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Refusing to adhere to word limits on at least one essay...

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Director
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Refusing to adhere to word limits on at least one essay... [#permalink]

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26 Oct 2006, 11:04
Tuck has a "tell us about your unique background essay." The essay I wrote was deeply personal and moving. There word "suggested limit" is 500. Mine is 700ish. It is staying that way. I'm not being brief about things as personal to me.
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Re: Refusing to adhere to word limits on at least one essay. [#permalink]

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26 Oct 2006, 11:13
Mark4124 wrote:
Tuck has a "tell us about your unique background essay." The essay I wrote was deeply personal and moving. There word "suggested limit" is 500. Mine is 700ish. It is staying that way. I'm not being brief about things as personal to me.

Are you looking for validation this ok or are you just declaring your bold defiance?
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26 Oct 2006, 11:30
Bold defiance... Drawing the line in this particular case!
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26 Oct 2006, 14:54
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26 Oct 2006, 14:55
pelihu wrote:

A REBEL!!
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26 Oct 2006, 16:28
Ha, ha... I think if they read your essay and they say "damn, that was something" when they are done, I hardly think they are going to bitch about the word count. Just my two cents. But as with all such questions... just use your good judgement before breaking the rules.
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29 Oct 2006, 02:19
I think it is okay to exceed by a few (abt 5% of the actual length) words. I have seen sample of HBS essays of students who were accepted where the length was actually longer.
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29 Oct 2006, 15:32
sm176811 wrote:
I think it is okay to exceed by a few (abt 5% of the actual length) words. I have seen sample of HBS essays of students who were accepted where the length was actually longer.

I freely exceed by up to 10% or 50 words whichever is least.
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29 Oct 2006, 15:53
Even if the word limits are not rigidly enforced, I still encourage students to take them seriously. Word limits (within reason) promote concise, precise writing that focuses on the essay question. The best essays are often the product of resisting the ever present temptation to add "just one more thing."
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29 Oct 2006, 16:04
Hjort wrote:
Even if the word limits are not rigidly enforced, I still encourage students to take them seriously. Word limits (within reason) promote concise, precise writing that focuses on the essay question. The best essays are often the product of resisting the ever present temptation to add "just one more thing."

Indeed. I suppose I should have clarified - I only exceed if it's truly necessary to complete a point.
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29 Oct 2006, 18:39
I don't really write like that. I don't make outlines, don't add stuff in afterward. I sit down and write aiming to deliever one particular point... not a bunch in the same essay. That would make for a very disjointed approach.
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29 Oct 2006, 18:59
Word and page limits are something that I have been very familiar with during my academic & professional careers (English major, law student, lawyer) and I totally agree with Hjort that the best written documents are those that have been subjected to brutal editing.

That said I think you should put everything into an essay that you believe will help your application. Personally, I will be very cautious in exceeding the limit, and in fact (based on my personal academic experience) I am sure that I will be able to come in under in all cases. I think you should be very careful when exceeding the word limit, especially by a significant amount, because it will create an additional hurdle for your essay.

If I'm the reader for an application essay (I have plenty of experience with peer assessment as an English major), I would be asking "why did this person write 5 pages when we asked for 3". Your essay better be really interesting and chock full of relevant information, or you are just going to piss off the reader. Perhaps the more challenging question I would be asking is "How come this person cannot get his message across in 3 pages when everyone else can?" In my mind, as a reader, I would be comparing the long essay to the best of the best that came in at the appropriate length. It's just a natural thing to do. As an applicant, I just don't really need that type scrutiny, especially since I'm quite sure that many applicants will have devastatingly good, tightly written essays answering the exact same questions.

If you go substantially over the word/page limit, I think you are just making problems for yourself. The only reason to risk that is if you are certain that the additional words/pages will help your cause, AND if you are certain that there is no way to accomplish this in a shorter length.
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30 Oct 2006, 06:13
I think for a deeply personal and well written and easy to read piece I will more than get away with it. That being said I adhered to the word limits on all other essays. Dartmouth is an interesting app though as they state that the 500 words is only a "suggested guideline" whereas other school don't really make any "suggestion" about it.
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01 Nov 2006, 02:07

"We tell people, "Do not send additional information." And some people [still] do. I don't view that positively because there's a lot of other people who have followed the instructions, and so why would we give preference to someone who doesn't follow the instructions? I understand that successful people take initiative and make their own luck, but there are times when you need to follow the instructions, and there are times to be a little bit more of a cowboy. And this is definitely not a time to be a cowboy."

Of course, that's just one guy's opinion at one school, but apparently he does read every single application each year at Wharton.
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01 Nov 2006, 22:10
I am also exceding the word limit in the MIT's Cover Letter. I brought it down from 750 to 620 without compromising on content but it's still 24% more than the limit. Considering the fact that this is a formal letter, I will leave this at 620. But I managed to write all other essays between 490 and 510 words where limit was 500.
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02 Nov 2006, 06:47
I think it really depends on what you are saying. Going over a 500 word limit essay and hitting 600 or even 700 doesnt add length that is truly disruptive to the reader. However, if you are adding things that are boring or off topic - then it could hurt you.

I went over on a couple of my essays but I felt strongly that the information was necessary. I did try to make things as concise as possible, but sometimes when they put such a strict limit on you it makes it almost impossible to give them a true sense of who you are. I guess thats where they want to see you being selective like Hjort said. I have also heard many student say they went over the word count - we will see how the ADCOMs react this year.
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02 Nov 2006, 07:01
550 should be the max for a 500 I think.
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02 Nov 2006, 07:06
OasisNYK is right. I do stick to them 99.9% of the time. However if I think one piece of writting out of 4 needs that length it is staying that way. Oddly enough I think that the adcoms are less rigid and dogmatic in their thinking than some of my fellow GMATclubers.
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02 Nov 2006, 07:34
Mark4124 wrote:
OasisNYK is right. I do stick to them 99.9% of the time. However if I think one piece of writting out of 4 needs that length it is staying that way. Oddly enough I think that the adcoms are less rigid and dogmatic in their thinking than some of my fellow GMATclubers.

That is so true. There is another place where I have noticed people exceeding word limit by more than 20%: Essays on Business Week MBA Insider. Keep in mind that these people were accepted at top b-schools. Though Paul Bodine and all other consultants always instruct to stay within limits but many of the sample essays (Real Essays) in Paul's book are way over the limit.

An police car chasing a suspect at 100 MPH is not the violation of posted speed limit because it's doing so for a cause but a common man pushing the gas at 80 MPH to reach office is really dangerous.
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02 Nov 2006, 07:54
If a school says DO NOT EXCEED 500 then I would hesitate to go over it. If 500 is a guidline, I would feel free to exceed it.

The 10% rule is probably good to stick to - however I stand by my belief that if you have something truly valuable to ad then it should be included. You only get one shot at grabbing their attention.
02 Nov 2006, 07:54

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