As the first person in my family to go to college, I was feeling the pressure to get
respectable ACT and SAT scores to get into a good school. I felt stressed about it because math was not my strong suit, and taking tests under the pressure of time made me nervous.

However, I had prepared my entire high school career to look appealing for potential colleges. I was a member of the SCA, played softball, was in all honor classes, had a high GPA, held a part-time job, and volunteered. What if I bomb my college entrance exams? What if I get passed over because of it? These are the kind of things running through my head before preparing for and taking the ACT and SAT.

Many colleges and universities are no longer requiring the essay of the ACT or SAT. So
why should students complete them?

1. It Prepares Students to Apply to Any College

Even though there is a trend on colleges no longer requiring the essay portion of these tests, there are some that still do. Some colleges want to acquire as much information about a student as possible before making a decision. Others simply want to demonstrate how important they think writing skills are. Prestigious Duke University advertises that the essay is optional but recommended. Christoph Guttentag, dean undergraduate admissions states, “We will continue to value writing as particularly meaningful as we develop a sense of students as potential members of the Duke community. And we will still pay careful attention to essay scores and what they represent for those students who submit them.”

If students decide to apply to a school they had not previously considered and it requires the essay, they would have to take the complete exam all over again. Having the test and essay already completed will leave them with many more options. Students can apply to colleges whether they require it or not.

Given I had no guidance from family, I did not know what my potential schools required. I decided to take the tests and complete the essays as well. In my case, it was a good thing I did, because schools I applied to, indeed required them. Some colleges may not require the essay but may recommend them. When students compete with thousands of other potential students, it’s best to make themselves stand out any way that they can.

2. It Can Help If Your Score for the Rest of the Test is Lower

If your potential college makes the essay of the ACT or SAT necessary, it can help you if you have a lower math score. It is one more thing that colleges can look at to see you as a complete student. This is exactly what it did for me. I scored ok on the math portion and better then ok on my essay.

The newest versions of the ACT and SAT essay have potential students evaluate, analyze, and give more thought to their writing piece. It gives colleges more to think about than grammar and style. Having an amazing essay score can only help students.

3. It Prepares You for College Writing

Completing the essay of the ACT or SAT gives colleges an example of your timed writing skills. In college courses, having a prompt with a certain amount of time to write is standard practice. The analytical thinking required to complete the essay is also the kind of thinking students will have to exercise in college. Having the essay portion of the test completed will show admissions what you are capable of in that atmosphere.

College entrance exam essays do not have to be stressful. Using books that guide on approaching the writing task, analyzing the issues presented, and managing time effectively can give you all the tools you need to succeed with writing your essay. If you prepare with these books, you’ll know how to score well and have the practice you need to write your essay with ease. This will boost chances of getting into a reputable college or university that you are interested in. I prepared for the essay of my exams, and they are indeed where I flourished. I got into my number one pick for college.

Winning Strategies for ACT Essay Writing: With 15 Sample Prompts
SAT Essay Writing Guide With Sample Prompts

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Shannon Ritcher

Author: Shannon Richter

Ever since she was a journalist for her high school paper, Shannon has been passionate about writing. Her craft has blossomed with a couple of decades of writing experience under her belt. Shannon enjoys writing pieces that are worth people stopping their busy lives to want to read and learn from. She has used her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from James Madison University to focus on writing for both corporate and small businesses. When Shannon’s not writing she is playing with her two boys in their country home in rural Virginia. She also has two girls, a Jack Russell and Great Pyrenees that are part of her pack. She enjoys reading, spending time with family, and little league baseball with her sons.