Colleges That Require SAT Essay | We Compiled the Comprehensive List

Increasingly, colleges across the United States are showing preference to applicants that have sat and passed the optional SAT essay test.  Given that the SAT essay is technically an optional extra, its importance can be underestimated or overlooked entirely. Nevertheless, students that take the SAT essay at high school (or later) are statistically more likely to get into their preferred colleges than those who take the basic SAT alone.

But which colleges require the SAT essay as a fundamental prerequisite for successful admission? How many other colleges recommend the SAT essay as a preferable educational achievement, though will still consider applications from those that did not take the SAT essay?

An Overview of the Optional SAT Essay

The SAT essay was added to the test in March 2016 as optional, which has since been taken by millions of high school  students and adult learners across the US. The SAT essay is an optional additional section to the standard test, which gives students 50 minutes to critically analyze a passage of text and scrutinize the author’s argument.

Put simply, you write a brief passage of text of your own, analyzing how well or otherwise the author got their point across, and your justifications for your arguments. Test scores are then assigned, in accordance with the quality of your  responses.

Taking the SAT with the essay costs slightly more, though it’s a small price to pay - given how many colleges and universities recommend the SAT with essay. Of course, in each scenarios you need to be familiar with ways to study for the SAT and know when to take the SAT.

Note: don’t fall into the trap of assuming the school you take the SAT at will automatically sign you up for the essay portion of the test. If you want to take the SAT with essay, you’ll need to indicate this at the time of your application.

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Prep Tips for SAT Test and SAT Essay Takers

Whether you plan on taking the base SAT alone or the SAT with essay, we strongly recommend checking out these top-rated SAT prep books to get your started. In addition, we also reviewed a series of popular SAT prep courses that provide a detailed overview of what to expect on the day.

There’s no such thing as being too prepared - getting started on your test prep 3-6 months ahead of time comes highly recommended.

How Much Does SAT Essay Score Matter?

It's generally recommended to aim for an SAT essay score of at least a 6 out of 8 on Reading, Analysis, and Writing.

Combined with a good overall SAT score in the 75th percentile, this should be more than enough to be considered eligible by colleges that require the optional SAT writing task. 

Which Schools Require or Recommend the Optional SAT Essay?

The list of universities and colleges that require the optional SAT writing task is changing all the time. While some universities consider SAT and SAT essay scores alongside other criteria, some have made the SAT essay a fundamental requirement for all applicants.

This is how the current list of schools that require or recommend the optional SAT essay looks as of the 2020/2021 academic year - as indicated by the College Board:

Abilene Christian University TX- Recommended

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences NY- Recommended

Amherst College - Recommended

Allegheny College PA- Recommended

Augsburg University MN- Recommended

Austin College TX- Recommended

Benedictine University IL- Required

Caldwell University NJ- Recommended

California State University, Northridge CA-Recommended

Central Connecticut State University CT- Recommended

Central Michigan University MI- Recommended

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania PA- Recommended

Colby College - Recommended

College of Wooster OH - Recommended

Colorado School of Mines CO- Recommended

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art NY- Recommended

Corban University OR- Recommended

Cornerstone University MI- Recommended

Dallas Christian College TX- Recommended

Delaware State University DE- Required

DeSales University PA- Required

Dominican University of California CA- Required

Duke University NC- Recommended

Earlham College IN- Recommended

Eastern Illinois University IL- Recommended

Eastern Nazarene College MA- Recommended

Eastern University PA- Recommended

Endicott College MA- Recommended

Five Towns College NY- Recommended

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University FL- Required

Gallaudet University DC- Recommended

George Washington University DC- Recommended

Georgia Highlands College GA- Recommended

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)GA- Recommended

Greenville University IL- Recommended

Gwynedd Mercy University PA- Recommended

Hofstra University NY- Recommended

Holy Family College WI- Recommended

Holy Family University PA- Recommended

Howard University DC- Required

Husson University ME- Recommended

Indiana University South Bend IN- Recommended

Indiana University Southeast IN- Recommended

Indiana Wesleyan University IN- Recommended

Inter American University of Puerto Rico: Barranquitas Campus PR Recommended

John Wesley University- NC Required

Juilliard School NY- Recommended

Keiser University (West Palm Beach)FL- Recommended

Kentucky State University KY- Required

Lehigh University PA- Recommended

Madonna University MI- Recommended

Manhattan College NY- Recommended

Martin Luther College MN- Required

Marymount California University CA- Recommended

Massachusetts Maritime Academy MA- Recommended

McMurry University TX- Recommended

Mercy College NY- Recommended

Modern College of Design OH- Recommended

Molloy College NY- Required

Montana Technological University MT- Recommended

Morehouse College GA- Recommended

Mount Saint Mary College NY- Recommended

Mount St. Joseph University OH- Recommended

National-Louis University IL- Recommended

New Jersey City University NJ- Recommended

Nichols College MA- Recommended

North Park University IL- Recommended

Ohio University OH- Recommended

Oregon State University OR - Recommended

Purdue University Northwest IN- Recommended

Randall University OK- Recommended

Randolph-Macon College  VA- Recommended

Reading Area Community College PA Recommended

Rowan University NJ Recommended

Rutgers University—Camden Campus NJ- Recommended

Rutgers University—Newark Campus NJ- Recommended

Saint Michael's College VT- Recommended

Seton Hill University PA- Recommended

Shiloh University IA- Recommended

Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania PA- Recommended

Soka University of America CA- Required

Southern California Institute of Architecture CA- Required

Southern Illinois University Carbondale IL- Recommended

Southern Oregon University OR- Recommended

Spring Hill College AL- Recommended

Sul Ross State University TX- Recommended

SUNY Farmingdale State College NY- Recommended

SUNY University at Stony Brook NY- Recommended

Tarleton State University TX- Recommended

Texas A&M International University TX- Recommended

Texas A&M University TX- Recommended

Texas A&M University—Galveston TX- Required

Texas State University TX- Recommended

The King's College NY- Recommended

United States Air Force Academy CO- Recommended

United States Military Academy (West Point) NY- Required

University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) CA- Required

University of California, Davis (UC Davis) CA- Required

University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine)CA- Required

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)CA- Required

University of California, Merced CA- Required

University of California, Riverside CA- Required

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)CA- Required

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)CA- Required

University of California, Santa Cruz CA- Required

University of Evansville IN- Recommended

University of Hawaii: West Oahu HI- Recommended

University of La Verne CA- Recommended

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor TX- Recommended

University of Massachusetts Amherst MA- Recommended

University of Minnesota: Twin Cities MN- Recommended

University of Montana - Recommended

University of New England ME- Recommended

University of North Texas TX- Required

University of Northwestern—St. Paul MN- Recommended

University of Texas at Dallas TX- Required

University of the Virgin Islands VI- Recommended

University of Toledo OH- Recommended

University of Washington Bothell WA- Recommended

Vander Cook College of Music IL- Recommended

Virginia Union University VA- Recommended

Wabash College IN- Recommended

Webb Institute NY- Recommended

Webber International University FL- Recommended

Wesleyan College GA- Recommended

West Virginia University Institute of Technology- WV Required

Western Carolina University NC- Required

William Jewell College MO- Recommended

What’s interesting to note is that while more schools than ever before expect students to take the optional essay, the vast majority of Ivy League schools are excluded from the list. Harvard University, MIT, Princeton and so on - none of these elite colleges require the essay as standard.

It’s therefore a case of considering the schools and colleges you want to apply for, before deciding whether or not to take the test with the optional essay.

Should You Take the SAT with the Optional Essay Portion?

Some academics argue that if you’re going to take the test at all, you may as well take the essay while you’re at it. The additional cost is negligible and it’s not as if a huge amount of additional test prep is necessary. Plus, it’s true to say that any additional accolades on your educational profile could come in useful at a later date.

If you’re still undecided as to whether to take the SAT essay or skip it, consider the following before making your final decision:

1. Do any of the colleges you’re interested in require or recommend the essay? If not, is there a chance they may require the optional SAT with essay at some point in the future?

2. If you are planning to apply to a college or university under a scholarship program, have you checked whether a specific SAT score and essay score is required?

3. Even if the college you want to apply to doesn’t formerly require the SAT essay, could a good essay score give you an advantage over your rival applicants?

4. Could taking the optional SAT essay also give you an advantage over rival candidates in the future where job opportunities and promotion prospects are concerned?

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In Summary

What’s important to remember is that even if the optional SAT essay isn’t a formal requirement, this doesn’t mean it couldn’t prove helpful in other ways. 

By taking the optional SAT essay, you demonstrate to college boards and employers alike that you’re committed to both your education and your personal development. Something that could prove instrumental in giving you the edge over rival applicants - both when looking to get into college and job seeking.

Leonard Haggin
 

I created this site to help students like you learn from the experiences my team had learned during our extensive academic careers. I am now studying Law at Stanford, but I also make time to write articles here in order to help all you fellow students advance in your academic careers and beyond. I hope our efforts on Study Prep Lounge will arm you with the knowledge you need to overcome whatever trial or test you find in front of you.

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