The SAT Essay and College Performance: Understanding What Essay Scores Add to HSGPA and SAT

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Jennifer L. Kobrin
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This study examines the relationship between students’ SAT essay scores and college outcomes, including first-year grade point average (FYGPA) and first-year English course grade average (FY EngGPA), overall and by various demographic and academic performance subgroups. Results showed that the SAT essay score has a positive relationship with both FYGPA and FY EngGPA. Additionally, the SAT essay score offers useful and unique information in understanding how students perform in college generally, and in their English course work, after controlling for relevant academic variables (e.g., high school grades and SAT scores). As we continually seek to improve students’ writing performance in the United States, the findings warrant further exploration of the value and role of the SAT essay in college admission and placement, particularly because students who take the SAT and apply to college are already providing this information to admission offices.

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