Super Tips on How Long is a Short Essay

How long is a short essay supposed to be? A short essay does not require extensive research. It should be a direct, quick, and straightforward paper.

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A short essay should be about 500 or 300 words in length which is approximately two pages. The format of this type of paper is double spacing and font 12 points Times New Roman.

The margins should be standard. This is the commonly used formatting style in most essays.

You could be asked by your instructor to write a short essay, or you may need to respond to an essay prompt. The first thing you need to establish before you can start researching or writing is how long a short essay is.

Check with your instructor or read and understand the essay prompt to find out the requirements. The formatting styles may be different in various situations.

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How long is a short essay?

A short essay can have 500 words or 300 words, depending on the instructions you are given. In most cases, a 300-word essay is usually a short response to a question and not necessarily an essay.

The limited word count cannot allow you to give a detailed introduction, develop your idea and conclude it. To follow a standard essay structure, you will need more space.

How long is a short essay: structure

The standard essay structure usually has an introduction paragraph, a body section, and a conclusion. When writing your short essay, you may want to know how many paragraphs is a short essay.

A 500-word short essay has all elements and can have a total of five paragraphs. A short response may not be able to have all five paragraphs; instead, your short response can fit in three paragraphs.

Five-paragraph short essay

A 500-word short essay usually uses the standard essay structure of five paragraphs essay. The number of words will allow you to state your claim and introduce your topic in the first paragraph. Next are the three paragraphs of the body section followed by a concluding paragraph

1.   Introduction paragraph

This is the beginning of your short essay, and like any other essay, it should be exciting. The first sentence of your introduction is a hook to attract your audience.

Present brief background information about your topic and state your thesis statement. A thesis statement should be the last sentence of your introduction paragraph before transitioning to the body section. Make your introduction as concise as possible so that you can have enough words remaining for your body and paragraph sections.

2.   How long is a short essay paragraph

The body section consists of three paragraphs where you support your main ideas. All the formalities of a standard essay are applied when writing 500 word short essays.

The body paragraph has to be correctly structured, starting with a topic sentence that introduces your sub-argument.  Provide evidence, examples and present your reasoning.

End each paragraph with a concluding sentence that transitions to the next paragraph. Each section should discuss a point from your thesis statement.

3.   The conclusion

The five-paragraph essay ends with a final section that summarizes the main points in your body section. Here you will restate your thesis and present your final thoughts about the subject. The last sentence of your short essay should provide an overall conclusion of your entire paper and reference your topic.

4. Proofread your essay

A short essay does not mean you compromise on quality. After writing your essay, reread all five paragraphs and make the needed corrections.

Check your introduction and ensure it is captivating enough to attract your audience. Reread your body section and ensure all the arguments flow logically and the paragraphs are well structured.

The final paragraph should be impactful as well. Give your readers something to think about after they finish reading your essay.

Check your grammar and punctuation and make the needed corrections. Remove any irrelevant details. Confirm your word count and whether you have followed all the instructions provided.

How to compose a short essay

How long a short essay is depends on the number of words and the structure of your paper. A 300 word and a 500-word essay are both types of short essays that can be used differently.

They also have a different number of paragraphs depending on the word count and the requirements provided. The five-paragraph essay uses the formula 20-60-20.

This is the ratio for the elements you will use. The introduction and the conclusion paragraphs should each have the same length.

The body paragraph is represented by 60 in the ratio. This should be the biggest part of your essay. It is where you present all your arguments, provide evidence, and try to convince your readers. This section will carry more weight.

How long is a short essay response

A 300-word short response can have approximately three paragraphs. These three paragraphs are the three basic elements: the introduction, a body paragraph, and a concluding paragraph.

The first paragraph of your short response should briefly introduce your topic and state your main idea. In the second paragraph, you should support your main idea and provide relevant explanations.

Make your explanations direct and to the point so that you have enough space for all important information. The final paragraph of your response is the concluding paragraph which provides a summary of what you have discussed in the second paragraph.

Read through your short essay and verify all the information. Check the introduction and make it meaningful.

Confirm that the second paragraph provides the required response to the prompt that is provided. Make sure you have included all the needed answers. Your answers should be concise.

Avoid unnecessary information or detail that will take up a lot of your word count. Check your conclusion and make sure it has adequately summarized your work. A short response has to be well crafted and checked for quality.

How long is a short essay answer

Students are usually required to write a brief essay when applying to join a college. The type of essay that is expected from students usually is smaller than the usual short essay.

It ranges between150 to 250 words, and it is known as a short essay answer. The short essay answer that you are required to write does not have any specific structure except for the stated word limit.

The standard for writing your answer should be one paragraph. Online systems usually validate short answers to make sure you adhere to the required word limit.

When submitting an online short answer it is important to make sure you do not exceed the word count. The online system will not allow you to make submissions that have more than the required word count.

The person evaluating your short essay should be able to read your answer in approximately 60 seconds. Make sure every word counts in your short answer.

It should not be too small than the recommended word count. An answer that is too short might not be meaningful, and if it exceeds the required word count, it might not be read by the admission officer.

How to write a high-quality short essay answer

A short essay answer should be of high quality like any other essay. A short answer does not mean you put in less effort or produce poor quality work.

A short essay answer means that every word you use should count. It should be direct and to the point. After you finish writing your papers, proofread and correct any mistakes or errors.

Check your grammar, punctuation, and style of writing. Confirm that your answer meets all the provided requirements before you can submit it.

The college might ask you to write a 250-word answer. It means that they are interested in learning more about your personality.

Make sure your writing is as compelling as possible so that it can stand out from hundreds of other answers. In some cases, you may be required to write a brief answer, but the word count has not been specified.

The most suitable length you can use if the instructions have not specified the number of words is 125 to 150 words. The goal of a short essay answer is to inform the college board of your values.

It is important not to overthink what you are about to write and instead be authentic. When you are dishonest in your writing, a person can easily notice.

How Long is a Short Essay

Differences between short-essay and short essay-answer

Writing a short essay is different from providing a short essay answer. Here are some of the differences between a short essay and a short essay answer.

Point of difference Short essay Short essay answer
Audience Most of the readers may not be familiar with the topic presented in a short essay. An admissions board officer is usually the primary audience, and he or she is familiar with the topic of a short answer
Length A short essay usually has a word count range of about 500 to 600 words. It can be one page with double space formatting A short answer has a length of about 150 to 250 words. It is a one-paragraph answer.
Content The content in a short essay usually focuses on a specific issue. It contains researched information and data from different sources.


The author analyses the data and information and presents logical reasoning in a well-structured manner. The author of the short essay must demonstrate a deep understanding of the topic.

A short answer must be brief and to the point. It must also be compelling and engaging.


It is mostly concerned about telling your personal experience. You can also write a short answer to show your area of expertise in a particular field

Structure A short essay has a structure of 5 paragraphs. The elements include

an introduction paragraph that should be interesting, with background information and a claim


Three-body paragraphs to present your arguments. Each paragraph represents a point from your claim,


One Conclusion paragraph that highlights your major points and wraps up your discussion. The author can give his or her final thoughts on the topic of discussion.

A short answer is brief, and everything fits in one paragraph.

Tips for writing a short essay

Writing an essay is a common assignment in college, especially in humanities. Your instructor can ask you to write different kinds of essays some are short and others long.

Short essays of 250 to 500 words are some of the essays you may be required to write. Some of these essays are for college admissions or scholarships. Others can be assignments or in-class essays.

The essays all serve different purposes, and they come with specific rules. First, you need tips that will help you understand how long is a short essay and what you should pay attention to. The following are tips to help you write your short essay.

1.   Identify a topic

Read the provided prompt carefully. Underline and circle important words that will guide you in choosing the right topic.

Make sure you understand what the prompt is asking you to do. It is important that you comprehend what the prompt is saying so that you produce the right work. An essay that does not effectively answer the prompt will make you lose marks.

2.   Select a single debatable point

It is a good idea to write your short essay around a single central point. This type of essay has fewer words which means you cannot include secondary topics.

Choose a narrow topic that you can address in a short essay depending on the number of words provided. Ensure your topic is interesting for you to research and write about.

The essay you are writing could be a class test or a college admission test. Make sure you understand and follow instructions. You can also brainstorm ideas quickly and decide on a good fit.

3.   Find secondary sources

Most research for your college essay will be done online. Search for one or two relevant secondary sources in an online database.

An online database is the best place to find high-quality material that has gone through peer review. Your instructor can show you the appropriate databases depending on the type of essay you are writing.

The essay you are assigned could be in the field of humanities or sociology. It means you should target databases in the same fields.

A short essay does not have space for you to include multiple secondary sources. Pick only one or at most two of the most relevant sources.

A college application requires that you include appropriate secondary sources in your essay. You may be given a timed test or in-class essay. This means you might not have the time to perform online research.

You can get information from what you have studied in class. You can find information from text and other source materials and build your points. Passages or reading materials provided for the test are sources you can use.

How Long is a Short Essay

4.   Use reliable sources

Choose reliable sources like authoritative websites to find information for your essay. Some essay prompts might not allow you to use online sources.

Make sure that your essay prompt permits you to look for sources online before starting your research. Look for objective and reliable sources if your essay prompt allows it.

5.   Use an outline

Plan your work using an outline. Write down phrases and secondary sources that you would like to use in your essay.

6. Write a debatable thesis

Make your thesis statement convincing and arguable. Make sure it sums up what you will discuss in your paper.

The thesis statement you write depends on how long is a short essay. The two things you will need to consider in your short essay are the complexity of the essay and placement.

A shorter essay means that your thesis statement appears earlier in your paper. A 3-5 paragraph essay should have a thesis statement as one of the first three sentences in the introduction paragraph.

A 1-2 paragraph essay should have a thesis statement in the first sentence, and it should also act as a hook. The thesis should be interesting, and it should sum up your main points. A shorter essay requires you to get to the point straight away.

7. Introduce your topic

Provide a brief explanation of your topic in the introduction paragraph. Keep your introduction and conclusion paragraphs less than 75 words each.

Your introduction should have 6-7 sentences. It should introduce your topic to your readers, give a thesis statement and show its significance.

8. Prove your arguments

The body section should prove various aspects of your main idea. Each paragraph should prove one idea. Avoid unnecessary information and quote sources that are directly related to your topic.

9. Use active voice

Keep your sentences succinct and on point by using an active voice. Short sentences are engaging, and they express ideas clearly.

10. Avoid overusing extensive quotes

Avoid using many quotes in your short essay. Overusing quotes will take up too much space, and you might not be able to include other relevant information. Paraphrase the opinion of people you want to quote. You can also use shorter quotes and analyze them further

11. Strengthen your Claim

Include relevant information in your essay. One or two quotations or data from your research strengthens your essay and shows you understand your topic.

Keep your writing brief, focused, and on point so that you do not exceed the word count. Avoid accidental plagiarism by citing your sources.

12. Ask for constructive criticism

Ask a friend or a classmate to look at your work and give recommendations on areas you need to correct. It can be hard to spot your own grammatical or structural mistakes, but someone else can easily point them out.

13. Write your final short essay

Write your final essay by incorporating the suggestions you have received from your first draft into your final draft. Read through your final draft before you submit it.

Key takeaway

How long a short essay is depends on several factors. The first thing you need to consider is the length and how you will structure your work. A short essay can sometimes be more challenging to craft than a longer one. A shorter essay can make you feel like you do not have ample space to present a stronger argument. The key is to present only the most pertinent information. Structure your essay accordingly and follow the provided instructions to get full marks.

To learn and to get help on how to write a short essay, contact us. Our expert writers will work on your paper.

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