how long should an essay be in college

How Long Should an Essay be In College?

The length of your essay is largely determined by your educational level, subject, department, course, and the instructions provided by your tutor. In comparison to research papers and dissertations, this piece of writing is typically shorter. But, more specifically, how long should an essay be?

As a rule of thumb, the length requirements are specified on the assignment sheet. It can be expressed as a range of words, paragraphs, or pages (for example, 300–500 words) or as a specific number of words, paragraphs, or pages (5 pages). If you are unsure about the length of your essay, the best advice is to discuss it with your tutor as soon as possible. Also, if you’re not sure how to write an essay, we have a comprehensive guide on the subject that you can access by clicking here.

How Long Should An Essay Be in College?

The minimum length of an essay in college will be 500 words. However, how long your paper should be will depend on the nature of instructions from the tutor. Some university tutors want long essays above 1,000 words long.

There are many factors to consider when determining the length of an essay, but here’s a quick answer to questions like “How many words are there in an essay?” and “How many paragraphs are there in an essay?” before we go into more detail.

Read: How Long Should a Short Essay Be?

How To Determine Essay Length

The following suggestions are for writing academic essays that have been assigned as a writing assignment. Everything that has to do with admissions essays will be covered in greater detail in the following section.

  • Three paragraphs are the minimum amount of paragraphs for essay writing (intro, body, and conclusion).
  • The five-paragraph essay is the most commonly observed structure for a basic paper.
  • Introduction and conclusion paragraphs are always shorter in length than the rest of the paragraphs in the body.
  • Each body paragraph should focus on a single central idea, which should be expressed in your topic sentence.
  • A double-spaced page of text written in Times New Roman (12pt) contains approximately 275 words on average.
  • A single-spaced page can accommodate twice the amount of text, which is approximately 550 words.

Check Out: Do Conclusions Need Citations?

Read Also: Can a Conclusion Be 1 Sentence?

How long should each essay part be?

If you’re writing a short essay (400–1000 words), each paragraph will typically contain 100–200 words on average. When it comes to length, the introduction and conclusion should be similar to one another and shorter than the overall word count of the body section.

According to Jennifer Duncan, an expert and academician from The Writing Centre (at the University of Toronto), the introduction and conclusion of a 1000-word essay should each be 4–5 sentences in length. If you need to increase the number of words in your document, the length of these parts could be many paragraphs or even pages.

Read Also: How Many Paragraphs are There in a 2-Page Essay?

You may have come across conversion tables that state, “This number of words equals this number of paragraphs,” or something similar. Every one of them is predicated on a fixed length for each paragraph and is therefore not very accurate.

You can convert an essay that is 400–800 words long into a short story in this manner. However, if your paper is longer than a thousand words, your paragraphs can scale with the length of the paper, which means their number will not increase exponentially with the length of the paper.

Consider the following example: If a 700-word essay has five paragraphs, a long essay (2000 words) will but not always have fifteen paragraphs.

See Also: How to List Things in an Essay

What is the appropriate length for a college essay?

College essays are usually at least 2 pages long. The essays you write for college admissions are very different from the ones you write for homework. Typically, their primary objective is to convince the selection committee that you are a deserving candidate. In the appropriate section of the college’s website, all relevant information about such essays should be made available to the public. However, if you are unsure of the word count requirement and are unable to locate it, you still have some options.

A quick response would be that the average college essay is approximately 500 words in length.

How Long Should Admission Essay Be?

Admissions essays are typically brief (250–600 words) due to the large number of applications that board members must read on a daily basis.

  • Do not go beyond the specified range by more than 10%; for example, if the range is 500–550 words, the maximum length would be 600 words.
  • Remember that if you exceed the word limit, your essay may not even be read all the way through. Be mindful of this.

Search for phrases such as “essay questions,” “information about supplemental essays,” “application instructions,” and other similar terms once you have accessed the college’s website.

What happens if there are no length restrictions?

It is rare that a college will not specify a length restriction for their essay prompts. But don’t be concerned just yet; there are several approaches that can be used to deal with this situation.

1. You must send out a sample of your writing 

They may have a number of different options for applicants. Alternatively, you can submit a graded paper that best demonstrates your writing abilities in either (Option A) writing a reaction to one of the quotations from the list, or (Option B) writing a response to one of the quotations from the list. The final option implies that you have a selection of papers from which to choose, and that you are therefore restricted by the word count of those papers. However, there is usually a page that outlines instructions for submitting paper samples.

2. Find instructions specifying length requirement

Some colleges do not specify a word count or page count limit for your essay. “In two well-developed paragraphs,” it says, rather than “in two well-developed paragraphs.” As a result, paragraphs can be quite lengthy, but they must remain within a reasonable length limit, which is approximately 450–500 words. As a result, you’ll have to make educated guesses or at the very least estimate.

3. You must conduct a prior search for the length specifications.

It is possible that the length guidelines for essays are not on the same page as the prompts for the assignment. However, if you search for these essay writing requirements on forums and social media networks, you will be able to find posts that discuss them. You can also try searching for “long” or “length” on the college website by entering the words “” followed by the words “long” or “length.”

4. Make an appointment with the admissions office.

It is recommended that you contact the admissions office if the word limit instructions are not readily available. If they don’t have an exact figure, they can give you an idea of how long an essay should be based on the essays they have previously received.

How many sentences are in an essay?

The average length of a sentence is 15-20 words. The sentences in a single page will range from 18 to 20. Assuming your essay is 2 pages long, it will be 36-40 sentences long.

The length of your sentences will vary depending on the type of paper you’re working on. Narrative essays are written in the form of stories, which means that sentences can be quite long (up to 50 words). However, the general rule of thumb is to keep sentences no longer than 20 words in length.

Taking this into consideration, a 500-word essay would contain anywhere between 20 and 45 sentences.

Why is Length of an Essay Important?

In a nutshell, you do. Unfortunately, the educational system is “lazy” when it comes to this. Even though minimum length requirements force students to stretch their writing by including fluff and verbose phrases, if those restrictions were lifted, some students would take advantage of the situation and submit essays that were far too short.

Despite the fact that some instructors allow a small margin over or under the word count, it is preferable to write within the specified range.

How Many Sentences Are in A Paragraph?

The introduction and conclusion of your paper are usually shorter than the body of the paper. As a result, they will have fewer sentences in them. If you’re writing a 300-word paper, the first and last paragraphs will be approximately 3–5 sentences long each, and every major paragraph will be 5–7 sentences long.