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# How do you treat essay word limits?

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How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 09:42
There are a lot of people that say they don't worry about going over the word limits by a bit, and there are a lot of people that make sure their essays don't exceed the word limits at all.

What do each of you do personally on your essays?

As for me, I'm a "not over by a single word" person. None of my essays exceed the word limits, but that's just my personal preference. Of course, it's an individual decision, as the schools rarely take an official stance (in my experience). I'm just curious what everyone else does.

Last edited by ko on 28 Oct 2008, 09:55, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 09:53
10% for me...

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 09:58
I have been exact or under except for Tuck (10%) but Tuck doesnt have a strict limit...just a suggestion.
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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 10:02
I'm OCD so I try to make my essay lengths exactly the word limit... even if it means adding in or taking out adjectives... anyone weird like me?

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 10:08
I think a lot of applicants tend to overestimate how interesting their essays probably are to those poor schmucks reading them. I'd imagine that 90% of them say substantially the same things, and it's pretty damned hard to be THAT interesting while still answering the questions they ask. Thus, unless you're Hemmingway, I wouldn't go over the limits. You're just asking for an eye-roll by the guy who still has 500 more essays to read.

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 10:12
I observe the strict limit, at least as counted by MS Word. If anything, I tend to come in about 10 words under. I suppose there are different ways to count words? I remember learning in grade school that some methods simply count every 5 spaces as a word. Is that true?

Anyway, I always feel that shorter is better. Not because it makes the actual words sound better, but because each adcom is reading 50 different essays on the same topic. Chop it down, distill it, make it extra concentrated.

One note: There were some EXTREMELY long essays in the Montauk book. I couldn't stand reading them simply due to their rambling length, and I don't know how they got around the word limit. As an adcom I would be upset that they so blatantly ignored the rules. Apparently, they still got accepted.

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 11:03
For longer essays (750 + word limits) I'm with-in 3-5% of word limit. For shorter essays (400-500 word limit) I'm exceeding by 8- 10%.

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 11:11
I give myself a padding of about 20 extra words (10 for shorter essays).

I want to be respectful of the AdCom's wishes but I also realize that the number is arbitrary. MS Word counts hyphenated words as only one word, but it definitely requires the effort of reading 2.

In general, I agree with the sentiments I've seen. You (and I) are not as interesting as you think you are. Show a little love for the AdCom, but if you really feel you're butchering your essay by taking out those last few words or a single sentence, then by all means leave it in.
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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 11:29
I observe the limit pretty strictly, it helps me select my words more carefully as well. The only app I went over on was for Stanfords and that was by ~5% or so.

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 11:33
For me limits are respect for adcom's time. Therefore I follow them strictly.
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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 12:25
I was strict for all but one, in which I was over by 1% (5 words).
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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 12:33
10%, but only if absolutely necessary.

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 13:27
Followed exactly...limits are there for a reason. In most cases, I was under by <10 words.

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 13:34
An extra 50 words is like 2 or 3 sentences. Pretty much unnoticeable. If your essay is good enough they will want to read it and if your essay is boring and drags then they wish it was half the word limit.

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 13:53
I observe the limit strictly. Who knows, maybe the adcom is very punctual and actually uses some software to verify the word count.
The problem is that my draft versions are always longer than allowed, no matter what is the word limit. Even for 2000-word Oxford essay the first version was about 500 words longer.

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 15:28
Exceeded the word limit once ... by four words!

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 19:04
I generally keep to within 10% of the limit. I think that's a decent limit, as anything more would be noticeable
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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 20:23
usually adcom dont measure essays with a stick per se, but its a good rule to stick within 5%.

Howoever, dont write a 4 page essay when the school asks for one page. That shows complete disrespect for rules. Such examples have been used by adcom to let applicants know what is right and wrong about following essay guidelines.

I think Montauk essays are not up to date with the current essay rules established by schools. So follow the school limits.

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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28 Oct 2008, 20:56
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aviroop wrote:
I think Montauk essays are not up to date with the current essay rules established by schools. So follow the school limits.

On a semi-unrelated note, I think a good portion of Montauk's entire book is not up to date with the current application process.

The GMAT scores have completely changed, so its not even worth working with those.

The number of applicants has increased dramatically and in turn, the allowable essay length has changed, so we're limited in our content.

The book is a good resource to get information about B-schools, but I wouldn't use any of the data or essays as guidelines for any part of my application.
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Re: How do you treat essay word limits? [#permalink]

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29 Oct 2008, 02:27
I made a point of reaching EXACTLY the word-limit for every essays.

Took a little time at the end for editing but gave me one less thing to worry about

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Re: How do you treat essay word limits?   [#permalink] 29 Oct 2008, 02:27
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# How do you treat essay word limits?

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