SAT/ACT Decisions: Should I Complete “The Essay”?

By Sue Fulton, Vogel Prep Tutor


Any student preparing for SAT or ACT testing has an important decision to make: Should I complete the optional essay portion of the exam? In most cases, yes! With the right preparation, and a little practice, the essay task will go from daunting to doable.  More importantly, once it’s done you don’t have to worry about whether or not the colleges you apply to require the essay—you’re ready, no matter what.

The Most Significant Differences: Time, Complexity, Scoring Criteria

The SAT essay must be completed in 50 minutes, the ACT in 40 minutes. The SAT writing prompt is more complex, requiring in-depth analysis of an experienced writer’s work.  The ACT prompt poses a question which requires building a thesis around a central idea.

The SAT essay is scored in three categories:  Reading, Analysis, and Writing.  The ACT essay is scored in four:  Ideas and Analysis, Development and Support, Organization, and Language Use.

Getting Ready

At Vogel, SAT and ACT prep students learn how to use the first few minutes of the essay test to clarify the task, analyze the prompt, identify essential material, and create a working outline.  It’s a simple process to learn, but one that makes a world of difference when the clock is ticking and quality counts.

The ACT and SAT essay tests don’t have to be intimidating; Vogel’s experienced, expert instructors can help you tackle the process successfully.

No matter which test you take, SAT or ACT, preparing ahead of time is the key to success.