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09/04/2019

Why can’t we type the SAT essay?

QUESTION
Why can’t we type the SAT essay?
I am 19-years-old. Today I am taking a practice SAT test online and a few moments ago I was pretty confident until I realized that the real SAT essay is written, not typed. This archaic rule is the reason why I earn the average score in the writing section every time.

I’ve been typing long before most kids even sat down at the computer and rarely do I write something down manually unless it is a quick thought. If I have to write an essay on paper quickly, my thoughts are not fluid and my handwriting is chicken scratch. However, when I look at a Word Document and see my words laid out before me, I can hear my writing voice loud and clear and I can see if my ideas and words are in the proper places that they are supposed to be in.

In school if I had an in-class writing assignment I would usually ask the teacher if I could bring the assignment home and finish it on the computer. The teacher, nine times out of 10, would be thrilled that one of their students wanted to put in the “extra effort” by working on it even more. In addition, I believe the teacher also appreciated the neatness and professional-look that comes with typing a document.

Here’s the ironic part:

If we are to be preparing for college with the SAT then why manually write the essay when, after all, we’ve been programmed throughout junior high and high school to type our work to prepare for college?

We’ve learned how to write essays and type them in the correct MLA format (since third grade for me), but on one of the most important tests a student will ever take, we ignore what we have practiced for so long.

I propose that we have a choice; that we can write our essay or type it.

Just because a certain way of doing things has been around for a long time, doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way.

And just because there is one way of learning, doesn’t mean everyone else learns the same way.

We are not robots, we are human beings.

Why do we have to write the essay and how would I be able to type it instead?

ANSWER
“This archaic rule is the reason why I earn the average score in the writing section every time.”

If your complaint was that it’s inconvenient or feels awkward for you or any number of other things, I would be sympathetic. But you seem to think it’s why you are getting an average score.

SAT essays are scored very differently from school essays. It is quite common for students who do very well at school ones to do only average on the SAT essay, regardless of how they feel about typing vs handwriting.

This isn’t a paper you have weeks to work on that needs to meet MLA standards. It’s a 25 minute essay with expectations appropriate to that time limit.

I was against the change to include essays on the SAT and can understand some of your frustration. But I assure you, just based on your post, if you invest a little time into understand just how easy it is to give the sat essay graders what they want, you will get a good score.