Essay word limit?

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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: October 2003 Archive: Essay word limit?
By Sid_Mathur (Sid_Mathur) on Tuesday, October 14, 2003 - 09:18 pm: Edit

Hey, I was just wondering how strict schools are on the word limit. One of my essays is a 500 word limit but I have 510 words and I don't really want to delete anything.

Is this fine or will colleges automatically throw it away and reject me?


By Rowan (Rowan) on Tuesday, October 14, 2003 - 09:27 pm: Edit

As the Yale admissions rep told me:

We didn't put a cap on the number of words arbitrarily. We have a ton of applications to read in a short amount of time. Is it really that important to you to say 'the admissions committee was dumb; 500 words is too few' by writing more than what we asked for?

That said, I doubt they'd "throw your application out." Ten words is nothing big; it isn't as if they go through and count the words (although there are certainly stranger things that will get someone rejected). However, if there is any way you can shorten the essay, you'd do best to do it.

By Chasgoose (Chasgoose) on Tuesday, October 14, 2003 - 11:54 pm: Edit

Uh oh, I am applying to Yale and of the two essays I wrote, one is 550 words and one is 650 words. On the 550 one, I can probably edit it down a little more but i will be hard-pressed to take the 650 word one below the 600 word barrier. Is this going to be really bad?

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - 12:52 am: Edit

Chasgoose, I think when the app specifies a wordcount, it is best to make your essay in the ballpark of that number. I realize how hard it is to do to keep it to 500 words and still tell the story as you would like. And even sample essays in some books are longer than 500 words. My opinion is that your essay that is 550 words is ok. The one that is 650 words is not (as far as length). My daughter has finished one essay for Yale and she kept editting it to get it down to 550 words which is her final draft. It had been about 750 words. But just keep in what is essential to the essay and edit out anything that is not crucial to telling the story. Also, check each sentence and see if unnecessary words can be editted out to shorten the sentence. She did this, was not easy but as you can see, cut 200 words, even if she liked the original.

That is my suggestion. Her English teacher even said his rule of thumb on essays is to keep within 10% over the word limit. So, for a 500 word essay, 550 words would be within reason and acceptable but more than that, likely not. They do not count words but I think 150 words over the stated limit will be obvious as increased length overall.


By Chasgoose (Chasgoose) on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - 01:27 am: Edit

Another question, I was planning on using the 550 word essay for the Common App meaningful activity essay, even tho their limit is 250 words because When I was considering applying to Yale w/ the common app, the Yale supplement said to make your essay for the meaningful activity question 500 words and that would satisfy their supplemental essay requirement. So I am assuming that the Common App limit isn't that big of a deal because if I was applying to Yale using the Common App I would seriously be going over the limit.

By Caramelapple (Caramelapple) on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - 03:39 am: Edit

If there is no word limit, what would probably be an appropriate amount? When does it become unreasonable? Thanks!

By Ariesathena (Ariesathena) on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - 06:59 pm: Edit

2 pages double-spaced, something like 12 point font, is usually always reasonable. If it goes onto a third page, you might run into problems.

By Caramelapple (Caramelapple) on Thursday, October 16, 2003 - 08:48 pm: Edit

mine is exactly 3 pgs. that's first draft. i should be able to cut it down... i hope. but i liked it the way it was!

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