There are two key differences between these two essays that college applicants must write:
- Essay Topic
For the most part, college applications require students to write personal essays – about their greatest accomplishments, their most influential teachers, their plans for the future, and so on. In writing these essays, applicants must be able to choose their topic wisely, highlighting the most compelling parts of their academic and extracurricular histories while downplaying any potential negative.The SAT essay, on the other hand, will ask students to respond to an issue with a reasoned, well supported argument. While test takers will be free to use their personal experience as evidence for a certain position, they will also be asked to use examples from books, films, current events, history, and so on. In this way, the SAT essay more closely resembles an assignment students might face in the classroom.The skills needed to write about these two kinds of essay topics are very different. Whereas the admissions essay calls for creativity and uniqueness, the SAT essay requires critical thinking and logical support. Of course, these descriptions are not mutually exclusive: the best SAT essays will be creative and unique, and any successful admissions essay must be logical. Still, by virtue of the variation in topic, the two essay assignments do prioritize different skills.
- Time Spent Writing
The other major difference between the two essays is a logistical one: students can spend hours, days, even weeks perfecting their admissions essays, but they will have just 25 minutes to plan, write, and proofread their SAT essay.This distinction has several effects. Most obviously, a college admissions essay typically runs between 500 and 800 words, while the SAT essay is likely to stay below 350 words. In such a brief essay, it is absolutely crucial for students to determine the most compelling piece of evidence for their point of view and ensure that it is sufficiently highlighted.Moreover, while spelling and grammatical errors can be extremely damaging in an admissions essay (whose reader expects a finished product), SAT essay graders will be far more forgiving. Indeed, they are trained to view the essays as first drafts, remembering that they were written in just 25 minutes.
Certainly, students who have time are encouraged to proofread their essays at the end of the writing period, but this endeavor should be secondary to the more important issue of getting the point across and thoroughly supporting it with evidence. Even unfinished essays are not penalized; as long as the student has successfully developed a point of view, the readers will not mark an essay down for an incomplete conclusion.
As you can see, there are significant differences between the two essays and the skills they are designed to evaluate. Fortunately, EssayEdge’s extensive network of professional editors has been trained to coach students with both types of assignments. With a track record of 99% satisfaction rates in our admissions essay services, we now offer our expert essay-writing advice as you prepare for the most important test of your life.