So you need to write a 500-word essay?
In this article, I’ll show you exactly how to do it. You’ll discover how to write it, how long it actually is, how to make an impact with it, and how long does it take to finish it. And at the end, I also include some cool samples you’ll find useful.
Read on with an open mind, and you’ll quickly improve your essay-writing skills.
“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” ― E.M. Forster
8 Best tips on writing a 500-word essay
Below you’ll find some of the top tips you can use immediately to make your writing better and faster. Here we go.
1. Diligently follow the essay prompt you got from your instructor. Answer it directly, without meandering. If you don’t have a prompt, write about something you know really well.
2. Before committing words to paper (or screen), create a quick outline for your essay. Jot down the ideas you want to mention, and think about how will you structure your paper. This will save you tons of time later on.
A typical outline is made of:
- An attention-grabbing introduction (where state your thesis)
- Three body paragraphs (where you share one big idea in support of your thesis per paragraph)
- Conclusion (where you reiterate your thesis and summarize your findings)
3. Think about how to make your essay unique. It’s one thing to write about the tried and true. It’s a different thing altogether to share a unique perspective on a topic. Take a few minutes and think about how to make it awesome.
4. Make sure you spell-check and grammar-check everything before submitting your work. If you’re writing on your computer, you can use free software like Grammarly for that.
5. Edit, proofread and revise your work before calling it finished. Ensure clarity of language, and improve the vocabulary you’re using.
6. Ask for feedback. Honest, constructive feedback is always welcome and it will make the final version of your essay stand out. Ask your mom, your friend, or a fellow writer. You won’t regret it.
7. Leave the essay for a few hours and come back to it with a fresh perspective. When you check it after a while, you’ll detect some mistakes that eluded you before.
8. Fill your essay with strong emotions. Essays that pack a strong emotional punch always make a great impression on teachers (or the college admission committee). Don’t’ be afraid to get personal.
When will you need to write a 500-word essay?
You encounter this type of assignment in high school, or in college. You’ll also need to send your essay as part of your college application process.
Another cool thing is that you can actually get paid for your essay. You can submit it to one of the scholarship-granting institutions and if it’s good enough, you can get as much as $1000 as a grant. It pays to be a good writer.
How long is it and how does it look like?
Of course, the essay is 500 words long. In terms of pages, however, it should take up around one and a half if you’re using double space, and just one page if you’re using the single space. The standard font for this type of essay is 12 pt. Times New Roman.
If you go a little bit over the expected length (50-80 words), you will be fine. Writing fewer words (450-490) is also usually accepted but I would be more careful here.
So, should you use the single, or the double space? It all depends on your assignment and you should ask your teacher about that. But in general, spaces don’t really matter. It’s the words that matter.
One more thing: Usually you should use the standard one-inch margin when writing on your computer.
How many paragraphs does it have and how is it formatted?
The 500-word essay is comprised of 5 paragraphs. Neat, eh? That’s a standard format for the vast majority of essays, regardless of their type (for example, argumentative, descriptive, informative etc.)
The basic format goes like this:
- Introduction (1 paragraph)
- Body (3 paragraphs)
- Conclusion (1 paragraph)
Most of the time you won’t have to worry about the text formatting (font, size, line spacing, alignment) because you’ll simply write your essay on a piece of paper in your class.
Listen up: There are some positive aspects of writing a 500-word essay. Namely, you won’t have to deal with sources, endnotes, footnotes, citations, or additional research. You simply write from your own experience or support yourself with the notes you took during the class.
“Never say more than is necessary.” ― Richard Brinsley Sheridan
How long does it take to write such an essay?
Honestly, it all depends on your skill as a writer. The more you practice, the faster you’ll get. On average, writing 500 words on the subject you know about will take 1 to 1,5 hours . But if it’s a more complicated topic you need to research, you’ll need 2-3 hours.
Note: One of the major things stopping your progress is the writer’s block. But it can be easily overcome by using many great writing strategies.
How to write it faster?
There are a few things you can do to make faster progress:
- Don’t edit when writing. Just pour everything out of your mind and deal with editing later.
- Learn to typewrite. There’s nothing that’ll help you more if you want to be faster.
- Know your subject inside out. Write about something you know really well. This will decrease the amount of research you’ll have to make.
- Before starting to write, create a solid outline. Then fill it with meaningful information.
- Write it all in one go. Don’t start and stop multiple times. In time management, this is called single-handling.
The importance of writing the essay on your own
A word of caution: You may ask one of the many essay writing services to get the work done for you or you may try to copy someone else’s essay.
But this is a big mistake in my opinion. Even if they produce something that’ll get you accepted to a college, you’ll forever know that you got in because of someone else’s effort.
Don’t make this mistake. Practice your own skills, write from your heart, and you will get that application right. And if you’re really stuck, you can go for something like an essay review from the Princeton Review. They’ll give you valuable coaching but won’t write the essay for you.
Here’s a free example of a typical five hundred word essay “On Respect”
Please note how it follows the basic format described in the tips above.
Title: “On Respect”
Why do we even need respect in this world? The word comes from the Latin respectus, meaning “regard, looking back”. Literally – the act of looking back at another person. But over hundreds of years, the word evolved to describe a feeling of admiration for someone because of their personal qualities, status or achievements. In the world of egalitarianism and disregard for authority, the word “respect” slowly lost its power. But it shouldn’t be this way. In fact, respect is essential at every level of society and serves an important purpose.
The word with such ancient origins is clearly essential in our language. Otherwise, it would have faded away from the dictionaries and rendered itself effete. The act of looking back is more complicated than we might suppose. It has to do with power, position in the dominance hierarchy, self-esteem, and simple courtesy. The fascinating thing is that it’s used in so many different contexts. The parents admonish their children to look back at them when their speaking. There’s something unnerving about the fact your utterances aren’t met with proper attention.
This brings us to the psychological factor which plays a role in the act of showing respect. We need others to pay attention to us, and to what we’re saying. If this is not the case, we quickly get angry, annoyed, and the accompanying chaos makes us question our position in the social structure. If the student doesn’t look at the teacher, and if the lover does not gaze into the eyes of their beloved, something is clearly amiss. Then there’s self-respect – doing the things according to a high, self-imposed standard. Here we enter the area of ethics. Moreover, you can also go and pay respects to somebody. Why would you do that? Because you might need their help at some point, and by showing respect, you imply that you can be counted on.
There are amazing examples of how respect is used in society, art and in the streets. Crime organization and gangs have unwritten rules regarding respect. When the gang leader talks to you, you better pay close attention and heed every word. Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble. This has been beautifully depicted in series such as the Sopranos. It’s curious that some individuals may even demand respect if you don’t know them. One of the rhymes of Eazy-E (the godfather of gangsta rap) goes like this: “Act like you know when I creep real slow”. It means that his stature in the streets is so high, that you should respect him even if you don’t know how he is.
There are countless ways in which respect influences our behavior and our thoughts. And so, it’s important to preserve it and cherish it. It would be foolish to throw away respect simply as a social construct. Above all, respect is about treating people well. In the words of Einstein – “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”
And here are links to a few other essays of this type
If you want to become more competent at writing, you should definitely check examples of other people’s work. But as I said at the beginning, use them for inspiration, not for plagiarism.
Here are a few other samples:
- 40 Best Essays of All Time (not exactly 500-word ones, but they’re amazing)
- 10 Examples of Great College Essays (With Links)
- Top 6 Harvard Admissions Essays
- Top 3 Successful MIT Essays
- Top 5 Successful Yale Essays
“The drama of the essay is the way the public life intersects with my personal and private life. It’s in that intersection that I find the energy of the essay.” ― Richard Rodriguez
Now it’s your time to write
If you’ve gone as far as here, congratulations. After reading this whole article, you’re much better equipped to deal with any essay assignment which may come your way. Just remember, it’s not only about the grade. It’s also about developing your faculties as a clear and critical thinker. This is something that will serve you far beyond the confines of your school and college.
Do you have any other ideas on how to write an essay? Please let me know by leaving a comment below.