Essay Requirement

The SAT Essay is a lot like writing assignments you’ll see in college. It asks you to read a passage and analyze how the author constructs a persuasive argument. You’ll have 50 minutes to complete your response.

Quick Facts

  • You aren’t required to take the SAT Essay—it’s optional—but many colleges require or recommend it.
  • If you don’t register for the SAT with Essay at first, you can add it later.
  • You can use an SAT fee waiver to take the SAT or the SAT with Essay.

Who Should Take the SAT with Essay

You don’t have to take the SAT with Essay, but if you do, you’ll be able to apply to colleges that recommend or require it.

The list below includes our essay policy information for U.S. and international colleges, as well as scholarship providers. If you don’t see a college you’re looking for, or if you want to make sure a college’s essay policy hasn’t changed, contact them directly. Higher education professionals, learn more about setting essay policy for your institution.

SAT Essay Policies of Colleges and Scholarship Providers

 

Tips for Writing Your Essay

Be memorable.

The essay part of the application is important because it gives us more insight into who you are and who you want to be. Make us remember you!

Be prepared.

Take time to think about and brainstorm your message. Create an outline, write a good first draft, and edit multiple times.

Be yourself.

We want to know more about you, so be honest and let us into your world. Instead of making broad statements about what you want to do, give specific examples from high school or extracurricular activities. And don’t be afraid to add your personal style and voice to your writing!

Be direct.

You only have a couple of paragraphs to tell us about your experiences and goals. Choose your words wisely.

Be focused.

It's not necessary for you to repeat information that’s already elsewhere in your application. Stay focused on explaining how those credentials and qualifications will lead to a successful future here.

Be professional.

Submitting a sloppy-looking essay with spelling errors and glaring mistakes sends us the message that you’re not serious about Illinois. Proofread your essays and ask your counselor, your English teacher, or a parent to take a second look.

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