Writing an essay as part of a school assignment or a project can be a very tedious task, especially if that essay needs to be long. Even the most confident writers may have no trouble writing a few pages for an assignment but may find it challenging to extend that word count as much as possible. If you're assigned a long essay for one of your classes, there's no reason to worry. With some useful tips at your disposal, you can stretch that essay out without making it sound repetitive or boring the reader with an influx of irrelevant information.
What Is a Long Essay?
A long essay is any essay that tends to be longer than three pages or 3,000 words or more. Of course, the definition of a long essay will differ from one classroom to another, depending on the age and level of the students. And even if you're a college student, you may have some professors who consider a five-page essay to be the average, while another teacher considers five pages to be too much. Therefore, it's important to check with your teacher, though they'll usually clarify this when giving the assignment.
Sometimes, the term "long" applies to how many pages, and sometimes it applies to how many paragraphs or words need to be in the essay. Again, this all depends on your teacher, your school's requirements and the nature of the assignment. Either way, hearing your teacher say that you must write a long essay for your next assignment can certainly cause a lot of stress. The good news is that writing a long essay can be much easier than writing a short essay, especially if you're given some meaningful advice.
Why Would You Be Required to Write a Long Essay?
There are many reasons why teachers would assign a long essay to their students. First of all, writing a long essay is an opportunity for a student to really put his or her writing skills to the test. By the time students get to college, they already have an idea as to how to write a decent paper, but perhaps it's within limits. College professors need to make sure that students are able to write well, because eventually, these students may need to write a thesis or dissertation, and there really is no longer essay than that.
So even though you may think of writing a long essay as a torturous assignment, it's actually a great opportunity to practice a very specific skill that will definitely come in handy in other areas of your life. And, if you build up the right mindset for yourself, writing that long essay shouldn't be any more difficult than any other assignment you've been required to complete.
What Is the Standard Essay Format?
There's a standard essay format understood by most English students around the world. This is how essay writing can be taught in a universal way so that students are successful at writing essays no matter where they're studying. A standard essay format typically includes an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion. Of course, the older a student gets and the more experience they have in school, their essays will gradually get longer and will need to require more detail and features (for instance, citing sources) in order to meet the requirements set by the teacher.
When you need to write a long essay, you can and should still base your writing off of this standard essay format. The only difference is that instead of having three body paragraphs, you're going to have a lot more in order to reach the word count or page requirement that you need to meet. This isn't as hard as it sounds. Instead of squeezing your main idea into one paragraph, try to add more examples and details to make it longer. Also, try to think of other key points that support your essay's theme that might not be so obvious at first.
Start Ahead of Time
The best way to relieve the stress that comes with having to write a long essay is to start ahead of time. Too many college students (and high school students) wait until the last possible minute to write an essay. Though some students may certainly be able to get away with this, it'll be a lot harder when it comes to writing a longer essay. Therefore, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to complete the assignment. It may work better for some people to do a little bit each day until they reach their goal. For instance, if you're required to write 3,000 words for your long essay, then you may feel better writing just 500 words a day over a couple of days instead of trying to bang it all out at once.
How to Write a 3,000 Word Essay in a Day
Some students rather get the hard work out of the way, instead of letting it drag out over a week. Writing a long essay of 3,000 words can be done in a day if you just put your mind to it. Do the following:
- Don't schedule any other appointments or assignments for the day.
- Put away any potential distractions, like your phone or the TV.
- Stay off of social media.
- Work somewhere quiet, like the library or a calm cafe.
- Take breaks every few paragraphs.
- Set a timer for ten minutes and try to work the entire time without stopping.
Create Your Essay Structure
Once you've decided whether or not you're going to write the essay over a couple of days or in just one day, it's time to start writing the actual essay. Like with any writing assignment, the first thing you should do is create an outline and organize your overall essay structure. If you need to write around five pages, which makes sense for a long essay, then you should make an outline that will support that. Take a look at an essay format example to get an idea of how yours should be:
- Introduction (more than two paragraphs)
- A starter question (something for the reader to consider)
- Body "paragraph/idea" one (four paragraphs on average)
- Body "paragraph/idea" two (four paragraphs on average]
- Body "paragraph/idea" three (four paragraphs on average)
- A conclusion
If you're wondering how on earth you're going to create a body section that's four paragraphs long, try to think of one main idea and three examples that tie together with it. For instance, if your long essay is an argumentative piece about "The Importance of Waiting Until You're Financially Stable to Have Children" you can think of at least four key reasons why:
- You won't have to struggle to pay for their needs.
- You can give them more opportunities.
- You can travel as a family.
- You can put away money for their college tuition.
For the first idea, you can talk about this point in very general terms. Then, you can write three more paragraphs underneath that, with each paragraph discussing a specific example. The second paragraph, for example, can be about paying for things like diapers, clothes, formula, etc., and how much each item costs. The second example can be about paying for things when the child gets a little older, like their food, their school supplies, etc. Lastly, the third example (and the fourth paragraph in this section) can discuss paying for things that the child will need as a teenager, such as more clothes, sports uniforms, dental work, etc.
Did You Answer All the Questions?
After you feel like you've exhausted all examples, but you're still under word count or page count, go back and make sure you've answered all the questions. These questions may have been questions in the rubric or the writing prompt that your teacher provided, or they may be questions that you've thought of on your own. In fact, when you start thinking of what to write about, you should brainstorm some questions that a reader may want to find the answer to about the topic, and you should try to answer these throughout your essay. Creating more potential questions can help you reach your word count faster.
Can You Change Words?
If you're close to reaching your word count but you're still not quite there, then go back and see if you can change any of the language in your essay to make it longer. For example, if you have a lot of contractions in your paper (can't, won't, isn't, they're) go back and make them two words instead of contractions, and do this throughout the entire essay. This is a great solution because it won't take away from the readership of your essay, and while this won't extend the word count too much, it will definitely help a bit.
Think of Additional Details You Can Add
In addition to changing contractions, you can also think of other details you can add to elongate your essay. There are always more examples you can add or more information you can research that will not only resonate with the reader but increase your overall word count or page count.
For example, if you're talking about how parents who decide to have children once they're financially stable will have the opportunity to put more money toward their child's tuition, then you can go back and add plenty of detail supporting this argument. Did you give an example of how much tuition costs? Did you add details about what parents can do with the money if their children decide not to go to college? What about the different types of college funds that exist? These are all details you can add that will increase the length of your essay, while also adding value.
However, when you do this, keep in mind that you want to be very careful not to add too much "fluff." Fluff is when you add information or details that simply aren't valuable to the writing itself. It makes the reader (who in most cases is your teacher and the one grading the assignment) want to skim over your piece, and this can lead to him or her giving you a lower grade.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Last but not least, in order to write a long essay, you must have the capacity to edit your work. Editing not only helps to ensure your paper is long enough, reads well, and is free from grammatical errors, but it will also give you an opportunity to add in more information here and there. To edit, you should always read out loud to yourself, and take a break from your work, so you can revisit it with a fresh pair of eyes. You can easily check if you've reached the length requirements by clicking on "word count" or counting the number of pages yourself, though your document will reveal this as you scroll down.
- You may want to have a friend read through your essay. He may catch mistakes that you have missed.
Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.