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500 word essay

NewJerseyMomNewJerseyMom Registered User Posts: 775 Member
edited October 2007 in Parents Forum
If the instructions state that the essay should be approximately 500 words, how much longer can it be and still be considered acceptable?
Post edited by NewJerseyMom on

Replies to: 500 word essay

  • NewJerseyMomNewJerseyMom Registered User Posts: 775 Member
    Should my son use a font to make sure that all essays (ones that can be 700 words) fit on one page?
  • bethievtbethievt Registered User Posts: 6,759 Senior Member
    I don't know about the new rules, but my son wrote 10 apps, 9 saying no more than 500 words and one saying at least 500 words. His was exactly 500 word. Cutting back words usually=improvement.
  • DespSeekPhdDespSeekPhd Registered User Posts: 991 Member
    If it gives a word limit but not a page limit, choose a font based on readability, not to fit on one page. Remember how many essays these adcoms have to slog through - they'll thank you for clear type!
  • doubleplaydoubleplay Registered User Posts: 3,550 Senior Member
    Some colleges truncate the essay at a certain number of characters; some don't. My advice is just to follow the request. They want to see what kind of point can be made in 500 words. That's not a lot of words. So there is challenge right there. Good writing can get the job done in 400 words. So I would just stay within the parameters.

    Good luck, and best wishes!
  • JohnC613JohnC613 Registered User Posts: 1,580 Senior Member
    don't go over 750. it's no big deal if you go over. just be reasonable
  • bethievtbethievt Registered User Posts: 6,759 Senior Member
    One prompt for one of my son's supplements said no more than 100 characters! Talk about succinct.
  • innovatorinnovator Registered User Posts: 54 Junior Member
    Some schools enforce the 500 word limit, while some are flexible. Depends on the schools you apply to. Find out before you send. Even if the school allows longer essay, don't go more than 10% over the limit.
  • WashDadWashDad Registered User Posts: 2,695 Senior Member
    I think WashDadJr was always within 10%. My own opinion is that if you can't say it in 500 words, you can't say it in 600.
  • paying3tuitionspaying3tuitions Registered User Posts: 13,330 Senior Member
    I've read one of the experienced college admission advisors here say don't go over l0%.

    My kids were crazy madmen with the word-count device, playing with it until it read exactly 499 words. They felt safer that way! Since then I've read a few places saying "it's okay to go over a little bit."
  • T26E4T26E4 Registered User Posts: 24,274 Senior Member
    Font faking won't work.

    Here's a good thread with a good "editing" post:
  • mammallmammall - Posts: 1,701 Senior Member
    I wonder if the amount over that can be acceptable is related to the quality of the writing. That is, 550 words of painfully bad writing might be intolerable. 750 words of really enjoyable writing might be just fine.
  • NewJerseyMomNewJerseyMom Registered User Posts: 775 Member
    Thank you for your responses. My son did edit his essay down but it is still 10% over. I am glad that two of the members posted that 10% over is acceptable since my son feels that he can not edit anymore without compromising his story.
  • doubleplaydoubleplay Registered User Posts: 3,550 Senior Member
    Online college application programs that truncate the essay space do not distinguish between good and bad writing. It just gets cut off. You will know, I believe, if the program does this (you'll see it when you preview). I don't know how paper applications handle it.

    LOL. My son had a 50 word "essay"! Most of his essays, when all was said and done, were under 300 words. He did several applications that asked four or five "short essay" questions (250 words or less).
  • dmd77dmd77 Registered User Posts: 8,663 Senior Member
    I've always wondered if one of the reasons my son got into MIT was that his 500-word essay was exactly 500 words, and his three 100-word essays were exactly 100 words each.

    My feeling is that the essay should be 450-500 words, because... no essay is that good when you have to read hundreds of them, back-to-back.
  • NewJerseyMomNewJerseyMom Registered User Posts: 775 Member
    The essay in question is for one school. If the school rejects him for being 550 words, it was not meant to be.
This discussion has been closed.