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Are you getting ready to take the SAT test and wondering “what is a good SAT essay score?” Well, you’re in exactly the right place to study the SAT Essay with a perfect-scoring veteran SAT tutor! Let’s get into it…
What is a Good SAT Essay Score?
So, this article is chock-full of useful info, but let’s get the original question out of the way first. What is a good SAT Essay score?
Well. you have to understand the SAT Essay scoring system to fully understand the question (more details on that below). But for now, let’s just say a pretty “good” SAT Essay score is anything above about a 19 (out of a maximum of 24 points).
Now let me be clear - an 19 would be on the lowest-possible end for what I’d consider basically a “good” SAT Essay score. That’s definitely not a great SAT Essay score. But it does put you somewhere around the top 20% of students.
If you can get above 22 out of 24, now you’re looking at an excellent SAT essay score. Of course, shooting for a perfect 24 on your essay is the ideal goal!
But wait a second - let’s back up a bit. What exactly is the SAT Essay, anyway?
What is the SAT Essay?
Ok, so now you have some idea what a good SAT Essay score is. But what is the SAT Essay?
Good question. Well, the SAT Essay is an “optional” 50-minute writing assignment, given at the end of the SAT test. Each SAT Essay assignment includes a unique reading passage. But, although the reading passage will change for each test, the prompt and essay task itself is always the same.
In essence, you must provide a “rhetorical analysis” of the reading passage. Instead of responding to the author’s arguments, you are meant to analyze those arguments and judge their effectiveness at convincing the author’s audience.
You’ll be graded in three key areas:
- Reading (Do you demonstrate an understanding of the passage?)
- Analysis (Do you successfully complete the analytical task you’ve been given?)
- Writing (Is your own essay well-written on every level?)
Now’s not the right time to get into deep strategies or rules for better SAT Essay scores. Luckily, we’ve produced an entire SAT Essay course that will teach you everything you need to know - fast. Click here to get access to download the course from anywhere in the world.
How is Your SAT Essay Scored?
So, how will your SAT Essay be scored? Well, it’s actually kind of interesting, and it’s important to know if you want a great score.
The SAT Essay is the only section of the test that is graded by humans (that’s also why there’s a small additional charge to register for the SAT Essay).
Each of the two essay graders will quickly read your essay. They’ll follow a specific grading rubric to give you a subscore in each of the three subcategories: Reading, Analysis, and Writing.
These subscores range from a “1” at the lowest to a “4” at the top. With three subscores, that means each grader can give you anywhere from a “3” to a “12” at the highest. Both graders will give you their own set of subscores, which puts your final score between a “6” at the very lowest, and a “24” for a perfect SAT Essay.
There’s a lot more you need to know about the SAT Essay to excel, but this should at least give you an idea how your writing will be graded.
What is an Average SAT Essay Score?
How about if you’re a student who’s not looking for a great SAT Essay score, but just an “average” score? What is an average SAT Essay score, anyway?
Well, there will always be a little bit of flex from test to test, but the typical “average” SAT Essay score is a 14 out of 24. Mathematically, the average “should” be a 15 out of 24, which is right in the middle. But, in real life, the overall average actually comes out at 14.
Where does that missing point disappear to? It turns out that many high schoolers struggle with the “Analysis” subscore of the SAT Essay. Probably that’s because they don’t prepare enough for this very specific writing assignment. Then, on test day, the “average” student doesn’t know exactly what they must do for the Analysis subscore and they lose points. Make sure that’s not you!
What is a Bad SAT Essay Score?
This brings us to a question that’s not exactly fun: “What is a bad SAT Essay score?”
Personally, I dislike negativity - even the worst SAT Essay score is simply a chance to study, practice, and improve!
Still, it’s definitely possible to get a “bad” SAT Essay score. Since you’re using this score as part of your competition to get accepted into college, a bad SAT Essay score is simply any score that keeps you out of your favorite college.
Therefore, we definitely don’t want to be down in the bottom half of SAT Essay scores (a 15 or below).
Even worse would be dropping to a 12 or below. That means you’re only getting “2’s” on your subscores from both graders - definitely not where you want your score to be if you’re looking seriously at most decent colleges (at least the ones that require SAT Essay scores).
Wait up a second - did I just say “the colleges that require SAT Essay scores”? Does that mean that not all students need to take the SAT Essay? Read on to find out…
Is the SAT Essay Section Required?
So, considering that the SAT Essay will add some extra stress, time, and work to your testing day, is the essay even considered a mandatory section of the SAT test?
Well, the truth is that the SAT Essay is an “optional” section. You can select to register for the test with or without the essay section. It’s an easy choice during the official SAT registration process. There’s a small additional fee to take the SAT test with the Essay, but as a pro tutor it’s something I consider important for most students.
While it’s true that not every student needs to take the SAT Essay, it’s usually better to be safe than sorry. After all, if you realize later that you did need an SAT Essay score for your college applications, you’ll have to take the entire SAT test again, just for a single chance at the essay at the end of the test!
This leads right into the next question about the SAT Essay….
Does Your SAT Essay Score Even Matter?
Now, here’s the million-dollar question: does your SAT Essay score even matter, in the big scheme of things?
Well, I wish I could give you a short answer to that. But the truth is, it depends on your priorities in life.
If you’re applying to Harvard for a Creative Writing degree, then a bad SAT Essay score is really going to hurt your chances.
But, if you’re applying to one of the many schools that does not look at your SAT Essay score, then of course your essay scores won’t matter a single bit - even if they’re perfect.
Most students will fall somewhere in-between. For example, some of the colleges you apply to will “require” you to submit some SAT Essay scores, but they won’t really look to hard at your essay scores.
In other words, many colleges do consider your SAT Essay, but few schools put a tremendous weight on the significance of your Essay score.
Your SAT Essay score tends to matter more and more for each of the points below:
- Applying to “elite” colleges and universities.
- Applying for writing or literary degrees.
- Applying to many schools that require an SAT Essay score.
How Do You Get a Good Score on Your SAT Essay?
First things first - to cut to the chase for a much higher score on your SAT essay, click here and get our complete SAT Essay course. It’s our premier course on the SAT and ACT Essay from a perfect-scoring veteran tutor, and it’s available for instant download anywhere in the world.
Here are the keys to a higher SAT Essay score:
- Knowing of the SAT essay scoring system.
- Using a clear and dependable essay-writing strategy.
- Writing multiple practice SAT essays on different prompts.
- Focusing hard and using every available minute on test day.
Each of these bullet points (and much more) are covered in deep strategic detail in our SAT Essay course. So get it today - it will help, trust me. Best of all, the course is covered with a 100% money-back guarantee, so you really can’t go wrong.
If you’re looking for more free info on the SAT Essay, start with this article. Our free blog articles won’t be quite as well-organized or thorough as our complete essay course, but we’ve still published plenty of useful info to keep you busy!
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