“Our internal analysis showed that the essay component of the SAT was the least predictive element of the overall writing section of the SAT.” This made the additional stress of preparing for the essay portion a waste of time.
However, she was quick to add, “Not requiring the essay is in no way a reflection that writing is not a critical skill,” but rather that the university felt writing skill was well represented in grades from English courses and the essays that students already have to submit for their applications.
Another aspect of the test that was added in 2005 was an essay section involving a specific prompt that test takers would use to develop responses.
The trouble is, essay scoring is not as quantifiable as the other elements. Scoring was based on an assessor’s idea of how complex a student presented an argument and how that argument was supported.
It’s possible that there was another impetus to dump the mandatory essay other than general criticism: competition.
The ACT (which has an optional essay section) began to surpass the SAT in total test takers starting in 2013.
Remember that readers have to go through these rapidly and are looking for specific indicators.
So, if it’s that easy to “trick” the system, how useful can it be?
Every test wants to be popular, and today, an increasing number of schools are no longer relying on any testing at all.
In July, when the University of Pennsylvania announced that it was no longer requiring the essay portion of the SAT as part of its admissions qualifications, it started a cascade of other schools that followed in a similar direction. Penn’s vice dean and director of admissions, Yvonne Romero Da Silva, said the decision was based on a number of considerations.