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How Many Words Should Your Essay Have for Grading High?
How many words are in an essay?
This question bothers all students, whether in middle school or college. Two reasons:
They don’t have word count guidelines to know how long their essay should be to grade high. Or, they struggle with the word limit within a paper and wonder if they can go under the suggested length.
The essay length varies, depending on many factors: subject, purpose, and academic level. Essays are usually shorter than dissertations or research papers. The thesis is the longest one.
In this article, I’ll answer two popular questions: How long is an essay? How many paragraphs are in an essay?
Also, let’s learn how long each essay part is and if it’s okay to go beyond or under the suggested length.
How Long is an Essay, Depending on the Type?
The above rules are average. They may vary at different educational institutions. It stands to reason that elementary-level students write short essays. And their papers get longer in their middle 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th grades, etc.
Often, there’s no exact word number or page count for academic papers. Guidelines usually prescribe a supposed range: 500-850 words, 5-7 pages, and so on. When in doubt, you can ask your instructor.
How Many Paragraphs is an Essay? 6 Main Lengths
You won’t find any rule prescribing a set number of paragraphs for an essay. Five-paragraph essays are a standard, but it doesn’t mean ALL papers should follow it.
Each essay consists of three parts:
- Introduction . Often, it’s one paragraph introducing your topic and thesis to readers. When writing complex papers like dissertations, your intro section can be 2-3 paragraphs.
- Body. It’s a core section discussing the topic in detail. The number of paragraphs here depends on your paper’s type and complexity. This part is 1-4 paragraphs unless you write extended research papers.
- Conclusion. Like intros, this section is often one paragraph summarizing the essay.
Below, I’ll cover the six main lengths to show how to balance a word count in essays.
Three-paragraph papers, five-paragraph essays, extended papers, dissertation, frequently asked questions:, is essay length important.
Yes, it is. Prescribing a length, instructors understand if you can organize thoughts and arguments. An essay of 1,000 words requires more research and effort than a 350-word paper, agree? The specified length also helps you understand how complex your work should be to grade high. Longer essays teach you to write cohesive texts, choose arguments, and think critically.
Don’t write essays for the sake of count. Quality matters, so please focus on arguments, evidence, and analysis. Avoid placing too many transitions, generic words, and lengthy expressions. Make your every word and sentence count.
How many words are in an essay sample?
350 words at least.
It depends on the essay type you write. Thus, a high school essay sample will be 350 words at least. If you need a college application essay, consider personal papers of 250-650 words. Check essay samples of 800-1,000 words if you need a standard college paper. More complex works like graduate school essays or dissertations will be 3,000+ words.
How long is each part of an essay?
Stick to the 80/20 rule when calculating the length of each essay part. An essay body is the core section of academic papers: Make it 80% of the text. The remaining 20% goes to an introduction and a conclusion.
Say you write a 1,000-word essay. It means you will have 800 words in the body; 100 words go to the introduction and 100 words — for a concluding paragraph. You can go 10% below or above the prescribed limit. (Unless your instructor sets specific limitations.)
How many sentences are in an essay?
21-34 sentences for a standard 5-paragraph essay.
It depends on your essay type and the required word count. I’ll take a standard 5-paragraph college paper as an example:
You have one introductory paragraph, which is 3-5 sentences average. Other 3-5 sentences go to your conclusion. The body consists of three sections, 5-8 sentences each (1). So, here we have it: 21-34 sentences in an essay.
How many words are in an essay introduction?
Take 10-15% of the total length required. Thus, if you need to write a 1,000-word essay, your introduction will be 100-150 words.
For advanced research papers, where intros are longer than one paragraph, stick to 100-150 words per paragraph average. Such texts are usually above 3,000 words, so you’ll follow the 80/20 rule anyway.
Can I go under the suggested length?
It’s not advisable. Please do your best to meet the minimum word count given in the assignment. If the guidelines say “350-600 words,” write at least 350 words in an essay. Sometimes, a 10% deviation is acceptable, but don’t take this rule for granted. Most instructors won’t appreciate your 315-word paper if they ask you to write 350 words at least.
How to make your essay longer?
- Add more examples and evidence to the body paragraphs.
- Explain and analyze every argument in detail.
- Mention counterarguments if applicable.
Can I make my essay longer?
Yes, you can exceed the word limit by 10% if allowed by your course instructor. For example, if you get an assignment of 500-700 words, it’s okay to submit a 770-word essay for a review.
Important! Always ask your instructor if the 10% rule is available in their course. And exceed the word count only if you have critical information to add.
Academic writing is all about rules and instructions. Essay length isn’t an exception:
Every college paper has a prescribed, approximate word count to follow. When asking, “How long is an essay?” remember the answer will depend on several factors:
- Academic level. (Middle and high school students write short essays. Undergraduates and graduates craft longer and more complex papers.)
- Type and purpose. (Research-based essays are longer than reflective stories you write for college admission officers.)
- Instructions you get from a teacher. (Check them: The supposed essay length is often there.)
How many words are in an essay? You can answer this question now.
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How Long Is an Essay? The Ultimate Essay Length Guide
It’s safe to say that most students struggle with the word limit within an essay. Sometimes, it’s hard to find ideas for a text and meet the word requirement for every part of the paper. With so many factors influencing essay length, it’s easy to get confused.
Our specialists will write a custom essay on any topic for 13.00 10.40/page
Luckily, our custom-writing team has your back. In this article, our custom-writing experts will answer all your questions regarding essay length. We will also help you write papers with an ideal number of words!
📜 Is Essay Length Important?
📏 essay parts: recommended length.
- 🤔 How to Make Essays Shorter or Longer
- 📑 Essay Length & Formatting
- ❓ Different Academic Levels FAQ
- 📚 Essay Length: Different Types
- ⭐ Other Aspects
- 📝 Essay Examples
Often, the phrase “word limit” causes panic among students. After all, if an essay is too long or too short, your grade will be lowered. However, in reality, there’s nothing to worry about. When it comes to words, limitations are beneficial for both the students and the professors.
Let’s see what exactly it means.
Many people believe that the longer an essay is, the better. However, according to Frontiers, research shows that it’s a bias that couldn’t be further from the truth. A perfect-length paper is one that allows students to express their ideas and showcase their knowledge fully while keeping it clean and simple.
What Influences Essay Length
Various factors determine the length of an essay. Here are the most important ones:
Let’s start with the essentials. Usually, assignment length is given as a number of words rather than pages. Unless your supervisor or instructor mentions any specific limitations, it’s acceptable to be 10% below or above the word limit.
It’s also worth knowing the 80/20 rule . According to it, the body should constitute 80% of the text, while the intro and the conclusion take up the remaining 20%.
Keep reading to learn more about the recommended length of each essay part. The main numbers are shown in the table below:
How Long Should an Introduction Be?
An introduction is the first section and the face of your essay. For that reason, it needs to be compelling and well-thought-out. Usually, it consists of 3 to 5 sentences or 50 to 80 words .
An introduction must have a hook, some background information, and a thesis statement. While the attention grabber and the thesis are usually brief, you may need 2 to 3 sentences for the background. To avoid going overboard, try to stay on topic and don’t add any filler.
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How Long Is a Body Paragraph in an Essay?
The length of a body paragraph may vary. Sometimes, it can be limited to a single sentence. In other cases, it may take up a whole page. Usually, it’s recommended to have between 80 and 200 words (5-8 sentences) per body paragraph.
Since the paper’s body contains the most information, it’s necessary to explain and support your ideas properly. That’s why it’s no big deal if your body paragraphs go slightly over the word limit.
How Many Body Paragraphs Should Be in an Essay?
Like the word count, the number of paragraphs is determined by the type of paper and its topic. The minimum is 1. Generally, however, the body consists of 3-5 paragraphs , 1 for each argument.
To improve your paper’s structure, ensure that there are as many paragraphs as there are points in your thesis statement. Each one should have a purpose and support your arguments. If there’s any fluff, it’s better to get rid of it.
How Long Should a Conclusion Be?
Like the introduction, the conclusion consists of 50-80 words . It’s essential to keep it simple and only mention the central ideas. A weak concluding sentence may affect the reader’s understanding of the topic and spoil the overall impression of your paper.
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🤔 How to Make Essays Shorter or Longer: Best Tips
Undoubtedly the essay’s content is more important than the number of words you use. But there are times when students go more than 10-15% below or over the limit. Is there a solution to this problem?
Yes, there is! In this section, we will share the most useful tips to help you stay on point with your paper’s word count.
How to Make Essays Longer
Since having enough words is essential for a good grade, we’ve collected the best tips that can help you lengthen your essay without teachers noticing:
- Use relevant quotations. You don’t need to litter your essay with citations, but using them whenever appropriate is a great idea. For instance, if you’re working on a book analysis, referencing a couple of direct quotes from the source text will make your essay more credible and increase the word count.
- Give examples. Go through the claims in your paper and provide additional evidence where possible. It will make your essay longer and more informative.
- Use transitional expressions. Adding transition words and phrases is a natural way of increasing the number of words. It will also improve your essay’s readability.
- Add more references. Providing references is always a good idea when writing a formal essay. That way, you will increase the number of words and make your paper more credible.
- Work on your descriptions. If you struggle to develop new ideas, go over what you’ve already written and consider adding some descriptive words. It’s a great idea for creative essays to include more imagery.
How to Shorten an Essay
Another struggle of academic writing is cutting down the number of words in your essay to meet a set limit. We are here to tell you that it’s not that hard. Writing straightforwardly and keeping your sentences short is a key to concise content. Here are several strategies you may use to tighten a lengthy essay:
- Choose the active voice. It takes up less space than passive voice. Using it also makes your writing more professional and compelling.
- Remove needless transitions. Transitions can indeed maintain the flow of the paper. But some transitional phrases can be easily removed.
- Get rid of unnecessary adverbs and adjectives. Some students tend to overuse adjectives and adverbs. It adds wordiness to their writing.
- Avoid running starts. Some students like to start their sentences with long phrases like: “there are,” “it is believed,” or “the fact that.” Getting rid of them makes texts much more concise.
- Delete “that.” In most cases, the word “that” can often be easily removed from texts.
Another cool trick is to use our summarizing tool as essay shortener. Try it out!
📑 How Long Is an Essay Depending on Formatting?
As we mentioned earlier, the essay’s length is usually limited by the number of words. But sometimes, a teacher may ask you to write a specific number of pages. This is trickier because the amount of text you can place on the page depends on the formatting. By using the font size and spacing properly, it’s possible to make the paper visually longer or shorter. Let’s discuss it in more detail.
Essay Spacing: How Does It Affect the Length?
- Adjusting the spacing between lines. Try to make the changes as slight as possible. For instance, if you were asked to double-space the paper, use 2.1 or 2.2 spacing instead. Another option is to slightly extend spaces between paragraphs.
- Extending the margin size. You can increase the right and bottom margins by a quarter to make very subtle changes in length. For example, if the margins are 1 inch , you can set them at 1.25 inches instead.
- Increasing the spacing between characters. It is less noticeable than the line spacing. Still, try not to overdo it and keep the numbers between 1.2 and 1.5 .
- Adjusting the footer. Add a footer with page numbers to stretch the bottom margin even further.
- Lengthening the header. You can extend your header by adding your name, e-mail address, or other relevant information. Another option is double-spacing it.
Length of an Essay: Font and Size
- Using the right type of font. If your instructor didn’t specify which font you should use, go for the bigger ones. We suggest Arial, Bangla Sangam MN, Cambria, or Quicksand. They will make your text look longer without being too on the nose.
- Using a bigger font size. This is another technique that can come in handy. However, be careful and don’t increase your font by more than 0.1-0.5 pt.
- Increasing the size of periods and commas. This is one of the less noticeable tricks you can use. For instance, if your paper’s font is 12 pt. , increase it to 14 pt. only for punctuation marks. Italicizing periods and commas will also add several lines of length to your essay.
What to Do if There Are No Length Guidelines
Sometimes a teacher sets no word limit for a written work. What to do in that case? Well, first, you can ask your professor to confirm if they have simply forgotten to mention it. But if that’s not the case, here are a couple of helpful solutions:
- Think of the paragraph number. Sometimes, you may be given the number of paragraphs instead of words. In that case, you can decide on the number of words depending on how many paragraphs you have.
- Think about the topic’s complexity. The length of your paper is also directly dependent on the theme. If the topic is simple, 4-5 paragraphs will be enough. A more complex issue may require an in-depth explanation, so your essay can be 6-8 paragraphs long.
❓ Essay Length for Different Academic Levels FAQ
The length of the elementary school essay is usually short. Usually, a paper needs to have around 3-5 paragraphs, with 4-5 sentences per paragraph. Primary school essays can be 1-2 paragraphs long.
The word limit for a middle school essay is usually between 300 to 1000 words. The most common essay length is 500 words, which is about 5 paragraphs. However, it may differ from school to school.
The length of the high school essay may differ depending on the school and the complexity of the task itself. Usually, however, a paper can be between 300 to 1000 words long.
The length of the undergraduate college essay often falls within the range of 1500 to 2100 words. It translates into roughly 5-7 pages. 5 pages is the most common essay length at this level.
When it comes to the graduate school admission essay, the word limit is usually between 500 and 1000 words. It’s possible to go slightly over or below the set limit; however, it’s best to stick to the requirements as close as possible.
📚 How Long Should an Essay Be: Different Types
Now, let’s talk about different types of essays. How long should they be? Keep reading to learn about the length of college essays, short and extended ones, scholarship essays, and research papers.
How Long Is a College Essay?
When it comes to a college essay, it’s more important to stick to the word limit than with any other paper. Some teachers may refuse to read it unless it meets all the requirements.
The shortest limit for a college essay is about 250 words which is the shortest length of a Common App personal statement. It’s also rare to see a good college essay with over 650 words . So, an average piece usually has between 150 and 650 words ; you can go over or below the limit by 50.
How Long Is a Paragraph in College Essays?
A college essay usually consists of 4-5 paragraphs . One paragraph takes about 1/3 of the page, which is roughly 5 sentences . Each sentence corresponds with one of the following components:
- Topic sentence.
College Essay Length Requirements: Top 5 Schools
To understand the requirements for a college application essay even better, take a look at the table below. It showcases the top 5 schools and their length criteria for personal statements. Keep it in mind when writing your college essay:
How Long Is a Short Essay?
A short essay is usually 500 words long. Using 12pt Times New Roman font with standard margins and double spacing should result in about 2 pages of text.
Extended Essay Length
An extended essay is different from a short or a standard one. It requires extensive research and thorough explanation. That’s why the upper limit for this kind of essay is 4000 words . In this case, a typical essay length is 3500 words or 18 paragraphs .
Scholarship Essay Length
Generally, scholarship papers have a limit of 500 words , which is 1 page in length. Most scholarship programs provide additional requirements that indicate the minimum number of words or pages. If there are no set limitations, you can stick to the limit.
How Long Is a Research Paper?
Typically, a research paper is between 4000 and 6000 words long. Sometimes, there are shorter papers, which have around 2000 words, or in-depth ones with over 10000 words.
⭐ Other Aspects of Essay Length
When it comes to essay length, many different aspects come into play. Here, we’ve gathered all the essential information regarding an essay’s number of pages, paragraphs, words, and references.
How Many Paragraphs Are in an Essay?
Sometimes, it is more convenient to count paragraphs rather than words. Let’s now figure out how many paragraphs are in essays of different lengths. You may also check out the examples to see what such an essay looks like:
How to Count Paragraphs in an Essay Based on Word Count
You can also count the number of body paragraphs for your essay using the formula below:
Number of body paragraphs (average) = (TWC – TWC*0.16)/100
- TWC – total word count
- 0.16 – an average percentage of total word count for introduction and conclusion
- 100 – an average number of words per paragraph
How Many Pages Are in an Essay?
The number of pages in your essay may vary from subject to subject. But it’s still possible to determine the number of pages based on word count. Check out the numbers below to see the conversions with bonus examples:
You can also use a specialized calculator such as Word Counter to determine a number of pages in your essay.
What Does an Essay Look Like when Typed?
You might be wondering: what do essays of different lengths look like when typed? Well, here’s the table where you can find out the metrics for single- and double-spaced papers.
How Many Pages Are in a Handwritten Essay?
In case you need to turn in a handwritten paper, you should check out the table below.
Counting Words in a Handwritten Essay
If you don’t have enough time to count the words in your handwritten essay one by one, here’s what you can do:
- Count how many words there are in one line. Take the first and last lines and a line in the middle of a page. Let’s say there are 15, 14, and 15 words in them. Then, the average number of words per line is 15.
- Next, count how many lines there are on one page. Let’s say there are 17 lines on a page.
- Take the number of words per line and multiply it by the number of lines per page. In our case, we multiply 15 by 17. So, there are 255 words per page on average.
- Finally, multiply the number of words per page by the number of pages. If your essay has 3 pages, it is approximately 765 words long.
How Long Does it Take to Write an Essay?
It is crucial to know how long writing will take you, especially if you are working on an exam essay or just short on time. Note that you need to consider the time for typing and researching necessary to complete a piece. Research time may vary. Usually, it’s 1-2 hours for 200-250 words .
Below, we’ve gathered the average writing time for average and slower writing speed:
And here are the results in pages:
How Many References Does an Essay Need?
Another essential part of any composition is the reference list. Different academic levels require different references. You’ll find out how many of them should be in your paper in the table below!
📝 Essay Examples: Different Length
Finally, we’ve gathered some excellent sample essays of different lengths. Make sure to check them out!
We also recommend you check out our free essay samples sorted by pages:
- 1-Page Essay Examples
- 2-Page Essay Examples
- 3-Page Essay Examples
- 4-Page Essay Examples
- 5-Page Essay Examples
- 10-Page Essay Examples
- 20-Page Essay Examples
- 30-Page Essay Examples
- 40-Page Essay Examples
- 50-Page Essay Examples
Now you know all about essay length, word limits, and ways to lengthen or shorten your text. If you know other interesting tricks, make sure to share them in a comment! Good luck with your writing assignments!
You may also like:
- How to Write a Process Analysis Essay: Examples & Outline
- How to Write a Precis: Definition, Guide, & Examples
- How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay: Examples & Guide
- How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline: Template & Examples
- How to Write a Formal Essay: Format, Rules, & Example
- Word Limits and Assignment Length: Massey University
- The Paragraph in the College Essay: California State University, Long Beach
- Introductions & Conclusions: The University of Arizona Global Campus
- How Long Should a Paragraph Be?: Daily Writing Tips
- Paragraphing (Length Consistency): Purdue University
- Hitting the Target Word Count in Your College Admission Essay: Dummies.com
- How Long Should Your College Essay Be? What is the Ideal Length?: College Vine
- Writing Personal Statements Online: Issues of Length and Form: Penn State University
- Pen Admissions: Essays: University of Pennsylvania
- Essay Questions: University of Michigan
- Essay Structure: Harvard University
- Traditional Academic Essays in Three Parts: Penn State Abington
- Write Your Essay: UNSW Sydney
- College Writing: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- 21 Helpful and Easy Tips to Make an Essay Longer: Seventeen
- How to Make a College Paper Longer: ThoughtCo
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- How long is an essay? Guidelines for different types of essay
How Long is an Essay? Guidelines for Different Types of Essay
Published on January 28, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.
The length of an academic essay varies depending on your level and subject of study, departmental guidelines, and specific course requirements. In general, an essay is a shorter piece of writing than a research paper or thesis .
In most cases, your assignment will include clear guidelines on the number of words or pages you are expected to write. Often this will be a range rather than an exact number (for example, 2500–3000 words, or 10–12 pages). If you’re not sure, always check with your instructor.
In this article you’ll find some general guidelines for the length of different types of essay. But keep in mind that quality is more important than quantity – focus on making a strong argument or analysis, not on hitting a specific word count.
Table of contents
Essay length guidelines, how long is each part of an essay, using length as a guide to topic and complexity, can i go under the suggested length, can i go over the suggested length, other interesting articles, receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting.
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In an academic essay, the main body should always take up the most space. This is where you make your arguments, give your evidence, and develop your ideas.
The introduction should be proportional to the essay’s length. In an essay under 3000 words, the introduction is usually just one paragraph. In longer and more complex essays, you might need to lay out the background and introduce your argument over two or three paragraphs.
The conclusion of an essay is often a single paragraph, even in longer essays. It doesn’t have to summarize every step of your essay, but should tie together your main points in a concise, convincing way.
The suggested word count doesn’t only tell you how long your essay should be – it also helps you work out how much information and complexity you can fit into the given space. This should guide the development of your thesis statement , which identifies the main topic of your essay and sets the boundaries of your overall argument.
A short essay will need a focused, specific topic and a clear, straightforward line of argument. A longer essay should still be focused, but it might call for a broader approach to the topic or a more complex, ambitious argument.
As you make an outline of your essay , make sure you have a clear idea of how much evidence, detail and argumentation will be needed to support your thesis. If you find that you don’t have enough ideas to fill out the word count, or that you need more space to make a convincing case, then consider revising your thesis to be more general or more specific.
The length of the essay also influences how much time you will need to spend on editing and proofreading .
You should always aim to meet the minimum length given in your assignment. If you are struggling to reach the word count:
- Add more evidence and examples to each paragraph to clarify or strengthen your points.
- Make sure you have fully explained or analyzed each example, and try to develop your points in more detail.
- Address a different aspect of your topic in a new paragraph. This might involve revising your thesis statement to make a more ambitious argument.
- Don’t use filler. Adding unnecessary words or complicated sentences will make your essay weaker and your argument less clear.
- Don’t fixate on an exact number. Your marker probably won’t care about 50 or 100 words – it’s more important that your argument is convincing and adequately developed for an essay of the suggested length.
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In some cases, you are allowed to exceed the upper word limit by 10% – so for an assignment of 2500–3000 words, you could write an absolute maximum of 3300 words. However, the rules depend on your course and institution, so always check with your instructor if you’re unsure.
Only exceed the word count if it’s really necessary to complete your argument. Longer essays take longer to grade, so avoid annoying your marker with extra work! If you are struggling to edit down:
- Check that every paragraph is relevant to your argument, and cut out irrelevant or out-of-place information.
- Make sure each paragraph focuses on one point and doesn’t meander.
- Cut out filler words and make sure each sentence is clear, concise, and related to the paragraph’s point.
- Don’t cut anything that is necessary to the logic of your argument. If you remove a paragraph, make sure to revise your transitions and fit all your points together.
- Don’t sacrifice the introduction or conclusion . These paragraphs are crucial to an effective essay –make sure you leave enough space to thoroughly introduce your topic and decisively wrap up your argument.
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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How to Write A 7th Grade Level Essay
In seventh grade, your child is now in the middle of their academic career. They have spent a long time developing a great number of skills, and their writing skills are no different. They are going to start writing more sophisticated and challenging pieces this year, and the writing prompts are going to be more challenging moving forward. Their prompts are also going to be less separated into categories; there may be a number of ways to answer a prompt, depending on the specific assignment.
Here are some examples for the kinds of writing prompts your child may see in seventh grade:
- Write about a time when you could tell you had let someone down. How did you feel? This is a good opportunity to write a narrative essay. Explaining the events with dialogue can be especially impactful here, detailing what happened, with whom, and what was said in dialogue.
- Write a review about the most recent movie or TV show you loved and try to convince other people to see it. This would be a persuasive response, along with a good deal of informative writing. Your child will have to describe the show, why they like it, and why it would be a good idea for others to see it. They may talk about the show’s messages, the artistry of the film, or even the importance of it in popular culture.
- Write a poem about the way you feel when you sit down to take a test. This is a prompt that asks your child to exercise their creative skills, while tapping into their narrative writing. This particular prompt can even be a helpful window for you to see how your child feels about tests and whether they are starting to experience any testing anxieties. Their poems should make use of literary devices they’ve learned about like similes and metaphors, but can also be quite abstract at this level.
If your child is struggling with writing prompts or with writing in general, it may be a good idea to enroll them in Reading Genie. The teachers at Reading Genie give your child kind and helpful feedback, building their skills along with their confidence. The prompts at Reading Genie are fun and engaging, and your child will have the opportunity to share their work with their classmates for peer reviews.
You can also work on writing prompts with your child at home. Even just discussing the ideas and questions in the prompts can be helpful for your child to better understand what they need to do and what they need to think about in the future. You can even have fun with the prompts, too!
Topics: Essays , Writing Skills , Writing Stlyes , Seventh Grade , Writing Prompt
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