#LifeGains: Should I take the SAT/ACT Essay section?


Today, we are going to talk about a more specific part of the two tests: the essay section. As we have covered the major differences between the two exams (see here), we are going to go more in depth today.


Both the SAT and the ACT have optional essay sections. So should you write an essay? The answer here is actually very simple. If the schools you want to apply to require it, then you should take it. Otherwise, it is not necessary. In general, more selective schools will require or "recommend" you to take the essay section.


For those who already know what schools they will be applying to, this is great news. However, for others who are not sure yet, you can play it safe by just taking the essay section. As the essay section cannot be taken alone for either the SAT or the ACT, doing so will prevent you from having to take the whole SAT or ACT exam again if you decide to take the essay section after all. Or if you choose not to do the essay at all, you can just apply to schools that do not require it. However, this is usually not recommended as you are closing doors for yourself!


So in a nutshell, we have made a decision tree for you:

What about special circumstances?

Of course, some students will have special circumstances that make them exceptions to the above. Here, we will talk about a few more common special circumstances.


1) If your English grades at school are weaker and you would like to demonstrate that you are indeed decent at English, then you should consider taking the essay section to show the school that you are capable.

2) If you are an international school student, and your essay writing is a strength for you, and you expect to score highly on the essay section, then you should consider taking the essay section to showcase your writing skills.

3) If essay writing, especially under time pressure, is a weakness for you, and the schools that you want to apply to just "recommend" the essay section, it is probably best for you to leave it out. You do not want an otherwise stellar application to be dragged down by this section.


Need help preparing to tackle the essay section?

We've got your back for this one. Check out our list of tutors who can teach the SAT and ACT essay sections below.

For SAT tutors, click here!

For ACT tutors, click here!











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