The SAT and ACT will likely be the longest exams your kid will ever sit through. Clocking in at 3 hours, 15 minutes for the SAT and 2 hours, 55 minutes for the ACT, they’re beasts.
And that’s the timing without the optional essay section for each.
The essays add 40 or 50 minutes of more time on the exams. On top of that, there’s an additional fee to take it. That doesn’t sound appealing, and it’s tempting to simply not register for that section of the test.
But before counting the essay out, learn about why your teen probably should tough it out and take on this section of the exam.
1| Many colleges require the essay section of the exams for admissions.
If a college requires the SAT or ACT essay for admissions, it will not consider an exam without it. Check the college’s admissions requirements online to find it’s policies on the essay. If you can’t find that information there, call the admissions office directly.
Another thing to consider: since your teen will likely be adding to her college list over time, she won’t know what the essay requirements will be for the additional schools.
And last thing your teen will want to do is to be left scrambling to take another exam before application deadlines to fulfill this requirement.
2| Many colleges recommend the essay section of the exams for admissions.
And if it’s a recommendation, it’s kind of an expectation.
College admissions officers look first and foremost for students who challenge themselves. Even if it’s not a firm requirement for admissions, they’ll take notice of students who opt out of the essay section of the exam.
Your teenager will be competing with other students who did sit for the essay section. Another student who opts to take it might look better to admissions than a student who didn’t, all else being equal.
3| Some scholarships require or recommend the essay section for application.
It would be unfortunate not to have the opportunity to apply for a lucrative scholarship simply due to not sitting for the essay section of the exam.
Encourage your teen to start early with the scholarship search and to carefully check the requirements for each one she’s considering.
Although it’s more of a burden time- and money-wise, opting to take the SAT or ACT essay has more upsides than downsides when it comes to college admissions.
The best thing to do to prepare for the SAT or ACT essay section is to know what to expect in the first place. Download an ACT and SAT practice exam to find out what the essay section is like in order to help your teen better understand what she’ll encounter on test day.