Setting Essay Policy

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You and your colleagues will need to consider how the SAT Essay will be used in your admission process and make strategic decisions on whether to require or recommend it.


Why Is the Essay Optional?

Learn about the SAT’s multiple-choice assessment of writing and find out why the SAT Essay is optional.

The SAT Essay

Colleges need an SAT Essay policy. Although some school districts will require the SAT Essay, most students will decide for themselves whether to register for the SAT with Essay or without, taking college policies into consideration.

An Authentic Essay Experience

The SAT Essay has been reimagined to closely reflect the analytical writing that will be required of students throughout their college experience. The SAT Essay asks students to read and analyze a high-quality source text and produce a cogent, clear analysis of the text supported by critical reasoning and evidence drawn from the source.

Consider these key facts about the redesigned SAT Essay:

  • The SAT Essay task emphasizes and assesses command of evidence.
  • Students have 50 minutes to complete the essay (twice as long as they did before March 2016).
  • Essays are scored using a three-part rubric that details criteria in reading, analysis, and writing.
  • Scores for the SAT Essay are reported separately from other scores and do not factor into the total SAT score.

Learn more about the SAT Essay.

Share Your Essay Policy

Students can now register to take the SAT with or without the essay — and they’ll want to know if the colleges they’re interested in require or recommend the SAT Essay.

To update or share your SAT Essay policy, email us at We’ll add it to our list of college SAT Essay policies.