Essay Writing Guide

500 Word Essay

Nova A.

A Complete 500 Word Essay Writing Guide

13 min read

500 word essay

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1000 Word Essay - A Simple Guide With Examples

A 500-word essay is a common format assignment that students have to deal with. It is a three-part paper that provides vivid descriptions of an event, object, or phenomenon.

This format of essay writing is very easy if you know the correct techniques to put down your ideas in a specific word limit. 

The best way to write an essay in this format is by using specific words and making your ideas flow well. This essay enables you to learn how to be concise so that you meet your word limit without sacrificing quality.

We understand that students often face many challenges when writing an essay . Especially, if they are writing on a difficult and uninteresting topic or a theme.  

Now you are saved as you can find all the important instructions here for writing a 500-word essay worthy of an A+ grade. 

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  • 1. The Definition of A 500 Word Essay
  • 2. 500 Words Essay Format 
  • 3. How to Write a 500-word Essay?
  • 4. How Long is a 500 Word Essay? 
  • 5. 500 Word Essay Examples
  • 6. 500 Word Essay Topics 

The Definition of A 500 Word Essay

A 500-word essay is an important piece of academic writing that describes the writer’s perspective on a certain point of view. 

It is actually not an essay type but a specific format. It can be followed while writing different types of essays such as:

Argumentative Essay Analytical Essay Narrative Essay Critical Essay Reflective Essay Descriptive Essay Persuasive Essay Expository Essay Rhetorical Analysis Essay Literary Analysis Essay Cause and Effect Essay Compare and Contrast Essay   A 500-word essay can be the easiest and at the same time, the most difficult one to write. It all depends on two things; the Topic and the Writer’s Abilities .    Teachers love to assign 500-word essay assignments to students. Because it can help them quickly access their critical, analytical and writing skills. 

As a student, it is important for you to follow the required essay format to fit your ideas properly.

500-Word Essay vs. 250-Word Essay

The length of an essay can make a huge difference when it comes to the level of impact it has. A 500-word essay is typically much longer than a 250-word essay, allowing for more detail and evidence to be included in the paper. 

This additional content can help provide a strong argument or support a point of view, helping to make the essay more effective.

500-Word Essay vs. 1000-Word Essay 

When writing a 500-word essay, you should focus on providing an introduction that gives the reader some context for the topic at hand and then quickly moves into your main points.

A 500-word essay can be quite concise and to the point, so there’s no need to add filler or fluff just to reach the word count. 

1000+ word essays require more than just getting right to the point; they also require thorough research and in-depth analysis of your topic. 

With a longer essay, you will have time to provide more detail and evidence to support your points. 

500 Words Essay Format 

The 500-word essay challenges writers to express their thoughts, ideas, and arguments in a compact format. Here is the format and structure of a well-crafted 500-word essay.

  • Introduction (Approximately 50-75 words)
  • Body Paragraphs (2-3 paragraphs, Approximately 150-200 words)
  • Counterargument (Optional, Approximately 50-75 words)
  • Conclusion (Approximately 50-75 words)

Introduction

  • Start with a compelling hook or a thought-provoking question to engage your reader.
  • Provide a clear thesis statement that encapsulates the main idea or argument of your essay.

Body Paragraphs 

  • Each paragraph should focus on a single point or idea that supports your thesis.
  • Begin with a topic sentence that introduces the main point of the paragraph.
  • Provide evidence, examples, or arguments to support your point.
  • Ensure smooth transitions between paragraphs to maintain the essay's coherence.

Counterargument 

  • Address a potential counterargument to your thesis to demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the topic.
  • Refute the counterargument or explain why your thesis remains valid despite it.
  • Summarize the key points made in the essay without introducing new ideas.
  • Restate the thesis in different words to reinforce its significance.
  • End with a thought-provoking closing statement that leaves a lasting impression.

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How to Write a 500-word Essay?

Writing a 500-word essay is pretty much like classic essay writing. Here you have to provide solid arguments to support your claim, inform your reader, or discuss a trendy topic.

Like any other typical essay outline, it contains three parts; introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Here is the step-by-step guide that you can follow for writing a 500-word essay.

Create An Outline

  • Write A Strong Introduction

Composing The Body Paragraphs

  • Write An Impressive Conclusion

Below is a detailed description of each step for writing a perfect 500-word essay. 

First, make a clear and detailed essay outline , and do not miss anything at this point. It will serve as a backbone for your entire paper.

The purpose of this outline is to break down the ideas in a logical and structured manner. Then, to make the content clearer and more coherent throughout the paper. After the outline, write your paper on your own to avoid the risk of plagiarism.

Write a Strong Introduction

The introductory paragraph of your essay will be the first glimpse the reader will catch. Grab your reader from the start of this paragraph with an attention-grabbing hook . Make it as interesting and creative as you can so that they don't put down the essay before reading it all!   For writing an essay introduction , first, you need to introduce your main topic. And give an idea of what the reader may encounter in the rest of the essay.  The first step to start writing an introduction is to introduce your main topic and give a brief idea of what the reader may find later on.

Don’t forget to end this paragraph with a perfect thesis statement on which the whole essay is based. 

The body section of an essay is mostly divided into 3 paragraphs. It is the point where you need to explain all types of arguments you made in an essay. Then, support these arguments with relevant examples, facts, or personal interpretations. 

Here are the key points that are important to cover for a perfect body section of a 500-word essay:

  • Start your body paragraph with an engaging topic sentence that discusses what you are going to talk about.
  • Examine the main point of view and provide solid facts to support the argument.
  • Introduce a new idea with detailed information, examples, and evidence from reliable sources.
  • Make sure every idea described in the body paragraphs is concise and relevant.
  • Make sure you use transitions in your essay paragraphs so the readers understand the relationship between your ideas.

Write an Impressive Conclusion

The last part of the essay where you have to summarise the main argument of the essay. It begins with restating the thesis statement and explaining it with some strong points analyzed in the body section.

It is important to learn how to write a conclusion  that reminds the readers of the thesis. Make sure it does not completely iterate the introduction. Focus on providing critical insight into the main subject of discussion.

Always proofread your essay for mistakes and inconsistencies. Also, make sure the writing convention checklist is followed, as it will give you a clearer idea of what needs to be improved before submitting!

Now you know what a 500-word essay looks like and will be able to write your 500-word essay the best way possible.

If you still need some guidance, here is a video on how to write a 500-word essay!

How Long is a 500 Word Essay? 

Many students wonder how long a 500-word essay is, how many paragraphs it should consist of and what is the appropriate font to use. The answer to these questions seems pretty obvious at first glance. 

But the question is not about the words. Rather, students want to know how many pages are there in a 500-word essay. 

How Many Pages is a 500 Word Essay?

A 500-word essay is typically one to two pages long, depending on formatting and spacing.

For APA style, use a 12-point font for serif (e.g., Times New Roman) and 11-point for sans-serif (e.g., Arial).

Always follow the formatting guidelines provided by your assignment or course.

How Many Paragraphs is a 500-Word Essay? 

A 500-word essay usually includes 4 to 6 paragraphs, with each paragraph containing approximately 75 to 200 words. The specific number and length of paragraphs can vary based on the type and structure of the essay.

Word count is important in this essay so it is best to write an introduction within 100 words, body paragraphs should be of 300 words, and conclude the essay in 100 words.

500 Word Essay Examples

All 500-word essays follow a different style and structure, making it difficult for a student to understand what their instructor expects. In such scenarios, 500-word essay examples can be of great help.

Below you can find some 500-word essay examples on different topics to better understand the various style formats.

500 Word Essay On Honesty

A 500-word essay on honesty is a commonly assigned task to high school and college students. It simply involves writing on how to develop a practice of speaking the truth always.

Here is an example 500-word essay on honesty that you can refer to for your understanding.

500 Word Essay on Honesty

500 Word Essay On Integrity

Below, you can find a great 500-word essay on integrity written by one of our expert writers for your help.

500 Word Essay On Leadership

Leadership essay discusses the quality of leading people. Get help from the following leadership essay example and learn how you can write on one of the important aspects of life.

500 Word Essay On Punctuality  

Punctuality is an important trait that everyone should strive to possess. Take help from this punctual example essay and make your writing even more powerful.

500 Word Essay On Punctuality

500 Word Essay On Responsibility  

Responsibility is an important value that everyone should possess. It dictates the way we interact with others and how we carry out our daily lives. Take a look at our example of an essay on responsibility to understand what it means to be responsible.

500 Word Essay On Responsibility  

500 Word Essay On Why I Deserve a Scholarship  

Writing an essay explaining why you deserve a scholarship can be a challenging experience since students often feel like they’re bragging about themselves. Learn how to write a 500-word essay for scholarship that will make a strong case for your academic excellence with our sample!

500 Word Essay On Why I Deserve a Scholarship Pdf

500 Word Essay on Respect 

Respect is a very important concept in today's society. It is an essential component of any successful relationship, both personal and professional. Check out our essay example on  Respect to begin learning more about this topic.

500 Word Essay On Respect

500 Word Essay on Why I Want to be a Teacher 

Writing essays about something you are passionate about is never an easy task. When it comes to writing about why people want to be a teacher, you can always take help from some great sample essays.

500 Word Essay on Why I Want to be a Teacher

500 Word Essay on Why I Want to be a Nurse 

Nursing is a passion for a lot of people. If you want to write an essay on why you want to be a nurse, you must look at our sample essay.

500 Word Essay on Why I Want to be a Nurse

500 Word Essay on Global Warming

Global warming is not just an environmental concern but a moral obligation for the well-being of our planet. Write a 500 word essay on global warming with the help of our sample.

500 Word Essay Topics 

Following are the best 500-word essay topics that you can go through and choose the one that you find interesting.

  • Describe your favorite trip.
  • Is it possible to earn on the Internet?
  • What are the challenges of people living with disabilities?
  • How to avoid problems at college.
  • What is honesty?
  • Abstract art and its impact on people.
  • Causes of racism.
  • The best day of your life.
  • What is the objective of your life? 
  • What do you mean by punctuality? 

If you want to look at more topics, feel free to choose from our interesting list of topics . Start working on your essay confidently!

Writing essays in this format might seem easy, but the writing process can be tricky for students.

The biggest challenge is fitting all the important details into those 500 words.

If you want help brainstorming ideas, let MyPerfectWords.com address your “ write my essay for me ” requests efficiently. 

Have Questions? Ask our 24/7 available customer support.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many sentences is a 500-word essay.

FAQ Icon

You can fit about 500 words on one page with standard margins, single spacing, and size 12 font. This is because there are usually 5 letters in each word, 15 words in a sentence, and an average of 7 sentences in a paragraph.

Can a 500-word essay have 4 paragraphs?

The length of your essay will depend on the type and topic. A 500-word paper can be 3-4 paragraphs long, while a 600 or 700-word document requires 4 to 5 paragraphs in order for it all to make sense.

How many references are needed for a 500-word essay?

Going by the 500-word essay length, you would not need to add more than 2-4 references since you’re limited by the word count. Each citation needs its introductory statement, followed by the source’s data and its explanation, so that leaves little room to add in too many sources.

Does a 500-word essay have to be exactly 500 words?

Yes, that’s because the general rule for any academic essay is to not exceed the given word count by more than 10%. So applying the same rule, your 500 word essay length should ideally not exceed 10%, that is 550 words, so you should try to wrap up your thoughts within that word count or otherwise risk a negative marking by the professor.

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Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

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How To Write An Essay

500 Word Essay

Cathy A.

All You Need to Know About a 500-word Essay

16 min read

Published on: Mar 10, 2023

Last updated on: Jan 30, 2024

500 word essay

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A 500-word essay is a very interesting type of essay writing. Like other academic writing assignments, this type of essay writing is quite often assigned to students at different academic levels.

A 500-word essay tends to polish the writing and analytical skills of a writer. It is not a very extensive composition, but still, it is meaningful and equally important. 

This type of essay writing is interesting and very easy to write. You have to be on point, which means that you do not have to do a lot of research and stay focused on your point of view.

A 500-word essay format is one of the easiest formats to follow for essay writing.

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What is a 500-Word Essay?

A 500-word essay is basically an essay with three sections that give clear depictions of an occasion or any item. This type of essay is a common article design that can be followed for composing any sort of exposition, for example, a descriptive essay, an argumentative essay, and so forth.

A 500-word essay is mostly doled out at secondary schools and universities. Almost every other student faces it multiple times throughout academic life. It doesn't have any broad heading, so you can show all your latent capacity by not relying on the subject and theme.

How to Format a 500-Word Essay?

The format of a 500-word essay is very simple and very similar to other types of essay formats. The only thing that makes it different is the essay length.

As the word count for this type of essay is less, thus the length of the paragraphs is also small, and the word count ranges from 75-125 words.

Each paragraph has 3-5 sentences. These sentences must be well-written so that despite being short in length, the sentence can explain its purpose.

Here is a standard format of a 500-word essay that has the following components with examples of each component.

The introduction is responsible for keeping the reader engaged. It provides a brief overview of the overall essay and contains the thesis statement for the essay topic.

It provides background information about your essay’s topic and mentions why you chose this topic in particular.

Also, there is a hook statement in the introduction paragraph. This is a statement that usually is a verse or a famous quotation. It is used as an opening sentence for the essay.

For Example 

After the introduction, the body of the essay starts. The body paragraphs make the body of an essay. For a 500-word essay, particularly, there are usually 4-6 paragraphs.

Each paragraph discusses a key element and provides the required evidence to give it a logical sense.

Like the body paragraph of any other essay, the paragraphs of the 500-word essay start with a topic sentence. This sentence acts as an introduction to the paragraph.

Each paragraph should end with a transition sentence to show a connection with the upcoming part.

Make sure that such a body paragraph is meaningful yet in a comprehensive form.

Here is a sample body paragraph to help you craft a winning 500-word essay

A conclusion paragraph is the extract of the whole essay. The writing skills of a writer are judged by the way they conclude an essay.

Writing the conclusion is the most complicated part of essay writing. To write a good conclusion, the writer must logically summarize all the key elements and reiterate the thesis statement.

Whatever is mentioned in the conclusion should give the reader a sense of closure and completion.

Let's continue with the cell phone example for a better understanding of the conclusion phase.

500 Word Vs. 250 Word Essay

500-word scholarship essays provide you with a significantly greater degree of writing freedom than 250-word ones. When you're given fewer words, it can be tricky to express your views in concise and effective phrases without sacrificing clarity.

With 500 words at hand though, you have ample space to make sure that all the facets of your opinion are expressed - yet don't need footnotes and cited resources as often!

500 Word Essay Vs. 1000 Word Essay

The length of a 500-word essay and a 1000-word essay is quite different. 

While a 500-word essay may not require much outside research or citations, it still requires more focus and organization than a 1000-word essay. 

A 1000-word essay requires far more time and effort to write than a 500-word essay. Plus, it requires you to be more thorough in your research, analysis, and composition. It will also require you to use a greater degree of critical thinking skills when making arguments.

Additionally, a 1000-word essay may call for the use of outside sources to support points or draw conclusions. Thus, writing a 1000-word essay can be a much more challenging task than writing a 500-word essay. 

How Long is a 500-word Essay?

You must be wondering how long exactly a 500-word essay is? As it is a very easy style of composing an essay, so every student prefers to complete it right away and get back to other activities.

One of the interesting facts about this essay type is that it is even shorter than we think. It depends on the formatting style, sizing, and spacing a writer chooses to use. If a writer wants a double-spaced writing format, that is also acceptable for writing such an essay.

To make sure that you write the essay with perfection, understand all the requirements provided by your instructor to compose this type of essay.

500-Word Essay Sample (PDF)

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How to Write a 500-word Essay?

Writing a 500-word essay is a very simple task to do. But things might get complicated if you do not follow a standard way of writing.

The following are the steps you should consider while writing a 500-word essay.

Before you start writing an essay, the first thing you should do is to understand the requirements provided by your instructor.

Understanding the requirements will help you to complete your essay without any mess and up to the mark. Proceeding according to the requirements will keep you composed through the essay writing process.

Once you have understood all the requirements, the next step is to think of some interesting ideas. Brainstorming helps you to use the creativity of your mind, especially when it comes to essay writing.

Note down all the elements that you come up with within your mind. Make a rough list of all the ideas and later on organize them to compose an effective essay.

After you have understood all the instructions and spent enough time brainstorming different ideas, it is time you choose a topic.

Always choose a unique and interesting topic. A good topic is highly responsible for making your essay attractive. Also, try that you have selected a topic that is not overdone. An overdone and repetitive topic would make your audience boring.

For a 500-word essay, a topic must be very interesting as you have to make the essay interesting within a very limited word count. Make sure that you choose such a topic about which you can easily collect evidence and facts to support it and make it stronger.

Conducting research on the selected topic is an essential part of essay writing. The research will help you collect all the relevant information that is necessary to make your essay stronger.

Also, researching a topic will make the writing process very smooth for you as you will have all the information that is needed for the essay.

Collect all information only from reliable sources as you don’t want to misguide your audience.

The outline is an element of an essay that can save time, make things easy, and earn a better grade.

Just write down all the main features and arguments you want to discuss in your 500-word essay. This will help you to get back on track if you forget the things you wanted to write about.

Moreover, your essay will always be structured and clear, so the audience will read it easily and will follow your thoughts without any challenges.

Since you have your topic and all the information related to the topic thus, you are all set to start writing your essay.

Essay writing starts with writing an introduction. As you are writing an essay of 500 words, an introduction should have only one paragraph. In that paragraph, you should explain the main topic and its importance and also the thesis statement.

After introducing the topic, state the body paragraph, and explain all the key elements in it. Usually, there are three body paragraphs in such essays to explain different key elements.

Don’t forget to add transition words, which will make the text smooth and readable. Also, ensure that you use the standard font styles, preferably Arial or Times New Roman.

The same as an introduction, your conclusion should be one paragraph long. Summarize all the key elements in a very precise way and do not add any new points.

Devoting some extra time to proofreading, revision, and editing can make your essay a whole lot better.

This is the simplest thing to do, but most students still skip it and make the biggest mistake. Proofreading ensures that there are no mistakes left behind in your document.

Always make sure that you revise your essay at least once and do the required editing.

Watch this video that shows cases the 5 common mistakes you might make in your 500-word essay writing. Learn how to avoid them to get the desired grade. 

500-Word Essay Examples

To understand any type of essay, one needs to look into some good examples. Unfortunately, when it comes to writing a 500-word essay, things become a bit technical for the writer.

To understand the method of writing a good 500-word essay on any topic, look at the following 500-word essay sample pdf examples. 

Leadership essays are written to discuss all the qualities of being a leader. Look at the given example and learn how you can write a 500-word essay on leadership

500-Word Essay on Leadership (PDF)

500-word essay writing assignments are often assigned to high school students. If you are a high school and want to see how you can perfectly write such an essay, look at the example given below.

500-Word Essay for High School (PDF)

Our changing environment is an important issue these days. An essay can be composed of different things related to it. The given example is a 500-word essay that discusses the environment in general.

500-Word Essay on the Environment (PDF)

Punctuality is one of the significant qualities of an individual. A well-written 500-word essay on punctuality is mentioned below to help you through.

500-Word Essay on Punctuality (PDF)

Teachers are the backbone of any educational system, and they play an essential role in developing students’ skills. However, many students aspiring teachers get confused writing 500-word essays due to their shortened length. Here is an example to help you out.

500 Word Essay on Why I Want to be a Teacher

Writing on nursing topics helps you to develop an understanding of the complexities of this field while also honing critical thinking skills. Below is a 500-word essay that can help future nurses.

500 Word Essay on Why I Want to be a Nurse

Honesty is an important value that must be cultivated in students from a young age. It helps to establish trust between individuals and sets the foundation for strong character development. Below is a 500 word essay on honesty to guide you on how to write on such a theme.

500 Word Essay on Honesty

500-word essay on why I deserve a scholarship is often dreaded among students. These essays require you to shorten yet express a compelling story that can win over the panel. Here is a pdf to help you out.

500 Word Essay On Why I Deserve a Scholarship PDF

Anger management is a difficult topic to tackle. It requires you to find effective solutions and ideas within such a limited word count. Check out the example given below for help.

500 Word Essay on Anger

The Second World War is one of the most important events in human history and its impact can still be felt today. Writing a 500-word essay on this subject requires research, understanding, and war insight. Below is a sample to help you get an idea about how to tackle such a topic.

500 word essay on ww2

Now that you know exactly what a 500 word essay looks like. Continue reading to select the perfect 500-word essay topic.

Great 500-Word Essay Topics

This type of essay is mostly assigned to high school and middle school students. The following are some amazing topics for 500-word essays.

  • Difference between Love and passion.
  • The love story of Romeo and Juliet.
  • Why is there a belief that marriage destroys love?
  • A religious aspect of love.
  • What is real love?
  • Is it possible to make a person truly love somebody?
  • The influence of love on a person’s life?
  • Why is real love often depicted in fairy tales?
  • How to write a 100 words essay in Times New Roman?
  • Can animals feel love for their owners?
  • The effects of single space formatting in an essay.
  • A journey to remember.
  • How to prepare for an exam?
  • Thoughts on spacecraft?
  • How do people earn from the Internet?
  • How can money influence people?
  • How can disabilities be a challenge?
  • Carrying guns by people underage.
  • Telling lies is sometimes useful.
  • Why is smoking the greatest threat to youngsters?

Writing assignments can be really daunting sometimes. To write an essay perfectly, you need to have strong writing skills and a lot of time to complete it. Instead of being stressed out, the best option is to seek professional help.

At  CollegeEssay.org , we have a qualified team of expert writer who can take care of any writing assignment. From writing a good college essay to providing you with the best research paper, we have got you covered.

You can always make the most of AI essay writing tools to refine and enhance your writing skills.

Get in touch with us now and place an order now for your 500-word scholarship essay or any other essay you need. We provide you with the best custom essay writing service  and an amazing experience.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

How many pages is a 500 word essay.

A 500-word essay page is approximately one page single-spaced, or two pages double-spaced. This may vary depending on your writing style and font size.Usually time new roman 12 is used. Typically, a 500 word essay will be about one page single or two pages double spaced.

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How to Write a 500 Word Essay

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How to Write a 500 Word Essay

With only about a page and a half to get your point across, every word counts in a 500 word essay. A succinct response packed with impactful examples can easily put you ahead of the crowd!

Follow our concise step-by-step guide to write an effective 500 word essay:

Start with an outline

Applying the outline to an example.

  • Deciding on how many examples to use

Don’t worry about the word count in your first draft

Don’t forget to proofread.

Keep reading to learn how to write the best 500 word essay you have ever written!

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Writing essays with word limits can be a balancing act. You may have a lot you want to say, but not enough space to sufficiently explain each point that you want to make. That’s why it is a great idea to start by outlining the 3-4 main ideas you’d like to address in your essay. Trying to pack any more than four main ideas into a 500-word essay could prevent you from effectively explaining your examples.

We suggest making a bullet point list for your outline, which could look something like this:

  • Hook the reader with an engaging first line and introduce your response.
  • Expand on your first point or example
  • Elaborate on your second point or example
  • Expand on your third point or example
  • Expand on your fourth point or example
  • Tie your examples together and conclude your essay with a meaningful last line

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Let’s try using this outline to respond to a prompt: Please describe your commitment to working within your community . With a prompt like this, you could hook your reader with a sentence emphasizing what community work means to you on a personal or emotional level, or how you first started working with your community.

Each body paragraph would be a description of different experiences you’ve had working in your community, and what they taught you. And you could use your conclusion to point out a common thread between these experiences; now that the reader has read all about your involvement in the community, you can use this opportunity to describe how the experiences have come together to reshape your relationship with community work. 

See more : How to write a winning scholarship essay

Comparing essay lengths

As you sit down to write your essay, you might wonder how you should adjust your approach to a 500 word essay as opposed to a 250 or 1000 word essay. 250 word essays are expected to be extremely brief, with only minimal elaboration on each point, and 1,000 word essays are expected to be more thorough, and might even include citations. A 500 word essay falls in a grey area between these two; it gives you the freedom to elaborate on the details you find to be the most important.

Will an admissions officer keep reading my essay if I go over?

You might be wondering “what happens if I go over the word limit? Will an admissions officer still read my essay?”

As with many topics related to the admissions process, it depends. If you have gone way over and wrote 2,000 words, it is possible that the admissions officer will not continue to read your essay or may just skim it. Remember, admissions officers and scholarship essay readers are busy people who have to get through many applications and essays.

So if you go over by a few words or sentences, you are probably fine and the admissions officer will likely not even notice. However, if you go over the word count in an obvious, noticeable way, this is something that is unlikely to help you (even if the writing is excellent).

Also see: How to write a 250 word essay

Deciding on how many examples you should use

A common question for writing a 500 word essay is whether or not you should include a fourth example. If your examples require a lot of thorough explanation in order to be impactful, it might be best to only include three. It’s better to have three impactful examples than four examples that don’t resonate with the reader. However, if the prompt is straightforward and you can explain your examples quickly, go ahead and add that fourth body paragraph!

Recommended: Wondering how to format your essay? Scholarships360’s guide will tell you all that you need to know!

Try writing out a first draft without worrying about your 500 word limit! This is a great way to get all your thoughts down on paper. It’s easier to cut the extra content down at the end than it is to keep interrupting your writing to edit it as you go. This can take you out of your writing flow, and make the essay take longer

A 500 word essay requires a lot of editing in order to make a point effectively in a limited number of words. It’s a great idea to ask a friend or family member to proofread your final copy. They can catch simple mistakes that you have been glossing over, or come up with new ways to reword your essay and slim it down to fit the word limit.

With this said, it’s important for you to maintain ownership over the voice of your essay. The job of the proofreader or editor is to catch mistakes and give general feedback–it is not to rewrite the entire essay.

A few more resources

Learn how to effectively conclude your scholarship essay by reading our guide on how to end scholarship essays . Many scholarships want to know more about you, so it’s important to know how to write an essay about yourself . If you are looking for additional scholarship opportunities that involve writing, check out our list of top writing & essay scholarships .    

Remember, writing scholarship essays is an opportunity to show exactly why you are deserving of a scholarship. Learn to write in a way that puts your best self forward, and  win all the awards that you qualify for!

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Essay Writing Guide

500 Word Essay

Last updated on: Nov 20, 2023

Writing a 500 Word Essay - Easy Guide

By: Nova A.

Reviewed By: Chris H.

Published on: Jan 8, 2019

500 Word Essay

Are you staring at a blank page, trying to write a 500-word essay? Don't worry, you're not alone! 

Many students face this challenge when tasked with writing a concise yet impactful piece. A 500-word essay is a common task often assigned to high school and college students. 

Writing a 500-word essay can be quite difficult as you have to cover all the important points in a few words. However, this is where you can show all your potential. 

Read on to learn how to write a perfect 500-word essay with this step by step guide. You will also get to read some good example essays to help you out. 

Let’s dive into it!

500 Word Essay

On this Page

500 Word Essay Definition

A 500-word essay is a short length academic essay. It provides a writer’s perspective on a particular topic. It is usually assigned to high school and college students to teach them necessary essay writing skills.

Every type of essay can follow the 500-word essay format, including:

  • Persuasive essay
  • Descriptive essay
  • Argumentative essay
  • Expository essay
  • Narrative essay

This means that you can write any type of essay in the 500-word format.

How to Write a 500 Word Essay

A 500-word essay is an opportunity to show and improve your writing skills. Here are the steps you need to follow to write your essay:

Make an Essay Outline

An outline is a roadmap that guides you through the different sections of your essay. It is important to make an outline before you start writing. This ensures a well-structured and coherent piece. 

A 500-word essay is usually composed of five paragraphs. Here’s what you need to create an outline:

  • The main topic of the essay
  • The central thesis statement
  • The main point or topic sentence for each body paragraph
  • Supporting points for body paragraphs

This is what your outline will look like:

Write a Good Introduction

An introduction plays an important role in making an impression on the reader’s mind. The readers decide on the basis of the introduction, whether they want to read the rest of the essay or not. 

Here is how you can compose the introduction paragraph:

  • It should start with a strong hook that grabs the reader’s attention immediately.
  • Provide a little background information that helps the reader understand the topic
  • Conclude the intro with a compelling thesis statement that you will support in the body.

Here is an example:

Compose the Body Paragraphs

The body section is intended to provide a detailed description of the topic. It gives complete information about the essay topic and presents the writer’s point of view in detail. Following are the elements of the body section:.

  • Topic sentence

The first sentence of the body paragraph. It presents the main point that will be discussed in the paragraph.

  • Supporting evidence

It could be any points or evidence that support your main thesis.

  • Transition statement

This statement relates the body paragraph back to the thesis, and also connects it with the subsequent paragraph.

Draft a Compelling Conclusion

The conclusion paragraph summarizes the whole essay and presents the final thoughts on the topic. It is as important as the introduction paragraph. Below are the things you include in the conclusion paragraphs:

  • Restate the thesis statement
  • Summarize the essay
  • Provide final thoughts or a call to action

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500 Word Essay Format

Here is how you format a 500 word essay in general:

  • A common font style like Calibri, Arial, or Times New Roman
  • 1” margins on both sides
  • Line spacing: double-spaced
  • Alignment: Left 

Remember, these are general guidelines. Always follow the specific page formatting guidelines provided by your instructor. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Writing a 500 Word Essay

Many things come up in your mind when you get to write a 500-word essay. You might want to know the length, outline, time required to write the essay, and many more things.

Below are some common questions that you may ask yourself while writing a short essay.

How Long is a 500 Word Essay?

“How many pages is a 500-word essay?”

An essay length of a 500-word essay is usually 1 to 2 pages. If it is single-spaced, it covers just 1-page. When double-spaced, it covers 2 pages. 

When it comes to spacing, stick to the instructions given by your professor.

How Many Paragraphs is a 500 Word Essay?

The standard 500-word essay template has 5 paragraphs. It has one introduction, three body paragraphs, and one conclusion paragraph. 

The word count is divided into 5 paragraphs evenly. The introduction and conclusion are 100 words long each. While the body paragraphs need to be 300 words long.

How Long Does it Take to Write a 500 Word Essay?

It would take no more than an hour or two to write a complete 500-word essay. Especially if you have enough information about the topic, you can easily write your essay within an hour. 

What is the difference between 500 words essay vs 250 words essay

The word count of an essay plays a significant role in shaping its structure, content, and depth of analysis. A 500-word essay is a bit more detailed and longer than a 250-word essay. A 250-word essay is composed of three paragraphs maximum. Meanwhile a 500-word essay should contain at least five paragraphs.

What is the difference between 500 words essay vs 1000 words essay

Here is a major difference between 500-word essay and a 1000-word essay: 

With a 500-word essay, you have a limited word count, which necessitates a concise and focused approach. You must carefully select your arguments, provide succinct evidence, and present a coherent analysis. 

On the other hand, a 1000-word essay allows for a more extensive exploration of the topic. It provides the opportunity to delve into multiple subtopics and offer more supporting evidence. 

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500 Word Essay Topics

Below are some interesting topics to help you get started on your essay.

  • Should gun ownership be restricted
  • My Favorite Place
  • Should healthcare be free? 
  • The benefits of volunteering in the local community
  • Is hunting for food moral? 
  • The importance of personal responsibility
  • How I spent my summer vacation
  • Describe an ideal personality
  • What is Climate Change?
  • The importance of sports for teenagers

Need more ideas? We’ve got you covered! Check out 100+ amazing essay topics to help you out!

500 Word Essay Example

Now you have a guide for writing a 500-word essay, have a look at the following example to have a more clear understanding.

500 WORD ESSAY ON COVID-19 (PDF)

500 WORD ESSAY ON WHY I WANT TO BE A NURSE (PDF)

500 Words Essay on Why I Deserve a Scholarship

500 WORD ESSAY ON PUNCTUALITY (PDF)

500 WORD ESSAY ON LEADERSHIP (PDF)

500 WORD ESSAY ON HONESTY (PDF)

FREE 500 WORD ESSAY ON RESPONSIBILITY (PDF)

500 WORD ESSAY EXAMPLE FOR COLLEGE (PDF)

With the help of this step by step guide and essay examples, you can easily craft a perfect essay. However, if you need more help, you can contact us anytime.

5StarEssays.com is a legitimate paper writing service that you can rely on to do my essay for me . We offer academic writing help for each category, i.e. research paper, scholarship essay, or any type of academic paper.

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Nova A.

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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How to Write a 500 Words Essay: Definition, Format, Writing Tips

Author Image

by  Antony W

September 6, 2023

500 words essay

In this guide, we teach you exactly how to write a 500 words essay, fast. Whether you have enough time left or you’re in your last minute essay writing , you’ll find this post helpful.

Here’s the deal:  

Your paper can’t be a one-paragraph essay , but it can definitely be a 500 words assignment.

The problem is:

You don’t have sufficient room to write as much as you’d like in a 500-word limit. But that doesn’t mean you can’t write a great essay within this scope.

So in this guide, we show you exactly how to write a 500 words essay, step-by-step – and without trying so hard.

Key Takeaways

  • Writing a 500-word essay requires you to follow the same steps you would to write standard essay.
  • In practice, your essay must have an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • Given the limit in the number of words for the assignment, we can expect the essay to have roughly three paragraphs or a maximum of 5 paragraphs give or take.
  • Later on, your teacher may ask you to make an essay longer to add more depth to your work, but this is subject to their discretion.

What is a 500-word Long Essay?

There’s no one-size-fits-all definition for a 500-word essay.

However, the most straightforward and meaningful definition is that it’s an assignment that answers a specific question. The topic can be on anything depending on the assignment prompt.

For example:

You may write an essay to give a direct response to an arguable claim , to talk about yourself, as is the case with college admission, or to convince an audience that your position on a topic is more plausible.

You get the idea.

However, since you don’t have the freedom to write as much as you would want to, the limitation demands that your claim should be precise and your arguments must be concise and straight to the point.

500 Words Essay Format

It’s important to keep one thing about essay writing in mind moving forward:

An essay has three sections regardless of the limit in the number of words. It must have an introduction, body paragraph(s), and a conclusion.

We like to describe a 500-word paper as a short essay . But you still should follow the correct format to get it done, or you risk getting a zero after review.

Given that we’re talking about a short essay, you should have at least 3 to 5 paragraphs for this assignment. You may want to make each paragraph 75 to 125 words long and then ensure that each paragraph doesn’t exceed 5 sentences long.

How to Write a 500-word Essay

Now that you understand what a 500-word essay is and the right format to use, here’s how to write:

Introduction

Write the introduction paragraph as a compelling hook, which aims to captivate your professor’s attention right from the start. Ensure that the opening sentence is exceptionally engaging.

Develop a concise thesis statement of about one or two sentences, making sure that it provides a direct response to the essay prompt’s question.

Body Paragraphs

To structure the body section effectively, consider organizing it into distinct paragraphs based on the number of arguments you wish to present and defend.

Begin each paragraph by introducing your argument, accompanied by supporting evidence or descriptive details, and then conclude the paragraph with a cohesive summary.

Ensure that each paragraph revolves around a distinct idea, factor, or argument, and justify your perspective by providing reasons and ample evidence to bolster your arguments.

Remember to conclude each paragraph by summarizing the initial statement you made at the beginning of that specific paragraph.

The final paragraph should go beyond a mere repetition of the opening statement. While it is important to reiterate the thesis, you must do it in a manner that avoids the appearance of copying and pasting the introduction into the conclusion.

You can use diverse vocabularies and language choices in the conclusion to add quality to your work and enhance the overall engagement.

By adhering to this outline diligently, not only will your professor be enthusiastic to delve into your essay, but you will also receive the grades that truly reflect your abilities.

250-word vs 500-word vs 1000-word Essays

A 250-word essay represents the minimum length for a student’s composition, but it imposes limitations on the amount of content you can include.

To convey your ideas concisely, you may find yourself summarizing profound thoughts to reach the main point. Unfortunately, this brevity often leads to omitting crucial information that would enhance the readability and credibility of the essay.

In contrast, a 500-word essay offers a bit more flexibility, giving you some space to express yourself. However, it isn’t enough to incorporate cited resources and footnotes that could strengthen your arguments.

Then there is the 1,000-word essay . For this one, you have the freedom to employ comprehensive sentence structures that elaborate on your essay’s claims or defend your position in an argument.

Given its length, typically spanning around four double-spaced pages, your professor will likely expect you to include cited sources or references to support your claims or bolster your stance in a 1,000-word essay.

Final Thoughts

Irrespective of the word limit, the objective of an essay remains consistent.

Essentially, an essay should serve as a comprehensive representation of your thoughts and reasoning, and they must be strong enough to compel readers to support your claim or engage in a debate surrounding your argument.

Moreover, and regardless of the specified word count, your essay must adhere to the standard structure, which means it must have an opening paragraph, a body section, and a concluding paragraph.

Lastly, don’t write your essay as a single paragraph, as this can distort the intended message you wish to convey.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

ESLBUZZ

Writing a 500 Word Essay: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide

By: Author Oliver

Posted on Last updated: September 7, 2023

Sharing is caring!

Are you looking to improve your English writing skills? One great way to do so is by practicing writing 500 word essays. This type of essay is a popular assignment in academic settings, and it can also be a helpful tool for those looking to improve their writing abilities. In this article, we will explore the basics of the 500 word essay, including its format, structure, and tips for writing a successful essay.

500 Words Essay

Writing a 500 Word Essay: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide

Understanding a 500 Word Essay

What is a 500 word essay.

A 500-word essay is a type of academic writing that requires the writer to express their perspective on a particular topic or issue in 500 words. It is a concise and straightforward format that allows the writer to present their ideas in a clear and concise manner. This type of essay is commonly assigned to high school and college students as a way to develop their writing skills.

Importance in Academic Writing

The ability to write a 500 word essay is an essential skill for students in high school and college. It helps them to develop critical thinking, analytical, and writing skills. Writing a 500-word essay requires the writer to be concise and to the point, which is an essential skill for academic writing.

In addition, a 500 word essay is an excellent way for students to learn how to structure their ideas and arguments in a logical and coherent manner. It helps them to develop their writing skills, which are essential for success in college and beyond.

Here are some words and phrases that can be useful when writing a 500 word essay:

Example sentence: To write a successful 500-word essay, you must analyze the topic thoroughly and present a well-structured argument.

Planning the 500 Word Essay

Choosing a Topic

The first step in planning your essay is choosing a topic. The topic should be something that interests you and is relevant to the essay type you are writing. Brainstorming is an excellent way to come up with ideas for your topic. Write down all the topics that come to mind, and then narrow them down to the one that you feel most passionate about.

Creating a Thesis Statement

Once you have chosen your topic, the next step is to create a thesis statement. A thesis statement is a sentence that summarizes the main point of your essay. It should be clear, concise, and specific. Your thesis statement should be included in the introduction paragraph of your essay.

Research and Gathering Facts

After creating your thesis statement, the next step is to research and gather facts to support your arguments. This step is crucial as it provides evidence to back up your claims. You can use various sources such as books, articles, and online resources to gather information. Ensure that the sources you use are credible and reliable.

To help you with your research, here are some words and phrases you can use to find relevant information:

The Structure of a 500 Word Essay

When it comes to writing a 500 word essay, having a clear and well-organized structure is crucial. In this section, we will discuss the three main components of an essay: the introduction, the body paragraphs, and the conclusion.

The Introduction

The introduction is the first part of your essay and it should be attention-grabbing. It should provide a brief overview of the topic you will be discussing and set the tone for the rest of the essay. A good introduction should include a thesis statement, which is a sentence that summarizes the main point of your essay.

Here are some words and phrases that you can use to start your introduction:

The Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs are where you will provide the main arguments and evidence to support your thesis statement. Each paragraph should focus on one main idea and include supporting details. It’s important to use transition words and phrases to connect your ideas and make your essay flow smoothly. For a 500 word essay, there should be two body paragraphs, whose lengths should be about around 170 – 200 words.

Here are some words and phrases that you can use to start your body paragraphs:

The Conclusion

The conclusion is the final part of your essay and it should summarize the main points you have made in your essay. It should also restate your thesis statement in a new way and provide a final thought on the topic.

Here are some words and phrases that you can use to start your conclusion:

Writing the 500 Word Essay

Writing a 500 word essay can be a daunting task, especially for those who are not confident in their writing skills. However, with the right approach, anyone can write a concise and compelling essay that effectively communicates their arguments and evidence.

Drafting the Essay

The first step in writing a 500 word essay is to draft the essay. This involves brainstorming ideas, outlining the essay, and writing a rough draft. When brainstorming ideas, it is important to focus on a specific topic and come up with a clear thesis statement. Once a thesis statement is established, the essay can be outlined, and the rough draft can be written.

Incorporating Arguments and Evidence

Incorporating arguments and evidence is a crucial part of writing a 500 word essay. To effectively incorporate arguments and evidence, it is important to use clear and concise language and to provide specific examples to support your arguments. When using evidence, it is important to cite your sources properly to avoid plagiarism .

Here are some words that can help you incorporate arguments and evidence:

For example, “The claim that technology has improved our lives is supported by ample evidence, including the fact that we can now communicate with people from all over the world in real-time.”

Maintaining Unity and Coherence

Maintaining unity and coherence is essential in writing a 500 word essay. Unity refers to the overall focus of the essay, while coherence refers to the logical flow of ideas. To maintain unity and coherence, it is important to use transitional words and phrases to connect ideas and to avoid repeating information.

Here are some words that can help you maintain unity and coherence:

For example, “Furthermore, the use of renewable energy sources is not only environmentally friendly but also cost-effective. Similarly, the implementation of energy-efficient technologies can significantly reduce energy consumption. Consequently, it is essential that we take steps to reduce our reliance on non-renewable energy sources.”

Revision and Proofreading

Revising the essay.

After writing the first draft of your 500 word essay, it is crucial to revise it. Revising the essay means looking at the content, structure, and language to ensure that it meets the requirements of the assignment. Here are some tips for revising your essay:

  • Read through your essay and check that it makes sense and flows logically.
  • Check that each paragraph has a clear topic sentence and supports the main idea of the essay.
  • Make sure that your essay has a clear introduction, body, and conclusion.
  • Check that your language is clear, concise, and free of errors.
  • Ensure that you have used reliable sources to support your arguments.

Proofreading for Errors

Once you have revised your essay, it is time to proofread it. Proofreading means checking for errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Here are some tips for proofreading your essay:

  • Read your essay slowly and carefully, checking for errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • Use a spell checker to help you catch any spelling errors.
  • Check that you have used correct grammar, such as subject-verb agreement and proper use of pronouns.
  • Ensure that your punctuation is correct, including commas, periods, and quotation marks.
  • Double-check that you have used the correct tense and verb forms throughout your essay.

Remember, revising and proofreading are essential steps in the writing process. By taking the time to revise and proofread your essay, you can ensure that it is clear, concise, and error-free.

Challenges and Solutions When Writing a 500 Word Essay

Common challenges.

Lack of Confidence

One of the most common challenges in essay writing is lack of confidence. If you think you’re not good at writing, you might have trouble starting your paper. You might doubt your capability to complete it as well. To overcome this challenge, try to focus on the task at hand and break it down into smaller, manageable parts. Start with an outline and gradually build up your essay. Remember, practice makes perfect, and the more you write, the more confident you’ll become.

Time Management

Another common challenge is time management. You might have other assignments to complete, or you might be working a part-time job. To manage your time effectively, create a schedule that includes time for research, writing, and editing. Stick to your schedule and avoid distractions, such as social media or TV. If you’re struggling to manage your time, consider seeking help from a tutor or mentor.

Choosing a topic can also be a challenge. You might be given a specific topic, or you might have to choose your own. To choose a topic, consider your interests and the requirements of the assignment. Brainstorm ideas and narrow down your options until you find a topic that you’re passionate about and that fits the assignment.

Solutions and Tips

Research is key to writing a successful 500-word essay. Start by gathering information on your topic from credible sources, such as academic journals, books, and reputable websites. Take notes and organize your information into an outline. This will help you stay focused and ensure that your essay is well-researched and informative.

Structure is also important in essay writing. A well-structured essay is easy to read and understand. Start with an introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and provides background information on your topic. Follow this with body paragraphs that provide evidence and support for your argument. Finally, end with a conclusion that summarizes your main points and leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

Editing and Proofreading

Editing and proofreading are crucial to writing a successful 500-word essay. Once you’ve completed your essay, take a break and come back to it later with fresh eyes. Read through it carefully, looking for errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Make sure your essay flows well and that your ideas are clear and concise. Consider asking a friend or family member to read through your essay as well, as they might catch errors that you missed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some tips for writing a 500 word essay in English?

Writing a 500 word essay in English can be challenging, but with the right tips, you can make it easier. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Plan your essay: Before you start writing, plan your essay by creating an outline. This will help you organize your thoughts and ideas.
  • Use simple language: Use simple and clear language to express your ideas. Avoid using complex words and sentences that may be difficult for the reader to understand.
  • Write in short paragraphs: Write in short paragraphs to make your essay easier to read. Each paragraph should focus on one idea or point.
  • Edit and proofread: After you have finished writing your essay, edit and proofread it to ensure that it is free of errors.

What are some common English language essay topics?

There are many English language essay topics that you can write about. Here are some common ones:

  • My favorite hobby
  • The importance of education
  • The effects of social media on society
  • The benefits of exercise
  • The impact of technology on our lives

How can I improve my English vocabulary in my essay writing?

Improving your English vocabulary is essential for writing a good essay. Here are some ways to improve your vocabulary:

  • Read extensively: Reading extensively will expose you to new words and help you understand how they are used in context.
  • Use a dictionary: Use a dictionary to look up new words and their meanings.
  • Practice writing: Practice writing essays to improve your vocabulary and writing skills.

What are the benefits of learning English for non-native speakers?

Learning English has many benefits for non-native speakers. Here are some of them:

  • Improved communication: Learning English will improve your ability to communicate with people from different countries and cultures.
  • Better job prospects: English is the language of business, and many employers require employees to speak English.
  • Access to information: English is the language of the internet, and learning English will give you access to a wealth of information online.

What are some strategies for starting a 500 word essay in English?

Starting a 500-word essay in English can be daunting, but with the right strategies, you can make it easier. Here are some strategies to help you:

  • Start with a hook: Start your essay with an interesting fact, quote, or anecdote to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Create an outline: Creating an outline will help you organize your thoughts and ideas before you start writing.
  • Write a strong thesis statement: Your thesis statement should clearly state the main point or argument of your essay.
  • Write the introduction last: Write the introduction last to ensure that it accurately reflects the content of your essay.

Writing a 500-word essay in English can be challenging, but with the right tips, you can make it easier. Here are some tips to help you:

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There are many resources that can help you with writing a 500-word essay. Here are some of them:

  • Writing guides: There are many writing guides available online that can help you with writing essays.
  • Writing apps: Writing apps like Grammarly and Hemingway can help you improve your writing skills and catch errors.
  • Writing tutors: If you need more personalized help, you can hire a writing tutor to work with you one-on-one.

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  • Start with a hook: Start your essay with an interesting fact, quote, or anecdote to grab the reader's attention.
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500 Word Essay: Structure and Topics

Composing a 500-word paper would appear a troublesome task. Notwithstanding, let us disclose to you something: negative attitude towards the given assignment can just lead to your failure. Relax and be hopeful about the imminent work!

In addition, Writix tips for composing 500-word and 1000-word  articles will encourage your work and will help you to get a clear answer to the main question: What does a 500-word essay look like?

500 Word Essay Definition

A 500-word essay belongs to academic writing tasks where high school or college students have to provide their analysis and outlook on a certain topic. It is both the easiest and the most challenging task due to length.

There are at least five 500-word essay types:

  • Persuasive (persuade your readers).
  • Descriptive (describe something).
  • Argumentative (argue about something).
  • Expository (expose things).
  • Narrative (tell a story).

These definitions reflect the style of writing and the methodology that you must follow.

How to Write a 500-Word Essay?

First of all, it is essential to consider how your target audience will perceive your paper. It is a short essay after all, which is why things must be narrowed down a little bit to fit your objectives. While it may be impossible to conduct an in-depth analysis of your subject, writing this essay assignment usually requires fast thinking and creativity. Remember that if you have already found certain external sources, these must be mentioned both in text and on your Bibliography page.

Here are the steps that you must consider to make your 500-word essay stand out:

  • Choose Your Topic Correctly Unless Already Provided With a Prompt. Choose something that inspires you because it will always show in your writing. If you are already given a prompt, do not be afraid to ask your school teacher or a college professor if something is unclear. The same relates to cases when your paper’s prompt has a double meaning.
  • Research Your Subject. If you have an opportunity or you write something other than a personal essay, take your time to research your topic and add some statistical data to your writing.
  • Start With An Outline. When you have an outline, you can narrow things down and write down all the key elements that explain your subject.
  • Create An Interesting Hook. If you choose to write an argumentative essay, consider using an interesting fact or inspiring information to keep your readers motivated to read further.
  • Study The Rules of Your Essay Type. It means that writing a descriptive essay is not the same as working with expository writing. Read about definitions of each task type and consider which one fits you the best way to reflect your thoughts and ideas.
  • Provide a Thesis Statement. The heart of your writing is the thesis statement. It should reflect an idea and/or reflect your take on a problem. Your thesis may be either one or two sentences, depending on if you need any additional explanation.
  • Proofread Your Essay. It is necessary to check your writing for grammar, repetitions, clarity, spelling mistakes, and style. It is recommended to read it aloud and ask yourself whether you have met the objectives of your prompt.

500 Word Essay Structure

If you have to find an answer to the request “ write an essay for me “, we recommend you to start from analyzing the 500-word essay structure to understand which information to include in your paper and which not.

  • The introduction. Despite the fact that this passage starts things out, it’s most effortless to compose it last. That is on the grounds that you don’t comprehend what to write after you have created this part. Once the body of the exposition is finished, you can return to this passage and make the presentation.
  • The body will consist of 3 sections. The primary section will be the principle idea you are attempting to introduce to the peruser. Ensure you support this claim with truths or with your perspective, contingent upon what sort of exposition you’re composing.
  • Then comes the second purpose of the body . Similar principles apply to this claim. While writing an assignment, ensure you give satisfactory support.
  • What’s more, the third and last primary purpose of the body ; keep it compact and give the essential supporting proof.
  • The conclusion is the final passage of the paper. It can likewise have 100 words, roughly. It ought to be a summary of the essay. Ensure it’s formulated uniquely in contrast to the presentation. It ought to leave the reader with something to consider.

Your article ought to have an effect. It ought to be significant, intriguing and roll out for the readers. Before you make your last modification, make sure you have fulfilled every one of the necessities of the task.

Word tally is critical; however, it’s not by any means the only thing that matters. At times there is no need to stick to certain organizing rules. The textual style must be proper. The header and footer and the side edges ought to all be as indicated by the task also.

Read also: Lab Report paper writing by our Professional Essay Writing Service

500 Word Essay Format

In the majority of cases with 500 words essay, universities recommend dividing things into five sections:

  • Introduction. This is where you introduce an idea or tell about what inspires you to explain something. It may be anything from your definition of friendship to bullying on social media.
  • Main Argument Paragraph.
  • Factual Examples Paragraph.
  • Your Analysis Paragraph.
  • Conclusion. Sum up things and provide a moral lesson if applicable. Since the task is aimed at beginner writers, it generally follows the same formatting scheme.

500 Word Essay Ideas

  • What technology has helped me the most during Covid-19 times.
  • The most valuable memory from my childhood.
  • The role of social media in our lives.
  • The definition of love and friendship.
  • Starting a college band in 2021.
  • The most interesting startup ideas for students.
  • The ways how we can address the world’s environmental issues.
  • Do politics and religion work together?
  • The definition of corporate ethics.
  • Is global warming a hoax that should be demystified?

Remember that if you use any external information, it is necessary to cite your sources accordingly to avoid plagiarism issues.

How many paragraphs are 500 words?

It may depend on your subject and structure that you would like to choose, yet experts at Writix recommend using five paragraphs where you have three body parts, introduction, and conclusion. Alternatively, you may have two or four body paragraphs.

How long does it take to write 500 words?

If you plan to type an already finished 500 words essay, it might take you about 10-15 minutes. If you plan to use handwriting, it usually takes about 25 minutes to get things done. If you want to research your subject at greater depth, it can take you about two hours to finish.

What do 500 words look like?

It always depends on your spacing, yet it does not look big per se. For example, single-spacing will look like one standard page. When you implement double-spacing, it will be about two pages. It is a standard size for blogs, newspapers, or high-school writing tasks.

How many pages is a 500-word essay?

It will be from one page (single-spaced) or one page and a half if you use double-spacing. Remember that there may be MLA headers and indents.

How many references for a 500-word essay?

According to academic writing standards, a 500-word essay should use up to five sources. However, in most cases, three sources are optimal. It depends on how much you have to cite, yet overfilling your work with quotes may go against the rules as a 500-word essay must have your voice.

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  • 500 Word Essay Writing Guide. All the Tricks You Need to Know to Create an Outstanding Essay

500 Word Essay Writing Guide. All the Tricks You Need to Know to Create an Outstanding Essay

What is a 500 word essay?  When to write it? What does a 500 word essay look like?

  • How to format a 500 word essay

500 word essay outline

How to write an outstanding 500 word essay fast, 1.read the instructions attentively, 2.choose the topic, 3.draft a thesis statement and create an outline, 4.write down your essay, 5.how to start a 500 word essay, 6.edit and proofread, 500 word scholarship essay.

  • 500 word essay example
  • Tips to help you write an outstanding 500 word essay

FAQ related to a 500 word essay writing

How long does it take to write a 500 word essay, can i write 500 words in a day, how to write a 500 word essay in 30 minutes, what does approximately 500 words mean, how long is a 500 word essay, how many paragraphs is a 500 word essay, how to write a 500 word essay in an hour.

It’s time for essay writing but you do not know how to start, what to write about, and how to organize your work? This article will guide you on how to write a 500 word essay fast, will reveal all the essay writing secrets regarding essay structure, writing process as well as give good examples for inspiration. Another way out is ordering help from academic assistants who will write a professional essay according to the highest standards.

 500 word essay is one of the common academic assignments. It is a short essay, with a classical 5 paragraph essay structure . In terms of content, it can be:

  • essay about yourself
  • informative essay
  • persuasive essay
  • descriptive writing
  • scholarship essay
  • college essay.

 How to format a 500 word essay 

A 500 word essay is rather short. Thus, you will have to learn concise writing and express all your ideas in about five paragraphs. 500 word essay should include:

For example: This may sound out of the blue, but I want to build dams one day, specifically concrete-face rock-fill dams. My interest in large civil structures came from the stories my auntie told of Guyana and how her country needs better infrastructure. To most people, all of that would sound like “too much” ─ but not at Harvey Mudd College. I saw that during my campus visit, where students took the time to explain their physics equations on the workroom board when I asked. This spirit of open-mindedness is found in every aspect of Harvey Mudd, and I aspire to partake in it.
For example: I am drawn to Harvey Mudd’s Department of Engineering in particular because its faculty includes Dr. Duron, who could mentor me in research involving field test procedures for large concrete dams. My career goal is to redesign hydroelectric dams to be more eco-friendly and efficient ─ Harvey Mudd’s open-minded and interdisciplinary engineering curriculum, combined with its strategic vision of Informed Contributions to Society, would give me the educational foundation I need to think through dam design…
For example: I value giving back through community service, and I have a particular interest in Harvey Mudd’s Mudders Making a Difference program. As a four-year volunteer math tutor and homeless shelter staffer, I hope to continue this work as a MMAD member. I am excited to collaborate with my peers to run CHAP community cafes and educate budding young scientists at the PUSD Science Fair. At Harvey Mudd, I can work with open-minded people to make a meaningful difference…

We recommend to create an outline before you start writing your essay. It will save your time during essay writing as you will already have a plan of your essay and all the ideas will be logically organized. Depending on the essay type and prompt, the ideas will be different but the common 500 word e ssay outline example looks as follows.

Introduction Hook  The topic introduced Thesis statement Main body paragraphs Topic sentence Supporting evidence Concluding sentence Conclusion Restated thesis statement Summary of the main points General conclusion

To write a good essay, you should have an essay writing plan. Sure, you can do it in a random order, but it might take more time and you might even miss something. To write a good essay fast, follow such steps.

Do not hurry into writing an essay just after reading the topic. Take few minutes to read the instructions attentively and not to miss any details. Otherwise, it can cost you a grade or even a scholarship 

If you have to choose the topic by yourself, take it seriously. A topic for a 500 word essay should be the one that can be covered in 500 words. Don’t take the one that will take several pages. Also, make sure that the topic is relevant and, of course, it should be interesting for you.

Formulate a thesis statement, which is the main idea of the paper, before you start writing, it will give you a focus. Also, draft an outline for your essay. Just write down main ideas for each paragraph and organize them logically.

Write your essay considering its structural parts, introduction with a thesis statement, main body, and conclusion. In fact, you may start with main body paragraphs, proceed to conclusion, and finish with an introduction. Also, it is rather effective to create a title after you have written your paper, as you already know it inside out.

Considering a short essay length, set aside long philosophical quotes. Especially, if is a college or scholarship essay, replace a quote with a real-life example. It will sound fresh, more interesting, and convincing. In any case, your example should be relevant.

Always take your time to double-check your essay for consistency and any type of mistakes. As Hemignway said, “write drunk, edit sober”. Thus, if you have enough time, re-read your essay a day after writing it to have a fresh look

500 word essays are often a format of a scholarship essay or application writing due to their college essay length . Considering there are thousands of applicants, the admission committee cannot read long memoirs. Thus, they evaluate the student’s ability to express their ideas in a concise manner and show themselves in the best light just it 500 words

 500 word essay example

For a better understand of what a 500 word essay is, we have prepared a good example of college essay . Check it out.

Tips to help you write an outstanding 500 word essay 

Although a 500-word essay might seem an easy task at first sight, but  is rather tricky. To complete it fast and effectively, follow these tips, which professional writers have collected to help you complete an outstanding 500 word essay

  • Start as early as possible
  • Choose a topic that is neither too narrow or too broad for a 500 word essay
  • Create an outline
  • Formulate a clear and specific thesis statement
  • Make sure to include introduction, main body, and conclusion in your paper
  • Ensure that each paragraph is balanced and relates to thesis statement
  • Do not repeat or copy-paste ideas within an essay
  • Do not provide new ideas in a conclusion part
  • Always edit your paper before submitting

Here we will answer the most frequent questions about a 500 word essay.

On average, it takes a student about one two hours to write 500 words. But, a 500-word essay is much more that just writing. To create a good one, you have to  pick a pertinent topic, make research on that topic to be sure it is appropriate for a 500 word essay, formulate a thesis statement and create an outline, draft an essay and edit it. These steps will take majority of your essay writing time.

Actually, you can write a 500 word essay just in an hour or two. It all depends on your writing skills. However, we recommend to dedicate at least two days to your 500-word essay writing. The point is that you have to express all your main points in 1-1,5 pages. It is rather a challenging task. On the first day, write down an essay expressing all your ideas without considering the word count. The next day, or at least few hours later, edit your essay condensing all those ideas into 500 words.

Well, it will be a hard nut to crack. To write a 500 word essay in 300 minutes, there are two critical factors: you understanding and knowledge of the topic and your writing skills. A good tip is to read the essay prompt attentively. Then, during the day, you will ponder it over, you will formulate all the ideas in your mind, and probably even create an outline. You will do it unconsciously on your way to school,college, in the queue, etc. That’s how our brain works. You will not have to take extra time for planning. When it will come to actual essay writing, you will just have to write down all your thoughts. On average, it takes a student about 25 minutes to write about 200-250. But if you focus on your task, you can do that! If you are not that good writer, you can resort to professional writers assistance. They will help you with the task and relieve your stress.

On average, it takes  270-300 words to complete one page (Times New Roman, 12, double-spaced). In college essays or scholarship prompts, it is often mentioned that a student should complete “approximately” 500 words. It does not mean that a student should complete not a word less or more than 500. It means that the word count is flexible, and you can write slightly more or less than 500 words. But do not exaggerate.

Wow! Such a difficult question. Let us think… In terms of pages, a 500-word essay can take 1-2 pages. Its length depends on the font, font size, spacing and margins. In terms of paragraphs, there should be at least five.

A 500 word essay is rather short. Thus, considering a good paper should consist of balanced paragraphs (meaning each having at least 304 sentences), you are highly unlikely to write it is say 10 paragraphs. Keep to a classical 5-paragraph essay format. Do not miss any of the structural essay parts; namely, introduction with a strong thesis statement, three main body paragraphs, and conclusion.

To write an essay fast, you will have to be a good writer and to be well versed in the subject. If you hesitate you can do it properly, resort to professional online writers. They have vast writing experience, and will complete a 500 words or any other type of academic papers just based on your instructions just in few hours. You will have both extra free hours for yourself and an outstanding paper.

Writing a college application or admission essay can be very overwhelming and stressful. This is why many students search for college essay examples online to find some inspiration.However, going through the examples only works when you know exactly why particular essays were effective – and why oth...

If you’re applying for college financial aid, it’s necessary to prepare a scholarship essay, transcript, resume, essay about yourself and other supportive documents. Winning an award means getting a non-refundable aid for education. Saying that you’re worth money isn’t enough. There are many other c...

Writing an excellent five-paragraph essay is a choice. Some students may choose to exert their efforts and time to meet all requirements. But others may opt for the easy path and submit a poorly-crafted paper which ultimately will lead them nowhere. To ensure that your next five-paragraph essay will...

How To Write An Essay

500 Word Essay

Last updated on: Jun 19, 2023

Learn How to Write a 500 Word Essay With Examples

By: Cordon J.

Reviewed By: Chris H.

Published on: Mar 22, 2023

500 word essay

Writing 500 word essays can be a daunting task. It requires you to condense your thoughts and ideas into a concise piece of writing, all while staying within the 500-word limit. 

You may struggle with finding the right words or organizing your thoughts in an effective way that will capture the reader’s attention. Even if you have great ideas, it can be difficult to communicate them effectively without exceeding 500 words. 

MyPerfectPaper.com is here to help! 

This blow will provide you with the tips and tricks needed to successfully write 500 word essays without exceeding the 500-word limit. 

We will also provide the examples needed to help ensure your essay is persuasive and well-written.

So, without further delay, let's begin!

500 word essay

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What is a 500 Word Essay?

A 500-word essay is an important part of academic writing that contains your perspective on a certain point of view. Any of the following types of essay can be written in the form of a 500-word essay:

  • Argumentative Essay
  • Analytical Essay
  • Narrative Essay
  • Critical Essay 
  • Reflective Essay 

A 500-word essay can be easy and hard at the same time. If you get a good topic, it will be easy to write. But if you have a bad one, it will not be so easy. Essay length is fixed in this essay as it is obvious by its name. 

Teachers like to assign 500-word essays because they help students quickly assess their critical thinking and writing abilities. As long as you follow the requirements for the essay format, your ideas should fit well enough with each other. You will stay organized and will know what to do.

How Long is a 500 Word Essay?

A 500-word essay length is one page if it is doubled spaced, and if it is single-spaced, it may take two pages. Moreover, it takes two minutes to read a 500-word essay.

How to Write a 500 Word Essay? 

Writing a 500-word essay is like writing any other typical essay. You have to provide strong arguments, inform your reader, or discuss trendy topics. Follow the steps below to write a good 500-word essay:

 1. Create an Outline

A well-organized outline can help you make your paper more coherent and logical. The outline of your essay should include each of the following: 

  • Topic sentence
  • Thesis statement related to the idea
  • At least one paragraph for elaboration on those ideas

 2. Write an Engaging Introduction Paragraph

The introductory paragraph of your essay can be the first glimpse a reader will catch. Take it as an opportunity to convince them that they should go through the rest of the essay until the end. So you should ensure that your introduction is strong and clear enough for readers’ understanding. 

Don't forget at all about ending this paragraph with a perfect thesis statement on which everything in this essay is based! 

 3. Draft the Body Paragraphs

The body of an essay is a critical component of its structure. In 500 words, you should have three paragraphs that emphasize your main point and provide evidence for the argument. 

The first paragraph will delve into specific details about the topic while providing more detailed explanations.

The second paragraph will focus on presenting facts in order to support the argument with concrete examples or personal interpretations. Always use reliable sources to draw information for your essay. You can also introduce new ideas related to the topic without repeating any information from previous paragraphs.

The third paragraph should sum up all the evidence agreed on a single point. So that the reader gets an idea of what message is being delivered or what argument is being proved. 

Remember to not exceed the limit of every paragraph beyond 100 words. 

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 4. Write a Conclusion 

The conclusion paragraph of a 500-word essay should summarize the main argument with a strong focus on critical insight. It's important to remind readers what they learned in your introduction while not completely reiterating it. 

The last paragraph must be worthy as your critical writing skills are judged mainly through this paragraph. 

500-Word Essay vs. 1000+ Word Essay

A 500-word essay is considered a medium-length paper that takes the reader through a logical progression of ideas. It is quite easy to write since all you have to do is follow the structure. 

A 1000+ word essay, on the other hand, requires more time and effort to make sure that every point in your argument is properly conveyed. 

It also requires more comprehensive research and a deeper understanding of the topic.

500-Word Essay vs. 250-Word Essay

In comparison to 500-word essays, 250-word essays are significantly shorter and require fewer points to be discussed in the body of the paper. 

However, this doesn’t mean that writing a 500-word essay is easier than writing a 250-word one. They both require careful planning and research.

Additionally, 500-word essays usually require more evidence for the argument since it is a longer paper. 

Knowing this, 500-word essay writers should also take care to not just introduce new points in their papers, but also provide enough evidence to support those claims. 

500 Word Essay Examples

The 500-word essays are a difficult thing for many students to understand. It can be hard knowing what the instructor is expecting when you don't have an example in front of you. 

Luckily there are some sample pdfs floating around that'll help with understanding how these 500-word chunks work! 

500 Word Essay Sample

500 Word Essay on Leadership

500 Word Essay On Honesty

500 Word Essay on Accountability

500 Word Essay on Being Late

500 Word Essay on Covid 19

500 Word Essay on Punctuality

500 Word Essay on Why I Want to be Nurse

500 Word Essay on Responsibility

500 Word Essay on Anger

500 Word Essay On Why I Deserve A Scholarship

500 Word Essay On Why I Want To Be A Teacher

500 Word Essay Topics 

Following are some essay topics of 500-word essays for your better understanding:

  • Playing excessively violent video games is causing children to be violent
  • Education should be free for every individual
  • Benefits of academic assignments at the school level
  • Practical education should be preferred over theoretical one
  • Why are teenagers comitting more suicide?
  • Does excelling in technology ensure the future of any country?
  • What was the best day in your life up till now?
  • How do you spend your Easter holidays?
  • How do you solve the conflicts between you and your siblings?
  • Why is feminism so trendy in this era?

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Tips for Writing a Great 500 Word Essay

To make sure that your 500-word essay will be well-structured and organized, here are some tips you should consider: 

  • Research extensively before starting to write.
  • Create a timeline for writing the essay, so that you can complete it within the allotted time.
  • Make sure to proofread for spelling and grammar mistakes, as well as any other errors.
  • Don't forget to cite your sources correctly.

Now that you know the 500-word essay structure and its writing steps, we hope you can create an amazing essay to impress your peers. 

The most important thing is how to fit all the important details in 500 words or less. Some people easily write their initial drafts and then rewrite them before editing. While others are not able to do it and have no time for multiple rewrites as they need these essays done urgently. 

If you want your 500-word essay or a scholarship essay completed by professional writers to get better grades on your final draft, visit MyPerfectPaper.net today!

Contact us for your " paper for me " queries today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can i write a 500-word essay in an hour.

It usually takes 1 hour and 40 minutes to write an impressive 500-word essay. 

How many pages should be there in a 500-word essay?

Using single spacing will make a 500-word essay approximately a page long, and using two spaces between sentences will lengthen the essay by about half a sheet. However, the pages should not exceed more than the stated length. 

What font should be used for a 500 word essay?

The most widely used fonts for 500-word essays are Arial or Times New Roman. But you can also use others like Comic Sans MS.

How many paragraphs should be there in a 500 words essay?

500-word essay consist of five major paragraphs in the following sequence:

  • An introduction 
  • Three-body sections 
  • A conclusion

However, the number of paragraphs can be increased depending on the ideas that need to be discussed in the essay.

Cordon J.

Literature, Marketing

Cordon. is a published author and writing specialist. He has worked in the publishing industry for many years, providing writing services and digital content. His own writing career began with a focus on literature and linguistics, which he continues to pursue. Cordon is an engaging and professional individual, always looking to help others achieve their goals.

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How To Write A Great 500-Word Essay (8 Tips)

Author: Rafal Reyzer

So you need to write a 500-word essay?

I’ll show you exactly how to do it. You’ll discover how to write it, how long it is, how to make an impact with it, and how long it takes to finish it. And in the end, I also include some cool samples you’ll find useful. Read on with an open mind, and you’ll quickly improve your essay-writing skills.

“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” ― E. M. Forster

8 Best tips on how to write a 500-word essay:

  • 1. Diligently follow the essay prompt you got from your instructor. Answer it directly, without meandering. If you don’t have a prompt, write about something you know well.
  • 2. Before committing words to paper (or screen),  create a quick outline for your essay . Jot down the ideas you want to mention, and think about how will you structure your paper. This will save you tons of time later on. A typical outline is made of an attention-grabbing introduction (where state your thesis), three body paragraphs (where you share one big idea to support your thesis per paragraph), and a conclusion (where you reiterate your thesis and summarize your findings).
  • 3. Think about how to make your essay unique. It’s one thing to write about the tried and true. It’s a distinct thing altogether to share a unique perspective on a topic. Take a few minutes and think about how to make it outstanding.
  • 4. Make sure you spellcheck and grammar-check everything before submitting your work. If you’re writing on your computer, you can use free software like Grammarly for that.
  • 5. Edit, proofread, and revise your work before calling it finished. Ensure clarity of language and improve the vocabulary  you’re using.
  • 6. Ask for feedback. Honest, constructive feedback is always welcome and it will make the final version of your essay stand out. Ask your mom, your friend, a fellow writer, or an essay hub review to ensure your work is error-free.
  • 7. Leave the essay for a few hours and come back to it with a fresh perspective. When you check it after a while, you’ll detect some mistakes that eluded you before.
  • 8. Fill your essay with potent emotions. Essays that pack a strong emotional punch always make a great impression on teachers (or the college admission committee). Don’t be afraid to get personal.

When will you need to write a 500-word essay?

You encounter this type of assignment in high school or college. You’ll also need to send your essay as part of your college application process. Even if you are eyeing getting into postgraduate courses, you need to write an  MBA application essa y too. Another cool thing is that you can get paid for your essay. You can submit it to one of the scholarship-granting institutions and if it’s good enough, you can get as much as $1000 as a grant. It pays to be an excellent writer.

How long is it and what does it look like?

Of course, the  essay is 500 words long . In terms of pages, however, it should take up around one and a half if you’re using double space, and just one page if you’re using single space. The standard font for this type of essay is 12-point Times New Roman. If you go a bit over the expected length (50-80 words), you will be fine. Writing fewer words (450-490) is also usually accepted, but I would be more careful here. So, should you use the single or the double space? It all depends on your assignment and you should ask your teacher about that. But spaces don’t matter. It’s the words that matter. One more thing: Usually you should use the standard one-inch margin when writing on your computer.

How many paragraphs does it have and how is it formatted?

The 500-word essay comprises 5 paragraphs. Neat, eh? That’s a standard format for the vast majority of essays , regardless of their type (for example, argumentative, descriptive, informative, etc.)

The basic format goes like this:

  • Introduction (1 paragraph)
  • Body (3 paragraphs)
  • Conclusion (1 paragraph)

Most of the time you won’t have to worry about the text formatting (font, size, line spacing, alignment) because you’ll  simply write your essay  on a piece of paper in your class. But you may also get a home assignment where you’ll need to adhere to strict formatting rules such as  MLA  or  APA . Before starting your work, make sure you get all the instructions right. Listen up: There are some  positive aspects of writing a 500-word essay . Namely, you won’t have to deal with sources, endnotes, footnotes, citations, or additional research. You simply write from your own experience or support yourself with the notes you took during the class.

“Never say more than is necessary.” ― Richard Brinsley Sheridan

How long does it take to write such an essay?

Honestly, it all depends on  your skill as a writer . The more you practice, the faster you’ll get. On average, writing 500 words on the subject you know about will take 1 to 1,5 hours. But if it’s a more complicated topic you need to research, you’ll need 2-3 hours. Note: One of the major things stopping your progress is writer’s block. But it can be easily overcome by using many  great writing strategies .

How to write it faster?

There are a few things you can do to make faster progress:

  • Don’t edit when writing. Just pour everything out of your mind and deal with editing later.
  • Learn to typewrite. There’s nothing that’ll help you more if you want to be faster.
  • Know your subject inside out.  Write about something you know well . This will decrease the amount of research you’ll have to make.
  • Before writing, create a solid outline . Then fill it with meaningful information.
  • Write it all in one go. Don’t start and stop multiple times. In time management, this is called single-handling.

The importance of writing the essay on your own

A word of caution: You may ask one of the many essay writing services to get the work done for you or you may try to copy someone else’s essay. But this is a big mistake. Even if they produce something that’ll get you accepted to a college, you’ll forever know that you got in because of someone else’s effort. Don’t make this mistake. Practice your skills, write from your heart, and you get that application right. And if you’re stuck, you can go for something like an essay review  from the Princeton Review. They’ll give you valuable coaching but won’t write the essay for you.

Here’s a free example of a typical five hundred-word essay titled “On Respect”

Why do we even need respect in this world? The word comes from the Latin respects, meaning “regard, looking back”. The act of looking back at another person. But over hundreds of years, the word evolved to describe a feeling of admiration for someone because of their personal qualities, status, or achievements. In the world of egalitarianism and disregard for authority, the word “respect” slowly lost its power. But it shouldn’t be this way. Respect is essential at every level of society and serves an important purpose. The word with such ancient origins is essential in our language. Otherwise, it would have faded away from the dictionaries and rendered itself effete. The act of looking back is more complicated than we might suppose. It has to do with power, position in the dominance hierarchy, self-esteem, and simple courtesy. The fascinating thing is that it’s used in so many contexts. The parents admonish their children to look back at them when they’re speaking. Something is unnerving about the fact your utterances aren’t met with proper attention. This brings us to the psychological factor which plays a role in the act of showing respect. We need others to pay attention to us, and to what we’re saying. If this is not the case, we quickly get annoyed, and the accompanying chaos makes us question our position in the social structure. If the student doesn’t look at the teacher, and if the lover does not gaze into the eyes of their beloved, something is amiss. Then there’s self-respect – doing things according to a high, self-imposed standard. Here we enter the area of ethics. You can also pay respects to somebody. Why would you do that? Because you might need their help at some point, and by showing respect, you imply that you can be counted on. There are amazing examples of how respect is used in society, art, and the streets. Crime organizations and gangs have unwritten rules regarding respect. When the gang leader talks to you, you better pay close attention and heed every word. Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble. This has been beautifully depicted in series such as The Sopranos. Curiously, some individuals may even demand respect if you don’t know them. One rhyme of Eazy-E (the godfather of gangsta rap) goes like this: “Act like you know when I creep real slow”. It means that his stature in the streets is so high, that you should respect him even if you don’t know how he is. There are countless ways in which respect influences our behavior and our thoughts. And so, it’s important to preserve and cherish it. It would be foolish to throw away respect simply as a social construct. Above all, respect is about treating people well. In the words of Einstein – “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”

And here are links to a few other essays of this type

If you want to become more competent at writing, you should check examples of other people’s work. But at the beginning, use them for inspiration, not for plagiarism.

Here are a few other samples:

  • 40 Best Essays of All Time  (not exactly 500-word ones, but they’re amazing)
  • 10 Examples of Great College Essays (With Links)
  • Top 6 Harvard Admissions Essays
  • Top 3 Successful MIT Essays
  • Top 5 Successful Yale Essays

“The drama of the essay is the way the public  life intersects with my personal  and private life. It’s in that intersection that I find the energy of the essay.” ― Richard Rodriguez

Now it’s your time to write a great 500-word essay

If you’ve gone as far as here, congratulations. After reading this whole article, you’re much better equipped to deal with any essay assignment that may come your way. Just remember, it’s not only about the grade. It’s also about developing your faculties as a clear and critical thinker. This is something that will serve you far beyond the confines of your school and college. Do you have any  other ideas on how to write an essay ?

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How Long Is an Essay? The Ultimate Essay Length Guide

It’s safe to say that most students struggle with the word limit within an essay. Sometimes, it’s hard to find ideas for a text and meet the word requirement for every part of the paper. With so many factors influencing essay length, it’s easy to get confused.

Our specialists will write a custom essay specially for you!

The picture enumerates the factors influencing essay length.

Luckily, our custom-writing team has your back. In this article, our custom-writing experts will answer all your questions regarding essay length. We will also help you write papers with an ideal number of words!

📜 Is Essay Length Important?

📏 essay parts: recommended length.

  • 🤔 How to Make Essays Shorter or Longer
  • 📑 Essay Length & Formatting
  • ❓ Different Academic Levels FAQ
  • 📚 Essay Length: Different Types
  • ⭐ Other Aspects
  • 📝 Essay Examples

🔍 References

Often, the phrase “word limit” causes panic among students. After all, if an essay is too long or too short, your grade will be lowered. However, in reality, there’s nothing to worry about. When it comes to words, limitations are beneficial for both the students and the professors.

Let’s see what exactly it means.

Many people believe that the longer an essay is, the better. However, according to Frontiers, research shows that it’s a bias that couldn’t be further from the truth. A perfect-length paper is one that allows students to express their ideas and showcase their knowledge fully while keeping it clean and simple.

What Influences Essay Length

Various factors determine the length of an essay. Here are the most important ones:

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Let’s start with the essentials. Usually, assignment length is given as a number of words rather than pages. Unless your supervisor or instructor mentions any specific limitations, it’s acceptable to be 10% below or above the word limit.

It’s also worth knowing the 80/20 rule . According to it, the body should constitute 80% of the text, while the intro and the conclusion take up the remaining 20%.

Keep reading to learn more about the recommended length of each essay part. The main numbers are shown in the table below:

How Long Should an Introduction Be?

An introduction is the first section and the face of your essay. For that reason, it needs to be compelling and well-thought-out. Usually, it consists of 3 to 5 sentences or 50 to 80 words .

An introduction must have a hook, some background information, and a thesis statement. While the attention grabber and the thesis are usually brief, you may need 2 to 3 sentences for the background. To avoid going overboard, try to stay on topic and don’t add any filler.

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How Long Is a Body Paragraph in an Essay?

The length of a body paragraph may vary. Sometimes, it can be limited to a single sentence. In other cases, it may take up a whole page. Usually, it’s recommended to have between 80 and 200 words (5-8 sentences) per body paragraph.

Since the paper’s body contains the most information, it’s necessary to explain and support your ideas properly. That’s why it’s no big deal if your body paragraphs go slightly over the word limit.

How Many Body Paragraphs Should Be in an Essay?

Like the word count, the number of paragraphs is determined by the type of paper and its topic. The minimum is 1. Generally, however, the body consists of 3-5 paragraphs , 1 for each argument.

To improve your paper’s structure, ensure that there are as many paragraphs as there are points in your thesis statement. Each one should have a purpose and support your arguments. If there’s any fluff, it’s better to get rid of it.

How Long Should a Conclusion Be?

Like the introduction, the conclusion consists of 50-80 words . It’s essential to keep it simple and only mention the central ideas. A weak concluding sentence may affect the reader’s understanding of the topic and spoil the overall impression of your paper.

Get an originally-written paper according to your instructions!

🤔 How to Make Essays Shorter or Longer: Best Tips

Undoubtedly the essay’s content is more important than the number of words you use. But there are times when students go more than 10-15% below or over the limit. Is there a solution to this problem?

Yes, there is! In this section, we will share the most useful tips to help you stay on point with your paper’s word count.

How to Make Essays Longer

Since having enough words is essential for a good grade, we’ve collected the best tips that can help you lengthen your essay without teachers noticing:

  • Use relevant quotations.  You don’t need to litter your essay with citations, but using them whenever appropriate is a great idea. For instance, if you’re working on a book analysis, referencing a couple of direct quotes from the source text will make your essay more credible and increase the word count.
  • Give examples.  Go through the claims in your paper and provide additional evidence where possible. It will make your essay longer and more informative.
  • Use transitional expressions.  Adding transition words and phrases is a natural way of increasing the number of words. It will also improve your essay’s readability. 
  • Add more references.  Providing references is always a good idea when writing a formal essay. That way, you will increase the number of words and make your paper more credible.
  • Work on your descriptions.  If you struggle to develop new ideas, go over what you’ve already written and consider adding some descriptive words. It’s a great idea for creative essays to include more imagery. 

How to Shorten an Essay

Another struggle of academic writing is cutting down the number of words in your essay to meet a set limit. We are here to tell you that it’s not that hard. Writing straightforwardly and keeping your sentences short is a key to concise content. Here are several strategies you may use to tighten a lengthy essay:

  • Choose the active voice.  It takes up less space than passive voice. Using it also makes your writing more professional and compelling.
  • Remove needless transitions.  Transitions can indeed maintain the flow of the paper. But some transitional phrases can be easily removed.
  • Get rid of unnecessary adverbs and adjectives.  Some students tend to overuse adjectives and adverbs. It adds wordiness to their writing.
  • Avoid running starts.  Some students like to start their sentences with long phrases like: “there are,” “it is believed,” or “the fact that.” Getting rid of them makes texts much more concise.
  • Delete “that.”  In most cases, the word “that” can often be easily removed from texts.

Another cool trick is to use our summarizing tool as essay shortener. Try it out!

📑 How Long Is an Essay Depending on Formatting?

As we mentioned earlier, the essay’s length is usually limited by the number of words. But sometimes, a teacher may ask you to write a specific number of pages. This is trickier because the amount of text you can place on the page depends on the formatting. By using the font size and spacing properly, it’s possible to make the paper visually longer or shorter. Let’s discuss it in more detail.

The picture describes how formatting affects essay length.

Essay Spacing: How Does It Affect the Length?

  • Adjusting the spacing between lines.  Try to make the changes as slight as possible. For instance, if you were asked to double-space the paper, use 2.1 or 2.2 spacing instead. Another option is to slightly extend spaces between paragraphs.
  • Extending the margin size.  You can increase the right and bottom margins by a quarter to make very subtle changes in length. For example, if the margins are 1 inch , you can set them at 1.25 inches instead. 
  • Increasing the spacing between characters.  It is less noticeable than the line spacing. Still, try not to overdo it and keep the numbers between 1.2 and 1.5 . 
  • Adjusting the footer.  Add a footer with page numbers to stretch the bottom margin even further.
  • Lengthening the header.  You can extend your header by adding your name, e-mail address, or other relevant information. Another option is double-spacing it.

Length of an Essay: Font and Size

  • Using the right type of font.  If your instructor didn’t specify which font you should use, go for the bigger ones. We suggest Arial, Bangla Sangam MN, Cambria, or Quicksand. They will make your text look longer without being too on the nose.  
  • Using a bigger font size.  This is another technique that can come in handy. However, be careful and don’t increase your font by more than 0.1-0.5 pt.  
  • Increasing the size of periods and commas.   This is one of the less noticeable tricks you can use. For instance, if your paper’s font is 12 pt. , increase it to 14 pt. only for punctuation marks. Italicizing periods and commas will also add several lines of length to your essay. 

What to Do if There Are No Length Guidelines

Sometimes a teacher sets no word limit for a written work. What to do in that case? Well, first, you can ask your professor to confirm if they have simply forgotten to mention it. But if that’s not the case, here are a couple of helpful solutions:

  • Think of the paragraph number.  Sometimes, you may be given the number of paragraphs instead of words. In that case, you can decide on the number of words depending on how many paragraphs you have. 
  • Think about the topic’s complexity.  The length of your paper is also directly dependent on the theme. If the topic is simple, 4-5 paragraphs will be enough. A more complex issue may require an in-depth explanation, so your essay can be 6-8 paragraphs long.

❓ Essay Length for Different Academic Levels FAQ

The length of the elementary school essay is usually short. Usually, a paper needs to have around 3-5 paragraphs, with 4-5 sentences per paragraph. Primary school essays can be 1-2 paragraphs long.

The word limit for a middle school essay is usually between 300 to 1000 words. The most common essay length is 500 words, which is about 5 paragraphs. However, it may differ from school to school.

The length of the high school essay may differ depending on the school and the complexity of the task itself. Usually, however, a paper can be between 300 to 1000 words long.

The length of the undergraduate college essay often falls within the range of 1500 to 2100 words. It translates into roughly 5-7 pages. 5 pages is the most common essay length at this level.

When it comes to the graduate school admission essay, the word limit is usually between 500 and 1000 words. It’s possible to go slightly over or below the set limit; however, it’s best to stick to the requirements as close as possible.

📚 How Long Should an Essay Be: Different Types

Now, let’s talk about different types of essays. How long should they be? Keep reading to learn about the length of college essays, short and extended ones, scholarship essays, and research papers.

How Long Is a College Essay?

When it comes to a college essay, it’s more important to stick to the word limit than with any other paper. Some teachers may refuse to read it unless it meets all the requirements.

The shortest limit for a college essay is about 250 words which is the shortest length of a Common App personal statement. It’s also rare to see a good college essay with over 650 words . So, an average piece usually has between 150 and 650 words ; you can go over or below the limit by 50.

How Long Is a Paragraph in College Essays?

A college essay usually consists of 4-5 paragraphs . One paragraph takes about 1/3 of the page, which is roughly 5 sentences . Each sentence corresponds with one of the following components:

  • Topic sentence.
  • Explanation.
  • Transitions.

College Essay Length Requirements: Top 5 Schools

To understand the requirements for a college application essay even better, take a look at the table below. It showcases the top 5 schools and their length criteria for personal statements. Keep it in mind when writing your college essay:

How Long Is a Short Essay?

A short essay is usually 500 words long. Using 12pt Times New Roman font with standard margins and double spacing should result in about 2 pages of text.

Extended Essay Length

An extended essay is different from a short or a standard one. It requires extensive research and thorough explanation. That’s why the upper limit for this kind of essay is 4000 words . In this case, a typical essay length is 3500 words or 18 paragraphs .

Scholarship Essay Length

Generally, scholarship papers have a limit of 500 words , which is 1 page in length. Most scholarship programs provide additional requirements that indicate the minimum number of words or pages. If there are no set limitations, you can stick to the limit.

How Long Is a Research Paper?

Typically, a research paper is between 4000 and 6000 words long. Sometimes, there are shorter papers, which have around 2000 words, or in-depth ones with over 10000 words.

⭐ Other Aspects of Essay Length

When it comes to essay length, many different aspects come into play. Here, we’ve gathered all the essential information regarding an essay’s number of pages, paragraphs, words, and references.

How Many Paragraphs Are in an Essay?

Sometimes, it is more convenient to count paragraphs rather than words. Let’s now figure out how many paragraphs are in essays of different lengths. You may also check out the examples to see what such an essay looks like:

How to Count Paragraphs in an Essay Based on Word Count

You can also count the number of body paragraphs for your essay using the formula below:

Number of body paragraphs (average) = (TWC – TWC*0.16)/100

  • TWC – total word count
  • 0.16 – an average percentage of total word count for introduction and conclusion
  • 100 – an average number of words per paragraph

How Many Pages Are in an Essay?

The number of pages in your essay may vary from subject to subject. But it’s still possible to determine the number of pages based on word count. Check out the numbers below to see the conversions with bonus examples:

You can also use a specialized calculator such as Word Counter to determine a number of pages in your essay.

What Does an Essay Look Like when Typed?

You might be wondering: what do essays of different lengths look like when typed? Well, here’s the table where you can find out the metrics for single- and double-spaced papers.

How Many Pages Are in a Handwritten Essay?

In case you need to turn in a handwritten paper, you should check out the table below.

Counting Words in a Handwritten Essay

If you don’t have enough time to count the words in your handwritten essay one by one, here’s what you can do:

  • Count how many words there are in one line. Take the first and last lines and a line in the middle of a page. Let’s say there are 15, 14, and 15 words in them. Then, the average number of words per line is 15.
  • Next, count how many lines there are on one page. Let’s say there are 17 lines on a page.
  • Take the number of words per line and multiply it by the number of lines per page. In our case, we multiply 15 by 17. So, there are 255 words per page on average.
  • Finally, multiply the number of words per page by the number of pages. If your essay has 3 pages, it is approximately 765 words long.

How Long Does it Take to Write an Essay?

It is crucial to know how long writing will take you, especially if you are working on an exam essay or just short on time. Note that you need to consider the time for typing and researching necessary to complete a piece. Research time may vary. Usually, it’s 1-2 hours for 200-250 words .

The picture shows the fact about the average speed of writing.

Below, we’ve gathered the average writing time for average and slower writing speed:

And here are the results in pages:

How Many References Does an Essay Need?

Another essential part of any composition is the reference list. Different academic levels require different references. You’ll find out how many of them should be in your paper in the table below!

📝 Essay Examples: Different Length

Finally, we’ve gathered some excellent sample essays of different lengths. Make sure to check them out!

We also recommend you check out our free essay samples sorted by pages:

  • 1-Page Essay Examples
  • 2-Page Essay Examples
  • 3-Page Essay Examples
  • 4-Page Essay Examples
  • 5-Page Essay Examples
  • 10-Page Essay Examples
  • 20-Page Essay Examples
  • 30-Page Essay Examples
  • 40-Page Essay Examples
  • 50-Page Essay Examples

Now you know all about essay length, word limits, and ways to lengthen or shorten your text. If you know other interesting tricks, make sure to share them in a comment! Good luck with your writing assignments!

You may also like:

  • How to Write a Process Analysis Essay: Examples & Outline
  • How to Write a Precis: Definition, Guide, & Examples 
  • How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay: Examples & Guide
  • How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline: Template & Examples
  • How to Write a Formal Essay: Format, Rules, & Example
  • Word Limits and Assignment Length: Massey University
  • The Paragraph in the College Essay: California State University, Long Beach
  • Introductions & Conclusions: The University of Arizona Global Campus
  • How Long Should a Paragraph Be?: Daily Writing Tips
  • Paragraphing (Length Consistency): Purdue University
  • Hitting the Target Word Count in Your College Admission Essay: Dummies.com
  • How Long Should Your College Essay Be? What is the Ideal Length?: College Vine
  • Writing Personal Statements Online: Issues of Length and Form: Penn State University
  • Pen Admissions: Essays: University of Pennsylvania
  • Essay Questions: University of Michigan
  • Essay Structure: Harvard University
  • Components of a Good Essay: University of Evansville
  • Write Your Essay: UNSW Sydney
  • College Writing: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 21 Helpful and Easy Tips to Make an Essay Longer: Seventeen
  • How to Make a College Paper Longer: ThoughtCo
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College Essays

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Figuring out your college essay can be one of the most difficult parts of applying to college. Even once you've read the prompt and picked a topic, you might wonder: if you write too much or too little, will you blow your chance of admission? How long should a college essay be?

Whether you're a terse writer or a loquacious one, we can advise you on college essay length. In this guide, we'll cover what the standard college essay length is, how much word limits matter, and what to do if you aren't sure how long a specific essay should be.

How Long Is a College Essay? First, Check the Word Limit

You might be used to turning in your writing assignments on a page-limit basis (for example, a 10-page paper). While some colleges provide page limits for their college essays, most use a word limit instead. This makes sure there's a standard length for all the essays that a college receives, regardless of formatting or font.

In the simplest terms, your college essay should be pretty close to, but not exceeding, the word limit in length. Think within 50 words as the lower bound, with the word limit as the upper bound. So for a 500-word limit essay, try to get somewhere between 450-500 words. If they give you a range, stay within that range.

College essay prompts usually provide the word limit right in the prompt or in the instructions.

For example, the University of Illinois says :

"You'll answer two to three prompts as part of your application. The questions you'll answer will depend on whether you're applying to a major or to our undeclared program , and if you've selected a second choice . Each response should be approximately 150 words."

As exemplified by the University of Illinois, the shortest word limits for college essays are usually around 150 words (less than half a single-spaced page). Rarely will you see a word limit higher than around 650 words (over one single-spaced page). College essays are usually pretty short: between 150 and 650 words. Admissions officers have to read a lot of them, after all!

body-scale-cc0

Weigh your words carefully, because they are limited!

How Flexible Is the Word Limit?

But how flexible is the word limit? What if your poignant anecdote is just 10 words too long—or 100 too short?

Can I Go Over the Word Limit?

If you are attaching a document and you need one or two extra words, you can probably get away with exceeding the word limit by such a small amount. Some colleges will actually tell you that exceeding the word limit by 1-2 words is fine. However, I advise against exceeding the word limit unless it's explicitly allowed for a few reasons:

First, you might not be able to. If you have to copy-paste it into a text box, your essay might get cut off and you'll have to trim it down anyway.

If you exceed the word limit in a noticeable way, the admissions counselor may just stop reading your essay past that point. This is not good for you.

Following directions is actually a very important part of the college application process. You need to follow directions to get your letters of recommendation, upload your essays, send supplemental materials, get your test scores sent, and so on and so forth. So it's just a good general rule to follow whatever instructions you've been given by the institution. Better safe than sorry!

Can I Go Under the Word Limit?

If you can truly get your point across well beneath the word limit, it's probably fine. Brevity is not necessarily a bad thing in writing just so long as you are clear, cogent, and communicate what you want to.

However, most college essays have pretty tight word limits anyways. So if you're writing 300 words for an essay with a 500-word limit, ask yourself: is there anything more you could say to elaborate on or support your points? Consult with a parent, friend, or teacher on where you could elaborate with more detail or expand your points.

Also, if the college gives you a word range, you absolutely need to at least hit the bottom end of the range. So if you get a range from the institution, like 400-500 words, you need to write at least 400 words. If you write less, it will come across like you have nothing to say, which is not an impression you want to give.

body-writing-computer-orange-write

What If There Is No Word Limit?

Some colleges don't give you a word limit for one or more of your essay prompts. This can be a little stressful, but the prompts generally fall into a few categories:

Writing Sample

Some colleges don't provide a hard-and-fast word limit because they want a writing sample from one of your classes. In this case, a word limit would be very limiting to you in terms of which assignments you could select from.

For an example of this kind of prompt, check out essay Option B at Amherst :

"Submit a graded paper from your junior or senior year that best represents your writing skills and analytical abilities. We are particularly interested in your ability to construct a tightly reasoned, persuasive argument that calls upon literary, sociological or historical evidence. You should NOT submit a laboratory report, journal entry, creative writing sample or in-class essay."

While there is usually no word limit per se, colleges sometimes provide a general page guideline for writing samples. In the FAQ for Option B , Amherst clarifies, "There is no hard-and-fast rule for official page limit. Typically, we anticipate a paper of 4-5 pages will provide adequate length to demonstrate your analytical abilities. Somewhat longer papers can also be submitted, but in most cases should not exceed 8-10 pages."

So even though there's no word limit, they'd like somewhere in the 4-10 pages range. High school students are not usually writing papers that are longer than 10 pages anyways, so that isn't very limiting.

how long to do 500 word essay

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Implicit Length Guideline

Sometimes, while there's no word (or even page) limit, there's still an implicit length guideline. What do I mean by this?

See, for example, this Western Washington University prompt :

“Describe one or more activities you have been involved in that have been particularly meaningful. What does your involvement say about the communities, identities or causes that are important to you?”

While there’s no page or word limit listed here, further down on page the ‘essay tips’ section explains that “ most essay responses are about 500 words, ” though “this is only a recommendation, not a firm limit.” This gives you an idea of what’s reasonable. A little longer or shorter than 500 words would be appropriate here. That’s what I mean by an “implicit” word limit—there is a reasonable length you could go to within the boundaries of the prompt.

body-coffee-cc0

But what's the proper coffee-to-paragraph ratio?

Treasure Hunt

There is also the classic "treasure hunt" prompt. No, it's not a prompt about a treasure hunt. It's a prompt where there are no length guidelines given, but if you hunt around on the rest of the website you can find length guidelines.

For example, the University of Chicago provides seven "Extended Essay" prompts . You must write an essay in response to one prompt of your choosing, but nowhere on the page is there any guidance about word count or page limit.

However, many colleges provide additional details about their expectations for application materials, including essays, on FAQ pages, which is true of the University of Chicago. On the school’s admissions Frequently Asked Questions page , they provide the following length guidelines for the supplemental essays: 

“We suggest that you note any word limits for Coalition or Common Application essays; however, there are no strict word limits on the UChicago Supplement essays. For the extended essay (where you choose one of several prompts), we suggest that you aim for around 650 words. While we won't, as a rule, stop reading after 650 words, we're only human and cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention indefinitely. For the “Why UChicago?” essay, we suggest about 250-500 words. The ideas in your writing matter more than the exact number of words you use!”

So there you go! You want to be (loosely) in the realm of 650 for the extended essay, and 250-500 words for the “Why UChicago?” essay.

Help! There Really Is No Guidance on Length

If you really can't find any length guidelines anywhere on the admissions website and you're at a loss, I advise calling the admissions office. They may not be able to give you an exact number (in fact, they probably won't), but they will probably at least be able to tell you how long most of the essays they see are. (And keep you from writing a panicked, 20-page dissertation about your relationship with your dog).

In general, 500 words or so is pretty safe for a college essay. It's a fairly standard word limit length, in fact. (And if you're wondering, that's about a page and a half double-spaced.) 500 words is long enough to develop a basic idea while still getting a point across quickly—important when admissions counselors have thousands of essays to read!

guy-with-magnifying-glass

"See? It says 500 words right there in tiny font!"

The Final Word: How Long Should a College Essay Be?

The best college essay length is usually pretty straightforward: you want to be right under or at the provided word limit. If you go substantially past the word limit, you risk having your essay cut off by an online application form or having the admissions officer just not finish it. And if you're too far under the word limit, you may not be elaborating enough.

What if there is no word limit? Then how long should a college essay be? In general, around 500 words is a pretty safe approximate word amount for a college essay—it's one of the most common word limits, after all!

Here's guidance for special cases and hunting down word limits:

If it's a writing sample of your graded academic work, the length either doesn't matter or there should be some loose page guidelines.

There also may be implicit length guidelines. For example, if a prompt says to write three paragraphs, you'll know that writing six sentences is definitely too short, and two single-spaced pages is definitely too long.

You might not be able to find length guidelines in the prompt, but you could still hunt them up elsewhere on the website. Try checking FAQs or googling your chosen school name with "admissions essay word limit."

If there really is no word limit, you can call the school to try to get some guidance.

With this advice, you can be sure you've got the right college essay length on lockdown!

fun-725813_640-1.jpg

Hey, writing about yourself can even be fun!

What's Next?

Need to ask a teacher or friend for help with your essay? See our do's and dont's to getting college essay advice .

If you're lacking in essay inspiration, see our guide to brainstorming college essay ideas . And here's our guide to starting out your essay perfectly!

Looking for college essay examples? See 11 places to find college essay examples and 145 essay examples with analysis !

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Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. She received a BA from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.

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How to Write a Compelling 500-word MBA Essay

May 8, 2023

how long to do 500 word essay

Worried about word count?

The three keys to a compelling essay: theme, story, and structure, key #1: theme, key #2: story, key #3: structure.

  • Managing word count
  • Get expert help

Update : This article was originally posted on July 27, 2019. It has been updated with new information and tips below. 

One of the most difficult parts of applying for a graduate degree in business administration can be creating a truly compelling essay. How do you make an MBA essay not only sound like you but also really stand out from the crowd?  

This can be especially intimidating with so little space. You may have a lot you wish the admissions board to know about you. But how do you reduce that down to a 500-word essay while at the same time making sure you say everything you should?

Don’t fret – instead, focus on a few key elements that will help you down that path.

So what is the first step to writing a compelling MBA essay in 500 words?

Forget about your word count.

Go ahead – let’s even take it to extremes. Take your ideas about word count, crumple them up, and throw them in the recycling bin. Or hide them in with the dirty laundry or wherever else you know you won’t look until you’re on the final draft of your essay. Did that? Good.

Although most essays will have a word limit, that is not where you should begin – and it is definitely not what you should focus on while trying to develop your MBA admissions essay. In fact, trimming word count is the very last thing you should do before you finalize your draft. 

We will revisit the subject of word count at the end of the process – and at the end of this post. Until then, keep it in the laundry.

So, you might ask, if I shouldn’t focus on word count, what should I be thinking about? 

There are three answers to this question: theme, story, and structure . But what are these exactly?

Your theme is like your topic. It is the main thing you want your readers to know and remember about you while reading your essay. Everything – and I mean absolutely everything – in your MBA essay should pertain to and relate back to your theme.

Story is how you express your theme. An MBA essay can have one or multiple stories. Your stories are personal (as in, they really did happen to you!) anecdotes about your past that contribute to the person you are today. These must (underline must ) relate back to your theme. 

Structure is how you combine the two in a way that makes it easy for your reader to get from one idea to the next. A strong structure will reinforce the meaning of your essay.

All three of these elements are interrelated, and all are necessary for creating a truly compelling MBA admissions essay. Now that you’ve got the basics, there is a lot more to learn. Let’s take a look at each of these key points in detail.

The first key, or element, of a compelling essay is a strong theme. Y our theme is the main message of your essay. Basic examples may be “teamwork is paramount” or “empowering others is what I value most”. Your choice of theme will depend on the essay question.

A theme is important for your MBA essay because it is what ties everything you say together. Instead of random stories that have no common thread, your theme is what allows you to use multiple stories to reinforce what you really want to say about yourself . 

Looking for example 500-word essays to help you start writing? Our MBA Resource Center has dozens of successful sample essays, in addition to all types of essays from countless schools, brainstorm guides, resume templates, interview mocks and answer models, and much more. Find out more about your one-stop shop for MBA application success here .

how long to do 500 word essay

How do you choose your theme? A question of values

So how do you go about choosing the right theme?

Your theme expresses a value (ex: “community”, “giving back”, “innovation”) that you feel has defined you in some way. You can choose practically any value that you can relate back to your personal experiences. However, it is essential that you choose a value you truly believe in – faking it to sound good will be immediately obvious to any admissions board.

A good theme also relates back to the school and its values. The school’s values will give you an idea of who the school is looking for, and you should always take these into account when choosing your theme. Each school will have different, individual values. 

The school’s values may be implicit or explicit – you may need to take a long look at their website, visit their campus, ponder their motto, or study their application materials to figure out what they are. (If you find yourself struggling to determine these, this is something that our editors at Ellin Lolis Consulting are glad to help you with.)

For example, when applying to the Stanford Graduate School of Business , their values include the following:

Global awareness, community-oriented, integrity, collaborative team leadership, passion, intellectual vitality, etc.

The theme of your Stanford essay should not , therefore, simply be “integrity” or “global awareness”. Instead, give the value a personal touch that says something about you: for example, you could go with “honesty above everything” or “the importance of an international team”. If you’ve chosen your theme well, it may even overlap with multiple values of your target school. 

We have seen clients use a wide range of diverse themes to create successful essays that landed them a spot in their top MBA program. For example, one client used the theme of solving a Rubik’s cube to demonstrate their drive for problem-solving . Another client used the theme of ballet to express her values of determination . Other clients have used topics like their cultural heritage , learning from past failures , or family hardship as successful themes. 

Keep in mind that your choice of theme must answer the essay question . While this might be easy in open-ended essays, some answers may require much deeper thought to determine your underlying values.

Theme: roadblocks and solutions

The most common problem pertaining to theme often comes down to this: too many or too few. Even if you’ve chosen the most awesome theme, encountering either one of these problems could make or break your MBA admissions essay. 

How can you have too many themes? It may be hard to narrow down what you value most or which of your target school’s values is the most important to you. If you can’t decide, you may end up trying to build in more than one. You may begin your essay by exuberantly exclaiming the importance of teamwork while emphasizing how much your community means to you in your conclusion. This discrepancy will not only confuse your reader, it will lead to a weak message and a weak essay . 

how long to do 500 word essay

On the other hand, your theme must be explicitly clear . You cannot assume that your reader will simply understand your theme after reading your essay. You must state this for them multiple times. 

Either option will cause your theme to feel unclear to your reader . Make sure you have a single theme (even if it might represent multiple values!) that you clearly stick with throughout the entire essay. 

Stories are the examples you use to underline your theme . 

They should be based on your personal experiences and are the most tangible element of your MBA admissions essay. The choices here are endless, and may come from the workplace, school, or your personal life . 

If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, this article in The Economist offers some good starting points . The most important thing is that your stories illustrate how they have contributed to the value that you’ve presented in your theme. 

how long to do 500 word essay

How to choose the best stories? Theme and story go hand in hand

The stories you choose need to relate to your theme. Your theme will relate to your stories. The two of these – and choosing them – go hand in hand. 

You may first brainstorm inspiring stories from your past and then choose which theme aligns with them. Or you may want to start by contemplating your theme and then deciding where it has been exemplified in your past. Either method will work, as long as you use honest examples and really believe in your theme. 

If you find yourself at an impasse, however – where you just can’t get your stories to align with your theme – we find it best to rethink your theme . After all, you can choose your theme freely, while your stories must be limited to personal experiences from your past.

How many stories you tell in your MBA essay depends on your theme and the topic of the essay (and possibly your word count!). In some cases, you may need multiple stories while in others a single story will suffice .

What makes a good story? You do.

A good story can be a lesson you learned, a challenge you faced, or an experience that you will never forget. Remember here that the admissions board already has your CV, so a good story is by no means a recap of your professional history. Instead, your stories should touch on the things that the admissions board cannot see in your CV: your personality. 

This means your stories need to dig deep into personal questions . What made a situation challenging? How did this experience make you who you are today? What lessons did you learn? A good story highlights motivations, feelings, and attitudes behind the information on your CV. 

As you can see, a story is not only action. It has two parts: the experience itself and what you learned from it .  In our experience, it is best to use the well-known STAR method to make this format clear to readers.

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Results . All of these elements must be clear in each story you tell in your MBA admissions essay. They can be used to tell almost any story. 

For example, let’s take a look at a passage from a client’s IESE essay:

“For example, when I worked as a site engineer coordinating dredging works (Situation) , I saw an opportunity to give workers that I saw potential in the chance to learn specific technical work. We had over 12 workers with no post-secondary education responsible only for timekeeping machinery activities on site. I knew that, after the job was done, they would struggle to find new work. (Task) I decided to choose some of them to assist our hydrographic survey technicians collecting and processing survey data a few days per week, a crucial activity for the project’s success. (Action) I was proud that two of them could learn their responsibilities quickly enough to start working as full-time survey assistants even after the job was finished. (Results)

In this passage, using the STAR method really helps the client clearly present a story that shows his proactivity and highlights both external (that his employees started working full-time) and internal (that he was proud) results. The client used this story to underline his theme of supporting others . 

To understand more about aligning your theme with your stories , let’s go back to our Stanford example where we’ve chosen the theme “the importance of an international team”. A good story here might be:

  • A time you’ve led an international team at your firm and the benefits it brought to the project;
  • Talking about time you’ve spent abroad and how this changed your perspective;
  • How you helped international students in college and what you learned from the experience

how long to do 500 word essay

Story: roadblocks and solutions

The main problem you see with stories in MBA essays is that they do not match the theme. If this is the case, you need to rethink your story – or your theme.

In contrast to your theme, you cannot have too much information at this stage in your essay (you’ve hidden away all your ideas about word count, remember?). Remember here that although the details about what happened, how you felt about it, or why an event was significant may be clear to you, it will not always be clear to your reader . Including sufficient information about context, your motivations, and what you learned is essential to make sure your message is clear. 

This is where a second set of eyes is absolutely necessary. Our editors here at Ellin Lolis Consulting are good at spotting the details that may be implicit in your essay, but have not been stated clearly enough for all your readers. 

Another common problem is not highlighting your role in the story. Even if the experience was a team effort – and even if teamwork is your theme – it is necessary to highlight the individual part you played. After all, the admissions board is focusing on you .

The third essential element to a compelling MBA admissions essay is your structure. Y our structure is like your map: it helps your readers get flawlessly from A to B . 

In terms of your essay, this means that structure helps your reader transition between what you said before, what you’re saying now, and what you will say next. 

Without a solid, clear, and defining structure, your essay can be good, but won’t be excellent . Your stories may be fascinating – but only if your reader understands why they are reading about them in the first place. In other words, structure implicitly emphasizes relevance . 

How is a typical MBA essay structured?

Although this will vary according to the topic of the essay, the basic outline is often similar, as pointed out by Karen Schweitzer . The outline of your MBA essay will usually have the following format:

  • Introduction : present your theme and its larger contextual significance
  • Story 1 and the lesson(s) you learned from it
  • Story 2 and the lesson(s) you learned from it ( if the essay prompt allows for more than one story)
  • (Maybe more stories and lessons…)
  • How your stories/theme relate to your target school ( such as classes you intend to take, groups you want to participate in, or the unique things that the school offers that will help you expand on these values )
  • Conclusion : tie all of this back into your theme

Keep in mind that this is only a basic outline for an MBA admissions essay, and t here are other formats that may work just as well . You may find a different format works better for your message. In that case – go for it! 

No matter which format you choose, however, make sure your reader can clearly and easily understand and navigate the structure of your essay . With thousands of other essays to read, sending a confusing essay to “stand out” is likely to get your essay tossed aside. 

What make s a good structure? Sandwiches.

How do you ensure that your MBA essay is well-structured? Here, it is best to rely on the classic sandwich method .

The sandwich method ensures that each of your stories (the lettuce, meat, cheese, and other particularly yummy parts of your structural sandwich) is surrounded by an explicit emphasis on your theme (the bread that holds your structural sandwich together). 

how long to do 500 word essay

You are going to need a few structural sandwiches for a good essay. Not only should the essay itself be one big sandwich, but each paragraph – each story – needs to be one as well. In other words:

Sandwich #1: The essay as a whole

In your essay-structural-sandwich, your theme needs to surround your stories. The introduction of your essay should clearly present your theme and your conclusion needs to pick it back up.

Sandwich #2: Each and every story

Each story needs an introduction sentence and a concluding sentence. Both of these sentences need to relate your story back to your theme. 

The sandwich method is a way to ensure your reader stays on the same page as you. They make it explicitly clear why what you are saying is relevant to the larger picture and how you got there in the first place. 

Hungry? Have an example sandwich

In spring 2017, we helped Axel from Argentina compose and refine his Stanford essays. In this essay, he chose to focus on the theme “being an agent of change”. Take a look at one of the stories he told to highlight this theme:

“Later, while volunteering in São Paulo’s favelas, I wanted to convey the power of change to children by showing them what I learned from the book on the cosmos. By connecting my hobby of space with my desire for change, I shared my knowledge of cosmology and mathematics and gained valuable lessons from people with backgrounds in education. In learning from each other’s strengths, we were able to complement the children’s formal education and inspired them to look at past science geniuses who defied conventions so that the students might also be inspired to challenge their social standing. This experience showed me that working to create change is as important as its positive effects .”

As you can see in bold, the relevance of this story to Axel’s theme is clear in both the introduction and conclusion of the paragraph.

Looking for example essays to help you start writing? Our MBA Resource Center has dozens of successful sample essays, in addition to all types of essays from countless schools, brainstorm guides, resume templates, interview mocks and answer models, and much more. Find out more about your one-stop shop for MBA application success here .

Managing word count: the final step to a stunning MBA essay

Now that you have the three key elements of your MBA admissions essay down – theme, story, and structure – it is time to go dig your ideas about word count back out of the dirty laundry.

You may find yourself with an essay that is way too long. How can you go about shortening it?

how long to do 500 word essay

Although this may seem like a challenge, it is one you can overcome. Our editors are very practiced at this, and are glad to help you if you get stuck. For example, in a recent essay for UCLA , one of our clients found herself with an essay of nearly 900 words; the limit for the essay was 500. Using the following strategies, we were able to get her word count down to 486.  

Strategy #1: Revisit your stories

The easiest way to reduce word count is to take another pass at each of your stories . Are there any parts that are repetitive ? Is there anything that is not essential to the story? Tangents ? Searching for these is a good way to drastically reduce your word count.

Strategy #2: Reduce “of” constructions

There are two ways to express possession in English. Take a look at the difference between these two sentences:

“I won the admiration of my supervisor” (7 words) vs. “ I won my supervisor’s admiration” (5 words)

Simply by trading out the “of” phrase here and replacing it with the possessive noun phrase, you can make your sentences shorter. 

Strategy #3: Reduce “I think/wish/believe…” phrases

Everything in your essay is authored by you, a fact that is obvious to your admissions board. Beginning sentences with “I think…” phrases are, therefore, unnecessary. Removing phrases like this not only reduces word count, it will also make your statements stronger. Take a look at the following example:

“I believe that Stanford Graduate School of Business will be the key to furthering my professional career.” (17 words)

Now take a look at the sentence with the “I think…” phrase removed:

“Stanford Graduate School of Business will be the key to furthering my professional career.” (14 words)

Strategy #4: Reduce passive voice

You are the center of your essay, so the action should always be focused on you. This means you should avoid being the object of the sentence and passive voice.

Take a look at this example:

“The project was completed by my team in November 2017.” (10 words)

Here, the project is the subject of the sentence and in focus, not your team. Instead, you could bring the focus back to you by phrasing it like this:

“My team completed the project in November 2017.” (8 words)

This is only one example of passive voice and how you can reduce it in your MBA admissions essay, but there are other passive constructions that you can watch for. If you want to learn more about how to avoid passive voice, the University of Toronto offers some insightful writing advice on the topic.

Get Expert Help

At Ellin Lolis Consulting , we have a lot of practice helping clients cut words and reduce their message to what is truly important – part of what we call technical editing . To read more about what else we offer in terms of technical editing – and its big brother strategic editing – take a look at our blog post . 

These tips will help reduce your word count while unlocking your MBA essay’s true potential. Not only will their application limit your essay to the most essential information , but it will also make sure your reader gets an authentic look at the person behind the words.

Now that you have the most useful keys for a stunning MBA admissions essay, it is time to create one that will have the admissions board hoping you will choose to attend their school. 

As long as you’ve expressed a clear theme , backed it up with personalized stories , and packed it into a structural sandwich , your MBA essay is sure to stand out from the crowd.

If you still feel unsure about your essay, need some help brainstorming, or just want an extra pair of eyes, reach out to our team . Our team has the writing abilities and the marketing know-how to transform your essay into an attention-grabbing piece that will get you a spot in your top-choice MBA program. Remember, we’re here to help! 

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What to know about the crisis of violence, politics and hunger engulfing Haiti

A woman carrying two bags of rice walks past burning tires

A long-simmering crisis over Haiti’s ability to govern itself, particularly after a series of natural disasters and an increasingly dire humanitarian emergency, has come to a head in the Caribbean nation, as its de facto president remains stranded in Puerto Rico and its people starve and live in fear of rampant violence. 

The chaos engulfing the country has been bubbling for more than a year, only for it to spill over on the global stage on Monday night, as Haiti’s unpopular prime minister, Ariel Henry, agreed to resign once a transitional government is brokered by other Caribbean nations and parties, including the U.S.

But the very idea of a transitional government brokered not by Haitians but by outsiders is one of the main reasons Haiti, a nation of 11 million, is on the brink, according to humanitarian workers and residents who have called for Haitian-led solutions. 

“What we’re seeing in Haiti has been building since the 2010 earthquake,” said Greg Beckett, an associate professor of anthropology at Western University in Canada. 

Haitians take shelter in the Delmas 4 Olympic Boxing Arena

What is happening in Haiti and why?

In the power vacuum that followed the assassination of democratically elected President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, Henry, who was prime minister under Moïse, assumed power, with the support of several nations, including the U.S. 

When Haiti failed to hold elections multiple times — Henry said it was due to logistical problems or violence — protests rang out against him. By the time Henry announced last year that elections would be postponed again, to 2025, armed groups that were already active in Port-au-Prince, the capital, dialed up the violence.

Even before Moïse’s assassination, these militias and armed groups existed alongside politicians who used them to do their bidding, including everything from intimidating the opposition to collecting votes . With the dwindling of the country’s elected officials, though, many of these rebel forces have engaged in excessively violent acts, and have taken control of at least 80% of the capital, according to a United Nations estimate. 

Those groups, which include paramilitary and former police officers who pose as community leaders, have been responsible for the increase in killings, kidnappings and rapes since Moïse’s death, according to the Uppsala Conflict Data Program at Uppsala University in Sweden. According to a report from the U.N . released in January, more than 8,400 people were killed, injured or kidnapped in 2023, an increase of 122% increase from 2022.

“January and February have been the most violent months in the recent crisis, with thousands of people killed, or injured, or raped,” Beckett said.

Image: Ariel Henry

Armed groups who had been calling for Henry’s resignation have already attacked airports, police stations, sea ports, the Central Bank and the country’s national soccer stadium. The situation reached critical mass earlier this month when the country’s two main prisons were raided , leading to the escape of about 4,000 prisoners. The beleaguered government called a 72-hour state of emergency, including a night-time curfew — but its authority had evaporated by then.

Aside from human-made catastrophes, Haiti still has not fully recovered from the devastating earthquake in 2010 that killed about 220,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless, many of them living in poorly built and exposed housing. More earthquakes, hurricanes and floods have followed, exacerbating efforts to rebuild infrastructure and a sense of national unity.

Since the earthquake, “there have been groups in Haiti trying to control that reconstruction process and the funding, the billions of dollars coming into the country to rebuild it,” said Beckett, who specializes in the Caribbean, particularly Haiti. 

Beckett said that control initially came from politicians and subsequently from armed groups supported by those politicians. Political “parties that controlled the government used the government for corruption to steal that money. We’re seeing the fallout from that.”

Haiti Experiences Surge Of Gang Violence

Many armed groups have formed in recent years claiming to be community groups carrying out essential work in underprivileged neighborhoods, but they have instead been accused of violence, even murder . One of the two main groups, G-9, is led by a former elite police officer, Jimmy Chérizier — also known as “Barbecue” — who has become the public face of the unrest and claimed credit for various attacks on public institutions. He has openly called for Henry to step down and called his campaign an “armed revolution.”

But caught in the crossfire are the residents of Haiti. In just one week, 15,000 people have been displaced from Port-au-Prince, according to a U.N. estimate. But people have been trying to flee the capital for well over a year, with one woman telling NBC News that she is currently hiding in a church with her three children and another family with eight children. The U.N. said about 160,000 people have left Port-au-Prince because of the swell of violence in the last several months. 

Deep poverty and famine are also a serious danger. Gangs have cut off access to the country’s largest port, Autorité Portuaire Nationale, and food could soon become scarce.

Haiti's uncertain future

A new transitional government may dismay the Haitians and their supporters who call for Haitian-led solutions to the crisis. 

But the creation of such a government would come after years of democratic disruption and the crumbling of Haiti’s political leadership. The country hasn’t held an election in eight years. 

Haitian advocates and scholars like Jemima Pierre, a professor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, say foreign intervention, including from the U.S., is partially to blame for Haiti’s turmoil. The U.S. has routinely sent thousands of troops to Haiti , intervened in its government and supported unpopular leaders like Henry.

“What you have over the last 20 years is the consistent dismantling of the Haitian state,” Pierre said. “What intervention means for Haiti, what it has always meant, is death and destruction.”

Image: Workers unload humanitarian aid from a U.S. helicopter at Les Cayes airport in Haiti, Aug. 18, 2021.

In fact, the country’s situation was so dire that Henry was forced to travel abroad in the hope of securing a U.N. peacekeeping deal. He went to Kenya, which agreed to send 1,000 troops to coordinate an East African and U.N.-backed alliance to help restore order in Haiti, but the plan is now on hold . Kenya agreed last October to send a U.N.-sanctioned security force to Haiti, but Kenya’s courts decided it was unconstitutional. The result has been Haiti fending for itself. 

“A force like Kenya, they don’t speak Kreyòl, they don’t speak French,” Pierre said. “The Kenyan police are known for human rights abuses . So what does it tell us as Haitians that the only thing that you see that we deserve are not schools, not reparations for the cholera the U.N. brought , but more military with the mandate to use all kinds of force on our population? That is unacceptable.”  

Henry was forced to announce his planned resignation from Puerto Rico, as threats of violence — and armed groups taking over the airports — have prevented him from returning to his country.  

An elderly woman runs in front of the damaged police station building with tires burning in front of it

Now that Henry is to stand down, it is far from clear what the armed groups will do or demand next, aside from the right to govern. 

“It’s the Haitian people who know what they’re going through. It’s the Haitian people who are going to take destiny into their own hands. Haitian people will choose who will govern them,” Chérizier said recently, according to The Associated Press .

Haitians and their supporters have put forth their own solutions over the years, holding that foreign intervention routinely ignores the voices and desires of Haitians. 

In 2021, both Haitian and non-Haitian church leaders, women’s rights groups, lawyers, humanitarian workers, the Voodoo Sector and more created the Commission to Search for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis . The commission has proposed the “ Montana Accord ,” outlining a two-year interim government with oversight committees tasked with restoring order, eradicating corruption and establishing fair elections. 

For more from NBC BLK, sign up for our weekly newsletter .

CORRECTION (March 15, 2024, 9:58 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated which university Jemima Pierre is affiliated with. She is a professor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, not the University of California, Los Angeles, (or Columbia University, as an earlier correction misstated).

how long to do 500 word essay

Patrick Smith is a London-based editor and reporter for NBC News Digital.

how long to do 500 word essay

Char Adams is a reporter for NBC BLK who writes about race.

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  1. How to Write a 500 Word Essay: Free Examples, Format and Structure

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    It might also be impossible to input more than 500 words for your essay if you're applying online. So, if the prompt asks for 500 words, aim to write somewhere between 400-500 words! #5 Don't submit your first draft Your first draft for any essay will never be your best draft. And that's okay. It isn't supposed to be.

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  24. The Haiti crisis, explained: Violence, hunger and unstable political

    Chaos has gutted Port-au-Prince and Haiti's government, a crisis brought on by decades of political disruption, a series of natural disasters and a power vacuum left by the president's assassination.