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Is an eight page essay too long?My essay is on the concept of Belonging, my teacher has...

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cmiranda5151 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 9, 2009 at 3:45 PM via web

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Is an eight page essay too long?

My essay is on the concept of Belonging, my teacher has asked the class to use the quote he gave us which was "To belong or not to belong is a basic human desire or need", and discuss it with reference to three supplimentary materials, which are; The Crucible, "Gattaca", and "The Rabbits".

My esay is eight pages, is this too much?

I need help please !!

Tagged with discussion, essay, literature

9 Answers | Add Yours

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jennyrocks | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted January 11, 2009 at 10:50 AM (Answer #2)

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If your essay is eight GOOD pages, then no, it is not too much. If it is 3-4 GOOD pages and 4-5 pages of rambling and restatements, then yes, it is too much. This is kind of a personal topic and since you are discussing with three different supplements, if I was your teacher I would expect a longer essay. I would also expect it to be well-developed though. If you take your paper to someone to read it, ask them if it makes sense, rambles, jumps around a lot and that sort of thing. The problem with long essays most of the time is that there is so much information that if the writer isn't careful, he/she can end up repeating him/herself or talking in circles so just be sure that it is structured and follows a distinct line so your teacher does not get bombarded with a little bit of this, a little bit of that, some more of this, and some of that again. It can make reading it, let alone grading it pretty hard.

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morrol | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted January 12, 2009 at 11:34 AM (Answer #3)

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When I grade papers, I am less concerned with the number of pages, and more concerned with the quality of the content. The first thing you should do is read through your paper for wordiness. Are you using the least possible words necessary to make your point? If not, you need to reword you paper to eliminate as many unnecessary or redundant words as possible. This will strengthen your writing and make it more readable. 

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mshurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 5, 2009 at 9:19 PM (Answer #4)

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Is an eight page essay too long?

My essay is on the concept of Belonging, my teacher has asked the class to use the quote he gave us which was "To belong or not to belong is a basic human desire or need", and discuss it with reference to three supplimentary materials, which are; The Crucible, "Gattaca", and "The Rabbits".

My esay is eight pages, is this too much?

I need help please !!

Sometimes papers do become too long because the writer falls into the "story-telling trap." It is easy to do. Instead of explaining main points and supporting them with evidence, the writer gets off track and starts telling the story. Instead of writing an essay, the writer ends up producing a summary. Check your paper to see if this has happened to you.

One way to avoid the story-telling trap is to write from a simple working outline. Before you start drafting, make an outline of the main points you wish to make. Then use details from the story (or in your case, stories) to back up each point.

Since you are writing about three pieces of literature, you might have a 3-point outline and show how the quote relates to each piece of literature. An outline will keep you on track so that your final paper will have a definite, logical structure.

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anzio45 | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted February 10, 2009 at 2:47 AM (Answer #5)

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Sorry to add yet another answer but one thing I used to encourage when teaching was getting the first paragraph right, that is, for the first paragraph to be almost a mini-essay in itself and for the rest to be a development of the points or general argument made at the start. This is similar to what #4 above advises: if you are focused from the beginning you will avoid the rambling, story-telling faults that the answers above warn against. Of course I used to find that some of my students were terrified of answering a question in one paragraph because they felt they were firing off their best ammunition too soon and this, I feel, was partly responsible for the rambling approach. The best essays I received were the ones that I read most quickly: if a student made her case at the start it was barely necessary to read the rest because a skim through well-ordered paragraphs and clear quotation meant that a good grade was immediately in my mind. Essays that had to be waded through, on the other hand, were going to be average or worse. Sorry for going on a bit here myself but that's been my experience.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted May 26, 2009 at 4:35 PM (Answer #6)

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The appropriate length of essay depends very much on the purpose of of the essay. Taking the example of topic mentioned in post #1, if this essay was meant to be included in a serious journal read by social sciences experts, a longer essay will be justified as compared to the essay intended to be published in a periodical like Readers Digest.

In general, more information you can pack in the same length of writing better it is. This would mean that if two essays of different length present the same amount of relevant information, the shorter essay is more likely to be more readable and enjoyable. Therefore you must practice writing essays that cover all that you have to say in minimum words. Particularly in your class assignment it is useful to get some idea on what your teacher expects in terms of length of essay as well as nature of information to be included.

 

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 29, 2009 at 3:01 PM (Answer #7)

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I agree with the previous posts about "8 good pages."  I have always felt that a good paper can be as short as "8 pages," but can be as long as "a paragraph."  When I say this to students, they don't get it on first glance. Yet, I think that a good and focused 8 pages can move quickly.  A poorly worded paragraph that drones on can be interminably brutal to read.  If this is a challenge for you, I would speak with your teacher and push the case that your paper is highly effective in dealing with the three works and is 8 pages.  I think the question of whether the 8 pages are effective is a critical one and if you know this is valid, the length is secondary.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 18, 2010 at 2:17 AM (Answer #8)

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Quantity is not necessarily quality, as my English teacher always used to tell me! I agree with other editors here - the key to making your essay work - 8 pages or not - is to have a tightly structured plan to make sure that only the essential elements you want to include are in your essay. Cut out anything that does not go into this plan and resist the temptation to waffle. Consider how to structure your essay to make sure that you are on target, responding to the prompt, and clearly identifying how your texts relate to it. Write and then review your essay to help you in this process. Good luck!

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 19, 2011 at 8:02 AM (Answer #9)

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I once had an English professor in college give an assignment over a period of weeks where we took a very long essay (7-10 pages) and worked to cut it from 10 to 5 to 2.5 to 1 and eventually down to a single paragraph.  It ended up being a lesson in brevity, significance, and getting to the point.  Needless to say, it was tremendously difficult and one of the most fabulous writing exercises I ever did.

If there is no minimum to the number of pages in your essay, based on my experience with most student writing, my initial thought is, yes, 8 pages is probably too much.  I am going to suggest that you attempt to cut an entire page out of it.  If you can do that, see if you can do it again.  It will teach you how to say exactly what you mean as purposefully as possible.  In my experience, learning what to cut and edit and then doing it effectively is always a good thing in writing.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 16, 2011 at 12:58 PM (Answer #10)

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You probably do want to pare it down.  First of all, how many quotations do you have?  You want to avoid overly long quotations or too many of them.  How many points do you have?  Choose three strong points, possibly combining some of your points under one.

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