How To Measure An Ideal College Essay Length
A college essay length can be a pain. You’re either going to be the kind of person who is given a maximum college essay length of 650 words and is worried about how on earth you’re going to fit everything you need to say into just 650 words, or you’re the kind of person who is given a 2,000 word essay to write and is scared to death about how in the heck you’re going to string 2,000 words together about a subject without repeating yourself, or going off on a tangent about something entirely removed from the subject matter.
Essay details are important, and few are as important as your college essay length. Students are only occasionally given a maximum word count, and for this reason measuring the ideal length of college essay becomes something of a pain. How do you know when something is too long or too short? How do you know when it is just right, or when it could do with something extra? Is your essay complete at 400 words? Can an essay really be complete at just 400 words? But would it be too long at 1,000 words? They’re the kind of questions that quite literally drive students insane.
The truth is that there is probably no such thing as the perfect length of college essay. Many have tried to discover this hidden truth. Einstein developed a theory called The Theory of Relativity but he died whilst still trying to discover the perfect college essay length. His wife said that it ‘tormented him until the end.’ Others have given it a shot, including Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln and even The Pope, but all have been frustrated. No, the search for the perfect college essay length continues into the 21st century.
College prep books suggest that the optimum average college essay length is around 500 words, but other prep programs suggest up to 900 words. Unfortunately, neither is correct. The truth is that you cannot set out beforehand shaping your essay around a desired word count. Do not start your essay thinking about size. Think instead about how your length will be shaped by bearing in mind a few things.
For example, ask yourself whether you have developed a well-rounded argument. Instead of asking whether or not your essay could benefit from 200 extra words, ask yourself whether your argument makes sense, or whether there are some holes missing. Have you answered the question, or have you missed a key point out? And instead of asking whether you could take a few words out, ask whether what you have written flows and whether it’s cohesive. If something doesn’t look right, take it out. If a paragraph looks odd, reshape it. Don’t take a colossal paragraph out just because your friend has told you you’re 400 words over the ‘average college essay length’ !!
More than anything, ask yourself whether you’re guilty of rambling. Ask yourself if there is any fluff in your essay that needs to be taken out. If you essay looks and feels too long – it probably is. But rather than research articles about college essay length, focus on how well you’ve answered the questions.
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