The Best Tips on How Long Should a College Essay Be

The Best Tips on How Long Should a College Essay Be
Table of Contents
  1. The Best Tips on How Long Should a College Essay Be
  2. What Is the College Essay Length?
  3. What If the Word Limit Is not Specified?
  4. What if I Exceed the Word Limit? Key Reasons Why It's Better not to
  5. Are There Colleges that Prefer Longer Essays?
  6. Can I Go under the Word Limit? Why Is It Better not to?
  7. What Is the Minimum Length of the College Essay?
  8. Tips for Creating a Great College Essay of a Perfect Length
  9. How to Reduce Word Count in a College Essay?
  10. How to Increase the Word Count
  11. Conclusion

Have you ever wondered  why your essay was graded low when you were trying so hard and even exceeded the word count?  It is due to the fact that the principle  “the more, the better” does not work here. Teachers ask not to go over the essay word limit not because they want so. There are certain word limits for college essays that are mentioned in the College Application. This academic assignment should be written withi specific word count. In 2020, the application essay length is still limited to 650 words in most institutions. Read on to learn how long a perfect college essay should be.

What Is the College Essay Length? 

The college essay length requirements differ among universities. The most common requirement is 500 words. However, it ranges between 250 and 650 words in universities. The word limit is usually specified in the requirements. Either 250 or 650 words, that is quite a short essay. Thus, you should be able to demonstrate your writing skills in such a short paper. 

What If the Word Limit Is not Specified?

  • Check instructions attentively. Although the word limit might be not mentioned directly, read the instructions attentively. There might be specified the number of paragraphs or pages.
  • Check the sample essay. If there is a sample essay in the assignment, check it and try to complete the essay of approximately the same length.
  • Search for the guidelines or requirements on the college website. If there is no sample, try to find requirements for the admission easy on the college website
  • Contact the college. In case you have not found any information on the word count, try to contact the college and find out the word limits required.
  • 500- words essay is the most common. If you have not found the requirements and do not want to contact the college, keep to a 500-word limit. It is the most common requirement in colleges.

What if I Exceed the Word Limit? Key Reasons Why It's Better not to

As far as college essays are usually pretty short, between 250 -650 words, many students wonder how strict is the college essay word count requirement. Most probably, no one will count every word in your assignment. If you slightly exceed it by about 20-40 words, it's likely nobody will notice it. But, remember that the more, the better is not an option here. Quality is valued over quantity. It might be better to write a great 450-words essay than a long and wordy essay. Check out key reasons why you shouldn’t exceed the word limit:

  • Demonstrate your ability to follow instructions
  • Show you are able to express and develop ideas clearly following the specified instructions
  • Show you are able to edit
  • You might not be able to submit the paper to the special box with restricted word count if you exceed the permitted word count
  • Admission officers might read only the requested amount of words and then stop. Thus, they will not be able to evaluate your writing skills.

Are There Colleges that Prefer Longer Essays?

Sometimes, colleges do not require the particular essay application length. By contrast, there are establishments that have a strict word limit. If you are given requirements with specific word limit, you should definitely follow them. Be attentive while reading college essay prompts and the instructions, as they provide the word count of the particular admission essay.

Can I Go under the Word Limit? Why Is It Better not to?

If you are able to express all your ideas with fewer words, sometimes it is even great. But, considering that college essay are short pieces of writing, it is better to meet the specified word count. For sure, if you are missing about 10-20 words, but your essay is great, this will most probably go unnoticed. However, you should remember that:

  • You need to follow instructions
  • Shorter is not always better.

Although going under the word limit is not necessarily a bad writing habit, your essay should be clear and coherent and cover all the necessary points. 


What Is the Minimum Length of the College Essay?

The minimum length of the college essay is 250 words. However, you should understand that admission officers are looking for talented students.  Colleges also might send personal insight questions and supplemental prompts in addition to the essay. The commission aims to know the candidates better; their life experience, inspirations, interests, and ambitions. Therefore, admission officers usually prioritize quality content over quantity.


Tips for Creating a Great College Essay of a Perfect Length

Check the tips to make sure you complete an essay that is neither too short nor too long.

  1. Check each sentence you write to make sure it is meaningful. Read your paper to parents or friends to see whether your piece of writing sounds powerful.
  2. Don't add extra sentences just to make your work longer if you can express the main message within 300 words.
  3. Ask yourself, “Have I fully covered the topic or my focus is too narrow?"
  4. Don't forget about the content quality being concentrated on the length. Here you will get high-quality essay writing help.
  5. Follow the directions of the college you're applying to.
  6. Be personal
  7. Write about things you have passion for
  8. Quality over quantity
  9. Organize your ideas and create an outline
  10. Introduction-body- conclusion and thesis statement
  11. Proofread

How to Reduce Word Count in a College Essay?

If you have a lot to say in papers and usually esceed the word limit, check out our recommendations.

  • Check whether the chosen topic is not too wide and can be covered in a 500-words essay
  • Proofread to find the wordy sentences and reduce them
  • Make sure you have not provided too many non-essential details
  • Do not add unnecessary sentences to meet the word count

How to Increase the Word Count

In case you do not like to speak a lot and usually express your ideas in a couple of sentences, these tips might help you.

  • Make sure you have addressed the prompt
  • Ensure you have fully covered the topic
  • Check whether there are some important details that could be added
  • Create a 5 sentences outline and develop idea of each sentence within one paragraph in your essay


Now you know why college admissions require applicants to write an essay within a certain limit. Want to make a good impression or even get a scholarship? Don’t feel stressed out. Just tell a unique story about yourself. A well-written application paper opens a lot of great opportunities in front of you. So, you are recommended to check high-quality college essay samples for you to create a powerful paper. Also, you can subscribe for an insider blog to read the posts of applicants who share their valuable experience in writing essays. If you find it difficult to create a strong paper on your own, you can always contact experts, and they will guide you and give a helping hand.