How Long Should an Essay Be?

The standard length of essays is not fixed for any writers. For as long as I have known, in essays, there has only been ranges for word counts and an average essay length. But, there are no fixed counts. This omission might be due to variations in the way writers write, the type of readers, the purpose of writing, and the type of essays.

In some cases, writers believe that word counts and order of writing should be left to reason. That is, the length of essays is limited to the extent of research, or thinking capacity of the writer in question. However, a general view is that the length of any essay varies based on its purpose and types.

Most times, writers struggle with the required word counts for dissertations, thesis, editorials, introductory speeches, or research papers. Word counts for professional and academic writings shouldn’t be worth sweating over. Your supervisor or professor will give a word count range for the paper.

With the following examples, the question – How long are essays? – would be answered in detail in this post.

General Essay Guidelines for School levels

Essay Length for Middle Schools

Essay writing begins at this level in the British and American curriculum. It is the start of learning. Therefore, you don’t need to write beyond 5 paragraphs. Word counts at this level is generally between 250-800 words. Examiners are more concerned about the essay structures.

Essay for High Schools

High-schoolers should be aware of the stress that comes after graduating. Essays at this level fall in between 300-1200 words. It may still vary due to the different demands of educational instructors from their students. For example, English and Language instructors demand 4-6 pages (around 1200-1500 words) from their students which may or may not include the introductory paragraphs.

Essay for Undergraduates

Essays length written in this level is not hewn on stone because classes, assignments and research purposes vary. Some classes may require essays of longer length while others do not. In truth, you can write as low as 500 words and as high as 5000 words.

Essay for Postgraduates

It is also sure that your essays will vary at this stage. Thesis and Dissertations can be as much as 100,000 words. However, class assignments can be significantly lower than that.

Admission Essay Guidelines

Writing essays for potential admission into institutions can be easy and confusing at the same time. Sometimes, schools stipulate the word counts they need. At other times, they do not.

The following are short admission essay requirements into various school levels;

  • College Admission Essay

College admissions committees of many schools are strict with word counts. The word count is usually between 300-650 words and about 3-5 paragraphs. The essay must clearly explain your interest and motivations.

  • Graduate Admission Essays

Entering a graduate program in any institution would require a write up with an average essay length of 400-1000 words.

In writing essays, each body and paragraph should be carefully observed. The introductory paragraph of the essay should not be as long as the body. The conclusion should be a grand exit and very clear.

However, the most important element of an essay is fluidity and transition. It is the capacity of each paragraphs keying into each other without friction.


You should not stress about word counts anytime you’re given one. The stress of achieving a specific word count can make you use complicated and unnecessary statements. Also, do not exceed the word count stipulated, except it is important for you to complete a paragraph.