How Long Should a Short Essay Be?

how long should a short essay be

Unless you have a specific length requirement, you are unlikely to have a specific length requirement for a short essay in terms of words or pages. Depending on what you’re supposed to write, the words “short,” “brief,” “concise,” or “succinct” can mean two different things in this context. It could be a standard essay given to students in schools, or it could be a supplemental admissions response to a prompt. Let’s start with the first scenario, which is the school assignment.

What is the length of the short essay? In this day and age, everything is relative, and one man’s short might be another man’s long—so let’s put this to rest once and for all.

How Long Should a Short Essay Be?

A short essay is 300-500 words long, which is approximately two pages with double spacing and one page when single-spaced. The 2-page length is based on the assumption that you will be using Times New Roman font (12pt) with standard margins throughout your document.

In high school, a short essay is 250-300 words long. The limit for a short essay can extend to 600 words depending on page length and seniority in grade.

A short essay will vary depending on academic level.

However, a range of 500-3000 words can fit the category. Anything above 3000 words, even for PhD students is a long essay.

Once a paper exceeds 750 words, it becomes a medium length essay. A long form essay is one that is above 2,900 words. If you’re studying for your masters or undergrad, these long essays are usually common.

How many paragraphs should a short essay be?

A short essay should comprise of approximately five paragraphs. The introduction should be very catchy because it will draw the reader’s attention and then they will be able to easily understand your point. It is best practice to include a thesis statement in the opening paragraph of your essay. The three paragraphs in the body of the paper should provide evidence to support the thesis.

Let’s take a look at this number from a different angle. Some short essay samples are available from the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, which include personal statements and application essays written by students who were attempting to gain admission to a number of programs. Locate any short essay samples and after reading through them, you’ll notice that they’re all about 500 words long and are all pretty much the same.

Within that time limit, the applicants were required to explain why they desired to continue their educational careers at that particular institution.

For the most part, short essays follow a traditional structure, which includes an introduction (hook, thesis statement, etc.), a body section, and a conclusion.

You can adequately develop and present an idea in 500 words, which means your paper will be composed of 3–5 paragraphs at the very most.

That’s usually enough time to provide background information, incorporate one central point, and conclude the piece with a final sentence.

Read: Recommended Length of a College Essay

How Long Does it Take to Write a Short Essay?

How long does it take to write a short essay? It takes 30 minutes to write a satisfactory short essay of 300 words. You may need an hour to complete a 500-word short essay due to proofreading, time spent formatting the essay, and the duration needed for citation.

Experts can complete short essays within only 10 minutes.

Other factors can also shape how long it will take you to complete the essay. For instance, if the content of the essay is on a topic you’re not familiar with, it might take some minutes more to come up with what to write up in the paper.

5-Paragraph Short Essay

It is generally accepted that a short essay must have at least five paragraphs to accomplish its goals in order to be considered successful. This number of sections enables you to incorporate your topic or claim, discuss or prove it, and give the reader with a logical conclusion in a structured manner.

The best ratio for each of the main elements of a 5-paragraph essay is 20-60-20. The first and last paragraphs of your essay should be approximately the same length. In addition, three body paragraphs should account for the majority of the text.

The five-paragraph short essay helps to maintain the short length of the essay while also adhering to the formalities of the essay structure—with an introduction, body, and conclusion—while still expressing yourself clearly. In your introduction, you will include one brief paragraph in which you will highlight your purpose or thesis.

This is followed by the body, which consists of three body paragraphs, each of which provides support for your thesis and each of which contains a unique topic sentence.

In the final section, you present your main point and the ways in which you supported it throughout the paper, using different words because you shouldn’t simply copy and paste whatever you had been writing earlier in the paper for your conclusion—it is not recommended.

How many words do you think this will take? Approximately 600—but you can go as high as 900 if you so desire. 900 words, or three pages, is sufficient time to write a five-paragraph short essay that is both safe and effective.

How to Write a 3 Paragraph Short Essay

The three-paragraph short essay is made up of three paragraphs: an introductory paragraph, a body paragraph, and a conclusion paragraph.

The very first paragraph of the essay is the point where you present the central idea, the second paragraph provides supporting evidence, and the third paragraph summarizes every point of the essay and concludes. That is, in essence, the formula for the three-paragraph short essay; however, because it is so brief, you can dispense with the introduction and conclusion entirely, and instead jump right into the main points.

Most of the time, this type of short essay is written with the intention of responding to an essay question provided by your professor, which allows you to get away with simply answering the question and skipping over the typical formalities of the finely-tuned essay.

But what distinguishes this type of short essay from a short answer, if anything? There isn’t much. If you’ve been assigned a short essay, it’s probably best to stick with the five-paragraph format for your writing to avoid confusion.

A Short Answer Question Essay

When writing your application to college, you will most likely be required to write a brief supplemental essay, such as this. It should be shorter than a typical brief essay, with a length of approximately 150–250 words on average.

Short answer essays frequently do not have specific requirements, which makes them difficult to write (like a clearly stated word limit). However, if you’re submitting it online, the system will not allow you to exceed the recommended number — you will simply be unable to submit your document.

In general, one paragraph should suffice for your response; the person who will read your response should have no trouble doing so within sixty seconds. You must make the most of each and every word to succeed in this endeavor. The length of your response will determine whether it is meaningful, and if it is too long, they may choose to skip over it entirely.

A “short” essay does not necessarily imply a lower level of quality or less effort. On the other hand, you must make every word count and pay close attention to grammar, style, punctuation, and tone throughout the document.

If you are permitted to write a 250-word response, this indicates that the school is interested in learning more about your personality. Don’t forget to make your writing interesting and compelling for that overloaded college admission board officer who’s already read hundreds of these responses.

When writing a brief response essay, what is the best length to use? If the instructions do not explicitly state that you must write more than 125–150 words, then aim for that number. This amount of space is sufficient to elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or a personal encounter.

When writing it, don’t overthink what you’re going to say to the board — just be yourself. The primary goal of this brief essay is to demonstrate who you truly are and what values you hold dear to your heart. When someone is being dishonest, it’s easy to tell. Even if a story about volunteering has a greater impact than a piece about your science fair project, the latter is not always the case.

How to Make Your Short Essay Interesting

Although it should be brief, it should be densely packed with information. You can decide to use headings as well as subheadings to break up crucial information and avoid confusing your reader. It is not necessary for the essay to be brief in order for it to contain complex words and eye-catching information. Even in short essays, the reader’s attention should be captured and maintained.