Average Essay Length Guide: How Long It Should Be?

College essays. A constant cause of frustration for students and yet a staple among college assignments. Unfortunately, students are not allowed to opt-out of taking essay assignments owing to the anxiety triggered by such assignments.

This article will help iron out a popular dilemma for students starting their essay writing journey. How long should an essay be? Read on to discover the average essay length for various levels and gain some crucial tips to ensure you fall within the stipulated word count.

Brief essay length: how long is an essay?

The length of an essay varies depending on the academic level, the course, the departmental guidelines, the course requirements, and specific guidelines from your tutor.

Ideally, the word count for essays should range between:

  • High school essays:300-1000 words.
  • College admission essays:a maximum of 650 words. This is the ideal range as it is easy for board officers to read through with their limited free time.
  • Undergraduate essays:up to 5000 words.
  • Graduate school essays:a minimum of 2500 words.

How long is the college essay?

Often, the length of a college essay will be clearly defined by your tutor in your essay instructions. However, the normal range lies between 2000-3500 words. When the length is not stipulated, be keen to consult your tutor to determine the confines of your paper’s word count.

A higher-level thesis may span up to 6000 words as they include the research, abstract, results, and methods sections in addition to the usual introduction, discussion, and conclusion section.

What is a short essay length?

A short essay usually spans up to 300 words and contains 5-6 paragraphs. These types of essays are usually common for high school assignments, college admission letters, and small assignments in your college study.

However, note that these types of essays should have a small introduction and conclusion, paving the way for the argument part in your main body.

How long should each essay part be?

The standard essay ranges between 5-6 paragraphs. These paragraphs are divided into three sections: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.

Each paragraph in an essay should contain a maximum of 200 words. For short papers spanning between 500-1000 words, the introduction and conclusion should each carry a maximum of 200 words. I.e., one paragraph each.

However, the paragraph length may vary in different essays, with the abstract section carrying up to 350 words without a break.

How can I increase my essay length?

Common knowledge for students around the globe is that it’s not great to be above or below the prescribed word count. These tips should guide you to meet your word count without veering off your main argument:

  1. Add pieces of evidence to various claims within your paper.
  2. Develop critical points to dispel various counterarguments.
  3. Gauge more arguments that you could make to support your thesis.
  4. Don’t limit yourself to prescribed arguments. You can exceed the word count by 10% below or above the prescribed essay length.

Tips for reaching the average essay word count

  • You must portray each idea in your essay in its unique paragraph, starting with a topic sentence.
  • When you are not provided with a word count, format your paper as per the five-paragraph essay.
  • The prescribed essay length should guide you on the breadth of your research and helps determine the complexity of your assignment. Short essay lengths dictate that your paper should be specific and limited to the key points of your argument. Longer essay lengths indicate complex arguments with more evidence for/ against your claim.
  • Always prepare an essay outline before diving into the writing phase. This will allow you to gauge the scope of your paper and access whether or not it falls within the set word count.
  • A double-spaced page of font 12 contains 275 words.

Is it okay to go over/under the word count?

Yes. It’s okay to exceed or go under the word count by 10%. However, be keen to trim your essay of any frivolous content to ensure that it adequately covers the topic.

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