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How is the New SAT Essay Different?

New SAT Essay

Current SAT Essay
New SAT Essay
Required Optional
Persuasive Analytical
25 Minutes 50 Minutes
First Section Last Section

How is the New SAT Essay Different?

Required vs. Optional – On the 2400-version of the SAT, the essay was required and part of your SAT Writing score. On the new 1600-version of the SAT, the essay is optional and a completely separate score outside of your SAT Reading and Writing score.

Persuasive vs. Analytical – On the 2400-version of the SAT, the essay was persuasive. While you may believe that it’s easier to write a persuasive essay because you are able to write about your own opinion, it actually was quite a difficult task because of the evidence you had to provide in order to back up your claims. On this 1600-version of the SAT Essay, all of the evidence you need to back up your claims can be found in the passage. Therefore, the New SAT Essay actually requires even less outside knowledge than before.

25 Minutes vs. 50 Minutes – You have double the time to write the New SAT Essay compared to the 2400-version of the SAT Essay. While this may seem like good news, it all depends on how long it takes you to read and analyze an SAT Essay passage. If it takes you 25 minutes to read and analyze the passage, then you don’t really have any extra time at all. However, I teach students how to take much less time to read the passage as well as specific items to look for in your analysis of the passage. This should reduce the reading/analysis portion of your SAT Essay section so that you have more time to diligently write a full SAT Essay.

First Section vs. Last Section – On the previous version of the SAT, I used to say that the SAT Essay is the most important section of the SAT because it is the first section. How well you did on the SAT Essay used to affect how well you would do on the rest of the exam. If you were frantic and unorganized in writing your SAT Essay, then you would be frantic and unorganized during the rest of the SAT. But if you were confident and diligent in writing your SAT Essay, then you would be confident and diligent during the rest of the SAT. With the New SAT Essay now being the last section of the SAT, it no longer has an impact on the rest of the SAT. However, you still want to finish strong so that you aren’t worried after your exam.



Shaan Patel

Shaan Patel is the founder of Prep Expert Test Preparation (formerly 2400 Expert), a #1 bestselling SAT prep author, an MD/MBA student at Yale and USC, and winner of an investment deal with billionaire Mark Cuban on ABC's Shark Tank. He raised his own SAT score from average to perfect and teaches students his methods in an online SAT prep class.