Word Count, Making Your Words Count

For many students one of the most challenging aspects of essay writing is meeting their minimum word count. We often find ourselves waffling or over explaining certain things to add a few more words onto the overall total. It can be difficult to write enough sometimes, especially on a topic which at first glance may not be as interesting or thought provoking as first anticipated.


Something that students may not think of when wishing they had a lower word count for an essay is that it is quite difficult to get all of your points across with such limiting count.

I had this problem when writing an essay with a strict maximum word count limit of 1’000 words. I found myself struggling somewhat to make the work count, not because I had to few words but because I was writing too much!

It was difficult to explain what I was saying in my essay while not wasting too many precious words on one point. Usually I can speak about a certain character or scene for as long as I like and the only time I think of the word count is at the end if I need any extra points to make sure I meet it.

Although I may not like to admit it, there are positives to having a lower maximum word count limit to your essays.

  1. You need to be able to get your point across as clearly as possible with as little words as possible.
  2. Creating a lower maximum word count makes students sift out what they feel is relevant to answering the question.
  3. However, with a minimum word-count encourages students to think more broadly about how to go about the question.
  4. With a low maximum word count students are forced to think more critically about the topic or question.
  5. In most cases with a high maximum word count students tend find more evidence to back up their claim but this often leads to them creating “fluff” in their paper in order to meet the requirement.

The debate is ongoing whether having a lower maximum word limit is better to see if students understand the topic in detail. While having a higher word count limit is the norm, students would benefit from cutting down their work to only the important parts instead of waffling.

Here are some useful links I found while writing this post that may interest you;