How to Write a College 500 Word Essay

It’s never easy writing a college essay. The amount of skill, attention to detail, organization and insight required by such tasks gives most students and insufferable anxiety attack. This anxiety only increases when professors put additional limitations on assignments – for example, length limitations. Essays that need to fit within a 500 word limit are some of the most frustrating assignments students can encounter. What makes these assignments hard are their specifications. It’s hard for students to develop coherent ideas on a complex essay topic on only 500 words; other times, it’s difficult for students to stretch their ideas to 500 words.

  • Identify purpose. Why exactly are you writing this essay? This should be the very first question that comes to mind. Are you defending a position? Researching a topic? Answering a question? The key to success in any essay, regardless of length, is identifying you purpose in writing it. You should ensure that your reader knows what you’re writing on and why you’re writing on it from your introductory paragraph.
  • Follow the essay model. A 500 word essay still needs and introduction, a body and a conclusion – they just might be a bit longer (or a bit shorter) than what you’re used to. Typically, a 500-word essay will have four to five paragraphs. That means you’ll only have to two to three paragraphs for your body. It[s important to know the space you have available for your writing, and stick to the essay model – it will provide a great organizational framework for your ideas.
  • Stay clear and to the point. Again, you’ll only have two to three paragraphs for your body – that’s not a lot of room when you think about it. As this is the meat of your essay, you’ll have to stay as clear and uncluttered as possible. Don’t slip in to excess stories or unneeded sentence add-ons. Make your points clearly, eloquently and with essential support, but don’t go overboard (or underboard!). The same principle goes with your introduction and conclusion.
  • Draft and revise. Don’t try to fit all of your reasoning, ideas and supporting points into a 500-word document from the get go. That’ll just cause you an unnecessary headache. Instead, free write your first draft. Often, you’ll find that you’ve written too much, or (more rarely) too little. Free writing, however, ensures that you get all of your main points and evidence down on the page. Once the draft is written, you can then revise it for errors, as well as length.