Top 50 Law Schools" border="0" height="77" width="76">An essay submitted to Georgetown University along with comments from the which I have not had the opportunity to express elsewhere on my application, Each answer contains only one paragraph, each of approximately equal length.
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CA4 set the limit at 650 words (and a minimum of 250 words). And unlike earlier versions of the Common Application, the length limit is now enforced by the application form. No longer can applicants attach an essay that goes over the limit. Instead, applicants will need to enter the essay into a text box that counts words and prevents entering anything beyond 650 words.
One of the biggest changes to the in 2013 was the revamping of the essay section. Not only does the application have all , but the 500-word limit from 2011 and 2012 has been replaced by a 650-word limit. Before 2011, the length of the essay was set by the judgment of the applicant (and some applicants who wrote 1,200-word essays showed bad judgment).
You will find that some supplemental essays on the Common Application have different length guidelines, and many colleges that don't use the Common Application have a range of length requirements. No matter what the circumstances, make sure you follow the guidelines. If an essay should be 400 words, don't write 410. Learn more about some of the issues related to essay length in this article: .
It's roughly the equivalent of a two-page, double-spaced essay. It's just a little longer than this article on essay length. Most essays I've read tend to be between three and eight paragraphs depending on the applicant's writing style and essay strategy (essays with dialogue, of course, might have far more paragraphs).
As you plan your essay, you definitely want to keep the length requirement in mind. Many applicants attempt to do too much with their essays and then struggle to edit them down to 650 words. Realize the purpose of the personal statement is not to tell your life story, or to give an exhaustive overview of all of your accomplishments. Let your list of extracurricular activities, academic record, letters of recommendation, and supplemental essays and materials show your range of accomplishments. The personal statement is not the place for long lists or catalogs of achievement.
That said, you should never go over the limit. The new Common Application won't let you. In previous years, applicants could attach their essays to the application, and this allowed them to attach essays that were too long. With CA4, the new Common Application, you'll need to enter your essay in a text box that counts words.
For years the Common Application had no length limit, and applicants and counselors frequently debated whether a tight 450-word essay was a wiser approach than a detailed 900-word piece. In 2011, that decision was taken away as the Common Application moved to a relatively short 500-word limit. With the August 2013 release of CA4 (the newest version of the Common Application), the guidelines changed once again.
If you are applying to a college that does allow you to go over the limit, or if you have a supplemental essay with a recommended word count, you still should not go over the limit.
The Common Application and other college applications ask for relatively short essays because college admissions officers don't want to waste time reading long, rambling, unfocused, poorly edited essays. Not all colleges, however, are fans of the shorter length. Some colleges like a longer essay because they can get to know their applicants better, and they get to see how well applicants can sustain focus in a longer piece of writing (a valuable college skill).
While the maximum length for the Common Application essay is 650 words, the minimum length is 250 words. I've heard counselors advise students to keep their essays on the shorter end of the spectrum because college admissions offices are so busy they will appreciate short essays.
Sure, the admissions folks might be glad to get through a short essay quickly, but a beautifully crafted 600-word essay is going to make a more meaningful impression and lasting impression than a good 300-word essay. The length limit on the Common Application went from 500 words to 650 words in 2013 for a reason: member colleges wanted their applicants to have more space to write about themselves.