How long is an essay?

Jan 15, 2020


Being either a student or a scholar, you’ve definitely faced a need to create an essay on the requested topic. Usually, the demands for such academic work are determined by your professor or teacher, but there are situations when the size of the assignment is left to your discretion. In such cases, the temptation to write a small paper goes to infinity, but do not allow it to prevail and earn you a poor score. You’ve already searched for “how long is a short essay”, and here lies your answer.

Despite the lack of additional information, your prof still might expect to receive a paper of a standard size. And that’s exactly the topic reviewed in this article: what is the standard size of an essay, how does it shift from school to college and university, and what is the size of each essay’s part, that are an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion.

Recommended lengths of different types of essays


✏️ Simple scholar essay. Such paper’s size will stay between 300 and 1000 words – a great range is appointed because of the different subjects and, therefore, changeful demands. Its structure is unelaborated, consisting of 5 paragraphs, 3 of which belong to the main body of the text.

📋 College admission letter. Its size is strictly determined, usually staying between 200 and 700 words. The priority of such a work is to be enthralling, as it is the first thing a college admission board will learn about you as a personality.

📖 Essay for undergraduate college courses. The average scope of such an assignment is about 1500 – 5000 words. The paper will include elaborated argumentation and is considered as a full-fledged scientific work.

🖊️ Graduate school admission letter. Such a work that shifts between 500 and 1000 words will include a broad representation of your personality, motivation, background, amount of relevant experience in the area of study, and educational achievements.

📚 Essay for graduate school. High demands are put to graduate school essays, that usually stay between 2500 and 6000 words. This is not your regular free-form piece – such work much more relates to research study or thesis rather than a regular essay.

Find out how

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How long is a short essay’s main body, introduction, conclusion?


The introduction part should take up to 20% of the text. Therefore, if your essay consists of 400 words, its introduction’s optimal size would be around 80 words. In such limited space, you should draw the reader’s attention to the essay’s problem and briefly describe the setup of the topic.

The main body of the text is its most important part. It should take about 65% of the whole text’s size – therefore, writing a 400-words essay, make sure its main body isn’t smaller than 260 words. Here the central message of the paper is gathered: it’s the section where you present your position on the topic, build argumentation, demonstrate your researches results, and, finally, summarize the work you’ve conducted.  

The conclusion serves an essential role in creating a final impression on the paper the reader has studied. Still, its length shouldn’t take more than 15% of the whole text – continuing the analogy, your 400-words essay will only have 60 words left for concluding.

If you find it hard to take all the aspects of writing a good paper into consideration, then you might find our assistance useful.

How the Size of an Essay Reflects Its Complexity


A topic of the essay can be unwinded for both 100 and 10,000 words, and, based on this number, you build the paper’s structure and your argumentation strategy. The knowledge of the essay’s size will bring you a clear understanding of how elaborated each aspect of the paper should be.

The small size of a paper means that you do not need to review in detail each aspect of the topic – it would be just enough to present the essential information and bring conclusions out of it. The bigger size of the assignment means that you have a chance to delve into different sides of the problem, analyzing, comparing, and juxtaposing them to come up with a solution you see as optimal.

Is It Fine to Write Smaller or Bigger Essay


Short answer: it is usually not.

The optimal size of the essay would be in the middle of its lowest and highest ledges. A smaller piece of work will contain insufficient amounts of information and, therefore, might not even be accepted by your professor. It would demonstrate that you haven’t conducted proper research on the topic to present it in full scale.

To make your essay longer, consider trying these tips:

✏️ Make your arguments more affluential by bolstering them with examples.

✏️ Overview the topic again, and try to determine whether you’ve elucidated all the aspects of the problem.

✏️ Consider reviewing in detail all the information you’ve already presented – you can analyze it more thoroughly or add your personal view on it.

An opposite situation is much more acceptable, yet, not completely recommended, as it wastes the time resources of the person who’ll check your work. Overstep the size limitation only in case it is absolutely needed for a full-fledged coverage of your problem, and definitely don’t write more just to make your paper seem more imposing.

When shortening your essay, make sure to follow these tips:

✂️ Get rid of irrelevant information and leave only the essence of what you are trying to say.

✂️ Speak clearer – delete filler words, complicated turns of phrases, and make sure that everything you’ve written is vital to the topic.


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