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does an essay need to be long

How Long Should Your College Essay Be? What Is the Ideal Length?

What’s covered: , personal statement length vs. supplemental essay length, are college essay word limits hard, what if a college essay word count isn’t given, what if you need to submit a graded paper, where to get your essays edited.

Students often spend hours agonizing over the best topics for their college essays. While it’s natural to wonder whether your personal statement is original or compelling enough, there’s one aspect of the process that shouldn’t cause you undue stress—how many words should a college essay be? Fortunately, with a little research, you can uncover the ideal college essay length for all your applications.

Unlike high school assignments, which typically have a strict page requirement, most colleges provide a word limit or word range for their application essays. This practice helps ensure that essays are the same length regardless of font or formatting. A good guideline is that students should strive to get as close as possible to the upper limit of the word range without exceeding it. Keep reading to learn more about best practices for college essay length.

How many words should a college essay be? Personal statements are generally 500-650 words. For example, the Common Application , which can be used to apply to more than 800 colleges, requires an essay ranging from 250-650 words . Similarly, the Coalition Application , which has 150 member schools, features an essay with a recommended length of 500-650 words.

650 words is the most common limit for your personal statement, but some schools may ask students to write more or less. For example, ApplyTexas , a platform used to apply to Texas public universities and other select colleges, requests essays with requirements that vary by school. For example, students applying to UT Austin will need to submit an essay of 500-700 words, along with three short-answer questions of 250-300 words each.

On the other hand, the University of California (UC) application includes a Personal Insight section with eight prompts . Students are asked to respond to any four of these prompts, with each response topping out at 350 words.

Additionally, some schools request a few supplemental essays, which are typically shorter than a personal statement. These questions are designed to gain more information about a student’s interests and abilities, and may include topics like your reasons for wanting to attend their school, your desired major, or your favorite activity.

Most schools require 1-3 supplemental essays, though some may require more or none at all (see our list of top colleges without supplemental essays ). These essays tend to be around 250 words, but some may be just as long as your main essay. For example, Cornell requires applicants to write a second supplemental essay (of 650 words max) that is specific to the program they’re applying to. The exception to this is the Cornell College of Engineering, for which applicants are required to compose two supplemental essays of 250 words max each.

For best results, keep your essays within the word range provided. While you don’t have to hit the count exactly, you should aim to stay within a 10% difference of the upper limit—without including fluff or filler. For example, if the school requests 500 words, try to ensure that your essay is between 450 and 500 words.

For the Common App, try to stay within 550-650 words, even though the given range is 250-650. Any submission shorter than 500 words will make it look as though you simply didn’t care enough to give your best effort. An essay shorter than 500 words won’t be long enough to truly share who you are and what matters to you.

Exceeding the word count isn’t an option—the application portal cuts off anything over the maximum number of allowed words. This is something you want to be particularly careful of if you’re drafting your essay in a Word or Google document and pasting it into the application.

Although most schools provide applicants with a specific word count, some offer more general guidelines. For example, a college may ask for a particular number of pages or paragraphs.

If you aren’t given a word count, try to adhere to the best practices and conventions of writing. Avoid writing especially short or overly long paragraphs—250 words per paragraph is generally a safe upper limit. If you’re asked to write a certain number of pages, single- or double-spaced, stick to a standard font and font size (like 12-point Times New Roman).

In the event that the college doesn’t offer any guidelines at all, aim for an essay length of around 500 words.

While essays are the most commonly requested writing sample, some colleges ask for additional pieces of content. For example, Princeton University requires students to submit a previously graded paper for evaluation .

Princeton offers guidelines that cover length, but if another school requests an old paper and doesn’t offer length requirements, a paper ranging from 3-5 pages should yield the best results. The goal is to select a paper long enough to showcase your writing skills and unique voice, but short enough that the admissions officer doesn’t get bored reading it.

Is your essay effective while staying within the required word count? It’s hard to evaluate your own writing, especially after rereading it numerous times. CollegeVine’s free Peer Essay Review provides an opportunity to have your essay reviewed by a fellow student, for free. Similarly, you can help other students by reviewing their essays—this is a great way to refine your own writing skills.

Expert advice is also available. CollegeVine’s advisors are prepared to help you perfect your personal statement and submit a successful application to your top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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does an essay need to be long

How Long Is an Essay? The Ultimate Essay Length Guide

It’s safe to say that most students struggle with the word limit within an essay. Sometimes, it’s hard to find ideas for a text and meet the word requirement for every part of the paper. With so many factors influencing essay length, it’s easy to get confused.

The picture enumerates the factors influencing essay length.

Luckily, our custom-writing team has your back. In this article, our custom-writing experts will answer all your questions regarding essay length. We will also help you write papers with an ideal number of words!

📜 Is Essay Length Important?

📏 essay parts: recommended length.

  • 🤔 How to Make Essays Shorter or Longer
  • 📑 Essay Length & Formatting
  • ❓ Different Academic Levels FAQ
  • 📚 Essay Length: Different Types
  • ⭐ Other Aspects
  • 📝 Essay Examples

🔍 References

Often, the phrase “word limit” causes panic among students. After all, if an essay is too long or too short, your grade will be lowered. However, in reality, there’s nothing to worry about. When it comes to words, limitations are beneficial for both the students and the professors.

Let’s see what exactly it means.

Many people believe that the longer an essay is, the better. However, according to Frontiers, research shows that it’s a bias that couldn’t be further from the truth. A perfect-length paper is one that allows students to express their ideas and showcase their knowledge fully while keeping it clean and simple.

What Influences Essay Length

Various factors determine the length of an essay. Here are the most important ones:

Let’s start with the essentials. Usually, assignment length is given as a number of words rather than pages. Unless your supervisor or instructor mentions any specific limitations, it’s acceptable to be 10% below or above the word limit.

It’s also worth knowing the 80/20 rule . According to it, the body should constitute 80% of the text, while the intro and the conclusion take up the remaining 20%.

Keep reading to learn more about the recommended length of each essay part. The main numbers are shown in the table below:

How Long Should an Introduction Be?

An introduction is the first section and the face of your essay. For that reason, it needs to be compelling and well-thought-out. Usually, it consists of 3 to 5 sentences or 50 to 80 words .

An introduction must have a hook, some background information, and a thesis statement. While the attention grabber and the thesis are usually brief, you may need 2 to 3 sentences for the background. To avoid going overboard, try to stay on topic and don’t add any filler.

How Long Is a Body Paragraph in an Essay?

The length of a body paragraph may vary. Sometimes, it can be limited to a single sentence. In other cases, it may take up a whole page. Usually, it’s recommended to have between 80 and 200 words (5-8 sentences) per body paragraph.

Since the paper’s body contains the most information, it’s necessary to explain and support your ideas properly. That’s why it’s no big deal if your body paragraphs go slightly over the word limit.

How Many Body Paragraphs Should Be in an Essay?

Like the word count, the number of paragraphs is determined by the type of paper and its topic. The minimum is 1. Generally, however, the body consists of 3-5 paragraphs , 1 for each argument.

To improve your paper’s structure, ensure that there are as many paragraphs as there are points in your thesis statement. Each one should have a purpose and support your arguments. If there’s any fluff, it’s better to get rid of it.

How Long Should a Conclusion Be?

Like the introduction, the conclusion consists of 50-80 words . It’s essential to keep it simple and only mention the central ideas. A weak concluding sentence may affect the reader’s understanding of the topic and spoil the overall impression of your paper.

🤔 How to Make Essays Shorter or Longer: Best Tips

Undoubtedly the essay’s content is more important than the number of words you use. But there are times when students go more than 10-15% below or over the limit. Is there a solution to this problem?

Yes, there is! In this section, we will share the most useful tips to help you stay on point with your paper’s word count.

How to Make Essays Longer

Since having enough words is essential for a good grade, we’ve collected the best tips that can help you lengthen your essay without teachers noticing:

  • Use relevant quotations.  You don’t need to litter your essay with citations, but using them whenever appropriate is a great idea. For instance, if you’re working on a book analysis, referencing a couple of direct quotes from the source text will make your essay more credible and increase the word count.
  • Give examples.  Go through the claims in your paper and provide additional evidence where possible. It will make your essay longer and more informative.
  • Use transitional expressions.  Adding transition words and phrases is a natural way of increasing the number of words. It will also improve your essay’s readability. 
  • Add more references.  Providing references is always a good idea when writing a formal essay. That way, you will increase the number of words and make your paper more credible.
  • Work on your descriptions.  If you struggle to develop new ideas, go over what you’ve already written and consider adding some descriptive words. It’s a great idea for creative essays to include more imagery. 

How to Shorten an Essay

Another struggle of academic writing is cutting down the number of words in your essay to meet a set limit. We are here to tell you that it’s not that hard. Writing straightforwardly and keeping your sentences short is a key to concise content. Here are several strategies you may use to tighten a lengthy essay:

  • Choose the active voice.  It takes up less space than passive voice. Using it also makes your writing more professional and compelling.
  • Remove needless transitions.  Transitions can indeed maintain the flow of the paper. But some transitional phrases can be easily removed.
  • Get rid of unnecessary adverbs and adjectives.  Some students tend to overuse adjectives and adverbs. It adds wordiness to their writing.
  • Avoid running starts.  Some students like to start their sentences with long phrases like: “there are,” “it is believed,” or “the fact that.” Getting rid of them makes texts much more concise.
  • Delete “that.”  In most cases, the word “that” can often be easily removed from texts.

Another cool trick is to use our summarizing tool as essay shortener. Try it out!

📑 How Long Is an Essay Depending on Formatting?

As we mentioned earlier, the essay’s length is usually limited by the number of words. But sometimes, a teacher may ask you to write a specific number of pages. This is trickier because the amount of text you can place on the page depends on the formatting. By using the font size and spacing properly, it’s possible to make the paper visually longer or shorter. Let’s discuss it in more detail.

The picture describes how formatting affects essay length.

Essay Spacing: How Does It Affect the Length?

  • Adjusting the spacing between lines.  Try to make the changes as slight as possible. For instance, if you were asked to double-space the paper, use 2.1 or 2.2 spacing instead. Another option is to slightly extend spaces between paragraphs.
  • Extending the margin size.  You can increase the right and bottom margins by a quarter to make very subtle changes in length. For example, if the margins are 1 inch , you can set them at 1.25 inches instead. 
  • Increasing the spacing between characters.  It is less noticeable than the line spacing. Still, try not to overdo it and keep the numbers between 1.2 and 1.5 . 
  • Adjusting the footer.  Add a footer with page numbers to stretch the bottom margin even further.
  • Lengthening the header.  You can extend your header by adding your name, e-mail address, or other relevant information. Another option is double-spacing it.

Length of an Essay: Font and Size

  • Using the right type of font.  If your instructor didn’t specify which font you should use, go for the bigger ones. We suggest Arial, Bangla Sangam MN, Cambria, or Quicksand. They will make your text look longer without being too on the nose.  
  • Using a bigger font size.  This is another technique that can come in handy. However, be careful and don’t increase your font by more than 0.1-0.5 pt.  
  • Increasing the size of periods and commas.   This is one of the less noticeable tricks you can use. For instance, if your paper’s font is 12 pt. , increase it to 14 pt. only for punctuation marks. Italicizing periods and commas will also add several lines of length to your essay. 

What to Do if There Are No Length Guidelines

Sometimes a teacher sets no word limit for a written work. What to do in that case? Well, first, you can ask your professor to confirm if they have simply forgotten to mention it. But if that’s not the case, here are a couple of helpful solutions:

  • Think of the paragraph number.  Sometimes, you may be given the number of paragraphs instead of words. In that case, you can decide on the number of words depending on how many paragraphs you have. 
  • Think about the topic’s complexity.  The length of your paper is also directly dependent on the theme. If the topic is simple, 4-5 paragraphs will be enough. A more complex issue may require an in-depth explanation, so your essay can be 6-8 paragraphs long.

❓ Essay Length for Different Academic Levels FAQ

The length of the elementary school essay is usually short. Usually, a paper needs to have around 3-5 paragraphs, with 4-5 sentences per paragraph. Primary school essays can be 1-2 paragraphs long.

The word limit for a middle school essay is usually between 300 to 1000 words. The most common essay length is 500 words, which is about 5 paragraphs. However, it may differ from school to school.

The length of the high school essay may differ depending on the school and the complexity of the task itself. Usually, however, a paper can be between 300 to 1000 words long.

The length of the undergraduate college essay often falls within the range of 1500 to 2100 words. It translates into roughly 5-7 pages. 5 pages is the most common essay length at this level.

When it comes to the graduate school admission essay, the word limit is usually between 500 and 1000 words. It’s possible to go slightly over or below the set limit; however, it’s best to stick to the requirements as close as possible.

📚 How Long Should an Essay Be: Different Types

Now, let’s talk about different types of essays. How long should they be? Keep reading to learn about the length of college essays, short and extended ones, scholarship essays, and research papers.

How Long Is a College Essay?

When it comes to a college essay, it’s more important to stick to the word limit than with any other paper. Some teachers may refuse to read it unless it meets all the requirements.

The shortest limit for a college essay is about 250 words which is the shortest length of a Common App personal statement. It’s also rare to see a good college essay with over 650 words . So, an average piece usually has between 150 and 650 words ; you can go over or below the limit by 50.

How Long Is a Paragraph in College Essays?

A college essay usually consists of 4-5 paragraphs . One paragraph takes about 1/3 of the page, which is roughly 5 sentences . Each sentence corresponds with one of the following components:

  • Topic sentence.
  • Explanation.
  • Transitions.

College Essay Length Requirements: Top 5 Schools

To understand the requirements for a college application essay even better, take a look at the table below. It showcases the top 5 schools and their length criteria for personal statements. Keep it in mind when writing your college essay:

How Long Is a Short Essay?

A short essay is usually 500 words long. Using 12pt Times New Roman font with standard margins and double spacing should result in about 2 pages of text.

Extended Essay Length

An extended essay is different from a short or a standard one. It requires extensive research and thorough explanation. That’s why the upper limit for this kind of essay is 4000 words . In this case, a typical essay length is 3500 words or 18 paragraphs .

Scholarship Essay Length

Generally, scholarship papers have a limit of 500 words , which is 1 page in length. Most scholarship programs provide additional requirements that indicate the minimum number of words or pages. If there are no set limitations, you can stick to the limit.

How Long Is a Research Paper?

Typically, a research paper is between 4000 and 6000 words long. Sometimes, there are shorter papers, which have around 2000 words, or in-depth ones with over 10000 words.

⭐ Other Aspects of Essay Length

When it comes to essay length, many different aspects come into play. Here, we’ve gathered all the essential information regarding an essay’s number of pages, paragraphs, words, and references.

How Many Paragraphs Are in an Essay?

Sometimes, it is more convenient to count paragraphs rather than words. Let’s now figure out how many paragraphs are in essays of different lengths. You may also check out the examples to see what such an essay looks like:

How to Count Paragraphs in an Essay Based on Word Count

You can also count the number of body paragraphs for your essay using the formula below:

Number of body paragraphs (average) = (TWC – TWC*0.16)/100

  • TWC – total word count
  • 0.16 – an average percentage of total word count for introduction and conclusion
  • 100 – an average number of words per paragraph

How Many Pages Are in an Essay?

The number of pages in your essay may vary from subject to subject. But it’s still possible to determine the number of pages based on word count. Check out the numbers below to see the conversions with bonus examples:

You can also use a specialized calculator such as Word Counter to determine a number of pages in your essay.

What Does an Essay Look Like when Typed?

You might be wondering: what do essays of different lengths look like when typed? Well, here’s the table where you can find out the metrics for single- and double-spaced papers.

How Many Pages Are in a Handwritten Essay?

In case you need to turn in a handwritten paper, you should check out the table below.

Counting Words in a Handwritten Essay

If you don’t have enough time to count the words in your handwritten essay one by one, here’s what you can do:

  • Count how many words there are in one line. Take the first and last lines and a line in the middle of a page. Let’s say there are 15, 14, and 15 words in them. Then, the average number of words per line is 15.
  • Next, count how many lines there are on one page. Let’s say there are 17 lines on a page.
  • Take the number of words per line and multiply it by the number of lines per page. In our case, we multiply 15 by 17. So, there are 255 words per page on average.
  • Finally, multiply the number of words per page by the number of pages. If your essay has 3 pages, it is approximately 765 words long.

How Long Does it Take to Write an Essay?

It is crucial to know how long writing will take you, especially if you are working on an exam essay or just short on time. Note that you need to consider the time for typing and researching necessary to complete a piece. Research time may vary. Usually, it’s 1-2 hours for 200-250 words .

The picture shows the fact about the average speed of writing.

Below, we’ve gathered the average writing time for average and slower writing speed:

And here are the results in pages:

How Many References Does an Essay Need?

Another essential part of any composition is the reference list. Different academic levels require different references. You’ll find out how many of them should be in your paper in the table below!

📝 Essay Examples: Different Length

Finally, we’ve gathered some excellent sample essays of different lengths. Make sure to check them out!

We also recommend you check out our free essay samples sorted by pages:

  • 1-Page Essay Examples
  • 2-Page Essay Examples
  • 3-Page Essay Examples
  • 4-Page Essay Examples
  • 5-Page Essay Examples
  • 10-Page Essay Examples
  • 20-Page Essay Examples
  • 30-Page Essay Examples
  • 40-Page Essay Examples
  • 50-Page Essay Examples

Now you know all about essay length, word limits, and ways to lengthen or shorten your text. If you know other interesting tricks, make sure to share them in a comment! Good luck with your writing assignments!

You may also like:

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  • Word Limits and Assignment Length: Massey University
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  • Paragraphing (Length Consistency): Purdue University
  • Hitting the Target Word Count in Your College Admission Essay: Dummies.com
  • How Long Should Your College Essay Be? What is the Ideal Length?: College Vine
  • Writing Personal Statements Online: Issues of Length and Form: Penn State University
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  • Essay Structure: Harvard University
  • Components of a Good Essay: University of Evansville
  • Write Your Essay: UNSW Sydney
  • College Writing: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 21 Helpful and Easy Tips to Make an Essay Longer: Seventeen
  • How to Make a College Paper Longer: ThoughtCo
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Ideal College Application Essay Length

Can you go over the Common App length limit? How long should your essay be?

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The 2019-20 version of the  Common Application has an essay length limit of 650 words and a minimum length of 250 words. This limit has remained unchanged for the past several years. Learn how important this word limit is and how to make the most of your 650 words.

Key Takeaways: Common Application Essay Length

  • Your Common Application essay must be between 250 words and 650 words.
  • Don't assume shorter is better. A college requires an essay because they want to learn more about you.
  • Never go over the limit. Show that you can follow instructions and that you know how to edit.

How Strict Is the Limit?

Many wonder whether they can go over the limit, even if only by a few words. What if you feel that you need more space to communicate all of your ideas clearly?

650 words is not a lot of space in which to convey your personality, passions, and writing ability to the people in admissions offices—and the title and any explanatory notes are also included in this limit. The holistic admissions processes of most schools prove that colleges really do want to get to know the person behind your test scores and grades . Since the essay is one of the best places for showcasing who you are, is it worth it to go over?

Most experts recommend adhering to the limit. The Common Application will even prompt its applicants if they exceed the word count to prevent them from going over. Most admissions officers have stated that, while they will read all essays in their entirety, they are less inclined to feel that essays over 650 accomplish what they set out to do. In short: any of the prompts can and should be answered in 650 words or fewer.

Choosing the Right Length

If everything from 250 to 650 words is fair game, what length is best? Some counselors advise students to keep their essays on the shorter end, but not all colleges place the most value in succinctness.

The personal essay is the most powerful tool at your disposal for showing readers your personality without meeting them. If you've chosen a focus that reveals something meaningful about you, you're probably going to need more than 250 words to create a thoughtful, introspective, and effective essay. However, it isn't essential to hit the 650 mark, either.

From the Admissions Desk

"There is no need to meet the full word count [650] if the essay captures what the student would like to share. Visually, you want to make sure the essay looks complete and robust. As a general rule, I would suggest the essay be between 500-650 words."

–Valerie Marchand Welsh Director of College Counseling, The Baldwin School Former Associate Dean of Admissions, University of Pennsylvania

Each of the Common App essay prompts creates different writing challenges, but no matter which option you choose, your essay should be detailed and analytical, and it should provide a window into some important dimension of your interests, values, or personality. Ask yourself: Will the admissions officers know me better after reading my essay? Chances are, an essay in the 500- to 650-word range will accomplish this task better than a shorter essay

In general, the length of an essay does not determine its effectiveness. If you have answered the prompt in its entirety and feel proud of your work, there is no need to stress about any particular word count. Do not pad your essay with filler content and tautologies to stretch it out, and on the flip side, don't leave important sections out in the interest of keeping the essay brief.

Why You Shouldn't Go Over the Essay Length Limit

Some colleges will allow you to exceed the limit set by the Common Application, but you should avoid writing more than 650 words in all cases for the following reasons:

  • College students adhere to guidelines : If a professor assigns a five-page paper, they don't want a 10-page paper and you don't have 55 minutes to take 50-minute exams. The message that you send to a college when you write a powerful essay in 650 words or fewer, even when they accept longer submissions, is that you can succeed under any conditions.
  • Essays that are too long can leave a negative impression: Essays over 650 may make you appear over-confident. The word counts have been established by experts for a reason and writing more than you are allowed might make it seem like you think what you have to say is more important than other applicants, who have to follow the rules. Avoid seeming self-important by stopping yourself from going overboard.
  • Good writers know how to edit and cut : Any college writing professor would tell you that most essays become stronger when they are trimmed. There are almost always words, sentences, and even entire paragraphs that don't contribute to an essay and can be omitted. As you revise any essay you write, ask yourself which parts help you to make your point and which get in the way—everything else can go. Use these 9 style tips to tighten up your language.

College admissions officers will read essays that are too long but may consider them to be rambling, unfocused, or poorly-edited. Remember that your essay is one of many and your readers will wonder why yours is longer when it doesn't need to be.

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does an essay need to be long

How Long Should a College Essay Be

does an essay need to be long

Writing a college essay is a big deal for students, giving them a chance to share their unique stories and ambitions with admissions officers. But here's the thing: figuring out how long it should be can be tricky. 

In this article, we're going to tackle the question of a perfect essay length head-on. We'll break down what influences the ideal length for your essay and give you some tips on finding that sweet spot between saying enough and not saying too much.

Why Following a College Essay Word Limit Is Important

Sticking to the college essay length matters for a few important reasons. Firstly, it shows that you can follow instructions, which is a skill you'll need in college and beyond. Admissions officers have lots of essays to read, so keeping within the limit respects their time and attention. 

Plus, it helps level the playing field for all applicants, giving everyone a fair chance to make their case without overwhelming reviewers with too much information. And on your end, it forces you to be concise and clear, focusing on what really matters in your story. If the word limit of your essay is too large, simply say, ‘ do my essay for me ,’ and our experts will help you fit into any word limit.

Why Essay Length Varies in Different Assignments

The issue of how long is an essay can change depending on the assignment for a few reasons. First off, it's about who's reading it and why. A formal academic essay might need more detail and research, so it could end up longer. But it might be shorter and more casual if you're just sharing your thoughts with a friend. 

Then there's the topic itself – some things need more explanation. Plus, your teacher's guidelines, like how many words or pages to aim for, can also affect how long your essay turns out. It's about fitting the essay to the task at hand and making sure you cover everything you need to without going overboard.

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Wondering about the ideal length for your college essay? You're not alone. Figuring out how much to write can be a head-scratcher for many students. But fear not! In this guide, we'll show you how to strike the right balance between text length and informational richness.

How Long Should a College Essay Be

High School Essay

The length of a high school essay can vary depending on the assignment and teacher's instructions. Generally, essays in high school classes range from around 500 to 1000 words, though some assignments may require shorter or longer compositions. The length often reflects the depth of analysis and detail expected by the teacher, as well as the complexity of the topic. 

Shorter essays might focus on summarizing information or making a concise argument, while longer essays allow for more in-depth exploration and analysis. Regardless of length, students should prioritize clarity, coherence, and relevance to effectively convey their ideas and meet the requirements of the assignment.

College Admission Essay

College admission essay length typically ranges from 250 to 650 words, with many colleges setting specific word limits. Admissions officers receive thousands of applications, so brevity is key. A well-crafted essay should be concise yet impactful, showcasing the applicant's personality, experiences, and aspirations within the given word count. 

Adhering to the word limit demonstrates the applicant's ability to follow instructions and communicate effectively, while exceeding it may signal a lack of respect for guidelines or an inability to convey ideas succinctly. 

Undergraduate College Essay

Undergraduate college essay length typically ranges from 400 to 650 words, although some institutions may specify shorter or longer limits. The essay aims to provide admissions officers with insight into the applicant's character, values, and potential contributions to the campus community. 

While brevity is important, the essay should be substantive enough to convey meaningful information about the applicant's experiences and aspirations.

Graduate School Admission Essay

Graduate school admission essay length varies, typically ranging from 500 to 1000 words, although specific requirements may differ by program. These essays allow applicants to articulate their academic and professional goals, research interests, and reasons for pursuing graduate studies. 

Admissions committees seek concise yet comprehensive essays demonstrating the applicant's readiness for advanced academic work and alignment with the program's values and objectives. 

Graduate School Essay

Graduate school essay length typically ranges from 500 to 1000 words, although requirements can vary between programs. These essays serve as a crucial component of the application process, allowing applicants to convey their academic background, research interests, career goals, and suitability for the program. 

Admissions committees value conciseness and coherence, so applicants should prioritize quality over quantity when crafting their essays. Ultimately, the essay should offer a compelling narrative that highlights the applicant's strengths, experiences, and motivations for pursuing graduate studies.

Recommended Length of Each Part of the Essay

While the recommended college essay length of each its part can vary depending on the specific requirements of the assignment or application, here's a general guideline:

  • Introduction

The introduction typically comprises 10-15% of the total essay length. It should provide background information on the topic, establish the context, and present the thesis statement or main argument.

  • Body Paragraphs

Each body paragraph should be roughly the same length and account for approximately 60-70% of the total essay length. Aim for around 150-200 words per paragraph. Each paragraph should focus on a single main idea or point and provide supporting evidence or examples to strengthen the argument.

The conclusion should be similar in length to the introduction, comprising around 10-15% of the total essay length. It should summarize the main points discussed in the essay, restate the thesis or main argument, and provide a sense of closure or resolution.

Remember that these are general recommendations, and the actual length of each part may vary based on the specific requirements of your assignment or application. 

It's essential to review any guidelines provided and adjust your essay accordingly to meet the expectations of your audience. Use a specialized college essay writing help from experts who always hit the mark when it comes to the length of assignments.

How Long Should an Introduction Be

An introduction should typically span between 50 to 100 words, offering enough context to engage the reader while succinctly presenting the main argument or thesis. It serves as a roadmap for the essay, providing an overview of what to expect without delving into excessive detail.

How Long Is a Body Paragraph

A body paragraph is typically around 100 to 200 words in length, although this can vary depending on the complexity of the topic and the depth of analysis required. Each paragraph should focus on a single main idea or point, supported by evidence or examples, and contribute to the overall argument or thesis of the essay.

How Long Should a Conclusion Paragraph Be

Knowing how long should a college essay be – from 400 to 600 words – a conclusion paragraph should mirror the length of the introduction, comprising between 50 to 100 words of the total essay length. It should summarize the main points discussed in the essay, restate the thesis or main argument, and provide a sense of closure or resolution to the reader.

How to Check Word Count

To check the word count of an essay, you can use various methods depending on the software or platform you're using:

How to Make an Essay Longer

To make an essay longer, consider these strategies:

  • Expand Ideas: Add more detail and examples to elaborate on your points.
  • Provide Supporting Details: Include additional evidence or references to strengthen your arguments.
  • Address Counterarguments: Discuss opposing viewpoints and explain why they're invalid.
  • Use More Sources: Incorporate more research to support your claims.
  • Use Transitions: Improve the flow between paragraphs with transitional phrases.
  • Rephrase and Expand: Clarify and expand on your ideas by revising your sentences.
  • Consider Different Angles: Explore the topic from various perspectives.
  • Revise Carefully: Edit your essay to ensure added content enhances its quality.

How to Shorten an Essay

To shorten an essay length while maintaining its essence, follow these strategies:

  • Remove Redundancy: Cut out repetitive phrases or sentences.
  • Combine Similar Ideas: Condense related points to streamline your message.
  • Simplify Language: Use clear, concise language to convey your ideas.
  • Delete Unnecessary Details: Eliminate irrelevant examples or explanations.
  • Focus on Essentials: Keep only the most relevant information.
  • Check for Wordiness: Remove filler words and phrases.

When working on your compositions, remember about the impact of remote learning on students and your productiveness.

How to Format a College Essay Based on the Required Length

Let’s explore strategies to tailor your essay's structure and content to fit within specified word limits. By understanding how to adjust your writing style and organization, you'll be better equipped to craft a compelling essay that adheres to length requirements without sacrificing quality or clarity.

Spacing is crucial for how long is an essay looking, its readability and adherence to length requirements. Opting for double-spacing ensures adequate room for markers to review your content and allows for easy reading. Additionally, double-spacing aids in maintaining a clean, organized appearance, enhancing the overall presentation of your essay.

  • If the instruction is to double-space the paper, consider using a spacing of 2.1 or 2.2 instead. 
  • You can extend the margin size by a quarter, such as increasing the right and bottom margins from 1 inch to 1.25 inches, to make subtle adjustments in length without significantly impacting the overall appearance.
  • Another strategy is to increase the spacing between characters, although it should be done cautiously to avoid excessive alterations. 
  • Aim to keep the spacing between 1.2 and 1.5 to maintain readability and visual consistency throughout the document.

Font and Size

Font selection and size can be key to adjusting the college essay length. Opt for a standard, easily readable font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri to ensure clarity and consistency. Aim for a font size of 12 points, which is the standard for most academic writing and provides optimal legibility without sacrificing space or readability.

  • If your instructor hasn't specified a font, consider using larger options such as Arial, Bangla Sangam MN, Cambria, or Quicksand. 
  • Exercise caution and try not to exceed an increase of 0.1-0.5 points to avoid noticeable alterations. 
  • Another technique is to increase the size of punctuation marks, such as periods and commas, by a couple of points compared to the main text size, or italicizing them, which can subtly add to the overall length of your essay.

Following the specified length for your college essay is super important because it shows that you can stick to the rules and pay attention to instructions, which is a skill colleges value. Plus, sticking to the word count helps you be concise and get your point across clearly without rambling or overwhelming the reader.

If you’re struggling to fit into the required word limit, buy a college essay that will be written by a seasoned professional who knows exactly how to meet academic standards.

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How Many Pages Are in an Essay

How long is an essay paragraph.

Daniel Parker

Daniel Parker

is a seasoned educational writer focusing on scholarship guidance, research papers, and various forms of academic essays including reflective and narrative essays. His expertise also extends to detailed case studies. A scholar with a background in English Literature and Education, Daniel’s work on EssayPro blog aims to support students in achieving academic excellence and securing scholarships. His hobbies include reading classic literature and participating in academic forums.

does an essay need to be long

is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

  • How long should my essay be? – BigFuture | College Board . (n.d.). https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/help-center/how-long-should-my-essay-be  
  • 12 Strategies to Writing the Perfect College Essay - Harvard Summer School . (2022, August 9). Harvard Summer School. https://summer.harvard.edu/blog/12-strategies-to-writing-the-perfect-college-essay/
  • How Long Should a College Essay Be? | Honor Society - Official Honor Society® Website . (n.d.). https://www.honorsociety.org/articles/how-long-should-college-essay-be

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How Long Should My Academic Essay Be?

Tonya Thompson

When you're given an academic essay assignment, it's easy to feel overwhelmed—especially if English is your second language or you have limited experience with academic writing. Academic essays can range from a few paragraphs to book-length dissertations, so the scope of expectations varies widely based on the school you're attending, the class you're taking, the departmental expectations, and (most especially) the professor giving you the assignment.

However, if you're new to academic essay writing and are stressing over the length it should be, keep in mind that in most situations, your questions will be answered by your professor or the admissions committee assigning you the essay in the first place. When an assignment is given, some professors are very specific on their expectations, including what they expect the word count to be.

When an assignment is given, some professors are very specific on their expectations, including what they expect the word or page count to be.

For most assignments, you'll likely be given guidelines based on word count (for example, 1,000 to 1,200 words) or page count (3 to 5 pages, double-spaced). You might also be given guidelines on the citation format to use, how many sources you should have, and even the publication date range of those sources. Some professors like to be extremely specific on their expectations for each academic essay assignment, while others might be more lenient and less structured in their guidelines. And of course, these guidelines will vary based on the type of academic essay and its purpose.

General guidelines for essay length

Middle school.

Academic essay assignments typically start in middle school in the American education system and fall within the range of 300 to 800 words. In these grades, you'll be learning the basic 5-paragraph essay structure, which includes an introduction, a thesis statement, the body, and a conclusion. In the typical 5-paragraph essay format, the first paragraph should be the introduction, the second through fourth paragraphs should be the body of the essay, and the fifth paragraph should be the conclusion. In very rare instances would your introduction or conclusion take up more than one paragraph for these types of essays.

High school

In high school, you'll still likely need to write a 5-paragraph essay, although some teachers (especially English and Language Arts) will start to require longer essays (3 to 5 pages). This is to prepare you for the rigor of academic writing that you'll be fine-tuning in college. In these essays, you will still have the basic format of introduction, body and conclusion; however, you'll expand the body to more thoroughly explore or explain a topic. The conclusion of your 3 to 5-page essay will likely still fall within one paragraph, although the introduction might be more than one, depending on the topic.

University (Undergraduate level)

Once you get admitted into an undergraduate program, the length of your academic essay assignments will vary significantly, depending on the classes you take and the departments you take them in. You'll also encounter classes that require academic essays of varying length as the semester progresses, with a longer essay due as the final assignment for a greater percentage of the class grade. In most cases, these longer academic writing assignments will be structured in such a way in that parts of the essay assignment must be turned in at different times, with all sections being put together as a final paper.

For example, in an advanced-level English class, your professor might assign multiple shorter essays of 5 to 7 pages (or 1,500 to 2,100 words) and one final essay that explores a topic in more depth at 8 to 10 pages (or 2,400 to 3,000 words). Another class, such as a core curriculum survey course, might require fewer essays or more journal prompt-type writing assignments.

University (Graduate level)

Much the same as the undergraduate level of college, graduate-level academic writing assignments will vary based on several factors, such as the professor, the course, the department, and the program of study. One university program might require extensive writing while another might be more lab-based or hands-on experience.

Graduate level is also where you're likely to first encounter "thesis" and "dissertation" academic writing assignments, which can go up to 100,000 words or more. These types of assignments obviously require extensive planning, research, and writing time, but you'll likely be given very specific word count and citation requirements when being assigned the paper to write.

Graduate level writing is significantly more involved than the 5-paragraph essay format and contains elements such as sections related to a review of literature, background of the topic/theoretical framework, methodology of research, and your specific findings. These separate sections might have their own word count limits and requirements, with some requiring significantly more time and writing than others. As with some undergraduate assignments, you might be asked to submit these academic writing assignments in stages or sections, including a proposal, a list of your sources, etc.

Beyond word and page count

Even if you stay within a certain word or page count that is required for an academic writing assignment, you could still receive a poor grade for not using that count wisely. For example, it's possible to write a 3 to 5-paragraph paper that is disorganized and illogical, in the same sense that an 8-page essay might have the same faults.

Here are some important guidelines to follow when writing an academic essay, regardless of the word count required:

  • Always carefully outline before you begin writing. An outline will help you cover everything that should be covered and ensure that you've included all of the required parts of the essay (introduction, thesis statement, etc.)
  • Never allow your academic essay writing style to appear rambling, off-topic, or full of "filler" words. While the topic you're writing about might be new to you, your professor will likely know it extensively and will be able to tell if you're writing just to fill space.
  • Do your best to avoid hedging. Hedging is when you essentially dance around a topic with vague statements but never have an actual stance on it. In most forms of academic writing, you're expected to make a clear assumption or thesis statement and then back up your claim with solid research and/or data.

It's important to avoid vague statements or ambiguity in your academic essay writing.

So, can I go over or under word count?

Ultimately, it will always be in your best interest to stay within word count requirements given to you on assignments. Word count or page count limits are given to you for a reason—your professor knows exactly how in-depth you can explore a topic or topics given that word count restriction. If you find that you are significantly under word count when you've completed your writing assignment, it's likely that you haven't explored the topic to the depth expected of you by your instructor. A poor or failing grade might be the result, as it will be clear to your professor that you either didn't understand the topic or didn't take the time needed to research it correctly.

Some professors will allow word count that is over suggested limits a lot more readily than word count that is under them. However, keep in mind that if you have gone significantly over word count in your academic essay assignment, it's always a good idea to ask your teacher if this is acceptable. He or she might have such a heavy student and research load that they are simply unable to read hundreds of essays that are over the suggested word count limit, and might be forced to stop reading once you've reached it. This means that important parts of your writing will not be read and could affect your teacher's grade choice for the assignments.

This is also true for college admissions essay assignments. Admissions committees might be reading the essays of thousands of applicants and need those writers to stay within word count restrictions for the sake of time and logistics. Allowing one applicant to write extensively more could also put that applicant at an unfair advantage, so word count restrictions should always be followed. For a more in-depth look at what you should and shouldn't do on your college admissions essay, check out this article on writing a college admissions essay that stands out from the crowd .

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Need an academic editor before submitting your work?

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  • If you are writing in a new discipline, you should always make sure to ask about conventions and expectations for introductions, just as you would for any other aspect of the essay. For example, while it may be acceptable to write a two-paragraph (or longer) introduction for your papers in some courses, instructors in other disciplines, such as those in some Government courses, may expect a shorter introduction that includes a preview of the argument that will follow.  
  • In some disciplines (Government, Economics, and others), it’s common to offer an overview in the introduction of what points you will make in your essay. In other disciplines, you will not be expected to provide this overview in your introduction.  
  • Avoid writing a very general opening sentence. While it may be true that “Since the dawn of time, people have been telling love stories,” it won’t help you explain what’s interesting about your topic.  
  • Avoid writing a “funnel” introduction in which you begin with a very broad statement about a topic and move to a narrow statement about that topic. Broad generalizations about a topic will not add to your readers’ understanding of your specific essay topic.  
  • Avoid beginning with a dictionary definition of a term or concept you will be writing about. If the concept is complicated or unfamiliar to your readers, you will need to define it in detail later in your essay. If it’s not complicated, you can assume your readers already know the definition.  
  • Avoid offering too much detail in your introduction that a reader could better understand later in the paper.
  • picture_as_pdf Introductions

How Long is an Essay?

10 August, 2021

12 minutes read

Author:  Donna Moores

Making sure that you stick to the recommended amount of words is important for your academic performance. Even the slightest deviation from requirements might reduce your grade. But why let such a nuisance spoil your mark when you can just know what word count for each specific essay type is? So, how long is an essay? This question seems to be the talk of the town among students. As all students know from experience, the higher the academic level and the more specific the study area is, the stricter the course requirements are and the longer the essay should be. In the following guide, we will discuss how essay length varies depending on the academic level and what to do to find out what a proper essay length should be.

How Long is an Essay?

Essay Length Tips

Try to stick to the 80/20 rule.

The 80/20 rule indicates that an essay should have the following structure: 80% of the text should be covered in the main body, and only 20% – in the introduction and conclusion. If you want to make sure that your text is easy to comprehend – make use of this rule. Structuring the paper in such a way makes sure that the reader does not lose the key idea of your essay.

Cover a single topic sentence in one body paragraph

Another valuable tip covers the composition of body paragraphs. Namely, keep in mind that each paragraph should reveal only one topic sentence, one point, and one argument. It is inappropriate to discuss two points in the same body paragraph since the whole essay loses its coherence this way. If you feel like you have some extra points to add, it is always better to create a new paragraph for this purpose.

Take spacing into account

Spacing plays an important role in assuring you follow the word count. For instance, a single-spaced page contains 550 words, while a double-spaced page contains 275 words respectively. So, according to the spacing you choose, you can always keep track of your word count. But to make sure you are as accurate as possible, you can always check the number of words right in Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Five – this is the minimum required number of paragraphs

A basic paper structure requires five paragraphs, where three paragraphs belong to the main body part, and the other two cover introduction and conclusion. Keeping the outlined structure in mind always proves helpful, especially when it comes to sticking to a suggested word count.

Different Essay Length for Different Academic Levels

As a rule, a middle schooler is expected to write way less than a university student. Although the essay length often depends on the assignment type rather than academic level, the difference still exists. Below we will discuss what a recommended essay length for school and university essays is.

How Long is a Middle School Essay?

Middle school is where essay writing skills are being tested professionally. How long should a college essay be? Normally, essays length for middle school students varies between 500 and 1000 words. A typical middle school essay follows a well-known essay structure: introduction, body paragraphs, and summary (five paragraphs). Main body is usually the most informative part of a school essay and takes 80% of the word count. So if your teacher asks you to deliver a 1000-word essay, keep in mind that they expect you to write 800 words of main body text. But how long is a 500 word essay, for example? Well, this wordcount equals a page and a half. Based on this length, you can count the number of pages required for your essay.

How Long is a High School Essay?

There are several things that you, as a high schooler, might want to keep in mind. First of all, the essay structure remains exactly how it was in middle school. The only difference is that your tutor will expect a more profound analysis as well as a bigger essay length. Students need to show a more professional attitude to the topic and write approximately 2000 words for each essay.

How Long is a University (Undergraduate level) Essay

Apparently, the essay length will gradually extend as soon as you enter higher academic levels. At the university stage, students are challenged with complex subjects and are asked to reflect on the knowledge they gained during the course. Usually, Bachelor students write 5-10 page papers.

University essays imply demonstrating not only the knowledge and skills obtained during the course but also showing your writing skills. Students usually get long time frames to write such papers as they require research and extensive analysis.

If you are an undergraduate student, you may expect your professor to assign a couple of 1500 -word essays that explore a particular topic.

How Long is a University (Graduate level) Essay

A graduate level essay is similar to an undergraduate one. Although it often depends on the topic, university, and course, there are a lot of similarities between university essays for students of all academic levels. For a graduate-level student, the word count is somewhere between 3000 and 6000 words. However, courses that also imply other kinds of assignments, such as lab reports or practical exercises, might have looser essay length requirements.

Other requirements apply for those who are about to write their final dissertation or a master thesis. These are assignments that ask you to write 100,000 words or even more. For this type of assignment, you will be given a couple of months to research and write a paper.

How long is each part of an essay?

The length of each essay part usually depends on the general word count for the entire paper. How long is a 1000 word essay then? If the suggested essay length equals 1000 words, then you need to devote roughly 80% of the word count to the main body part, 10% for introduction, and 10% for a conclusion. However, if you are about to prepare a 10-page paper, this does not mean that final remarks and introduction should be proportionally big. Instead, it is always a plus when you keep your introduction short and up to the point. The same concerns the conclusion part. Always make sure you use only the most relevant information and avoid pouring water just to make the text look massive.

How to Manage Essay Word Count

Trying to achieve the suggested essay length might sometimes turn out to be quite a challenge. Here are some tips to make it easier for you:

Create an outline

Creating an outline before starting to write a final draft can do you good. First of all, having a clear plan indicates how many words you should write for each essay part. This approach will prevent you from extra editing work as well as give your text a transparent structure and message. You will get an idea of how to use the space that you have and avoid adding unnecessary information throughout the text.

Review the extant literature

To write better papers, it is always recommended to acknowledge the topic you’re working on. The reason why a lot of essays get poor grades is hidden in the insufficient topic understanding, so make sure you do solid research.

Make use of examples

Using examples in the text always proves to be a good idea. First, this approach enriches the text and gives it a lively tone. Additionally, referring to examples helps a lot when it comes to extending the word count. If you need to write 100 more words but have no idea of  what to add – add examples! Also, you may include some facts, data, or basically any evidence.

Revise your paper

Revising proves helpful when it comes to reducing the essay length. If you wrote 1500 words instead of 1000 – simply review the text and search for the information which sounds extra. Once you take a fresh look at your essay, you will certainly find entire sentences that do not fit in or just don’t make a lot of sense.

Can I go under the suggested length?

Going under a suggested length isn’t a crime as long as you’re close to the suggested word count. In other words, it is fine to write 900 words if the suggested length is 1000, but writing less than 900 words might affect your grade. Nonetheless, we suggest that you try to get as close to the required word count as possible – your tutor will appreciate it. If you are struggling to extend your text, here is what you can do:

  • Take a look at your essay points and try to provide more clarifications on their regard.
  • Use new paragraphs to shed light on the problem but from a different perspective.
  • Search for evidence and add it to body paragraphs.

Can I go over the suggested length?

As a rule, no one expects you to fit into exactly 500, 1000, or 2000 words. The standard acceptable deviation usually equals 10% of the text. This means that if the paper’s instructions ask you to write 2000 words, it will be fine if you go up to 2200 words.

However, this rule might not hold true in some cases, which is why we advise you to consult your professor on this matter.

We also recommend all students make the word count as close to the required one as possible. Exceeding the standard length always equals more time spent on evaluating the assignment, so try to compress your essay by using the following techniques:

  • Check whether your arguments are in line with the thesis statement and don’t. hesitate to get rid of extra information.
  • Make sure each body paragraph reveals one point only.
  • Reduce sentence length so that each sentence fits in a single line.

What if there are no length guidelines?

It might be the case that your paper does not provide any writing instructions at all. In this case, you can manage the situation in several ways:

Simply search for the requirements online

If no strategy seems to work – just google it. You will easily find social media posts and forum answers on how to write a specific kind of essay. Besides, you can visit your chair’s website and look for essay length requirements there. It sometimes happens that professors don’t indicate any word count because the information about it is available on the website.

Make conclusions based on the paper description

Take a look at your essay instructions. If they say that you should write a paper with three brief body paragraphs, it means that each paragraph should equal 150-200 words. If the paper asks you to develop your ideas in well-developed paragraphs, you will certainly need to write at least 400 words for each.

If you aren’t sure – contact the administration

If you couldn’t find the information regarding world limits but still feel like it is important to stick to rules, get in touch with the admissions office. They might not tell you exactly how long your paper should be; but they will tell you what an average, acceptable word count is.

How Can Handmadewriting Help You?

If you’re having a hard time coming up with an optimal word count or just don’t know how to fit all your ideas into a single essay, we are glad to help! At Handmadewriting essay writer service, we care about your grades as much as we care about the quality of our service. If you need to write a small 500-word essay or a 10-page report, we can help you achieve your academic goals. Place your first order and explore all the benefits of college essay writing!

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7 Best Ways to Shorten an Essay

7 Best Ways to Shorten an Essay

  • Smodin Editorial Team
  • Published: May 14, 2024

Are you removing a lot of words and paragraphs from your essay but still not seeing the word count budge? Whether you’re meeting a strict word count or refining your message, reducing your essay’s length without sacrificing content quality can be challenging.

Luckily, besides just aiming for the minimum word count, there are some pretty simple solutions, like using artificial intelligence, conducting thorough research, and trimming unnecessary words. But there’s more.

In this guide, we’ll unpack some practical tips to help you make your essay concise and impactful. Time to make every word count!

7 Best Ways To Shorten an Essay

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the best ways you can shorten your essay:

1. Use Artificial intelligence

When we talk about academic writing, artificial intelligence (AI) can be a game changer, especially when it comes to reducing the length of your essays.

Tools like Smodin can help make your content more concise while enhancing overall quality. AI can help you shorten your essay through the following methods:

  • Automated rewriting : AI rewriting tools can reformulate existing content to make it more straightforward while maintaining the original meaning.
  • Sentence simplification : Algorithms can analyze your sentences and suggest simpler alternatives, helping eliminate redundant information and reduce word count.
  • Research assistance : Certain platforms have AI-powered research tools that allow you to quickly gather the most relevant information. This ensures that every word in your essay contributes to your argument without unnecessary fillers.
  • Plagiarism check : Ensuring your essay is plagiarism-free is crucial. For example, Smodin’s plagiarism detection tools help you identify and replace copied content with original, concise expressions.
  • Instant feedback : Receive real-time suggestions on how to streamline your text, focusing on the essentials to effectively communicate your message.
  • Reference generation : Automatically generate and insert citations in the correct format, which helps save you time while maintaining the academic integrity of your essay and keeping it short.

2. Identify Unnecessary Words and Remove Them

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to shorten your essay is by identifying and eliminating unnecessary words.

This approach helps decrease word count and sharpens your arguments, making your writing more compelling. You can identify and remove extra words by doing the following:

  • Spot wordy phrases : Often, phrases can be condensed without losing meaning. For example, the phrase “due to the fact that” can be replaced with “because.” Be on the lookout for wordy phrases that increase word count needlessly.
  • Remove unnecessary prepositional phrases : Prepositional phrases can be redundant or add unnecessary detail. Evaluate whether these phrases add value or just extra words. Cutting them can make sentences more direct.
  • Avoid redundancies : Redundant pairs like “absolutely essential” or “future plans” can be reduced to one word without losing informational value.
  • Trim excess adjectives and adverbs : Adjectives and adverbs can make writing better but can also lead to over-description. Use them sparingly, especially when they don’t contribute additional meaning to the nouns and verbs they modify.
  • Fewer words; more impact : Aim for brevity by using fewer words to express the same idea. This will help to reduce the word count while making your writing more impactful and clear.

3. Tighten Sentence Structure

Tightening your sentence structure is crucial for making your essay more concise and readable. Use active voice to make your writing clearer and more dynamic. This is especially important in academic writing, where you have to get to the point quickly.

In academic essays, shifting from passive voice to active voice can shorten and strengthen your sentences. For example, instead of writing, “The experiment was conducted by the students,” you can say, “The students conducted the experiment.” This reduces the number of words and places the action directly with the subject, making your sentences more direct.

Combining two separate sentences into one can streamline your ideas and reduce redundancies. Look for opportunities where sentences can be merged without losing their significance. For example, “He wrote the book. It became a bestseller.” can be rephrased as “He wrote the book, which became a bestseller.”

Also, avoid unnecessary qualifiers and modifiers that don’t add substantial information. Sentences often become bogged down with these extras, making them cluttered and long.

4. Conduct Thorough Research

When writing essays, extensive research can make the final output a lot shorter. Effective research helps you gather precise information that’s relevant to your topic. This means you’ll write more directly and avoid needless elaboration. Here’s how you can conduct research effectively:

  • Define the scope of your research : Determine what information is essential to the argument. This initial step will help you focus your research efforts and prevent irrelevant data.
  • Identify key sources : Begin with scholarly databases and academic journals that offer peer-reviewed articles. These sources provide credible, authoritative information that can be crucial for academic writing.
  • Use precise keywords : When searching for information, use specific keywords related to your essay topic. Precision here will help find the most relevant articles and studies, reducing time spent on unnecessary reading.
  • Evaluate sources : Assess the relevance and reliability of each source. Check the publication date to ensure the information is current and relevant to your topic.
  • Take notes efficiently : As you research, jot down important points, quotes, and references. Organize these notes according to the sections in your essay to make writing faster.
  • Synthesize information : Combine information from multiple sources to build a strong argument. This will allow you to write comprehensively and with fewer words, as each sentence carries more weight.

5. Improve Your Paragraph Structure

Streamlining paragraphs can make your essay shorter and more digestible for the reader. With a well-structured paragraph, you can focus on a single idea supported by concise statements.

Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that clearly states the main idea. This sentence sets the direction and tone, letting the reader know what to expect. It also helps ensure that every following sentence relates directly to the main idea.

Condense supporting information by merging ideas that logically coexist within a single sentence or phrase. After that, evaluate each sentence for its contribution to the paragraph’s main idea. Remove any information that is repeated or goes into too much detail.

Focus on providing evidence and explanations that directly support the main point. You should also end each paragraph with a sentence that reinforces the main idea and potentially links to the next paragraph. This creates smooth transitions and keeps the essay focused and cohesive.

6. Refine the Introduction and Conclusion

These sections frame your essay and influence how your arguments are perceived. Here are some ways to keep them concise yet effective.


The introduction should be engaging and concise, clearly stating the purpose and scope of your essay. Begin with a hook that grabs the reader’s attention, followed by background information that sets the context. Incorporate your thesis statement early on, ideally at the end of the intro.

The conclusion needs to reinforce the thesis. Summarize key points in the essay and show how they support the thesis. Provide a final thought that leaves the reader with something to ponder.

Also, remember to keep it tight – the conclusion isn’t a place for introducing new ideas. It should wrap up the ones you presented and prompt the reader to pose their own questions.

7. Edit and Proofread

Keep your essay concise and error-free by allocating ample time for editing and proofreading. These processes scrutinize your work at different levels, from the overall structure to word choices and punctuation. Here’s how you can go about it:

Start by reading through your entire paper to get a feel for its flow and coherence. Check if all paragraphs support your thesis statement and if section transitions are smooth. This will help you spot areas where the argument might be weak, or wording could be clearer.

Focus next on paragraph structure. Ensure each paragraph sticks to one main idea and that all sentences directly support the idea. Remove any repetitive or irrelevant sentences that don’t add value.

Then, look for clarity and style. Replace complex words with simpler alternatives to maintain readability. Keep your tone consistent throughout the paper. Adjust the sentence length and structure to enhance the flow and make it more engaging.


Proofreading comes after editing. The focus here is catching typing errors, grammatical mistakes, and inconsistent formatting. It’s always best to proofread with fresh eyes, so consider taking a break before this step.

Use tools like spell checkers, but don’t rely solely on them. Read your essay aloud or have someone else review it. Hearing the words can help you catch errors you may have missed.

Lastly, check for punctuation errors and ensure all citations and references are formatted according to the required academic style. This and all of the above are areas in which AI can help get the job done with speed and precision.

Why You Might Need to Shorten Your Essay

Ever heard the expression “less is more”? When it comes to academic writing, it normally is. Keeping your essays concise offers several benefits:

  • Enhances clarity : A shorter essay forces you to focus on the main points and critical arguments, reducing the risk of going off-topic. This clarity makes your writing more impactful and easier for the reader to follow.
  • Meets word limits : Many academic assignments have a maximum word count. Learning to express your thoughts concisely helps you stay within these limits without sacrificing essential content.
  • Saves time : For both the writer and the reader, shorter essays take less time to write, revise, and read. This efficiency is especially valuable in academic settings where time is usually limited.
  • Increases engagement : Readers are more likely to stay engaged with a document that gets to the point quickly. Lengthy texts can deter readers, especially if the content has unnecessary words or redundant points.
  • Improves writing skills : Shortening essays helps refine your writing skills. You become better at identifying and eliminating fluff, focusing instead on what really adds value to your paper.

Overall, adopting a more succinct writing style helps you meet academic requirements and polish your communication skills.

Why Use Smodin To Shorten an Essay

Using AI-powered platforms like Smodin to shorten your essay is both the simplest and the least time-consuming method available. Here’s why you should probably make Smodin your go-to essay shortener:

  • Efficiency : Smodin eases the editing process, using advanced algorithms to quickly identify areas where content can be condensed without losing meaning.
  • Accuracy : With its powerful AI, Smodin ensures that the essence of your essays stays intact while getting rid of unnecessary words, making your writing more precise.
  • Ease of use : Smodin is user-friendly, making it accessible even to those who aren’t the most tech-savvy. Its easy-to-grasp interface allows for seamless navigation and operation.

Smodin’s offerings

  • Rewriter : Available in over 50 languages, this tool helps rewrite text to be more concise.
  • Article Writer : Assists in drafting articles that are crisp and to the point.
  • Plagiarism and Auto Citation : Ensures your essay is original and correctly cited, which is crucial in academic writing.
  • Language Detection : Identifies the language of the text, ensuring the right adjustments are made for clarity.

All these tools and more are what make Smodin an excellent choice for academics looking to reduce the length of their essays.

Final Thoughts

Word counts can be a real headache, especially when you need to say a lot with a little. Thankfully, by identifying unnecessary words, tightening your sentences, and using tools like Smodin, you can make your essay concise without losing its meaning. Remember, a shorter essay doesn’t just meet word limits; and it’s clear, more compelling, and more likely to keep your reader engaged.

Keep it short, keep it sweet, and make every word count! Get started for free right now with Smodin.

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does an essay need to be long

Can You Lose Your Native Tongue?

After moving abroad, I found my English slowly eroding. It turns out our first languages aren’t as embedded as we think.

Credit... Artwork by PABLO DELCÁN

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By Madeleine Schwartz

Madeleine Schwartz is a writer and editor who grew up speaking English and French. She has been living in Paris since 2020.

  • May 14, 2024

It happened the first time over dinner. I was saying something to my husband, who grew up in Paris where we live, and suddenly couldn’t get the word out. The culprit was the “r.” For the previous few months, I had been trying to perfect the French “r.” My failure to do so was the last marker of my Americanness, and I could only do it if I concentrated, moving the sound backward in my mouth and exhaling at the same time. Now I was saying something in English — “reheat” or “rehash” — and the “r” was refusing to come forward. The word felt like a piece of dough stuck in my throat.

Listen to this article, read by Soneela Nankani

Other changes began to push into my speech. I realized that when my husband spoke to me in English, I would answer him in French. My mother called, and I heard myself speaking with a French accent. Drafts of my articles were returned with an unusual number of comments from editors. Then I told a friend about a spill at the grocery store, which — the words “conveyor belt” vanishing midsentence — took place on a “supermarket treadmill.” Even back home in New York, I found my mouth puckered into the fish lips that allow for the particularly French sounds of “u,” rather than broadened into the long “ay” sounds that punctuate English.

My mother is American, and my father is French; they split up when I was about 3 months old. I grew up speaking one language exclusively with one half of my family in New York and the other language with the other in France. It’s a standard of academic literature on bilingual people that different languages bring out different aspects of the self. But these were not two different personalities but two separate lives. In one version, I was living with my mom on the Upper West Side and walking up Columbus Avenue to get to school. In the other, I was foraging for mushrooms in Alsatian forests or writing plays with my cousins and later three half-siblings, who at the time didn’t understand a word of English. The experience of either language was entirely distinct, as if I had been given two scripts with mirroring supportive casts. In each a parent, grandparents, aunts and uncles; in each, a language, a home, a Madeleine.

I moved to Paris in October 2020, on the heels of my 30th birthday. This was both a rational decision and something of a Covid-spurred dare. I had been working as a journalist and editor for several years, specializing in European politics, and had reported across Germany and Spain in those languages. I had never professionally used French, in which I was technically fluent. It seemed like a good idea to try.

When I arrived in France, however, I realized my fluency had its limitations: I hadn’t spoken French with adults who didn’t share my DNA. The cultural historian Thomas Laqueur, who grew up speaking German at home in West Virginia, had a similar experience, as the linguist Julie Sedivy notes in “Memory Speaks,” her book about language loss and relearning her childhood Czech. Sedivy cites an essay of Laqueur’s in which he describes the first time he learned that German was not, in fact, a secret family language. He and his brother had been arguing over a Popsicle in front of the grocery store near his house:

A lady came up to us and said, in German, that she would give us a nickel so that we could each have a treat of our own. I don’t remember buying a second Popsicle, but I do remember being very excited at finding someone else of our linguistic species. I rushed home with the big news.

My own introduction to speaking French as an adult was less joyous. After reaching out to sources for a different article for this magazine with little success, I showed the unanswered emails to a friend. She gently informed me that I had been yelling at everyone I hoped to interview.

Compared with English, French is slower, more formal, less direct. The language requires a kind of politeness that, translated literally, sounds subservient, even passive-aggressive. I started collecting the stock phrases that I needed to indicate polite interaction. “I would entreat you, dear Madam ...” “Please accept, dear sir, the assurances of my highest esteem.” It had always seemed that French made my face more drawn and serious, as if all my energy were concentrated into the precision of certain vowels. English forced my lips to widen into a smile.

But going back to English wasn’t so easy, either. I worried about the French I learned somehow infecting my English. I edit a magazine, The Dial, which I founded in part to bring more local journalists and writers to an English-speaking audience. But as I worked on texts by Ukrainians or Argentines or Turks, smoothing over syntax and unusual idioms into more fluid English prose, I began to doubt that I even knew what the right English was.

Back in New York on a trip, I thanked the cashier at Duane Reade by calling him “dear sir.” My thoughts themselves seemed twisted in a series of interlocking clauses, as though I was afraid that being direct might make me seem rude. It wasn’t just that my French was getting better: My English was getting worse.

For a long time, a central question in linguistics was how people learn language. But in the past few decades, a new field of study called “language attrition” has emerged. It concerns not learning but forgetting: What causes language to be lost?

People who move to new countries often find themselves forgetting words in their first language, using odd turns of phrase or speaking with a newly foreign accent. This impermanence has led linguists to reconsider much of what was once assumed about language learning. Rather than seeing the process of becoming multilingual as cumulative, with each language complementing the next, some linguists see languages as siblings vying for attention. Add a new one to the mix, and competition emerges. “There is no age at which a language, even a native tongue, is so firmly cemented into the brain that it can’t be dislodged or altered by a new one,” Sedivy writes. “Like a household that welcomes a new child, a single mind can’t admit a new language without some impact on other languages already residing there.”

As my time in France hit the year mark and then the two-year mark, I began to worry about how much French was changing my English — that I might even be losing some basic ability to use the language I considered closest to my core. It wasn’t an idle concern. A few years earlier, when living in Berlin, I found the English of decades-long expats mannered and strange; they spoke more slowly and peppered in bits of German that sounded forced and odd. As an editor, I could see it in translators too: The more time people spent in their new language, the more their English prose took on a kind of Germanic overtone. Would the same thing happen to me?

does an essay need to be long

Even languages that seem firmly rooted in the mind can be subject to attrition. “When you have two languages that live in your brain,” says Monika S. Schmid, a leader in the field of language attrition at the University of York, “every time you say something, every time you take a word, every time you put together a sentence, you have to make a choice. Sometimes one language wins out. And sometimes the other wins.” People who are bilingual, she says, “tend to get very, very good at managing these kinds of things and using the language that they want and not having too much interference between the two.” But even so, there’s often a toll: the accent, the grammar or a word that doesn’t sound quite right.

What determines whether a language sticks or not? Age, Schmid says, is an important factor. “If you look at a child that is 8, 9 or 10 years old, and see what that child could do with the language and how much they know — they’re basically fully fledged native speakers.” But just as they are good language learners, children are good language forgetters. Linguists generally agree that a language acquired in early childhood tends to have greater emotional resonance for its speaker. But a child who stops speaking a language before age 12 can completely lose it. For those who stop speaking a language in childhood, that language can erode — so much so that when they try to relearn it, they seem to have few, if any, advantages, Schmid says, compared with people learning that language from scratch. Even a language with very primal, deep connections can fade into the recesses of memory.

In her book, Sedivy cites a study conducted in France that tested a group of adults who were adopted from Korea between the ages of 3 and 8 . Taken into French homes, they quickly learned French and forgot their first language. The researchers compared these adults with a group of monolingual French speakers. The participants born in Korea could not identify Korean sentences significantly better than the French control group. Intimate moments of childhood can be lost, along with the language in which they took place.

Researchers have stressed that a first language used through later years can be remarkably resilient and often comes back when speakers return home. But even adults who move to a new country can find themselves losing fluency in their first language. Merel Keijzer, a linguist at the University of Groningen who studies bilingualism, surveyed a group of Dutch speakers who emigrated as adults to Australia. A classic theory of linguistic development, she told me, argues that new language skills are superimposed on older ones like layers of an onion. She thus expected that she would find a simple language reversion: The layers that were acquired later would be most likely to go first.

The reality was more complicated. In a paper Keijzer wrote with Schmid, she found that the Dutch speakers in Australia did not regress in the way that she predicted. “You saw more Dutch coming into their English, but you also saw more English coming into their Dutch,” she says. The pattern wasn’t simple reversion so much as commingling. They “tended to just be less able to separate their languages.” As they aged, the immigrants didn’t go back to their original language; they just had difficulty keeping the two vocabularies apart.

In “Alfabet/Alphabet: A Memoir of a First Language,” the poet Sadiqa de Meijer, who was born in Amsterdam, discusses her own experiences speaking Dutch in Canada. She worries that her language has become “amusingly formal” now that she doesn’t speak it regularly. A friend tells her that she now sounds “like a book.” Unless she is in the Netherlands, she writes: “Dutch is primarily a reading language to me now. The skill of casual exchanges is in gradual atrophy.” Her young daughter does not want to speak Dutch. “Stop Dutching me!” she says. For De Meijer, “people who speak a language they learned after early childhood live in chronic abstraction.”

This state of abstraction was one that I feared. On some level, the worry felt trivial: In a world where languages are constantly being lost to English, who would complain about a lack of contact with the language responsible for devouring so many others? The Europeans that I interviewed for work deplored the imperial nature of English; the only way to have their ideas heard was to express them in a language imposed by globalization. But what I missed was not the universal English of academics nor the language of peppy LinkedIn posts but the particular sounds that I grew up with: the near-rudeness of the English spoken in New York and its rushed cadence, the way that the bottoms of words sometimes were swallowed and cut off, as if everyone already knew what was being suggested and didn’t need to actually finish the thought. I missed the variegated vocabulary of New York, where English felt like an international, rather than a globalized language, enriched with the particular words of decades of immigrants. I began to listen to “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC, a public-radio station in New York, with strange fervor, finding myself excited whenever someone called in from Staten Island.

The idea that my facility with English might be weakening brought up complicated feelings, some more flattering than others. When a journalism student wrote to ask if I would be a subject in his dissertation about “the experiences of nonnative English-speaking journalists” in media, I took the email as a personal slight. Were others noticing how much I struggled to find the right word?

A change in language use, whether deliberate or unconscious, often affects our sense of self. Language is inextricably tied up with our emotions; it’s how we express ourselves — our pain, our love, our fear. And that means, as Schmid, the language-attrition expert at the University of York, has pointed out, that the loss of a language can be tied up with emotion too. In her dissertation, Schmid looked at German-speaking Jews who emigrated to England and the United States shortly before World War II and their relationship with their first language. She sent questionnaires asking them how difficult it was for them to speak German now and how they used the language — “in writing in a diary, for example, or while dreaming.”

One woman wrote: “I was physically unable to speak German. ... When I visited Germany for 3 or 4 days in 1949 — I found myself unable to utter one word of German although the frontier guard was a dear old man. I had to speak French in order to answer his questions.”

Her husband concurred: “My wife in her reply to you will have told you that she could and did not want to speak German because they killed her parents. So we never spoke German to each other, not even intimately.”

Another wrote: “I feel that my family did a lot for Germany and for Düsseldorf, and therefore I feel that Germany betrayed me. America is my country, and English is my language.”

Schmid divided the émigrés into three groups, tying each of them to a point in Germany’s history. The first group left before September 1935, that is, before the Nuremberg race laws. The second group left between the enactment of those laws and Kristallnacht, in November 1938. The last group comprised those who left between Kristallnacht and August 1939, just before Germany invaded Poland.

What Schmid found was that of all the possible factors that might affect language attrition, the one that had a clear impact was how much of the Nazi regime they experienced. Emigration date, she wrote, outweighed every other factor; those who left last were the ones who were the least likely to be perceived as “native” speakers by other Germans, and they often had a weaker relationship to that language:

It appears that what is at the heart of language attrition is not so much the opportunity to use the language, nor the age at the time of emigration. What matters is the speaker’s identity and self-perception. ... Someone who wants to belong to a speech community and wants to be recognized as a member is capable of behaving accordingly over an extremely long stretch of time. On the other hand, someone who rejects that language community — or has been rejected and persecuted by it — may adapt his or her linguistic behavior so as not to appear to be a member any longer.

In other words, the closeness we have with a language is not just a product of our ability to use it but of other emotional valences as well. If language is a form of identity, it is one that may be changed by circumstance or even by force of will.

Stories of language loss often mask other, larger losses. Lily Wong Fillmore, a linguist who formerly taught at the University of California, Berkeley, once wrote about a family who emigrated to California several years after leaving China’s Canton province in 1989. One child, Kai-fong, was 5 when he arrived in the United States. At this point in his life, he could speak and understand only Cantonese. While his younger sister learned English almost immediately and made friends easily, Kai-fong, who was shy, did not have the same experience in school. His classmates called him “Chi, chi, chia pet” because his hair stuck out. Boys mocked the polyester pants his grandmother sewed for him. Pretty soon, he and his classmates were throwing rocks at one another.

Once Kai-fong started learning English, he stopped speaking Cantonese, even to members of his own family. As Wong Fillmore writes: “When Grandmother spoke to him, he either ignored her or would mutter a response in English that she did not understand. ... The more the adults scolded, the more sullen and angry Kai-fong became.” By 10, he was known as Ken and no longer understood Cantonese well. The family began to split along linguistic lines. Two children born in the United States never learned Cantonese at all. It is a story, Wong Fillmore writes, “that many immigrant families have experienced firsthand.”

The recognition in linguistics of the ease with which mastery of a language can erode comes as certain fundamentals of the field are being re-examined — in particular, the idea that a single, so-called native language shapes your innermost self. That notion is inextricable from 19th-century nationalism, as Jean-Marc Dewaele, a professor at the University of London, has argued. In a paper written with the linguists Thomas H. Bak and Lourdes Ortega, Dewaele notes that many cultures link the first words you speak to motherhood: In French, your native language is a langue maternelle, in Spanish, lengua materna, in German, Muttersprache. Turkish, which calls your first language ana dili, follows the same practice, as do most of the languages of India. Polish is unusual in linking language to a paternal line. The term for native language is język ojczysty, which is related to ojciec, the Polish word for father.

does an essay need to be long

Regarding a first language as having special value is itself the product of a worldview that places national belonging at the heart of individual life. The phrase “native speaker” was first used by the politician and philologist George Perkins Marsh, who spoke of the importance of “home-born English.” It came with more than a light prejudicial overtone. Among Marsh’s recommendations was the need for “special precautions” to protect English from “becoming debased and vulgarized ... by association with depraved beings and unworthy themes.”

The idea of a single, native language took hold in linguistics in the mid-20th century, a uniquely monolingual time in human history. American culture, with its emphasis on assimilation, was especially hostile to the notion that a single person might inhabit multiple languages. Parents were discouraged from teaching their children languages other than English, even if they expressed themselves best in that other language. The simultaneous acquisition of multiple tongues was thought to cause delays in language development and learning. As Aneta Pavlenko, a linguist at Drexel University and the University of York, has noted, families who spoke more than one language were looked down on by politicians and ignored by linguists through the 1970s. “Early bilinguals,” those who learned two languages in childhood, “were excluded from research as ‘unusual’ or ‘messy’ subjects,” she writes. By contrast, late bilinguals, those who learned a second language in school or adulthood, were treated as “representative speakers of their first language.” The fact that they spoke a second language was disregarded. This focus on the importance of a single language may have obscured the historical record, giving the impression that humans are more monolingual and more rigid in their speech than they are.

Pavlenko has sought to show that far from being the historical standard, speaking just one language may be the exception. Her most recent book, a collection of essays by different scholars, takes on the historical “amnesia” that researchers have about the prevalence of multilingualism across the globe. The book looks at examples where multiple languages were the norm: medieval Sicily, where the administrative state processed paperwork in Latin, Greek and Arabic, or the early Pennsylvania court system, where in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was not unusual to hold hearings in German. Even today, Pavlenko sees a split: American academics working in English, often their only language, regard it as the standard for research. Europeans, obliged to work in English as a second language, are more likely to consider that fluency in only one language may be far rarer than conflict among multiple tongues.

According to Dewaele and his colleagues, “the notion of a single native language, determined entirely by the earliest experiences, is also not supported by neurology and neuroscience.” While there are many stories about patients who find themselves speaking their first language after a stroke or dementia, it’s also common for the recovered patients to use the language they spoke right before the accident occurred.

All of this has led some linguists to push against the idea of the “native” speaker, which, as Dewaele says, “has a dark side.” It can be restrictive, stigmatizing accents seen as impure, or making people feel unwelcome in a new home. Speakers who have studied a language, Dewaele says, often know its grammar better than those who picked it up with their family. He himself prefers the term “first-language user” — a slightly clunky solution that definitively decouples the language you speak from the person you are.

Around the time I realized that I had most likely become the No. 1 WNYC listener outside the tristate area, I started to seek out writers who purposefully looked away from their “native” language. Despite the once commonly held belief that a writer could produce original works only in a “mother tongue,” wonderful books have been written in acquired, rather than maternal, languages. Vladimir Nabokov began to write in English shortly before he moved to the United States. French was a vehicle for Samuel Beckett to push his most innovative ideas. “It’s only in Italian that I feel I’m at the center of myself,” Jhumpa Lahiri, who started writing in Italian in her 40s, said in a recent Paris Review interview. “It’s only when I’m writing in Italian that I manage to turn off all those other, judgmental voices, except perhaps my own.”

Could I begin to think about different languages not as two personas I had to choose between but as different moods that might shift depending on circumstance? Aspects of French that I used to find cold began to reveal advantages. The stiff way of addressing strangers offered its own benefits, new ways in which I could conserve personal privacy in a world that constantly demanded oversharing. My conversations in French changed, too: I was finally talking to others not as a child but as an adult.

The author Yoko Tawada, who moved to Germany from Japan in her early 20s, works on books in both Japanese and German; she writes fluidly in both languages. Tawada’s most recent novel to be translated into English, “Scattered All Over the Earth,” explores a future in which Japan is sunken underwater, lost to climate change. A Japanese speaker, possibly the last on earth, looks for a man who she hopes shares her language, only to find that he has been pretending to be Japanese while working at a sushi restaurant.

Using new languages, or even staying within the state of multilingualism, can provide distinct creative advantages. Tawada plays with homonyms and the awkwardness that comes from literal translation. What emerges in her work is not a single language but a betweenness, a tool for the author to invent as she is using it, the scholar Yasemin Yildiz has noted. Yildiz quotes an essay by Tawada called “From the Mother Language to the Language Mother,” in which a narrator describes the ways that learning German taught her to see language differently: Writing in the second language was not a constraint, but a new form of invention. Tawada calls her typewriter a Sprachmutter, or “language mother” — an inversion of the German word for mother tongue. In a first language, we can rarely experience “playful joy,” she writes. “Thoughts cling so closely to words that neither the former nor the latter can fly freely.” But a new language is like a staple remover, which gets rid of everything that sticks and clings.

If the scholarly linguistic consensus once pushed people toward monolingualism, current research suggesting that language acquisition may shift with our circumstances may allow speakers of multiple languages to reclaim self-understanding. In Mirene Arsanios’s chapbook “Notes on Mother Tongues: Colonialism, Class and Giving What You Don’t Have,” Arsanios describes being unsure which language to speak with her son. Her mother, from Venezuela, spoke Spanish, her father, from Lebanon, spoke French; neither feels appropriate to pass on. “Like other languages originating in histories of colonization, my language always had a language problem, something akin to the evacuation of a ‘first’ or ‘native’ tongue — a syntax endemic to the brain and to the heart.”

Is the answer a multitude of languages or a renunciation of one? “Having many languages is my language’s dominant language,” she writes. She must become comfortable with the idea that what she is transmitting to her son is not a single language but questions and identities that are never quite resolved. At the end of the text, she describes speaking with her son “in a tongue reciprocal, abundant and motherless.”

The scholars I talked to stressed that each bilingual speaker is unique: Behind the general categories is a human life, with all its complications. Language acquisition and use may be messier than was envisioned by rigid distinctions of native and nonnative and, at the same time, more individual.

My own grandmother, my mother’s mother, grew up speaking German in Vienna in what was itself a multilingual household. Her mother was Austrian and her father, born in what is now Serbia, spoke German with a thick Hungarian accent. She and her family moved throughout Europe during World War II; to Budapest, Trieste, Lille and eventually escaped through Portugal on a boat carrying cork to New York.

When they arrived in the United States, her mother did not want her to speak German in public. “She felt the animosity to it,” my grandmother recently told me. But my grandmother still wished to. German was also the language of Schiller, she would say. She didn’t go out of her way to speak German, but she didn’t forget it either. She loved German poetry, much of which she still recites, often unprompted, at 95.

When I mentioned Schmid’s research to her, she was slightly dismissive of the idea that her own language use might be shaped by trauma. She said that she found the notion of not speaking German after World War II somewhat absurd, mostly because, to her ear, Hitler spoke very bad German. She berated me instead for not asking about her emotional relationship to French, which she spoke as a schoolgirl in Lille, or Italian, which she spoke in Trieste. Each was the source of memories that might wax and wane as she recalled the foreign words.

Recently, she reconnected with an old classmate from her childhood in Vienna, who also fled Europe during the war, after she recognized her friend’s picture in The New York Post. They speak together in English. Her friend Ruth, she notes, speaks English with a German accent, but does not speak German anymore.

Madeleine Schwartz lives in Paris, where she is founder and editor in chief of The Dial, a magazine of international reporting and writing. She was a finalist for the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2023 and teaches journalism at Sciences Po Paris.

Read by Soneela Nankani

Narration produced by Tanya Pérez

Engineered by Brian St. Pierre

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how does sat essay length affect your score.

SAT Writing


True or False : Since essay length is not mentioned in the SAT essay grading rubric , it doesn’t matter how much you write in your essay.

Answer : True...but also false. Read on for an explanation of why and how the length of your SAT essay can affect your score.

feature image credit: How long by Martin Abegglen , used under CC BY-SA 2.0 /Cropped & modified from original.

UPDATE: SAT Essay No Longer Offered

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In January 2021, the College Board announced that after June 2021, it would no longer offer the Essay portion of the SAT (except at schools who opt in during School Day Testing). It is now no longer possible to take the SAT Essay, unless your school is one of the small number who choose to offer it during SAT School Day Testing.

While most colleges had already made SAT Essay scores optional, this move by the College Board means no colleges now require the SAT Essay. It will also likely lead to additional college application changes such not looking at essay scores at all for the SAT or ACT, as well as potentially requiring additional writing samples for placement.

What does the end of the SAT Essay mean for your college applications? Check out our article on the College Board's SAT Essay decision for everything you need to know.

Why Does Essay Length Matter?

Why would you think that essay length even matters in the first place? As I said in the introduction, it's not as if the SAT essay rubric mentions essay length at all.

Well, there's at least one good reason to think this: essay length is positively correlated with essay score .

Ever since the essay was added to the SAT, current MIT research affiliate (and former director of the MIT undergraduate writing program) Les Perelman has been vocal about how the longer an essay is, the more likely it is to get a higher score. According to this 2005 New York Times article by Michael Winerip, Perelman analyzed the lengths and scores of 54 SAT-approved sample essays and found a nearly 90% correlation. The shortest essays (around 100 words) received the lowest possible score, 1 (or a combined score of 2 out of 12), while the longest essays (around 400 words), received the highest score, a 6 (or a combined score of 12 out of 12) . Based on these findings, representatives of the CollegeBoard stated that they would be releasing shorter examples of higher-scoring essays.

This controversy first erupted in early 2005, right after the new SAT essay was introduced. To see if there had been any changes since then, I did my own analysis of the essays in the CollegeBoard's essay scoring guide that were all written in response to the sample prompt. Take a look at what I found:


Bonus graph reading practice for you in this, an article on essays. You're welcome.

As you can see, as essay length (measured by word count in the graph above) increases, the score also increases .

Just because longer essays tend to score better, however, doesn’t mean that you should just write the word “ideology” over and over again to fill up the page. The reason longer essays tend to score better is that students who write longer essays provide more support for their theses.

If this is the essay prompt:

"Is it important to question the ideas and decisions of people in positions of authority,"

and all you write is the following:

"It's important to question authority because sometimes authority stops you from doing things you want. Like getting a pony. I want a pony. I want a pony. I want a pony. I want a pony."

for two pages, you'll still get a 0. Maybe a 1, if the grader is feeling generous and thinks that you made some attempt to write about the issue discussed in a prompt. For more on the thought process of essay grading, read our article about insights from real SAT essay graders .

Similarly, if you try to drag out one example by writing larger than usual and restating the same facts and information over and over again, it won't automatically get you a higher score. In fact, you may lose points if either of your essay's graders think that your repeating of information leads to lack of coherence in your writing.

In any case, unless you have extremely small handwriting, it’s very difficult to write an essay that presents a thesis and supports it with at least two specific examples in less than one page.


So How Long Should Your Essay Be?

Many factors go into determining essay length, which makes it difficult to give a blanket length recommendation. Here are the most important factors when it comes to length of your SAT essay:

  • Vocabulary. Often, the more advanced vocab you use, the fewer words you’ll need to get the job done, which might result in a shorter essay.
  • Handwriting size. Students with larger handwriting will naturally take up more space on the page than students with smaller handwriting. This doesn't necessarily mean students with larger handwriting have an advantage, however; in fact, students with larger handwriting tend to run into the issue of having filled two pages and not finished saying everything they needed or wanted to say.
  • How fast you can write and think. If you need to take longer to plan out your essay, you might end up writing a shorter essay, simply because you don't have as much time to write. That doesn't necessarily mean that you'll do worse on the essay - since an organized essay with strong specific examples will score better than a disorganized one without specific examples - but it does mean that you might end up with less time to write out your ideas.
  • How much time you leave yourself to write (vs. how much time you take to plan). This is something you need to figure out for yourself through practice and observation. Over the years, I've realized that I can write fairly quickly, which means that it's okay if I take a little more time to plan out my essay - I'll still be able to fill up those two pages. On the other hand, if you find that you're a slow writer, you might not be able to write enough unless you get very fast at planning your essay.

In general, assuming about 150 words per handwritten page, you need to write at least a page and a half (1.5 pages) to get a 3 or above on your essay (or a combined score of 6 or above). You'll need at least that much space to say what you need to say and support it clearly with concrete examples.

What’s Next?

Want to find out more about how to write a good SAT essay? Watch us write a top-scoring essay step-by-step , then check out our tips on how to write a long SAT essay as well as our more general SAT essay tips .

Discover the secrets to getting a perfect 12 on your SAT essay here .

What if you're planning on taking the new SAT? Read our breakdown of the new SAT essay here .

Want to get serious about improving your SAT score? We have the leading online SAT prep program that will raise your score by 160+ points, guaranteed .

Exclusive to our program, we have an expert SAT instructor grade each of your SAT essays and give you customized feedback on how to improve your score.

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Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.

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Society May 11, 2024

The sunday essay: a buzzy year.


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My husband is posted overseas for 12 months and I’m armed with an expensive, newfangled vibrator. Will I miss him? 

The Sunday Essay  is made possible thanks to the support of Creative New Zealand.

A few days after my husband leaves, a new sex toy arrives at the front door. Nestled in its sleek black box, the Share Satisfaction Kama Suction & G-Spot Vibrator looks expensive with its two heads of soft purple silicone and rose gold detailing. The instructions tell me it is waterproof and rechargeable, and an online review says it makes women feel like they don’t need men any more. Perfect.

I rip off the plastic wrapping and rush to my bedroom to take it for a quick test drive. Afterwards, I lie there stunned, waiting for my ragged breathing to return to normal before giving the machine a wipe down and stuffing it guiltily into the back of the wardrobe.

My husband of 13 years is posted overseas for work and we make the difficult decision that the family won’t join him, at least for now. I feel furious and helpless, yet strangely resigned to the situation. We’ve done this before and are still alive to tell the tale. Between our children’s painful sobs and our own salty tears, we say goodbye with a loaded look over little heads and a chaste peck on the cheek.  

Knowing my habit of getting grumpier and grumpier the longer I go between orgasms, my thoughtful husband has a fancy new vibrator couriered to the house to tide me over while he is gone. It’s a lovely idea in theory, but the first time using my new toy is actually quite alarming. 

There’s no time to consult my wank bank or relax into the sensations as the electric dildo takes less than a minute to send me screaming into my pillow. Rather than a lovely post-coital glow, I lie there in shock thinking, What the fuck just happened?! Brought to climax with such Fordist efficiency, it’s like the machine was processing me in the shortest amount of time rather than generating any kind of gratification or pleasure. I feel used and confused, like I have been seduced by a cruel lover who skipped all the foreplay for a “wham, bam, thank you ma’am”. But in this case, the pleasure was all mine. 

I definitely don’t want a repeat performance and plan to chalk this strange encounter up to a meaningless one night stand, but my insatiable appetite has other ideas, and a few weeks later I find myself getting squirmy and uptight again. So, for purely therapeutic stress-release purposes, I decide I should give my new-found friend another go.

Only I never get the opportunity. The itch is there, but so are my kids. Sleeping in my bed. Every. Single. Night. The poor munchkins, devastated by their dad’s departure, cling to me like limpets and can’t seem to sleep in their own rooms. Their constant presence gives me no space to think, no space to cry and most frustratingly, no space to wank. 

does an essay need to be long

I n many ways, life is less complicated with my husband gone: no compromising, no negotiating, no nagging to get off the couch. But it’s hard work solo parenting and I start to miss his rare but adorable smile, his uncanny ability to always play the perfect song for the vibe, and his prowess in both the kitchen and the bedroom. 

Feeling myself getting hornier and hornier, I organise some overnight babysitting with the grandparents. It’s like prepping for date night, only my casanova is a handheld device that won’t be wining and dining me first. 

With the house blissfully empty, I dim the lights, blast Lorde on the record player and down a gin and tonic for courage, before reaching for the purple people-pleaser. Mucking around with the buttons, I find that both the ribbed shaft and clit sucker thingamajiggy have ten settings that get progressively stronger and more chaotic with their throbbing and pulsing. Flicking through them reminds me of trying to find a bearable ringtone on my early 2000s Nokia. The crescendoing brrrr brrrr BRRRR , the syncopated dit-dah-dit-dah dit-dah , the relentless staccato bup-bup-bup-bup-bup-bup are all weird as hell and far too intense for a novice like me. So I stick to the first setting – just a low-key but persistent buzz – and once again find myself almost immediately succumbing to its brutal but effective stimulation.

In my mind, this maniacal machine with its killer moves has the personality of a Bond villain who doesn’t relent when I beg for mercy. I call him Vlad the Vibrator – Mr V for short – and despite my mixed feelings about him, the deep ache in my loins motivates me to seek him out for more high jinks. But I have to be furtive, snatching moments of privacy in the shower or sneaking into another room when the kids are asleep. It’s deranged. And exciting.

After a while, I become more used to Mr V coming on strong and our lovemaking sessions become less of a sprint and more of a middle-distance event. I explore his ripples and curves and become familiar with his rhythms and flows. Finally, I get past the first setting, but only by a notch or two. 

It’s an uncomplicated relationship. Mr V doesn’t make any demands of me, doesn’t infuriate with his strong opinions or keep me awake with his snoring. I bet that if I needed someone to talk to, he’d be a really good listener. Our affair blossoms, and while there is no depth to this relationship – he is all high RPM and low EQ – at least my physical needs are being met. 

I rave about Mr V to anyone who’ll listen; his mad skills whispered about at work, wrapped up in a cute anecdote over dinner, and shouted across the dancefloor at a party. I sound like an infomercial: “Is your love life lacking lustre? Does your partner have trouble locating the clitoris? Reliable orgasms or your money back, guaranteed!” I respond to my own zealous sales pitch by buying Mr V clones for some friends I think could do with some pleasure of their own.

does an essay need to be long

T he longer my husband is away, the less I think about him. I start to forget the way he smells, the way he moves, the way it feels to have him in my orbit. We FaceTime, but the calls are irregular and usually dominated by the kids. Technology doesn’t bridge the distance between us so when we do get to talk, it is all surface fluff and banal practicalities and we can’t seem to connect on any kind of emotional level. I start to wonder if I actually need him at all.

I am, after all, a strong independent woman, working hard at my day job, solo parenting like a boss and running the house smooth as clockwork. I feel liberated and empowered when I take care of stereotypically male chores like pruning the trees, laying ant poison, or fixing a broken door latch. See, I don’t need a man!

Then one night our house gets robbed. The invasion makes me feel vulnerable and I’m gutted to discover among the ransacked mess that Mr V’s charging cable is one of the hundreds of things that have been stolen. I’m too busy filing insurance claims and replacing duvets and kitchen appliances to worry, and besides, I haven’t had to charge him before so he must have good staying power. 

But during a future liaison, tragedy strikes. I’m close to fireworks when Mr V suddenly stops in his tracks: no wind-down, no spluttering last few wiggles, just straight-up dead and unmoving in my hand. Unsatisfied and unhinged, I wail into the darkness and send an SOS text to my husband, who, knowing a cry for help when he hears one, orders me a replacement cable pronto. A few days later it arrives on the doorstep, and a few hours later my lubed-up lover is ready for action. 

I lie back dreamily anticipating the pleasure to follow, but am horrified to discover that at full battery power Mr V is back to being the ruthless maniac of our first few romps. I realise that I hadn’t become used to him at all, he had just been slowly losing steam! 

The honeymoon is over. Everything I thought I loved about Mr V is gone again. I curse his aggressive vibrations, robotic precision and cruel detached efficiency. Yes, I want a happy ending, but I want to travel long meandering roads that eventually lead to the destination. In order for him to become bearable again, I’ll have to run down his battery, but I can’t face putting up with him full throttle in the meantime. 

Meanwhile, my feminist facade starts to crumble. I don’t know how to sharpen the kitchen knives so they get more blunt, the ladder doesn’t reach the light bulbs in the ceiling so the house gets gloomier, and because I know fuck-all about cars, I suspect I am being swindled by my mechanic. I hate to admit it, but I could really use a man right now. 

does an essay need to be long

A s I spend yet another evening alone on the couch, I find myself looking wistfully at the shiny patch on the armrest worn smooth over the years by my husband’s feet and realise that I don’t just need a man, I need my man. But my man is still working on the other side of the world and has no idea when he will be back. 

My little unit of three does experience moments of hilarity and joy, but overall our sense of stability is sliding and everyone’s behaviour is deteriorating. I’m exhausted and snappy, my daughter is a nervous wreck and my son gets increasingly violent, lashing out at his sister and me. I do my best to keep us all sane and safe, but I feel like I’m drowning. 

Bitterly, I wish that my husband’s so-called replacement could materialise into human form to protect me from the flying fists and to comfort me when I cry. But Mr V lies static and useless in his box, and despite desperately needing some stress relief, I no longer have the capacity to take advantage of his only useful function. 

Weeks of hell stretch into months of survival mode, until one day my husband announces he is quitting his job and coming home. A weight instantly lifts from my shoulders, and some sunshine peeks through those ever-present storm clouds. The kids are ecstatic.

Driving to the airport, I feel butterflies in my tummy, the nervous kind. It has been almost a year since my husband left, and I’m worried that our relationship won’t recover from the time apart.  When I see him I let out an involuntary squeal and rush towards him in a clumsy mess of excitement and tears. He is much taller and more handsome than I remember, which makes me hesitate, but as soon as he envelopes me in his big, strong arms, my head fitting neatly under his chin, I know that I am exactly where I belong.

Back home, we fall back into the familiar rhythms of bottom pats and affectionate pisstakes. My husband is funny, gentle and kind, cuddling the kids and whipping us up a delicious dinner. His quiet presence fills every corner of the house, and if I look at things sideways, it almost feels like he never left. He assumes his usual position on the couch, and for once it doesn’t bother me.

That night, we shyly become reacquainted with each other. He jokes that he won’t live up to the performance of Mr V, but he needn’t have worried. The feeling of skin on skin is incredible and his body, so warm and smelling like caramel, makes me melt. I rediscover the smoothness of his inner thigh, the softness of his ear lobe, that dip by his hip bone that I like to squeeze. He covers my back in the sweetest of kisses and eagerly responds to my urges and desires. 

It is slow, sensual and sexy as hell, but best of all, there is laughter and love. And it lasts more than a few minutes.

‘Brown v. Board of Education’ at 70: A Dream Dissolved

A young Black woman's image dissolves in the smoke.

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Editor’s note: For additional perspectives on the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education , Education Week Opinion Contributor Bettina L. Love invited R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy to contribute an opinion essay for a brief series on the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

As we arrive at the 70 th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision on May 17, undoubtedly, new estimates of the segregation within our schools will be released, and commentaries on the significance of the lawsuit in sparking the modern Civil Rights Movement will proliferate. But behind this fanfare and reflection, a stark truth remains ignored.

The segregation that was meant to be uprooted with the Brown decision not only persisted, but it has grown, and today, we stand at a critical juncture—the promise of education as opportunity that has existed for more than 100 years is on the verge of being no more.

In recent decades, we have continued to whittle away at confidence in public schools, silenced the voices of Black students and families, and allowed opportunity hoarding to govern how we orient ourselves toward school and each other.

The landmark victory in 1954 was meant to actualize the ability of all students, particularly Black students, to have access to high-quality schooling and shatter the grip of segregation in our schools and public institutions. Like in the Reconstruction era, Black families after Brown ran at the chance to better themselves with education and saw it as one of the engines of mobility, if not the primary one.

As my grandfather who was raised in Selma, Ala., under Jim Crow would tell me, “Get you a good education, they can never take that away from you.” My family, like many, knew that accessing quality schooling was no easy task, and as resistance to desegregation proved to be an evergreen reality, we took matters into our own hands.

To gain access to good schools, families like mine ran to magnet schools, to the suburbs, to Roman Catholic schools, to charter schools in pursuit of “good schools,” but as we chased opportunities, actual opportunity was moving further away from us. The expansion of segregated suburbs, the crippling of affirmative action, the failed experiments of education reform, the gentrification of urban neighborhoods and their schools, all made it hard for Black children to find possibility.

A few years ago, I met a very talented Black teenager named Sasha at an open mic night outside of Detroit. Sasha performed a show-stopping poem that enraptured the room. As I talked to her about her future, I asked, “Where are you looking at for college?”

She replied matter-of-factly, “I’m not.”

I laughed and asked her to tell me where she was really thinking about. She was already on the Advanced Placement track at her high school and was flourishing in spoken word. Sasha, raised in the shadows of the collapse of the big three automakers, outlined how she’d seen a number of members of her family make the leap to college but struggle to pay bills, and those who went to schools with big names, quietly professed to her that they’d be paying back their debts “for the rest of their lives.”

Sasha was making a calculated decision to forgo college because it wasn’t a place of future possibility, instead it was a place that confined her options in the future.

There are many Sashas among us, talented, astute observers of the social world, who wonder if the world in front of them is opening wider or is it rapidly closing. I must admit, when I first spoke with Sasha, I thought her pessimism was grossly misplaced.

I’d read reams of studies that showed the return to investment on education was high for Black students. But at that time, I didn’t realize that Black borrowers carried debt longer than their white counterparts and that American student debt would grow to more than $1.7 trillion, equivalent to Australia’s GDP.

I told her about the access provided by affirmative action but didn’t predict that the twilight of affirmative action would come at the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. I told her about the scholarships that were surely available for a student with her talents, not knowing that DEI programs would be targeted state by state and, then, nationally.

For every study that demonstrates the power of education, there are emerging counterstories that remind us things are not promised.

Seventy years after Brown , we would all do well to learn, as I have, from the Sashas of this world. Talented, hardworking Black students have not only been segregated but know the opportunities that were possible when I was young adult are not nearly the same today. Many reflections on Brown assume that we have made progress and will continue to, but we also must soberly consider that tomorrow may be bleaker than yesterday and prepare accordingly.

Three years before the Brown decision, Langston Hughes asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?” Today, we must ask ourselves not what happens to dreams deferred but what happens to a dream dissolved?

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    Come up with a thesis. Create an essay outline. Write the introduction. Write the main body, organized into paragraphs. Write the conclusion. Evaluate the overall organization. Revise the content of each paragraph. Proofread your essay or use a Grammar Checker for language errors. Use a plagiarism checker.

  10. How long should my essay be?

    The average length of a personal essay for college is 400─600 words. Always read the prompt. Follow the instructions provided in the application. BigFuture. Explore Careers ... How long should my essay be? The average length of a personal essay for college is 400─600 words. Always read the prompt.

  11. How Long Should Your College Application Essay Be?

    "There is no need to meet the full word count [650] if the essay captures what the student would like to share. Visually, you want to make sure the essay looks complete and robust. As a general rule, I would suggest the essay be between 500-650 words." ... Essays that are too long can leave a negative impression: Essays over 650 may make you ...

  12. How Long Should a College Essay Be: Simple Explanation

    How long is an essay? An average composition is 400-600 words long, but depending on the assignment type and academic level, the length can vary. Writers How to Order. ... Firstly, it shows that you can follow instructions, which is a skill you'll need in college and beyond. Admissions officers have lots of essays to read, so keeping within the ...

  13. How Long Should My Academic Essay Be?

    High school. In high school, you'll still likely need to write a 5-paragraph essay, although some teachers (especially English and Language Arts) will start to require longer essays (3 to 5 pages). This is to prepare you for the rigor of academic writing that you'll be fine-tuning in college. In these essays, you will still have the basic ...

  14. Introductions

    In general, your introductions should contain the following elements: When you're writing an essay, it's helpful to think about what your reader needs to know in order to follow your argument. Your introduction should include enough information so that readers can understand the context for your thesis. For example, if you are analyzing ...

  15. Getting College Essay Help: Important Do's and Don'ts

    Have a fresh pair of eyes give you some feedback. Don't allow someone else to rewrite your essay, but do take advantage of others' edits and opinions when they seem helpful. ( Bates College) Read your essay aloud to someone. Reading the essay out loud offers a chance to hear how your essay sounds outside your head.

  16. How long should an essay be?

    As an essay gets longer, each part must get longer to balance. Your introduction and conclusion will always be the shortest parts, and should be similar in length. They will ALWAYS be shorter than the body of the paper. Every essay needs an intro, a body and a conclusion. For a 1 page essay or to write an answer to a long essay test, make each ...

  17. How Long Should An Essay Be? A Guide To Essay Length & Word Count

    The answer to "how long should a high-school essay be can vary, but you'll usually need to include at least 5 paragraphs, with an introduction, conclusion, and 3 main body segments. College admission essay. 250-650 words. The average college admission essay is much shorter than any other essay.

  18. How long should a college essay be?

    You should aim to stay under the specified word count limit to show you can follow directions and write concisely. However, don't write too little, as it may seem like you are unwilling or unable to write a detailed and insightful narrative about yourself. If no word count is specified, we advise keeping your essay between 400 and 600 words.

  19. How Long is an Essay?

    Normally, essays length for middle school students varies between 500 and 1000 words. A typical middle school essay follows a well-known essay structure: introduction, body paragraphs, and summary (five paragraphs). Main body is usually the most informative part of a school essay and takes 80% of the word count.

  20. How Does ACT Essay Length Affect Your Score?

    Below, I've listed the four key factors that determine essay length. #1: Vocabulary. The more advanced vocabulary you use, the fewer words you'll need to get your point across, which might result in a shorter essay. This difference can be seen on the word count graph above: the 5-scoring essay is longer than the 6-scoring essay.

  21. 7 Best Ways to Shorten an Essay

    Also, avoid unnecessary qualifiers and modifiers that don't add substantial information. Sentences often become bogged down with these extras, making them cluttered and long. 4. Conduct Thorough Research. When writing essays, extensive research can make the final output a lot shorter.

  22. How to Structure an Essay

    The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body. This article provides useful templates and tips to help you outline your essay, make decisions about your structure, and ...

  23. Can You Lose Your Native Tongue?

    For a long time, a central question in linguistics was how people learn language. But in the past few decades, a new field of study called "language attrition" has emerged.

  24. How Does SAT Essay Length Affect Your Score?

    As you can see, as essay length (measured by word count in the graph above) increases, the score also increases. Just because longer essays tend to score better, however, doesn't mean that you should just write the word "ideology" over and over again to fill up the page. The reason longer essays tend to score better is that students who ...

  25. The Pros and Cons of AI in Special Education

    Teachers need to review artificial intelligence's suggestions carefully to ensure that they are right for specific students. Student data—including diagnoses of learning differences or ...

  26. The Sunday Essay: A buzzy year

    The Sunday Essay is made possible thanks to the ... and an online review says it makes women feel like they don't need men any more. ... but I want to travel long meandering roads that ...

  27. How long is an essay conclusion?

    Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example: In a literary analysis essay, you might make an argument for a specific interpretation of a text; In a history essay, you might present an argument for the importance of a particular event; In a politics essay, you might argue for the validity of a certain political ...

  28. 'Brown v. Board of Education' at 70: A Dream Dissolved

    Board of Education, Education Week Opinion Contributor Bettina L. Love invited R. L'Heureux Lewis-McCoy to contribute an opinion essay for a brief series on the U.S. Supreme Court decision.