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What happens when you go over the word limit on an essay?

JohnDoeJohnDoe Posts: 116Registered User Junior Member
edited December 2005 in Harvard University
I sure they won't count the words to make sure the essay is 500 instead of 517, but what happens if your essay is in the 600 word area? How mad do admissions officers get when they receive a 1200 word essay out of nowhere?

I have one for another application that's supposed to be 250 words long, but it's currently at 524 (I was planning to use it for a common app essay initially).

I think the best thing to do is start over with a fresh perspective, keeping concision in mind. Thoughts?
Post edited by JohnDoe on

Replies to: What happens when you go over the word limit on an essay?

  • cujoe169cujoe169 Posts: 3,318Registered User Senior Member
    um... i don't think they'll mind as long as it's not ridiculous, my common app essay is 570...
  • lindseylujhlindseylujh Posts: 1,570Registered User Senior Member
    Student workers enter your essay into a computer, which counts the number of words. If the count is over the limit, the computer randomly deletes words until it is no longer above the limit. Your essay is then sent to your regional admissions officer.
  • cujoe169cujoe169 Posts: 3,318Registered User Senior Member
    i can't tell if you're joking or not, but that would be hilarious... not so much if it's true :p
  • runningncircles1runningncircles1 Posts: 1,856Registered User Senior Member
    They don't do that. Why the hell type it? You see, they have scanners which are much much more efficient.


    If the essay is good, then word limit won't be held against you so much. If it's just something they've read before, they'll skim to look for the "good stuff."
  • tawnytawny Posts: 802Registered User Member
    when you go over the word limit...?! why, they REJECT YOU.

    how DARE you assume they have time for your worthless and pathetic words! fool!

  • zogotozogoto Posts: 2,464Registered User Senior Member
    I spoke to a Harvard admissions person and she said that this year they are rejectign everyone with more than 520 words. That's fine for the OP though (just don't add 4 words!!). jk
  • eyezonharvardeyezonharvard Posts: 410Registered User Member
    As long as it's an effective and focused essay then you'll be fine.

    BTW my common app essay was 700 words.
  • Biz17Biz17 Posts: 187Registered User Junior Member
    i think the word limit is just to give applicants a sense of whats needed, and WHATS NOT NEEDED. Of course there may be a couple of 1200ers but maybe they had a LOT to say about life, but id say just follow the norm and keep it between 400-600 words, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN READING A 500 WORD ESSAY AND A 600 WORD ESSAY IS LIKE 55 SECONDS.
  • shainalovesshainaloves Posts: 671Registered User Member
    What happens when you go over the word limit on an essay?

    Instant death.
  • Mystic MerlinMystic Merlin Posts: 535Registered User Member
    What happens?

    The baby Jesus cries.

    Now, you wouldn't want that, would you?
  • corrangedcorranged Posts: 6,684Registered User Senior Member
    Mine's 850. Do whatever you think is best for your essay and your application.

    Biz, only a second grader reads 100 words / minute.
  • d3!tyd3!ty Posts: 393Registered User Member
    Rule of thumb: when they say 500, keep it a page or under.
  • corrangedcorranged Posts: 6,684Registered User Senior Member
    The common app page actually fits a ton of words. Mine fit fine and was nearing 900.
  • StewStew Posts: 52Registered User Junior Member
    It won't hurt you to actually listen to what they ask for.
  • crimson4mecrimson4me Posts: 951Registered User Member
    actually it would. it would hurt BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD.

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