When you receive an essay assignment, you will almost always get some sort of rubric. It will tell the the number of pages, the citation format, topic, and other requirements. In some cases, you might be given a required word length. In this case, your essay should be at least as long as the word count requirement. For example, not every five page essay is truly the same length. Spacing and font type make a big difference. This is why writing services want to know your citation format.
Sometimes, you will be left to your own devices to determine how long your paper should be. You may also be given a very low, minimum word count with instructions to go longer if you need to. This comes with several temptations.
You may want to only do the bare minimum. You are essentially telling your instructor that you only want to do the very bare minimum. On the other hand, some students see this as an opportunity to share every bit of knowledge they have on the subject at hand.
However, all too often these essays are wordy, boring, and make students seem more than a little bit pompous. Here is a good rule of thumb. Write until your point has been effectively made.
In almost every case you will exceed the minimum word count without going on and on. This is a tough one. You need more words. The challenge is, how do you get those words without impacting quality.
Instead, go back to your notes. In this case, a word limit would be very limiting to you in terms of which assignments you could select from. For an example of this kind of prompt, check out essay Option B at Amherst: We are particularly interested in your ability to construct a tightly reasoned, persuasive argument that calls upon literary, sociological or historical evidence.
You should NOT submit a laboratory report, journal entry, creative writing sample or in-class essay. While there is usually no word limit per se, colleges sometimes provide a general page guideline for a writing samples. Typically, we anticipate a paper of pages will provide adequate length to demonstrate your analytical abilities.
Somewhat longer papers can also be submitted, but in most cases should not exceed pages. What do I mean by this?
See, for example, this Wellesley supplemental essay prompt: When choosing a college community, you are choosing a place where you believe that you can live, learn, and flourish. Generations of inspiring women have thrived in the Wellesley community, and we want to know what aspects of this community inspire you to consider Wellesley. Visit the Wellesley www. They are required, and you must choose one, but nowhere on the page is there any guidance about word count or page limit.
However, some googling about UChicago essay prompts led me to a post about the essays on the UChicago admissions blog. And keep you from writing a panicked, page dissertation about your relationship with your dog.
In general, words or so is pretty safe for a college essay. The best college essay length is usually pretty straightforward: If you go substantially past the word limit, you risk having your essay cut off by an online application form or having the admissions officer just not finish it.
What if there is no word limit? Then how long should a college essay be? There also may be implicit length guidelines. You might not be able to find length guidelines in the prompt, but you could still hunt them up elsewhere on the website.
Need to ask a teacher or friend for help with your essay? See our do's and dont's to getting college essay advice. If you're lacking in essay inspiration, see our guide to brainstorming college essay ideas. And here's our guide to starting out your essay perfectly! Looking for college essay examples? See 11 places to find college essay examples and essay examples with analysis!
We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:. Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. You should definitely follow us on social media. You'll get updates on our latest articles right on your feed.
Follow us on all 3 of our social networks:. How to Get a Perfect , by a Perfect Scorer. Score on SAT Math. Score on SAT Reading. Score on SAT Writing. What ACT target score should you be aiming for? The Best College Essay Length: How Long Should It Be? Posted by Ellen McCammon Feb 27, How Long Is a College Essay? Check the Word Limit You might be used to turning in your writing assignments on a page-limit basis.
College essay prompts usually provide the word limit right in the prompt or in the instructions. Weigh your words carefully, because they are limited! How Flexible Is the Word Limit? This can be a little stressful, but the prompts generally fall into a few categories: But what's the proper coffee-to-paragraph ratio?
You want to be loosely in the realm of words.
As a former college admissions officer who read over 3, essays every admissions cycle, I can’t stress enough that students should consider quality over quantity when drafting college essays. My colleagues have previously written blog posts encouraging students to draft essays in their everyday voice, and to avoid replacing normal words with cousins from the thesaurus.
How long should a college essay be? Whether you’re a terse writer or a loquacious one, we can advise you on college essay length. In this guide, we'll cover what the standard college essay length is, how much word limits matter, and what to do if you aren't sure how long a specific essay should be.
If a college wants a long essay, the directions will ask for it. Should You Keep Your Essay Short? While the maximum length for the Common Application essay is words, the minimum length is words. In this case, your essay should be at least as long as the word count requirement. However, if you need more words to make your point, by all means use them. If you have been given a page count, things get a bit more complicated.
When the application opened a few days ago, I noticed they added some guiding text on the essay page directly answering this question: ApplyTexas recommends that you keep your essay to between and words in length, with no more than words. 10 Tips for Writing the College Application Essay Don't sweat this part of the process, but do be prepared with a good topic and concise writing.