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Should I take the SAT essay if none of my schools require it?

naturecreativenaturecreative Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
I am a junior who took the December SAT with essay and got a 1410 and an essay score of 5-5-5. I am looking at Vanderbilt and Emory, and am shooting for a 1550 on the SAT. I looked online and both schools list the essay as optional. Should I spend time improving my SAT essay score or even take it? Do these schools look at it if I send it?

Replies to: Should I take the SAT essay if none of my schools require it?

  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 4,324 Senior Member
    No on the first question. Focus on those parts of the EBRW and Math that you need to improve. Don't worry about the essay. For the 2nd - you need to assume they will look at any essay you send so make sure they see your best work. That would tend to be the essays you've spent time on (common ap. and the college supplements).
  • 3scoutsmom3scoutsmom Registered User Posts: 5,358 Senior Member
    I refuse to give the College Board one more cent than I have to. If your schools don't require the essay why pay more to take the test with the essay?
  • naturecreativenaturecreative Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
    @JBStillFlying When you say don't worry about the essay, does that mean not take it or not prepare for it but still take it. Just checking. :)
  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 4,324 Senior Member
    Don’t take it. The testing companies have done their part to mess up and revise the scoring making comparisons very difficult and schools don’t really care about the essay portion anyway.
  • SMMom1SMMom1 College Rep Posts: 111 Junior Member
  • annamomannamom Registered User Posts: 1,366 Senior Member
    Are you going to only apply to those two schools? Is there any possibility that you may add another school that requires the essay from now till application?
  • billcshobillcsho Registered User Posts: 18,405 Senior Member
    If you are absolutely sure you are not going to look at any school that requires the essay score, you may just skip it to make it less stressful which may help the test performance. Note that some students did regret after getting a great score and realize it is not useful for certain school because of that.
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 8,059 Senior Member
    @SMMom1 , the link you shared is applicable to the old SAT. The new SAT essay is totally different, and IMO, not particularly easy to hack. It am a test prep tutor, and I have seen very few students get really high scores on it.

    I don't entirely agree with the other comments. It's true that the essay might be optional, but when you are talking about Emory and Vanderbilt, it's not really optional for ORM students with no hook. An ORM student from wealthy suburbia needs to do the essay. If schools like that are requiring it, recommending it, or making it optional, there's a reason. The reason is to help them eliminate applicants, quite frankly. Those schools have low acceptance rates and high yields. They have more great applicants than they can offer admission to. If you are a person such as I have described above, you should be aiming for at least 17 on the SAT essay, but 15 isn't going to be that terrible, and the essay alone, or lack of (if optional) probably won't ruin your chances.
  • TTdd16TTdd16 Registered User Posts: 287 Junior Member
    edited February 16
    I don't agree with the advice not to take it either. As a junior, you really don't know with certainty what colleges you'll wind up applying to (even if you think you do at this point.) And some schools certainly do require it--the University of California, for example, requires the essay and it has to be in the same sitting as the other two sections. I know students who didn't bother to take the essay, got a great SAT score, and wound up having to take the test again just to do the essay (so if they scored lower the next time, that would be the score that would qualify, rather than the first great score, just because of the essay.)

    (Wait, just saw you did take the essay once--sorry, didn't read thoroughly the first time. I'd still take it with the essay to try to improve on that score, but would focus on trying to improve your other two section scores.)
  • OnMyWay2HarvardOnMyWay2Harvard Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    edited February 16
    As a test-taker who scored 24/24 on the essay, and based on advise from my counselors + testprep program, a great score certainly does help you with college applications. On the other hand though, a bad score can hurt you.

    Generally, as Lindagaf was saying, you should try your best to score well on the essay the next time you take your SAT to give your application better chances. IMO, neglecting to do so would simply be ignorant, especially since I'm pretty sure there is a way to send your SAT score w/o essay if you ultimately do poorly. I recommend you take a course by "PrepExpert", as their guide to writing the essay was very helpful and I credit my perfect score to them.
  • naturecreativenaturecreative Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
    Thanks for all the answers guys! @annamom I am not planning on applying to any selective colleges except those two. My other colleges are instate, and none of them require the essay. @Lindagaf , do colleges who don't recommend or require the essay even look at it? I saw that Vanderbilt doesn't require SAT II tests, but they say they look at them. They don't say anything like that for the SAT essay. I know it sounds like I don't want to take it, but I don't really have the time to study for the essay and do everything else.
  • Studious99Studious99 Registered User Posts: 911 Member
    I would call Vandy admissions and Emory admissions and ask if submitted SAT essay scores are considered. Some schools literally won’t even look at non-required scores like subject tests and essays that are sent to admissions. Other schools say that the essay is “optional” but only use that as leverage to get applicants that wouldn’t otherwise apply, while still expecting test scores to be submitted for competitive applicants.
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