Every so often when I’m writing the GRE essays, I’ll think: Should I really be writing so much?
I tend to get carried away. And when that happens, it would be great to know if all this extra writing is actually helping me score better or hurting my AWA score. Of course, I want to impress the essay graders, but I want to do it the right way.
Students often ask me, how long their GRE essays should be because there is no concrete information out there about the “perfect” length of a GRE essay, and even if there is, much of that data is conflicting.
Some say essays aren’t graded mostly on length but the higher grades for a longer essay is a mere correlation between essay length and grades.
When it comes to the Analytical Writing section, essay length is very important, so if you are planning to get a perfect score, you might as well do it right.
But before we come down to the ideal length for an essay, let’s first crush this shocking myth that has been around for sometime:
Myth #1: Longer essays are the only way!
On the GRE, essay length is not only one of the factors taken into consideration. You have to check a host of other factors, if you are looking to get a perfect score. All the following factors affect your overall AWA score:
Clarity in Ideas – This is the most basic of all considerations. What are you trying to say? What’s your main point? This should be very clear by the time the grader finishes off reading the essay. Substance and content of your essay matters more than any other factor. Also, every logically supporting reason or example that you make use of should ultimately connect to this main idea. If it isn’t explicit, you are losing points!
Structure – The way an article is formatted, has a massive impact upon its readability. It’s important to break up your essay into paragraphs so the essay graders can easily scan it.
The general structure is to start with an introductory paragraph followed by 3-4 body paragraphs and finish off with a conclusion paragraph. So, make sure there are at least 5-6 paragraphs in your essay.
Sentence Variety – Consecutive sentences with the same structure and length can sound monotonous and lifeless. Instead of sounding repetitive and boring, use sentence style skillfully.
You should vary the sentence flow and the rhythm by switching between short and long sentences. You should also make use of transitional and signal words to vary sentence openings.
Vocabulary – Another myth about GRE essays is that the usage of GRE words in the essay has a correlation with the essay score. Not really! As long as you use proper grammar and defend your point intelligently and use precise vocabulary to convey meaning effectively, you should be alright. It is not needed that you use heavy vocabulary or GRE words.
Language and Grammar – Though ETS says you may have minor errors in the essay copy that do not interfere with overall meaning and coherence, the time you make your first error, the grader will notice it and this can have a negative impact on your AWA score. So, make sure your essay is as spotless as possible, and eliminate all errors before submitting.
Reasoning – You should include as many logically compelling reasons as you can to support your stance.
One of the most important aspects about a compelling essay is its ability to convince the reader by means of sound logical reasoning. So, you should be able to connect your ideas properly to the central theme or idea of the essay, and convince the reader to agree to your point of view. If the essay doesn’t sound logical or reasonable, you will pay the penalty, no matter how long the essay is.
By no means am I saying that essay length isn’t important. I am only saying that essay length on the GRE isn’t the only thing you should be concerned about. I am also saying that essay length is just one of the factors out of many others that influence your AWA score.
Myth #2: ETS uses e-Rater software which grades essays on their content length
This is the most egregious of the myths, and it’s been around for a long time.
Recently, I read a post on Quora which asks “Do humans readers grade my GRE essays?” The top answer said, “They don’t.” His/her point was that a computer software called ‘e-rater’ scans your essay based on preset rules (natural language processing algorithms) and prints out a score, using a 6-point holistic scale.
That’s just not true.
In fact, E.T.S. claims this grading software is used today, along with human raters, to grade GRE and TOEFL examinations, and without human raters in various practice tests.
I want you to understand that if ETS were to use an automated essay grader to evaluate your essay then don’t you think gaming a software would be too easy? You must keep in mind that there is a human reader who will also grade your essay along with the e-rater, and both their scores are averaged to obtain the final AWA score. So, even if you try and game the software, the human reader will give you the actual score you deserve, which will bring down the average. So, there is no point in trying to game the e-rater. Instead, you should try other tactics, such as using impressive AWA quotes, or writing coherent paragraphs, which will naturally raise your score.
So to sum things up, both of these myths should be shunned in favor of a more strategic approach to essay length. Longer is not necessarily better. Shorter is not necessarily better. And human readers do actually read your essays.
So what’s the ideal length?
I see students wondering about this all the time and I am sure you are here to find out the same.
ETS has written about the ideal length nowhere, and still remains tight lipped on this. Also, there is no word limit as such. But there seems to be a pattern that appears on GRE sample essays that come along with the ETS official guide to the GRE.
When closely observed, there is a significant increase in the number of words from a 5.0 graded essay and a 6.0 graded essay.
Longer is usually better
To analyze further on this topic, we have done a bit of research, and found out an interesting relation between essay length and the final score. If you look at the statistics below, you will have to concur with me. Longer essays usually score better on every essay topic.
If you are a long-essay fan and insist to pen a high scoring AWA essay on the GRE, you should write anywhere between 500-600 words. Don’t ask me why. The research shows that’s how it is, and if it true for a sample of 500 students, it must be true on a larger scale as well.
A column chart with average word count for essays from 500 students
As you can see, the longer the essay, the higher the grades. Notice that a 5+ point essay has length exceeding 500 words. Another interesting fact is, it seems as if 600 is an upper limit for word count. If you go beyond 600 words, you can see how the scores go down. This isn’t surprising, though. Almost no student on this planet can write a perfect 800 word essay under pressure in 30 minutes. If someone is shooting for a high word count, they are surely sacrificing on quality. So, it’s safe to say that 500-600 is what you should be looking at.
Now It’s Your Turn
In the end, I warn you against getting stuck up on essay length. If you focus on word count only, then you would be scribbling gibberish and unnecessary sentences hoping to get a perfect 6.0 score. The essay substance and content matters more than the essay’s length.
There’s no magic number on word count that’s going to get you the perfect AWA score. At the same time, the statistics from the above analysis proves that longer essays tend to get higher scores.
If you’re still looking for word count, an essay that has around 500 – 600 words with around 5 paragraphs, and quality content, seems to be the ideal GRE essay length.
How long are your regular essays? What differences have you noticed between a long essay and short ones? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
This is a free online calculator which counts the number of words or units in a text. Authors writing your book, pupils working on your essay, self-employed word smiths, teachers, translators, professors, or simply curious individuals: please feel free to use this tool to count the number of words in your document. It will also be useful for database, grammatical research, translation breakdowns, dictionary creation, commercial writing, etc.
To start, simply write or paste the text into the text areas. When you have finished, click on Count words under the text area, and watch the results appear immediately. You can also clear your text anytime you want by clicking on Reset.
The word limit for a dissertation is usually between 3,000 and 8,000; for a Personal Statement in a job application 600. To avoid exceeding your word limit, try to replace phrases with single words, avoid pleonasms, check the voice of your verbs, and (more importantly) sleep on it.
Microsoft Office 2010 student was initially a kind of package that included applications that were previously sold separately. The advantage was purchase cost. The first version of the suite contains cheap Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Over the years, Office applications have grown, sharing some components such as a spell checker, the ability to integrate OLE and VBA scripts.
Microsoft Office suite is still the most famous in the world. Since the 2003 release, Microsoft has added the word "Office" before the name of each software suite that seems to be less suitable for individuals, advising students and families to purchase Microsoft Works Suite for cheap Microsoft Word.
A word processing software covers two notions, quite different in practice: an interactive text editor and a compiler for a language formatting of texts. During its evolution, Word has integrated design tool that allows publishing operations, such as adding graphics (charts, graphs, economic, geometric shapes, illustrations, equations) and student training.
Pay attention to word count
Writer and typewriter Readers find articles with interesting information enjoyable. For the same reason, writers strive to use words that make articles thought-provoking for the target readership. The choice of words is based on facts and figures to make the article interesting and convincing. It is important to be concise and respect word count. Generally, the lesser the words the better is the article. Novels are stories structured with words, and best-selling novels have words that do extraordinary things. Novel writers will tell you about the dreaded writers block having difficulty putting ideas into words. Writing a novel requires a calm and centered approach, and a strong sense of purpose. Novels are usually between 60,000 to 80,000 words, but established authors may write longer novels. Shorter versions of novels, also known as novellas, may range between 20,000 to 40,000 words. Short stories average 2,500 words, but may extend to 20,000 words. Writing a thesis or dissertation is critical for a graduate student, but most graduate students fail to write their dissertations because of lack of structure. Dissertation writing requires a solid foundation, where words are unique and directed at a specific audience. Writers understand that the language or word usage should be concise, simple and direct, creating pace and supplying excitement, passion and inspiration to the reader.
Salesmen are paid by the number of sales. Fishermen are paid by the pound of fish. Writers are paid by the number of words. It is no surprise that writers understand word count very well. Editors of magazines or publications often demand articles of specific word lengths. You may remember that the editor of a fashion magazine in the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, asked the writer to craft a similarly worded article for their readers. Writing assignments or competitions also have word limits.
The Count of Monte Cristo The world's shortest story writing competition, for example, has amazing stories that are no longer than 55 words. Authors understand that papers, essays, novels or books should have a minimum number of words. You will often hear authors boast about the length of their latest novels. It is customary to charge legal briefs by the word count. School papers often have a word limit. Word count also serves to regulate the length of documents produced for business, school or other writing assignments. Almost every student will tell you about her word count experience while writing a paper on The Count of Monte Cristo, one of most popular works of Alexandre Dumas and a must read in every schools curriculum.
The availability of word processing tools have made it easy to count words. In the absence of computers it was a challenge to count the number of words, and every writer dreamt of an easier way to determine word count. Also, there may be situations where a quick word count is needed. For example, you may want to know the word count of some articles that you just read on the web. Word count applications in computer programming are a great utility. For example, have you tried to find the count of a specific word in a document? The countofwords.com website offers an online tool for counting words. The site offers a web-based application, where you can simply paste a passage or article in a box and get the word count by pressing a button.
Writing Articles, Novels, Books or Dissertations
Most people dream of writing a book. Its not surprising that fame, credibility, celebrity status and fortune are associated with authorship. Writing also plays an important role in learning and teaching. Writing is about transforming observations and ideas into words, without disregard for grammar, spelling and punctuation. Writers understand that the process involves planning, organizing, selecting and writing words. Computers have made the process of writing easier -- it has become easier to tweak, tinker, edit and rewrite words without much effort. Writers focus on the needs of the audience, and write and rewrite words several times until they are satisfied.
The choice of words is important
Writing is about embarking on a journey of discovery, exploration and learning where new material, ideas and inspiration are transformed into words. Raw writing is usually in the form of a draft as the first cycle of writing rarely resembles the final product, even with a vision of the structure. In most cases writers have feelings or thoughts, and plunge into raw writing without knowing how words should be shaped. Words are laid down in a pile of ingredients, and structured writing shapes these ingredients into the form that gives meaning. The quickest and deepest improvements are made during freewriting, but only a handful of writers can get the right words the first time. A more common approach is direct writing where the aim is not to get the right words, but avoid losing track. Approaches such as Open-Ended Writing or Loop Writing are popular among professional writers. Writers strive for words that sound as natural as possible and fit like a well-tailored suit. Fiction writers use words based on imagination or facts, while nonfiction writers rely on facts. Good writing makes words come alive in blogs, books, essays, novels or dissertations.
Bank, R. & Glatzer, J. (2010). The Everything Guide to Writing Nonfiction. Avon: Adams Media.
Hennessy, B. (2006). Writing Feature Articles. Burlington: Elsevier.
Barrass, R. (2002). Scientists Must Write. London: Routledge.
As an exercise, copy the following and paste it into the box above to obtain the number of words: Word Only a Word - Ebers, Georg, 1837-1898; Count is a simple counting game for your kids.; Electrical Counting - Lewis,W.B.; Putnam's Word Book - Flemming, Louis A; Clicks Counter; Count Julian - Landor, Walter Savage, 1775-1864; Words for the Wise - Arthur, T. S. (Timothy Shay), 1809-1885; Moby Word Lists - Ward, Grady; Counting to Tar Beach - Faith Ringgold; On the Study of Words - Trench, Richard C, 1807-1886; The Law and the Word - Troward, Thomas, 1847-1916; Stories That Words Tell Us - O'Neill, Elizabeth (Elizabeth Speakman); french words; The Lost Word, Christmas stories - Van Dyke, Henry, 1852-1933; Counting the colors.; The Pawns Count - Oppenheim, E. Phillips (Edward Phillips), 1866-1946; Breakfast on the Kitchen Counter; Winged Words - Henry Heathcote Statham; Spiritual Life and the Word of God - Swedenborg, Emanuel, 1688-1772; The Word Soul -
H.Fielding-Hall; Count Alexandro Volta; Christmas Counter; The Revealing Word - Fillmore, Charles; Life in the Word - Mauro, Philip, 1859-1952; The word eaters - Jaroslaw Jozefowicz; LED Counter; Household Words - Dickens, Charles; The last word - MacGowan, Alice, b. 1858; Toolbar Counter; Word-primer - Swinton, William, 1833-1892; The new word - Upward, Allen; Count on Me! - Joel Anderson;Congenital word-blindness - Hinshelwood, James; Living words - Chapin, E. H. (Edwin Hubbell), 1814-1880; Count Alarcos; a Tragedy - Disraeli, Benjamin, Earl of Beaconsfield, 1804-1881; A Collection of College Words and Customs - Hall, Benjamin Homer, 1830-1893; The cynic's word book - Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914; Charlie Chaplin's The Count;Word pictures in rhyme - Kinsman, O. W. (Owen W.), b. 1846; Her word of honor - Macvane, Edith, b. 1878;
The Count of Monte Cristo; Counter Sheep; A word for Ireland - Healy, T. M. (Timothy Michael), 1855-1931; The Memoirs of Count Grammont; The Life of Columbus; in his own words - Hale, Edward Everett, 1822-1909; Word Histories A Glossary Of Unusual Word Origins - Wendell Herbruck; A Word In Your Ear And Just Another Word - Ivor Brown - Of course, if I had read through the books I had already bought, I would have known that my word count was too high. - The chart and second set of tabulated data indicate that the count of these same unique words also comes to a high point in the book of Alma. - My lord, said Patronio, in order that you may be enabled to advise this man wisely I shall be happy to recount, with your permission, that which happened to the Count of Provence with Saladin, Sultan of Babylon. - The Triangular Book. of the Count of St. Germain. - The count of books I read this year has been abysmally low. - Minimum length is 3500 words of your own text, not counting quotes, images etc. The count of animals was much higher than expected due to breeding. The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. My First Words Book is a clear collection of basic words found within various groupings. Felix Mendelssohn - Lieder Ohne Worte (Songs Without Words), Book 6, Op. 67: No. 3 In A Major, Op. 19/3. Big Words for Little People: , by Jamie Lee Curtis, Illustrated by Laura Cornell. Instant Word Practice Book Grades K-3. Contains center activities, spelling activities, word wall ideas, and assessment materials. Texture Words Book by Kristen Sutcliffe from New House Project Use materials with interesting textures to make a fun book for your baby. 4000 Essential English Words is a six-book series that is designed to focus on practical high-frequency words. New Worlds / New Words book launch. I don't think I've mentioned here the book launch that will be held tonight. The Everything Easy Cross-Words Book by Douglas Fink, ISBN 9781593370459 - QBD The Bookshop - Buy Songs without Words, Book 1 - You may see a very similar logic in how the Chinese use their counter suffixes (a.k.a. measure words, numeral counters). Simple online word counter, calculates the number of words in a text. ... Enter or paste your text in the field to the left and the word counter will automatically count your words.