Typically How Long Is A 500 Word Essay

500 word essay writing

July 15, 2013 - Posted to Essay Types

Writing tips

This type of essay is exactly just that, an essay written in 500 words. This is unless off course your lecturer or professor has specified otherwise. This type of easy is not actually as difficult as most students assume. The first step to writing a successful article begins with anticipating the essay. The essay attempts to provide its reader with an understanding on a particular subject. Where there are a variety of topics, pick a topic that is not so broad, as this will help you achieve the word limit.  The most important pointers in writing a five hundred essay are to stick to the topic and the recommended word count.

Writing the Essay

How long?

A 500 essay typically has three sections, the introduction, the body and the conclusion. Each of these parts has its own unique purpose. Therefore, it is important to know what appears where. The parts of the essay are:

  • Introduction – This is the first section and it is typically a 100 words or less in length. It can be considered as the gateway that ushers the reader into the author’s arguments. A good introduction like a good doorway therefore, should be inviting. This is achieved by choosing an interesting aspect of the topic assigned. Relevance is also important and so ensures that the topic is relevant to the reader. A key feature of the introduction is the thesis statement. This part of the introduction informs the author of what the paper argues.
  • Body – This is the main part of the essay. Typically, it is the longest part as well, and it focuses on supporting the thesis statement. For a 500 word essay with a five hundred word count, the body would be about three hundred words. In the body, ensure that your arguments are related to the topic. Secondly, focus your content on supporting your argument. Thirdly, ensure that you have a factual framework, rather than basing your content on opinion. This can be achieved by using references and citing them appropriately. A writer may choose to begin with the stronger points and finish with the weaker points, or begin with the milder ones and conclude with the strongest. The latter is a better choice since it offers a punch line effect where the reader gains a stronger opinion as they lead on. This is very important for the conclusion part.
  • Conclusion – The conclusion focuses on affirming the writer’s stance. For a 500 word essay, the typical length of the conclusion would be a hundred words, just like the introduction. The conclusion leads the reader out of the writer’s world. A good conclusion therefore should reassure the reader of the importance and relevance of their literally voyage. It may begin by restating the thesis statement, probably in stronger terms. One or two of the strongest supporting points are then mentioned. Finally, the relevance of the topic is revisited, and further directions are given to the reader, on the applicability of the argument.

Tips and pointers

Due to the brief nature of 500 word essays, ensure that the topic you pick is not extremely broad. Represent your ideas in concise and succinct sentences. Secondly, plagiarism is a big no in 500 word essays just like in other academic pieces. Ensure that your paper has zero plagiarism. It is also important to proofread your work. This is an effective method of rooting out plagiarized sections. In addition to this, also check the spellings and grammar within the essay. While you read the essay, ensure that there is coherence and that there is a good and logical flow of ideas. Once you are satisfied, you could go through it again from your audience’s perspective, or that of your lecturer. This will help you assess whether it meets the conditions.

500 word essayessayessay writing

Every so often when I’m writing the GRE essays, I’ll think: Should I really be writing so much?

I tend to get carried away. And when that happens, it would be great to know if all this extra writing is actually helping me score better or hurting my AWA score. Of course, I want to impress the essay graders, but I want to do it the right way.

Students often ask me, how long their GRE essays should be because there is no concrete information out there about the “perfect” length of a GRE essay, and even if there is, much of that data is conflicting.

Some say essays aren’t graded mostly on length but the higher grades for a longer essay is a mere correlation between essay length and grades.

When it comes to the Analytical Writing section, essay length is very important, so if you are planning to get a perfect score, you might as well do it right.

But before we come down to the ideal length for an essay, let’s first crush this shocking myth that has been around for sometime:

Myth #1: Longer essays are the only way!

On the GRE, essay length is not only one of the factors taken into consideration. You have to check a host of other factors, if you are looking to get a perfect score. All the following factors affect your overall AWA score:

Clarity in Ideas – This is the most basic of all considerations. What are you trying to say? What’s your main point? This should be very clear by the time the grader finishes off reading the essay. Substance and content of your essay matters more than any other factor. Also, every logically supporting reason or example that you make use of should ultimately connect to this main idea. If it isn’t explicit, you are losing points!

Structure – The way an article is formatted, has a massive impact upon its readability. It’s important to break up your essay into paragraphs so the essay graders can easily scan it.

The general structure is to start with an introductory paragraph followed by 3-4 body paragraphs and finish off with a conclusion paragraph. So, make sure there are at least 5-6 paragraphs in your essay.

Sentence Variety – Consecutive sentences with the same structure and length can sound monotonous and lifeless. Instead of sounding repetitive and boring, use sentence style skillfully.

You should vary the sentence flow and the rhythm by switching between short and long sentences. You should also make use of transitional and signal words to vary sentence openings.

Vocabulary – Another myth about GRE essays is that the usage of GRE words in the essay has a correlation with the essay score. Not really! As long as you use proper grammar and defend your point intelligently and use precise vocabulary to convey meaning effectively, you should be alright. It is not needed that you use heavy vocabulary or GRE words.

Language and Grammar –  Though ETS says you may have minor errors in the essay copy that do not interfere with overall meaning and coherence, the time you make your first error, the grader will notice it and this can have a negative impact on your AWA score. So, make sure your essay is as spotless as possible, and eliminate all errors before submitting.

Reasoning – You should include as many logically compelling reasons as you can to support your stance.

One of the most important aspects about a compelling essay is its ability to convince the reader by means of sound logical reasoning. So, you should be able to connect your ideas properly to the central theme or idea of the essay, and convince the reader to agree to your point of view. If the essay doesn’t sound logical or reasonable, you will pay the penalty, no matter how long the essay is.

By no means am I saying that essay length isn’t important. I am only saying that essay length on the GRE isn’t the only thing you should be concerned about. I am also saying that essay length is just one of the factors out of many others that influence your AWA score.

Myth #2: ETS uses e-Rater software which grades essays on their content length

This is the most egregious of the myths, and it’s been around for a long time.

Recently, I read a post on Quora which asks “Do humans readers grade my GRE essays?” The top answer said, “They don’t.” His/her point was that a computer software called ‘e-rater’ scans your essay based on preset rules (natural language processing algorithms) and prints out a score, using a 6-point holistic scale.

That’s just not true.

In fact, E.T.S. claims this grading software is used today, along with human raters, to grade GRE and TOEFL examinations, and without human raters in various practice tests.

I want you to understand that if ETS were to use an automated essay grader to evaluate your essay then don’t you think gaming a software would be too easy? You must keep in mind that there is a human reader who will also grade your essay along with the e-rater, and both their scores are averaged to obtain the final AWA score. So, even if you try and game the software, the human reader will give you the actual score you deserve, which will bring down the average. So, there is no point in trying to game the e-rater. Instead, you should try other tactics, such as using impressive AWA quotes, or writing coherent paragraphs, which will naturally raise your score.

So to sum things up, both of these myths should be shunned in favor of a more strategic approach to essay length. Longer is not necessarily better. Shorter is not necessarily better. And human readers do actually read your essays.

So what’s the ideal length?

I see students wondering about this all the time and I am sure you are here to find out the same.

ETS has written about the ideal length nowhere, and still remains tight lipped on this. Also, there is no word limit as such. But there seems to be a pattern that appears on GRE sample essays that come along with the ETS official guide to the GRE.

When closely observed, there is a significant increase in the number of words from a 5.0 graded essay and a 6.0 graded essay.

Longer is usually better

To analyze further on this topic, we have done a bit of research, and found out an interesting relation between essay length and the final score. If you look at the statistics below, you will have to concur with me. Longer essays usually score better on every essay topic.

If you are a long-essay fan and insist to pen a high scoring AWA essay on the GRE, you should write anywhere between 500-600 words. Don’t ask me why. The research shows that’s how it is, and if it true for a sample of 500 students, it must be true on a larger scale as well.

A column chart with average word count for essays from 500 students

As you can see, the longer the essay, the higher the grades. Notice that a 5+ point essay has length exceeding 500 words. Another interesting fact is, it seems as if 600 is an upper limit for word count. If you go beyond 600 words, you can see how the scores go down. This isn’t surprising, though. Almost no student on this planet can write a perfect 800 word essay under pressure in 30 minutes. If someone is shooting for a high word count, they are surely sacrificing on quality. So, it’s safe to say that 500-600 is what you should be looking at.

Now It’s Your Turn

In the end, I warn you against getting stuck up on essay length. If you focus on word count only, then you would be scribbling gibberish and unnecessary sentences hoping to get a perfect 6.0 score. The essay substance and content matters more than the essay’s length.

There’s no magic number on word count that’s going to get you the perfect AWA score. At the same time, the statistics from the above analysis proves that longer essays tend to get higher scores.

If you’re still looking for word count, an essay that has around 500 – 600 words with around 5 paragraphs, and quality content, seems to be the ideal GRE essay length.

How long are your regular essays? What differences have you noticed between a long essay and short ones? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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