Welcome! This is the first of a 4 part series on how to succeed with the Common Application Essay’s 500 Word Limit.
In April 2011 the Common Application changed the word limit for the personal essay. The Common App essay word limit is now 500 words.
Why the switch? According to Common Application Executive Director Rob Killion, allowing students to write essays of unlimited length “led to essays that were far too long, less well-written, and…often skimmed rather than read by admission officers.“
Are there drawbacks? Yes. Some students will have trouble saying everything they want to say in 500 words or less. You may be one of them. But don’t be discouraged, you can write a great 500 word Common App essay.
Here are 7 Important Writing Tips to Help You Stay Under 500 Words:
1. Be Focused. Know what you want to discuss and make sure each sentence helps you get there.
2. Be Succinct. Choose your words wisely.
3. Be Specific. Create interesting imagery.
4. Be Clear. The introduction should flow clearly into the body of your essay. The body of your essay should transition into a clear conclusion.
5. Make Your Point. What do you want the college admission reader to know about you by the end of your essay? Make sure you achieve this goal.
6. Keep Count. Count your words. Don’t wait until you’re finished — you might have to rework your entire essay.
7. Edit. Editing is essential with a 500 word essay. If you’re using three words where one will do, toss the extra words. If you have a sentence that gets your essay a bit off point, leave it on the cutting room floor. Be brave! Your essay will read better and come within the word count.
These are the important basics for writing a good essay. Print them out and check that you’re doing them as you write and you’ll be on your way.
Now you’re ready for part 2: How to Think Small and Still Tell a Big Story
How to Succeed with the Common App Essay Word Limit: Pt 2 (Think small and still tell a big story)
How to Succeed with the Common App Essay Word Limit: Pt 3 (Essay samples)
How to Succeed with the Common App Essay Word Limit: Pt 4 (Ideas that work)
for more info: read Time.com on the Common App Essay Word Limit
Leave a comment — I’d like to know what you think.