5 Things You Need to Know About the SAT Essay

Taking an SAT (or ACT) can be quite a stressful experience, but it is a necessary part of applying to university in the US. However, there are lots of SAT guides online, which will make you feel more comfortable with the exam, and with the essay writing part. As a student from the UK, you need to explore this test in detail since it is a bit different than standard British tests. Here are some main things you need to know about the SAT essay and ways to complete it successfully. 

It Is Not Obligatory

Quite a shocker, isn’t it? There are several parts to the SAT exam, and the part where you have to write an essay is not mandatory. To be sure whether you need to do it, you have to check the entrance requirements of your chosen college. Some of them do want students to complete the essay, while others might not even look at your essay part, so why bother for nothing. Some British students do not feel very confident about taking the test, and if you are one of them, there is a chance you can skip this stage.

However, if you do want to demonstrate your writing and analytical skills, you should consider completing this part as it might increase your chances of getting a place at the college. The essay task is always interesting and engaging, but you need to work with arguments. Knowing how to work with argumentative writing is crucial for successful academic performance, and you will have to deal with this kind of writing in the future anyway. 

Colleges Request It to Get More Information About You

All admission applications are rather standardized and do not always give colleges a clear picture of what their applicants are like. To gather as much information as possible and make informed decisions, some colleges do request applicants to provide an SAT essay, which gives them additional information and helps them see and evaluate the writing skills of those students. Timed writing skills also provide the admission board with an idea of the applicant’s emotional intelligence, their ability to manage stress, and maintain excellent academic performance in provocative situations. 

Because the SAT essay somewhat resembles the essays students have to write as a part of their studies, colleges take this opportunity to make an assumption about the potential academic performance of the applicant. Such an approach helps them find the most suitable candidates to join their institution.

You Can’t Predict the Topic

There is no need to worry that you will not know the topic of your SAT essay. All the topics are specifically designed for a broad audience, something everyone has knowledge about.

The purpose of the SAT essay is about working with an argument, a piece of writing that is referred to as “the passage.” Your passage might claim that climate change is not as bad as scientists say it is. Your task is to respond to the argument and analyze it. Instead of restating the argument, you need to use your analytical skills to evaluate its quality and the techniques the author uses to sound persuasive.

The Essay Is Not the Most Important Part of the SAT

When considering your application, admission officers will primarily look at the composite score. They do not see the SAT essay as the most important part of the exam. Instead, they will consider the written part in combination with your admission essay and your English transcripts from high school to see how good your language and writing skills are. Therefore, you should do your very best not to fail the SAT essay, but also don’t stress too much if it doesn’t turn out perfect, it is not the decisive element in your application. You also do not need to worry about changing your spelling, just stick to the usual British English you are accustomed to. The sweet spot will be if your essay score matches your score on other parts of the exam. 

It’s Not That Difficult to Get a Good Score

The good news is that even if you do need to write the SAT essay, it is not that difficult to get it right, it is quite similar to most other essays students write in schools all around the UK. There are lots of SAT essay tips that will help you get a good score. For example:

  1. Learn effective argumentative and persuasive techniques to be able to identify them in the passage you have to analyze;
  2. Learn how to write a strong thesis you will use to sound persuasive and do not forget to mention evidence from the provided passage;
  3. Don’t forget to develop a clear structure in your essay; make sure to write an introduction and a conclusion. It will prove the admission officer that you know what makes a good essay; 
  4. Do not mention your personal opinion on the subject; you only need to do solid analysis;
  5. Use proper academic language and correct grammar.


Jennifer Lockman is a passionate, custom essay writer with 5+ years of experience. Thirst for knowledge, can-do attitude, and attention to detail make her writing excellent and effective. She is also an SAT and ACT tutor, training students and helping them pass their exams with flying colours. Some time ago, she developed a free course called “Effective Essay Writing,” where she also shares her expertise on the SAT essay writing.