ISBE requires essay portion for upcoming SAT testing dates

Olivia Lopez, Staff reporter

This past spring, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) chose to require the essay portion of the SAT in spring 2022 testing. This has caused a number of conflicted feelings among students and teachers. 

College Board announced earlier this year that the essay and other subject tests would be taken off of the SAT. The essay had been required in the past, prior to the 2021-2022 school year. Bridget Watson, the instructor for English and CAP class (college academic preparation), voiced her thoughts on the essay requirement.

“I never spent much time looking at the essay results. To me, the most important part was the reading and then it’s called evidence based reading and writing. I looked at the multiple choice results for English and reading and never spent much time looking at the writing score because it doesn’t affect your score on the overall part of the test.” Watson said. 

The essay works by presenting the student with a passage, and having them write a response to the strategies the author uses to persuade his or her audience. You are able to use quotes from the passage, similar to what most students do in English classes. The essay portion of the SAT has no effect on the score out of 1600 meaning this section has its own additional writing score.  

Back in 2017, ISBE mandated the essay for all public school students to take the essay. All Universities in the state of California require the essay, along with other schools such as Howard University. Schools as such require the essay to be taken; most schools just recommend the essay for admissions.  

“I think for kids who are going to be applying to colleges and schools like the more elite schools, that are going to require the test scores still and that have academic scholarships that they give based on test scores, like you have to get a 1200 or 1300 or higher to get the scholarship bracket.” Watson said. 

 With the pandemic and SAT becoming more scattered with regulations, it is hard to differentiate which schools require SAT, and which don’t. Most schools during the pandemic have gone test optional or have chosen not to look at scores. Along with certain scholarships that require a certain score, Watson felt it was hard to motivate students with the SAT’s as they become more test optional. 

“This year, I think, has been hard to motivate people to prepare for the SAT’s when the comment I get back often is “The school I’m applying to doesn’t even need the test this year,” and I’m like wait, what about next year though?” Watson said. “We don’t know if the qualifications are going to change for next year, depending on how we are with the pandemic, it’s unknown.”