When preparing for college, almost everyone knows the importance of studying for, taking, and scoring well on the ACT or SAT. However, the optional writing section or essays remain a mystery for many. Is it required? Why does it matter? Should I take it?

To help answer these frequently asked questions I’ll start by explaining that up until a few years ago, a majority of colleges required applicants to submit scores from the ACT writing section or SAT essay. In fact, the SAT essay wasn’t even optional until 2016.

Over the years, most schools have dropped the writing requirement for standardized tests because they are able to evaluate your writing skills based on your essays. However, the writing sections are not completely irrelevant. While some colleges still recommend that you take the writing portion of the test, a handful of schools do still require a writing score. If a college requires a writing score, they will not consider your SAT or ACT score without it. Therefore, your application would be considered incomplete without it.

How do I know if my college requires it?

Each year the list of colleges that require a writing score changes, so it’s extremely important to check the requirements for each college you plan to apply to. The ACT and SAT websites both have a page to search the test requirements for your college. However, it’s always best to double check the college’s official website to be sure.

There’s no real rhyme or reason that determines which schools require a writing score. Most Ivy League, liberal arts, and large state schools do not require or recommend writing scores. However, there are exceptions. For example, Martin Luther College, SUNY Maritime College, Soka University of America, the United States Military Academy, and most University of California state schools require a writing score to be submitted.

Even if your colleges don’t require a writing score, it could still be a good idea to take it. Some reasons include:

● Some of your colleges recommend it

● You’re a strong writer and want to strengthen your application

● You’re an international student and you want to demonstrate your proficiency in English

● You will be able to practice and prepare enough to score well

● A scholarship you are applying to requires a writing score

Registering for the writing section of the ACT does cost an additional $17.50 and 40 minutes of your time. The SAT essay is an additional $14 and 50 minutes. So for some students, it may not be worth the extra time, effort, or money to take a writing test if it’s not required or recommend for any of their schools.

Until Next Time,

Megan Bugarin, College Dream Builder Consultant

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