Essay writing isn’t always the easiest thing to do. First, you should take time to understand the prompt. When you know what is expected from you, you collect information to include in your essay. To ensure your college essay stands out, it should meet qualities such as:
- Specified word limit
- Relevant to the essay topic
- Adheres to the expected format
- Composed in the right language
When handling a college essay, sometimes it becomes easy to overlook some guidelines from the professor. For example, you can go beyond the expected word limit. If you submit your essay like that, the instructor could interpret it as your inability to follow instructions. And it could cost you critical essay marks.
Writing beyond the stipulated word limit doesn’t mean you lose everything; you can trim the essay and collect your full marks. Here’re workable strategies for reducing the essay’s word count.
Re-Assess the Marking Criteria
What’s a marking criterion, and how does it help shorten an essay? The criteria stipulate the elements your instructor wants to see in your essay during grading, such as the required word count. If you include everything the professor wants, you increase the chances of attaining a top grade. In most cases, the instructor gives details on the assessment together with the task.
When writing essays, place the marking criteria side-by-side with your essay. Read your piece carefully and determine whether the content in different paragraphs is relevant to the essay topic or question. If you notice any irrelevant piece of information, remove it from your college essay. Only leave what you feel directly answers the essay question; precision is a critical aspect of essay writing.
Another aspect to focus on to reduce the word count while still satisfying the marking criteria is to remove dependent clauses in your paper. Take an example of a sentence like, “If we consider the fact that youths are energetic, then the government will be able to see them as contributors to economic development,” which has 23 words. You can reduce its word count to make it more concise by writing it as “Youths are energetic, and the government will see how they contribute to economic development” (14 words).
Delete Three Non-Engaging Paragraphs
Just like any other type of essay, a college application essay is made up of paragraphs. It’s in these paragraphs that you explain your point of view. A complete paragraph has a topic sentence, pieces of evidence, and relevant examples. Any paragraphs that do not have these components aren’t good enough. They only increase the essay’s word count, and you should consider removing them.
Another aspect you should focus on as you try to shorten an essay is the paragraphs’ contribution to the overall theme. A paragraph’s topic sentence should be from the essay’s thesis statement. If you realize that entire paragraphs don’t address the topic of the essay in question, remove them.
Have you removed some paragraphs, but your college essay is still too long? It’s time to rank the claims in your paper from the one you think is the strongest to the weakest. That doesn’t mean the weakest argument isn’t relevant to the essay topic. You’re just removing it to meet the specified word count. The aim is to have an excellent essay, just like what you get from a reputable essay writing service USA.
Any paragraph that isn’t engaging is a candidate for removal to shorten an essay. In some cases, you may veer off as you try to complete a given paragraph. You’ll notice instances where your writing isn’t concise as you read your piece. Delete an entire paragraph if you have to.
When you’re writing a narrative essay, you may also notice that some scenes aren’t necessary. Imagine a situation where a character in your narration has a similar daily breakfast routine. If you notice that you’ve narrated the breakfast scene in more than one paragraph, removing one is a good idea, as it doesn’t add any value to your piece. The same applies to unnecessary dialogues in your essay; erase them. Aim to make your entire essay as direct as possible and stick to the word count requirements.
Listen To the Essay and Make the Necessary Changes
You’re tempted to read your college application essay silently as you edit it. While this is a common practice, it may not be effective as you may not notice some repetitive phrases. The trick is to listen to your essay instead of reading it.
The first approach is to read your college essay loudly. When you do that, you’re likely to pinpoint any words or sections that you feel don’t help in achieving the overall objective of the paper. Delete them after identifying them.
Also, find someone else to read your essay. It could be your classmate, friend, or family member. Ensure it’s someone you trust to offer the best suggestions to help you keep the recommended word limits while still maintaining the quality of your essays. The person can also read the essay aloud to you, which will help you identify the sentences, sections, and paragraphs to delete. If you don’t have someone to read the essay for you, listen to the content in your piece from your computer.
As you listen to the essay, pay attention to specific words that should be adjusted or erased, such as:
- Needless transitions
- Unnecessary “The”
- Unnecessary “That”
Extra Tips to Shorten an Essay
The above strategies aren’t the only tips to help you to reduce the number of words in your academic essay. Other practical ways to maintain word limits include the following.
Eliminate Adverbs and Adjectives
While adjectives modify nouns, adverbs are used to modify verbs. However, you can still make your essay superb and attain the required word limit without using adverbs and adjectives. If anything, some of these adverbs and adjectives only weaken the words they modify. Consider removing them from your piece to hit the right word count.
Take an example of the use of an adverb in this case, “He walked quickly as he was extremely late.” The words “quickly” and “extremely’ aren’t necessary in this example. Instead, you can make it more concise by writing it this way, “He hurried because he was late.”
In the case of adjectives, you may have a sentence like, “The entire discussion took a whooping three hours, but the whole group benefited. Eliminate the adjectives because they aren’t adding any value. So your sentence will be, “The discussion took three hours, and the group benefited.
Shorten Lengthy Phrases
The key to achieving clarity in an essay is to write short sentences. Sometimes, you may notice that your sentences are too long, yet some words aren’t necessary. Trim these sentences to make your essay shorter and clearer. When you write shorter sentences, it becomes easy for readers to understand the message in your essay.
A good example of a wordy phrase is, “I always worked very hard in order to record admirable and top academic performances.” You can still pass the message without using words like “in order to” and “very.” You can shorten the sentence by saying, “I worked hard to attain top academic performances.”
Use Active Voice instead of Passive Voice
Most students don’t know that using active voice in writing can help reduce the number of words you use in a sentence while still achieving the specified word limits. So, you should turn the sentences in your essay to active voice to reduce the word count and improve the quality of the essay just like the content you find on educibly review.
Passive voice: Hundreds of students were injured by the building when it fell (11 words)
Active voice: The ladder fell and injured hundreds of students (8 words)
Rewrite Run-On Sentences
Run-on sentences are bulky and difficult to read. Rewrite them to make them clearer and to make the essay shorter. Here’s an example.
Run-on sentence: The guests could leave the auditorium anytime; they needed to sign in to the system.
Corrected: The visitors could leave the auditorium after signing into the system.
Combine Sentences That Give the Same Meaning
Some sentences that follow each other communicate the same message. Combine them or write one concise sentence. You get on the right path to becoming an excellent writer by writing clear sentences.
Listen to What You’ve Written
Read your essay out loud and be attentive to note any unnecessary words, repetitions, lengthy phrases, or sections that don’t seem to add much value to it. Then, erase these words and sections, and shorten the lengthy phrases.
In addition to reducing the word count, shortening your essay makes it more concise. The right approach to make an essay shorter is to read it and erase irrelevant and weak paragraphs. You can also remove unnecessary terms, including adverbs and adjectives. Finally, correct all the sentences to make your message more direct.