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.
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?
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.