Colleges often set students the task of writing an essay in just 250 words. The process of writing such a short piece differs from longer essay assignments because the limited word count demands greater clarity of thought. A 250-word college essay must stick rigidly to the point it seeks to prove. It should be written in short, crisp sentences and have a narrow focus on a specific topic.
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Plan the structure, or framework, of the essay. A limit of 250 words is very short, but it must still follow conventional essay format and have an introduction, body and conclusion. Planning before writing helps keep the essay on track, especially when written under a time constraint. Limit the topic by concentrating only on the question in the title. Underline the key words in the title to help fix the topic firmly in mind. When writing, only include examples that directly answer the question. Avoid rambling around the subject. Get straight to the point.
Write the introduction, or thesis statement, in one or two sentences that use around 25 words. This will state the topic of the essay and the argument that the essay will prove in the remaining words. In longer essays, there is scope to include more than one point of view or take into account and compare or discuss differing arguments on the same subject. In a 250-word essay, there is little scope to expand. Choose just one viewpoint, argument or opinion to write as the introduction.
Write the body of the essay. Use short sentences that stick to the point without elaboration. Include an example that illustrates the thesis statement. One or two well-chosen examples are sufficient in a 250-word essay. For the body, write either two or three paragraphs, allowing a total word count of no more than 200 words. Allow one paragraph for each argument.
Write the conclusion. This summarises the introduction and body, briefly referring back to the points made in the earlier sections to provide a coherent argument. If the previously suggested word counts have been used, there will be 25 words left in which to sum up the essay topic.
Proofread the entire 250-word essay. Remove or correct misspellings and check punctuation and grammar.
Tips and warnings
- A good thesis statement provides a launching point for the start of the essay. It may change as the writing progresses and thoughts and ideas come together. If time allows, do not be afraid to change the introduction to fit the stronger ideas. This option, however, may not be feasible under exam conditions.
- In a 250-word essay, there is no space for extra explanation or clarification of ideas. Writing must be clear and concise.
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