How long Should a Short Length Essay Be?

author By Mary Boies

How long is a short essay?

Meeting words such as "short," "concise," "brief," or "precise" in an essay instruction file/prompt would automatically signal you that you are to write a short essay. And primarily, such short essays are assigned in essay exams, admission/scholarship essays, and sometimes standard essays exploring a given topic.

The ideal length of an academic essay varies according to the academic level, subject of study, topic, departmental preferences, course requirements, and preference of your professor or instructor. Technically speaking, an essay is a miniature version of a research paper or dissertation. It helps you explore a topic in-depth within a few paragraphs and pages compared to longer papers.

Don't worry if you do not know how to estimate the approximate length of an essay because you will always be given clear instructions on the number of paragraphs, words, or pages and the spacing to use in your paper.

Sometimes, if given a range rather than an exact number, work out the average and write the paper to fulfill the word count to be on the safe side. Besides, if you are unsure, you can always consult with your instructor.

How long is a short essay? Well, shortness differs depending on the point of view. So, let's look into what makes for a good length for a short essay and what defines this shortness.

How long is a Short Academic Essay?

A short essay is approximately 250 to 550 words long, about two double-spaced pages or one single-spaced page written in Times New Roman font 12 and standard one-inch margin around the document as required of academic papers. It has a short and direct hook, thesis statement, introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

A paper beyond 750 words is considered a medium-length essay.

The length of a short essay will vary depending on the academic level. For instance, a high school essay that is 250-300 words is considered a short essay for junior classes. However, for the senior grade students, the length can go over 600 words.

A graduate school essay is considered a short essay because it is a personal statement and a statement of purpose essay that details the academic motivations and achievements of the candidate. They are usually between 500 and 1000 words on double-spaced pages.

High school essays also fall into short- and medium-length essays. Students must write a 5-paragraph essay with three parts: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Usually, the length is between 250 words and 1000 words.

College admission essays are also short essays by nature. You must write about 200-650 words, considered a short personal essay, expressing your interest and motivation. It is the strictest short essay because you are given a slot that only accepts a specific word count limit.

Short Essay vs. Short Answer Essay

Many students often confuse a short essay with a short answer essay, and let's explore the difference.

A short essay is written by students on a specific topic, assuming that the person reading it is unfamiliar with the topic, whereas short answer essays are direct to the point and written to admission board officers or someone knowledgeable in a field.

Short answers are about one paragraph long, or about 150-250 words, whereas a short essay is about 500-600 words on the upper limit. Most short-answer essays don't have detailed instructions or specific requirements, making writing them quite challenging. It is assumed that a paragraph is enough to fulfill the requirements of a short answer question essay. This means you write an answer that the assessor can skim through and establish whether you aced it.

Short essays focus on a specific issue or topic. When writing a short essay, you will likely use scholarly sources and include your analysis in the paper. On the other hand, short answer essays are engaging and concise; they detail personal motivations and achievements and show your expertise and experience in a given field of knowledge. Short answer essays are common in essay exams, and once the word count is fulfilled, the rest of the words are automatically discarded.

When writing short essays, you will use either the three-paragraph or 5-paragraph formats, whereas a short answer is around a paragraph long. You should be extremely careful with brief answer essays as they give you little room for creativity and analysis. You must elaborate to your readers on the topic's aspects and give stories relevant to the prompt if it is an admission essay. A short essay answer can either be a one-paragraph or a two-paragraph essay.

Finally, short does not mean poor quality or less effort; it means getting something done with a few words. You must adhere to the grammar, formatting, style, citation, and structural rules for writing academic essays.

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Formatting a Short Essay Paper

Unlike extended essays, a short essay is never an extensive paper and is brief, concise, and to the point. Besides, it does not require research, and you must structure the paper in paragraphs.

Like a typical essay, a short essay has an introduction/opening paragraph, a body paragraph (s), and a concluding or closing paragraph.

The introduction has a concise attention-grabber(hook), background information, and a thesis statement.

The body paragraphs come complete with the topic sentence, supporting details, and the closing/transition sentence.

Finally, the conclusion entails restating the thesis, summarizing the main points, and giving powerful closing remarks. You should choose the right starters for your conclusion to announce your prowess in writing.

You can organize a short essay into either three paragraphs or five paragraphs. Let's look into what each format entails.

3-Paragraph Short Essay

A three-paragraph short essay has three paragraphs: introduction, body, and conclusion. The first paragraph introduces the essay and does not have to include a long hook. Instead, the first sentence is the hook and sometimes the thesis. This means you can launch your ideas without waiting until you get to the body paragraph.

Three-paragraph short essays are written in timed exam essays. You are assigned essay questions and requested to write about 500-600 words of answers within an hour or two. You do not have to go into the details when given such an essay, although the devil lives there!

Instead, you have to write a stand-alone short essay that accommodates the answers to the prompt without delving deep as you would in a long essay. Although there is not so much difference between a short answer and a short essay because each has short sentences and paragraphs, a short three paragraphs essay is slightly longer, and the former will only have a paragraph.  

5-Paragraphs Short Essay

Short essays are around 500 to 800 words long in most cases, which means you can plan and write them in a five-paragraph format.

A short five-paragraph essay format ensures that you organize your ideas into an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. While doing so, you write a paper that directly answers the prompt and meets the requirements stated in the rubric.

When using five paragraphs for a short essay, follow the 10-80-10 rule: introduction and conclusion is around 10% of the word count, and the body takes 80% of the word count. So, assuming you are writing a 600-word essay, you will introduce it in 60 words, write well-balanced body paragraphs that cumulatively take 480 words, and wrap it up in 60 words. This means that your body paragraphs will each be 160 words. the body paragraphs must support the thesis.

To spice up the essay, use transition words to maintain the flow of ideas and maintain an idea per paragraph.

The time it Takes to Write a Standard Short Essay

You are probably wondering how long it takes to write a short essay. If there is anything that can send you into panic mode, it is a short essay, especially if it is meant for an essay exam that is typically timed.

Writing a short essay should not be as tiring and lengthy a process as writing a long, term, or research paper. It can take you 30-45 minutes to write a perfect short essay of 250-300 words long if you are a fast writer. An expert can write a 300-word essay in less than an hour; that's what our fast essay writers do daily, especially for last-minute essays. It takes an hour to complete a 250-300-word essay for a slow writer.

Ideally, a typically 500-600-word essay should be done in 2 hours or less, given you have to research, write, edit, format, cite and polish it. The time depends on aspects such as your typing speed, the complexity of the topic, available time, and your motivation to write.

If you are writing a short essay on a topic that needs in-depth research, it will probably take you a long time.

Luckily, short essay assignments are usually straightforward. Written short essays pit your knowledge, skills, and abilities against time. Therefore, ensure that you have a clear picture of what you want it to look like before putting in the work so that you are not frustrated by late submissions or deadline violations.

Some professors/instructors are so strict that the submission panel or button gets disabled after the deadline elapses.

Tips for writing a Satisfactory Short Academic Essay

A short essay is brief enough but densely packed with information.

You don't need to include headings and subheadings in such an essay, although that helps to break up large chunks of information into smaller manageable chunks. Instead, maintain simplicity and give direct information, including supporting details such as examples, illustrations, or analyses.

It is an essay centered around capturing the reader's attention and maintaining it until the conclusion, when you close the information loop. So how does one write an outstanding short essay? Here are some tips for success:

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As we come to a close �

A short essay is a common form of academic writing assignment that students will face at some point in their academic journey.

It comes in the form of regular topic-based essays, admission essays, personal statements, response essays, reflection essays, opinion pieces, college essays, statements of purpose (SOPs), graduate school essays, and high school essays. A good example is a simple TOK essay that you will write in 500 words within a minimum of an hour.

It is a chance to show your knowledge of concepts, interests and motivations, achievements, or organization skills quickly. You do not have to labor over writing a short essay because it does not need a lot of research, and two to three peer-reviewed scholarly sources are enough for a short essay.

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How can I write a perfect short essay?

To write a perfect short essay, keep everything simple, plan well, and write with the audience in mind. You should also meet the word count requirements and ensure that your essay has no errors or omissions. To be safe, format your essay in three or five-paragraph formats.

What are the best topics for short essays?

The best topic depends on the type of essay you are writing. Is it a position paper, opinion essay, argumentative essay, process essay, or persuasive essay? Any topic that falls within the type of essay should be good. If you're writing an admission essay, you will be provided essay prompts by the school admissions committee. Whatever topic you choose, ensure that it is manageable within the word count.

What should I do if given a range instead of a definite word count?

If your instructor gives a range for a short paper, ensure that you work with the average so that you are on the safe side word count-wise. This also allows you to meet the marking requirements adequately. You can be asked to write a 3 to 4-page essay, meaning you are expected to do the average and deliver 3.5 pages. You will realize that the paper becomes a medium-length essay because it is about 950 words in length.

How long is a short essay for college?

A short college essay is about 200-600 words long. In most cases, the institution you apply to will specify the word count. Read the guidelines and prompts before writing college essays to stay within the word limit.

How many paragraphs make a short essay?

A short essay has approximately 3-5 paragraphs, and it is essential to balance the word count of the paragraphs. If it is a three-paragraph essay, adhere to the 10-80-10 format (10% of the word count for the introduction and conclusion and 80% of the word count for the body paragraphs).

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