How Long Does It Usually Take to Write an Essay?

If there is one thing you can expect from college, it’s that you’ll be spending ample time writing essays. How long does it usually take to write an essay? Let’s find out.

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A survey of 1,300 college students found that first-year students, on average, wrote 92 pages worth of essays. For seniors, that number rose to 146 pages.

As a student, hearing that you’ll need to write an essay can be stressful because writing is time-consuming. But the more you understand what influences the essay-writing process, the better you can allocate your time.

What Determines Essay-Writing Time?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic formula to determine how long it will take for you to complete your essay.

Essay writing varies from person to person. Experienced writers may be able to knock out 500 words in under an hour. But for others, a 500-word essay could span the course of a few days.

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A good rule of thumb is that it takes approximately 3.5 hours to complete a 1,000-word essay. With that in mind, you can determine how long it will take to complete your assignment. Using this logic, it should take 60 minutes to write a 250-word essay and a little under 2 hours to complete a 500-word paper.

Various factors influence the amount of time it takes to complete an essay. Keeping these factors in mind allows you to effectively estimate how long it will take for you to write your paper.

Number of Words

First things first, most essays come with a standard word count. To get a better understanding of how long it will take to complete your essay, understand what the word count means.

This chart converts words into single-spaced pages, so you can visualize the length of your essay:

  • 300 words are equal to 2/3 of a page
  • 500 words are equal to one full page
  • 1,000 words are equal to two pages
  • 1,500 words are equal to three pages
  • 2,000 words are equal to four pages

Needless to say, longer essays usually take more time. Not only do you have a higher word count to reach, but longer essays also require more in-depth research and lengthier editing time.

When planning your schedule, give yourself at least two hours (if not more) to complete an essay of 1,000 words or more. Shorter word counts, like under 500 words, may be able to be completed in under two hours.

Topic Familiarity

Another crucial element in determining how long the essay process will take is the paper’s topic.

The more familiar you are with a topic, the faster you can write the essay. Knowledge means less time spent researching definitions and getting familiar with the topic’s lingo. In turn, the more you know about a topic can lead to shorter the essay-writing time.

If all of the essay topics are unfamiliar, try to pick one that interests you. People process information more efficiently when they are interested in what they are learning. “Knowledge emotion” refers to when interest turbocharges thinking patterns.

Therefore, writing an essay about a topic that piques your interest should go faster than writing an essay on a topic that doesn’t.

Extra Materials

Completing an essay assignment likely involves more than just writing the actual essay. Other parts of the paper (like creating the correct citations) can be time-consuming and must be factored into your essay-writing time.

First, does the essay require a bibliography? If so, allocate at least an extra thirty minutes into your essay-writing time to account for your bibliography.

Most bibliographies are not more than 150 words. However, they can be time-consuming depending on how long it takes for you to track down your sources and arrange the bibliography in the required format.

Second, is your teacher or professor requiring an outline for your essay? A detailed outline can help you organize your thoughts and lay the foundation for a well-written essay. However, outlines can be tedious and add time to the essay-writing process.

Third, don’t forget the cover page. How you format your cover page depends on the essay’s style (such as APA vs. MLA). Cover pages shouldn’t add too much time to writing your essay, but getting the formatting correct can take a few extra minutes.

Typing Speed

Thinking about what you want to include in your paper is only part of writing an essay. How fast you can get the words onto your paper comes down to your typing speed. Typing speed can increase or decrease the essay-writing process.

The average typing speed in America is 40 Words per Minute (WPM). But the higher your WPM, the faster you can get your essay typed and completed. For example, someone with a 50 WPM can knock out a 1,500-word paper in just 30 minutes.

Editing Time

Last but not least, don’t forget to factor editing time into your process for writing a paper.

Editing involves rereading your work, checking grammar and spelling, and making sure everything is properly formatted. Skipping this part of the essay-writing process can prevent you from earning a higher grade.

Allocate five to seven minutes per 500 words for editing. That means if you have a 2,000-word essay, leave at least 20 to 25 extra minutes to edit your writing.

But keep in mind that the more you pay attention to grammar and spelling while writing your paper, the less editing time you’ll need at the end.

Write an Essay with Ease

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer to determining how long it will take you to write an essay. But taking key factors, like typing speed, research, and extra materials, into consideration can help you allocate the appropriate amount of time to finalize your paper.

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