Essay Length

How Long Should the Essay Be?

        There is no simple answer to this question, other than "the essay should be long enough to answer the question."  What this means is that it is up to you to organize and prioritize information in the most effective manner possible.  You have a limited amount of time to write the essay, so you probably won't be able to include every single thing that you know about the topic -- nor should you.  The point of combining the essay format with a limited time frame is to force you to organize and prioritize your thoughts and to develop a carefully constructed analytical argument.  Start by discussing the major themes, topics, or issues of each course, then fill in the details with the factual evidence that you need to support your argument.  ANSWER THE QUESTION THAT IS IN FRONT OF YOU; don't just string a bunch of facts together without any indication of why they are important or how they relate to the question or to each other.  When you have answered the question that is in front of you, when you have used factual evidence SELECTIVELY to bolster your argument, and when you have written an essay with an introduction (with a thesis statement), a body (with several separate but related paragraphs), and a conclusion (which summarizes your argument without introducing new ideas), then you can stop writing, because you have probably written an effective essay.  Having said this, you should remember that you don't get any bonus points for leaving an exam early.  Use all of the time that is available to you to organize and write a carefully worded essay and to check and recheck your work.