500 words

Can I just say 500 words does not an essay make. There will be a blog post explaining sometime soon, but for now – 500 words does NOT equal an essay, no matter what my English Lit tutor might think!

10 thoughts on “500 words

  1. 500 words a magazine article make (or newspaper). In papers or essays, content matters and ALWAYS gets preference over limitations.

    Is this your new lit study talking? Get off it. Get on your subject and forget all the rest.

    Btw, what actually is your major here?

  2. Um, are you in grad school, or 3rd grade? 500 words is shite! Take me for example… my posts are under 500 words, and they’re total bullshit. No purpose, no established theme… a 500 word essay is like your girlfriend in middle school letting you get to 2nd base and then saying “stop, this doesn’t feel right.” Ask your prof if he’s ever even had sex.

  3. I agree, 500 is shockingly little – I wrote a 600 word blog post about why 500 words is titchy in half an hour whilst waiting for someone last night (that post will follow).

    Some background first though:
    In the UK the education system goes –
    14-16 take your GCSE’s then if you want leave school (legally you can leave education as soon as you are 16).
    16-18 – do your A-Levels then (if you want) finish education. The common number of A-Levels to take is three or four. This is normally done in college (which is where the confusion comes in for those used to the American ‘high school, college, grad-school system’)
    Then comes University (normally from 18-21) where you do your undegrad degrees.
    Followed by University again to do post-grad work.

    When I did my A-Levels the first time round I did Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Archaeology. At the time I thought I wanted to be a vet and the first three were pre-requisites for Vet School. The Archaeology was for fun. I also wanted to study English (either Lit or Lang I wasn’t too fussy) but they wouldn’t let me do five A-Levels at my college. Meanies.

    Fast forward six years and I have an MSc, a BSc, 4 A-Levels, and 11 GCSEs. I’m also in a job that doesn’t overly tax my brain, and I’m wanting to move into the field of publishing – a field where they kind of expect an English qualification greater than a GCSE!

    A local college was doing English A-Level combined literature and language in one year in night school (it’s more common to take two years) and I thought why not? and signed up for the course.

    And I’m loving it. Yes, it isn’t as taxing as post-grad but that’s hardly surprising. Most of the kids on the course are just that – kids – of 19 who’ve left college, want to go to uni, but for whatever reason haven’t yet. Dear lord most of them seem so long!

    500 words seems very little to me now when the introduction alone of my thesis was around 2000 words, but when I think back to A-Level yes – 500 words was the average for an essay. 1000 to 2000 was classed as an ‘extended’ essay and was a struggle.

    Nils – we don’t really have majors/minors over here, especially not at this level of qualification. I am studying just this one course of English Literature and Language where the lit and lang are given equal weighting. I’d agree that 500 isn’t enough to get my teeth into so I might do what Moose suggested last night and write the 500 word for submission, then write a second essay how *I* want to write it and give that to my tutor as well and say “here’s what I can really do, what do you think?…” Unfortunately the essays etc are marked and count toward the final grade, so you have to do what the examiners ask. At this level they want short 🙁

    CWW – stop fishing for compliments. It’s not very attractive :p I imagine however that my tutor does have fairly regular sex – she’s not appreciably older than me and just married. It really is quite jarring when you realize that you are now old enough to be teaching a class of students.

    And this comment? 565 words not counting this sentence.

  4. I see, and get it now.

    Still, I hate this constrained writing. Like I said, if there are physical limitations (like any print job would have), it’s okay. But I see no added value in limiting students when writing an assignment.

    Perhaps they could give you a minimum and maximum word count? That would allow for some standardization and still allow for your budding academic spirit to flourish.

    Oh, and when I said ‘major’ I meant is there some specialist subject you focus on (‘Elizabethan playwrights and their perceptions of Northern Italian Renaissance portraiture’, or something obscure like that)?

    Gotta split now (I’ve breeched 100+ words already).

  5. She did say you could go “a little” over, but didn’t specify how much that little is. From past experience I’d say 10%

    Yeah, I’m not a fan of limiting either which is why I preferred it when I got to grad-school. Whilst you had a goal (5000 words normally) if it was more and you weren’t speaking crap it was ok. One of my friends turned in a 10,000 word essay (that’s roughly half a dissertation at MSc level) for a 5000 word question. And she got a 90% for it.

    AH, I see what you mean about majors now.

    For lit we’re studying The Bloody Chamber by Angel Carter and Translations which is a play by Friel (I think). For lang we’re doing Much Ado About Nothing and also looking at the Metaphysical Poets (whoever they may be – I think they are contemporaries of Shakespeare).

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  7. 🙂 My essay being taken in vain here?

    (I’m not that smart boys and girls, it was less than 90% but it was still LOTS 😉 )

    You know the great ‘godhead’ (if that is who I am guessing it is on your minions page) would say that the limit is part of the challenge and that I was damn lucky to get away with turning 200% of the word limit!

    I hate it when he is right but he is, dammit. I’ve gotten lots more concise this year….

    Perhaps you could take inspiration from the 6 words’ thing you posted a while ago? (though from what Moose said you’ve turned it in now….)

  8. Yup. Your essay 😀 (And it’s not very polite of you to point out my exaggerations 😉 )

    I managed the essay in the end in 879 words and that was bear bones. It wasn’t the longest either – P (he of Feisty Wench fame) handed in an essay at over 1000 words :O Then again, one or two apparently struggled with reaching the 500.

    Yeah, concise is good but… sometimes you do need those extra words to say what needs to be said.

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  10. Wow! Only 500 words?
    I haven’t even started my GCSE’s yet, and in essays I find it hard to write only 500 words.
    Once in one lesson we were meant to write a “SHORT short story” and it ended up like 3500 words.
    Turns out, when the teacher said SHORT she meant really short.

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