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Use the word count to your own advantage...
Use the word count to your own advantage...
The word limits on essays and assignments can be annoying and, at times, even a little intimidating.

Meeting any word count requirements are built into the assessment criteria of a particular assignment. This alone should be enough reason for your teen to obey them.

But in addition to that, they also give valuable information on how to plan the work.

1. Start with the research

Obviously, a longer word count requires more information than a shorter piece. So it is reasonable to assume that an amount of research and thought will be involved before the real writing starts.

As a general rule, it’s better to do too much research than not enough.

2. Use the word count to estimate paragraphs needed.

A 250 word essay may only need 4 paragraphs.

On the other hand, a 1,000 word essay may have 10-15 longer paragraphs.

Of course, these are only approximations. Everyone has their own writing style. Your teen should take note of how many words they use per paragraph for future reference.

While a long word count seems more formidable, a short word count often means your teen must be concise and convey their ideas in fewer words. Less detail is required for each point as long as the point is well made.

3. Develop their research into an essay plan

Using an essay plan will help your teen organise their essay so that it flows and is cohesive. And above that, essay plans will save them tonnes of time!

Your teen should start by making a list of main points that they want to discuss in their essay (this will eventually develop into their essay plan). They should then order these points from most important to least important – but in doing so, make sure that the ideas flow logically.

There’s no point in delving into tiny details (which may be most important to the story) if their context hasn’t been explained yet.

For example, they shouldn’t start picking apart tiny nuances in a film’s setting in respect to its themes before the main themes have at least been mentioned and some overall image of the setting has been given.


Then your teen should turn this ‘bare bones’ list of ideas into a full-on essay plan with the right number of paragraphs. Each main idea should have its own paragraph (or more than one if it’s a biggie!).

Click here to find out more about how to make a great essay plan.

And the final word…

…is to start early.

A first draft is just that. A first draft. It’s got no place being handed in as a final copy.

Especially if it’s only been put together the night before.

The best essays / assignments / articles / reports etc., are ones that have had the chance to be looked over and revised.

Try to encourage your teen to get onto their assignments early. This will help them secure the better grades, as well as reduce their last-minute stress!

This post was kindly provided by Tash Hughes, a professional writer and owner of Word Constructions. As well as providing professional writing services for businesses of all shapes and sizes, Tash provides writing and communications tips in her blog.

Image Credit: Dreamstime


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