“Do I really have to do the essay?” Rachel, a junior from East Lyme High School asked. “I thought the new SAT essay was optional.”
Rachel is correct. The new SAT is optional. But Rachel, much like most every college bound Connecticut high school student, does not know where she will apply to college. Rachel wants to apply to top colleges. While the Ivy League only represents 8 of those top colleges, it demonstrates the challenge of evaluating whether one should take the new SAT essay. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Dartmouth will require the new SAT essay. Penn, Cornell, Brown, and Columbia will not.
Unless Rachel knows with certainty that every college on her college application list will not require the new SAT essay, she should absolutely take the new SAT essay.
Here’s why: if she doesn’t take the new SAT essay and even one college on her application list requires the new SAT essay, she will have to take the SAT again.
If she does take the new SAT essay and her college list includes no schools that require the new SAT essay, then no harm.
I realize doing an essay for fifty minutes and perhaps adding in a couple of hours of preparation to do so is a “something.” But the risk of not doing the new SAT essay will simply be too high for most Connecticut college bound students.