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How Long Should an Essay Be?

When you’re given an academic essay assignment, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – especially if English is your second language or you have limited experience with academic writing. Essays for academics vary in length from one or two sentences to long dissertations that can span an entire book. The amount of work required is contingent on the college or university you’re in or attending the class at and also the expectations from the faculty as well as (most importantly) the instructor who gave the task.

In the majority of assignments, you’ll probably get guidelines for your work based on the word count (for instance, 1000 up to 1200 words) or pages (3 or 5 pages double-spaced). There may also be guidelines for the format of citation to use, the number of sources you need to have, and the dates of publication of these sources. Some professors prefer to be very specific about their requirements for each academic essay, and others may be more flexible and less formal when it comes to their needs. Naturally, these guidelines can differ depending on the kind of academic essay and the purpose for which it is written.

General guidelines for length of the essay

 Middle school

Academic essays typically begin in middle school within the American education system. They fall between 300-800 words. In these classes, you’ll be learning the fundamental structure of a 5-paragraph essay that comprises an introduction, a thesis statement, a body, and finally, a conclusion. In the standard 5-paragraph essay structure, the first paragraph must be an introduction, the fourth and second paragraphs should constitute the main body of your essay, and the final paragraph needs to be the last paragraph. Very rarely will your conclusion or introduction comprise several paragraphs in these kinds of papers.

High school

At the end of high school, students will likely have to write a five-paragraph paper. However, some educators (mainly English and Language Arts) may demand longer papers (3 to 5 pages). This is in order to prepare you for the rigorous requirements of academic writing that will be perfected when you go to college. When writing these essays, you will continue to follow the standard outline of introduction, the body, conclusion, and introduction; but you’ll extend the body to examine further or discuss a subject. The conclusion of your 3- to 5-page essay should remain within one paragraph. However, the introduction may be more than one, based on the subject.

Universities (Undergraduate level)

When you are accepted to an undergraduate program and you are accepted into an undergraduate program, the length of your essay assignments will vary greatly, according to the classes you’re taking and the faculties they are taught in. It is also possible to find classes that require essays of various lengths throughout the course of your semester, including a more lengthy paper to be submitted as the final project with a greater proportion of your grade. Most of the time, these academic writing assignments will be arranged so that different parts of the submission are required at other times, and the entire essay is compiled in a final piece.

In the case of an advanced English class, the instructor could assign several smaller essays that range from five to seven pages (or 1,500 to 2100 words) as well as a final essay that analyzes a topic more in-depth, ranging from between 8 and 10 pages (or 2,400-3,000 words). A different course, like the core course in curriculum surveys, may require fewer or more writing assignments that are journal prompts.

Universities (Graduate level)

Similar to the undergraduate college level, graduate-level academic writing assignments are different based on various aspects, including the instructor or course, department, and even the plan of research. A university course may require extensive writing, while another may require hands-on or lab-based.

The graduate-level is also where you’ll be likely to encounter “thesis” and “dissertation” academic writing assignments that can be up to 100,000 or even more words. These kinds of writing assignments require considerable research, planning, and writing time, but you’ll be likely to be provided with particular words and citation guidelines when given the paper to write.

By following this guideline by studycrumb, you’ll be certain that you’ve chosen the correct length of essay!

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