know what colleges require the SAT essay so that you can plan ahead for this part of your test. 

 

For help figuring out which schools might be a great fit for you, don’t miss our customized and innovative Chancing Engine and School List Generator. Here, we use a proprietary algorithm backed by over 100,000 data points to develop a school list based on your real admissions chances and preferences.

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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.