SAT UPDATE: 5 Differences Between Writing Essays for the New SAT Test and for College Applications

March 16, 2014.  This week the SAT made numerous changes, including making the SAT essay optional, mirroring the ACT policy. Essay Coaching has always helped students, teachers and parents understand the important differences and similarities between the ACT/SAT test essays and college application essays.

What do these SAT essay changes mean for students and parents ?

  1. Colleges will continue to rely on the college application essay to understand more about the student’s voice, skills, interests, and dreams.
  2. Video training for the SAT or ACT at Khan Academy as discussed in the New York Times will not help students with their college application essay, because of the different skills needed to write each of these types of essays. See the chart below:

5 Differences Between Writing Essays for the New SAT Test and for College Applications

New SAT Writing Sections

Application Essay

What this essay evaluates:

1.This essay tests how effectively you can read a passage and analyze the ways its author used evidence, reasoning and stylistic elements to build an argument.

1.This essay tests how effectively you can help a school understand you, like you, or admire you.

Skills needed for success:

2.Requires reading comprehension, recall, and analysis skills.

2.Requires self-insight and specific details of real experiences.

Who evaluates this essay:

3. Evaluated by an essay reader for the SAT.

3.  Evaluated by a college admissions officer, who accepts or rejects the student for this college.

How the essay is scored:

4 Specific scoring rubric.

4.Evaluation based on “Would the student fit in to this college, contribute here, be successful here?”

Time period for writing the essay:

5 Extemporaneous. Written during the SAT test.

5. Drafts, edits, revisions possible because written at home. Can be started at any time.

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