Taking the SAT essay means that, no matter which schools you end up applying to, you will absolutely have all their SAT requirements met. If you decide to apply to a new school that requires the SAT essay, that won’t be a problem because you’ll already have taken it.
The redesigned SAT debuted in March 2016 with a now-optional Essay section. If you take the SAT without Essay, the test length is three hours. However, if you take the SAT with Essay, the optional Essay adds 50 minutes. It also costs more to take the SAT with Essay: $64.50 vs $49.50 without the Essay.
A score of 1080 is a little better than average. It places you in the top 55th percentile nationally out of the 1.7 million test takers of the SAT entrance exam.
The “average” SAT score is 1080 out of 1600—making a 1080 the 50th percentile. Strictly speaking, anything above a 1080 is an “above average” SAT score, all the way up to a “perfect” 1600.