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Don't forget to think about the poor people who are reading all of these essays. I HATE reading things that are at all hard to read. As you play with your fonts/margins, weigh out that extra paragraph you're squeezing in against the squinting you'll make your reader do. Personally, I am working hard to make it all 12-point, times new roman, 1" margins.
And I agree that an 11-pointer is your minimum.
On a slightly different note:
Serif fonts (like Times) are easier to read on paper. Sans Serif fonts (like arial) are easier to read on a computer screen. Do the adcoms print these things out or do it online?