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The Guide to 7th Grade: Reading and Writing

Review reading and writing curricula for 7th grade, including what to expect and resources to support learning..

Seventh graders are able to focus more on growing the skills they began to develop in the 6th grade without the added stress to adjusting to the new middle school environment. By 7th grade, it is expected that students have acclimated to life as a middle school student and are therefore expected to work more independently and organize their time and schedules with less (but still some) guidance.

In general, in 7th grade, students build on the skills they learned in 6th grade by writing and reading more complex and longer texts and essays. This work will prepare them for 8th grade where they will cement and further their skills, ultimately setting them up for success in high school.

Read on for what to expect this year, and shop all seventh grade resources at The Scholastic Store . 

7th Grade Reading

In 7th grade, students deepen their ability to analyze the texts they read and provide evidence from the text to do so. Specifically, 7th graders learn to examine texts more closely and use details from the text in order to develop ideas, analyze, and make inferences.

In addition, they analyze the relationships between elements within one text and across multiple texts while supporting this analysis by citing evidence from the text.

In order to build reading skills, your 7th grader:

  • Analyzes texts using the text as evidence to support the analysis.
  • Makes inferences about texts and uses evidence from the text to support the inferences.  
  • Understands the message or ideas in a text and uses evidence to support these claims.
  • Understands, tracks the progress of, and summarizes the main idea of a text, using evidence from the text.
  • Analyzes and explains the relationship between different elements such as character and setting.
  • Analyzes the impact of specific language and word choice used in a text.
  • Understands how the different structures used in a text, such as poetry or drama, affect the text.
  • Compares and contrasts the different perspectives and points of views in a text.
  • Determines the author’s point of view in a text using evidence from the text.
  • Compares different versions such as a stage version, film, or audio version of a text, paying specific attention to the way in which elements such as lighting, scenery, or audio sounds affect the message of the text.
  • Compares a historical account of an event, person, or place with a historical fiction text about the same period.
  • Read a variety of texts, including stories, poetry, drama, non-fiction, or informative texts.
  • Compares multiple texts written by different authors about the same topic and determines how their different perspectives are presented through their presentation of facts and the inferences they make. 

7th Grade Writing

Similar to the work they do in reading, 7th graders deepen their writing skills by using analysis, paying close attention to detail and providing reasons, proofs, and examples for the ideas they express. 7th graders write a variety of genres, including informative pieces, opinion pieces, and narratives and they complete both short-term and long-term writing assignments.

There is also particular attention paid to research and teaching students to do their own independent research and research projects as described below, specifically through the use of digital resources.

In order to build writing skills, your 7th grader:

  • Introductions
  • Acknowledgements of opposing claims
  • Logical and orderly presentations of reasons and evidence
  • The use of  appropriate transitions, words, and phrases to connect claims
  • A concluding sentence or paragraph which supports the argument made
  • A formal tone and style
  • Use supporting claims and evidence that are based on credible texts and resources
  • Include an introduction that has an explanation of what follows
  • Develop topics through the use of facts, detailed quotations, and examples and subject specific terms and definitions
  • Include transitions that connect concepts and paragraphs
  • Include a conclusion that supports the presented idea(s)
  • Maintain a formal “essay type” style
  • Integrate other forms of media and formats, such as graphs, charts, headings, and audio or video when appropriate
  • A narrator, characters, and a point of view
  • Descriptive detail and sensory language to describe characters, settings, and experiences
  • Dialogue details and descriptions of characters, setting, and experiences
  • A clear structure with a logical order and flow, as shown through the use of transition words
  • A conclusion that is connected to and builds on the narrative
  • Plans, revises, and edits writing, specifically with guidance from teachers and peers, focusing specifically on trying new approaches and making sure the writing has a purpose and appeals to its audience
  • Uses technology and the Internet to produce and publish writing
  • Works with others and cites sources
  • Works on multiple, short research projects that answer a specific question and cite multiple sources, while gathering additional questions for later research
  • Uses both print and digital resources to conduct research, focusing on using appropriate search terms and reliable sources
  • Uses quotes and a standard format for citation
  • Uses research to analyze and make inferences

Shop the best resources for seventh grade below! You can find all books and activities at  The Scholastic Store . 

Explore other grade guides: 

  • Kindergarten
  • First Grade
  • Second Grade
  • Third Grade
  • Fourth Grade  
  • Fifth Grade
  • Sixth Grade
  • Eighth Grade

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How to write a perfect essay

Need to write an essay? Does the assignment feel as big as climbing Mount Everest? Fear not. You’re up to the challenge! The following step-by step tips from the Nat Geo Kids Almanac will help you with this monumental task. 

Sometimes the subject matter of your essay is assigned to you, sometimes it’s not. Either way, you have to decide what you want to say. Start by brainstorming some ideas, writing down any thoughts you have about the subject. Then read over everything you’ve come up with and consider which idea you think is the strongest. Ask yourself what you want to write about the most. Keep in mind the goal of your essay. Can you achieve the goal of the assignment with this topic? If so, you’re good to go.


This is the main idea of your essay, a statement of your thoughts on the subject. Again, consider the goal of your essay. Think of the topic sentence as an introduction that tells your reader what the rest of your essay will be about.


Once you have a good topic sentence, you then need to support that main idea with more detailed information, facts, thoughts, and examples. These supporting points answer one question about your topic sentence—“Why?” This is where research and perhaps more brainstorming come in. Then organize these points in the way you think makes the most sense, probably in order of importance. Now you have an outline for your essay.


Follow your outline, using each of your supporting points as the topic sentence of its own paragraph. Use descriptive words to get your ideas across to the reader. Go into detail, using specific information to tell your story or make your point. Stay on track, making sure that everything you include is somehow related to the main idea of your essay. Use transitions to make your writing flow.

Finish your essay with a conclusion that summarizes your entire essay and 5 restates your main idea.


Check for errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar. Look for ways to make your writing clear, understandable, and interesting. Use descriptive verbs, adjectives, or adverbs when possible. It also helps to have someone else read your work to point out things you might have missed. Then make the necessary corrections and changes in a second draft. Repeat this revision process once more to make your final draft as good as you can.

Download the pdf .

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Is Cornell University a Good Choice? What is Known For?

Should you study music at college is a music degree worth it, why is college so boring and depressing top 10 reasons, what are common mistakes made by college students, how important is college life in your career building, how can i be a successful graduate student 9 tips, how much do professors make 2023 guide, what makes college life challenging 7 challenges you’ll face in college, is 26 too old to enjoy college life tips for starting college at 26.


How Long Is An Essay? A Guide To Essay Length

Learn the length of six different essays and the factors that affect the essay length.

The length of an academic essay varies depending on your academic level, your field of study, your department’s policies, and the requirements of your particular course. In most cases, the length specifications are listed on your assignment sheet. It can be expressed as a range of words, paragraphs, or pages, or as a specific number.

In college, the majority of professors will provide you with a general outline of how long your essay should be. Please continue reading if you want to learn more about essay length.

Table of Contents

How Long Is An Essay?

An essay is typically a brief composition that aims to be clear and concise. In the academic setting, essays can be useful in demonstrating your knowledge and in presenting an idea, but they are not as in-depth as a thesis or research paper.

A higher education assignment will typically include instructions on the expected number of pages or words. Typically, this will be a range, say between 2500 and 4000 words.

Verify the assignment’s specifics and any guidelines your teacher may have before you begin formulating a plan for “how to write my paper.” Here are a few quick reminders:

  • Every essay must have a beginning, a body, and a conclusion. This means that in order to cover everything, your essay must have at least three sections.
  • Typically, a basic paper will have a five-paragraph essay. The introduction and conclusion paragraphs in this essay are typically much shorter.
  • One of your essay’s main ideas should be covered in each body paragraph.

The best thing you can do when submitting an essay, whether it’s for a college application or an academic assignment, is to carefully read the instructions. Most of the time, you should gain a basic understanding of the word count required of you.

The fact that you don’t have to lengthen your essay to reach the highest number should be noted if you are given a “range” for your essay’s word count. Simply use the language you need to support your position. And here is the information about the essay length in 6th grade , 7th grade , and 8th grade .

  • High school essay: 300-1000 words
  • Essay for college admissions: 250-650 words
  • Essay for college students in their first year: 1500-5000 words
  • Essay for graduate school admission: 500-1000 words
  • essays for graduate school: 2500-6000 words

how long is an essay

Essay Length Tips

The advice provided below is relevant to academic essays that are assigned as writing assignments. The following section will cover every topic related to admissions essays.

  • For essays, there should be a minimum of three paragraphs—an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
  • An essay with five paragraphs is the most typical format for a basic paper.
  • The opening and closing sentences are always proportionately shorter in length.
  • Only one main idea, which is your topic sentence, may be covered in each body paragraph.
  • About 275 words typically appear on a page of Times New Roman (12pt) text that is double-spaced.
  • Double that, or about 550 words, can fit on a single page.

How Long Are The Six Types Of Essays?

Here are the six types of essays you should know:

The One-paragraph Essay

The one-paragraph essay, which is typically between 150 and 250 words in length, may be given by academic tutors simply as practice for the fundamentals of paragraph writing, or it may be used for specific purposes like practicing summarizing an article that has been read in class or writing an extended definition of a concept.

One-paragraph essays can be used as a diagnostic tool to quickly assess a student’s writing ability. For the one-paragraph essay, you must combine at least some of the introduction, body, and conclusion into a single paragraph, unlike other essay lengths.

The Three-paragraph Essay

The three-paragraph essay, which is typically 500 words long, is used to introduce students to the idea that all essays should have an introduction, a body section, and a conclusion if the writer wants to produce coherent and logical writing.

The first and last paragraphs will be the introduction and conclusion, which are typically a little shorter in length. The central body paragraph will contain the essay’s content or argument.

The Five-paragraph Essay

The five-paragraph essay is typically set by teachers who are satisfied that their students understand the introduction-body-conclusion essay structure and who want to give them more freedom to elaborate on the ideas and arguments the writer has presented in the body section of the essay. It is typically 1,000 words long.

With an essay of this length, the introduction and conclusion are still each given one paragraph, but the body of the essay can have three paragraphs devoted to the discussion of the theme. Now that the essay has reached this length, it is acceptable to use certain essay types, like cause and effect essays, and compare and contrast essays.

The Extended Essay

While it’s uncommon for such essays to be longer than 5,000 words, the extended essay is the most typical type of essay that’s assigned during a bachelor’s or master’s degree. It may be any length. With a plus or minus 10% word count tolerance, the most typical lengths for an extended essay are 1,500, 3,000, and 5,000 words.

Such essay types may also start to follow more complex structures, such as those found in dissertations and theses, rather than just adhering to the introduction-body-conclusion structure of shorter essays, which will undoubtedly require research and referencing skills.

The Dissertation

Generally assigned as the final project for both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the typical length of an academic dissertation is 10,000 or 15,000 words. Unlike shorter essay types, dissertations have more complex structures and are almost always based on primary research (original research that the writer has conducted themselves).

Last but not least, the thesis is the longest style of academic essay and is only used by Ph.D. candidates. The doctorate thesis, which is typically between 40,000 and 60,000 words long, may include all the components of a dissertation, but in much greater detail and with more thorough research.

Such essays are almost certainly original and are based on primary research, with a larger focus on the accuracy of the literature review, data collection, and data analysis. Many students will never write an essay of this kind.

How Long Does Each Essay Section Need To Be?

Each paragraph in a short essay (400–1000 words) usually contains 100–200 words. Shorter than the total number of words in the body section, the introduction and conclusion should be about the same length.

For a 1000-word essay, the introduction and conclusion should each be 4–5 sentences long, according to Jennifer Duncan from The Writing Centre at the University of Toronto at Scarborough. The length of these sections can be several paragraphs or even entire pages if your word count must be higher.

how long is an essay

You may have seen conversion charts that state, “This number of words equals this number of paragraphs.” They are all based on fixed paragraph lengths and are therefore not very accurate.

Yes, you can convert an essay that is 400–800 words long in this way. But, when your paper is bigger than a thousand words, your paragraphs can scale along, which means their number won’t grow exponentially with the overall essay size.

A long essay (2000 words) won’t necessarily have fifteen paragraphs, for example, if a 700-word essay has five paragraphs.

How Long Is The Introduction In An Essay?

Typically, your introduction, or first paragraph, is referred to as a hook. Here, you should catch the attention of the reader and introduce the topic of your essay. When choosing a length, keep it brief and sweet whenever possible.

It’s usually a good idea to do some planning ahead of time to make sure every section of your essay is the proper length. A seasoned essay writer will carefully read the instructions to make sure you comprehend the task.

Your essay’s complexity and depth should be apparent from the recommended word count. Give a high-level overview of your topic if your essay is only supposed to be a few paragraphs long. You can delve more deeply into the details in longer essays.

You must be as clear and concise with your argument as you can in short essays. When you’re given a higher word count, however, you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to “waffle”. Follow the outline you create for your essay and stay on point.

When deciding how much information and support you should include in each section, an outline should serve as a road map.

How Long Is A Paragraph In An Essay?

As mentioned above, the answer to “how long should a college essay be?” usually starts with a base answer of “at least five paragraphs”. This makes it possible for you to introduce your thesis or commentary, follow it with three supporting paragraphs, and then end with a summary.

Your essay will have a range of paragraph length s. In the majority of academic essays, the main body of the argument should occupy the majority of the paper. Here, you should develop your ideas and support them with examples.

Generally speaking, the introduction should match the essay’s overall length. The introduction can be one or two paragraphs long if your text is only about 3,000 words. A longer, more detailed introduction that provides background information and context may be necessary for complex essays.

A single paragraph should typically serve as your essay’s conclusion. A paragraph might not be enough to summarize everything you’ve said, especially if your paper is longer and more involved.

How Long Is The Conclusion In An Essay?

The last section of your essay is the conclusion . For shorter essays, it is typically one paragraph. In this section, you should restate the main ideas from the body and summarize your analysis. Depending on how long the essay is, the conclusion may be 300–700 words long.

How Long Is The Outline In An Essay?

For a university-level essay or argumentative essay, you’ll need a more thorough outline with the same elements as a simpler outline, but with more specifics that include evidence and justification for your supporting points. The length of an outline should be no longer than 1 to 2 pages .

What Influence An Essay’s Length?

The length of a typical essay is influenced by a variety of factors. The word count of your paper depends on

Academic Level

In terms of presentation and length, essays written for high school and primary grades differ from those written for universities and colleges. Before beginning an academic essay, it is crucial to read the guidelines for each level.

Depending on the subject, different essay length requirements apply. Long and short essays are common in papers in the humanities, social sciences, and law. The length of the long essays can be anywhere between 20 pages and 6 pages, double-spaced, while the short essays are between 500 and 875 words long.

Essay lengths can also vary depending on the instructor and the subject matter, including English literature, composition, linguistics, leadership, and business. You will see different length requirements for essays depending on the subject you are studying.

Departmental length requirements for essays vary between universities and colleges. The length requirements of the department should be understood because they can guide your decision regarding how many words to use in your essay.

Essay Prompt Or Tutor’s Instructions

The guidelines provided in the essay prompt are another important factor in determining the number of pages or words you must use. The essay prompt not only specifies the essay topics, but also how many words, lengths, or pages your essay should be.

Spacing Of The Sentences

Pages in a typical academic essay are double-spaced due to the essay’s typical structure. The essay instructions may, on occasion, demand that you write your essay using only single spaces.

how long are essays

A single-spaced page has about 550 words on it, compared to about 275 words on a double-spaced page. By this analogy, a single double-spaced page would have twice as many words as a single single-spaced page. An essay that is one page long and single-spaced contains the same number of words as an essay that is two pages long and double-spaced.

Other times, teachers will instruct students to write 1.5-spaced-line essays. The length of your essay in this situation should be determined by the word count per page.

As a result, even as you read the assignment instructions, pay attention to the kind of page spacing that your professor or instructor requires. The preferred word count, which is always plus or minus 10%, is made easier to stay within.

Fonts Used In The Essay Paper

Papers are typically written in font 12 for academic writing. Most academic institutions have adopted this size as the standard for essays.

Making the font larger results in more pages, but fewer words. Always write your essay using the font size and style suggested by the teacher in the essay prompt, given the wide variety of fonts available.

Paragraph Lengths And Formats

150 words or so would be considered a typical paragraph length. It will depend on how many pages you are writing and how many paragraphs you will have. For instance, as we shall see later, a 6-page essay with double spacing will contain a total of 1650–1800 words.

10% of the word count is allocated to the introduction and conclusion paragraphs, which means that they each have between 165 and 180 words. You will have the final word count to balance the paragraphs at your discretion because the other body paragraphs will split it.

Using Length As A Guide To Topic And Complexity

The suggested word count not only helps you determine how long your essay should be but also makes it easier for you to determine how much complexity and information you can fit into the available space.

The creation of your thesis statement, which establishes the parameters of your overall argument and identifies the primary subject of your essay, should be guided by this.

A focused, narrow topic and an obvious, unambiguous line of reasoning are requirements for a short essay. A longer essay should still have a clear focus, but it may also need to take a more comprehensive approach to the subject or make a more complex, ambitious argument.

Make sure you have a clear understanding of how much evidence, detail, and argumentation will be required to support your thesis as you create the essay’s outline.

Consider revising your thesis to be more general or more specific if you discover that you lack the ideas to fill out the word count or that you require more space to present your case effectively.

The amount of time you will need to spend editing and proofreading the essay will also depend on how long it is.

What To Do If My Essay Is Too Long Or Too Short?

It’s usually best to stick to the range you’re given if you’ve taken the time to determine how long your essay should be for high school or college. You should try to write an essay that is at least as long as what was asked of you in the assignment.

If you’re struggling to hit the suggested word count, you can consider:

  • To make your points stronger and more credible, add more examples, supporting data, and in-depth analysis to each paragraph.
  • Ensure that you thoroughly analyze and clarify each of your points without leaving any room for doubt.
  • additional research is being done in order to examine a subject from a different perspective.

Don’t add any filler to simply increase the word count. Aim to avoid becoming overly fixated on a particular number and stick to simple sentences whenever possible. Get as much useful information as you can into your essay—that’s the key.

Notably, just as you should reach at least the minimum word count, you should avoid exceeding the maximum word count. You may occasionally go 10% over the maximum word count. You might be able to use 3300 words for an assignment with a word count of up to 3000, but it’s best to double-check with your instructor to be sure.

If the additional words are irrelevant to your argument, exceeding your suggested word count won’t impress your professor. You should probably proofread your writing to make sure everything is accurate and as brief as possible.

Get rid of extraneous words and keep in mind that it will take longer for your instructor to grade an essay the longer it is.

Always strive to write your assignment for the minimum amount of time specified. In the event that you have trouble writing enough words:

  • To strengthen or clarify your points, include more examples and supporting data in each paragraph.
  • Aim to elaborate on your points more fully and make sure each example has been fully explained or analyzed.
  • In a new paragraph, elaborate on a different aspect of your subject. In order to make a more ambitious argument, you might need to revise your thesis statement.
  • Don’t use filler; doing so will weaken your essay and obscure your argument.
  • Keep your focus off on a precise figure. It’s more important that your argument is compelling and sufficiently developed for an essay of the advised length than whether you use 50 or 100 words to convince your reader of your point of view.

What Is The Ideal Essay Length For College?

Here, “college essays” imply essays written for admissions. Compared to the ones you write for homework, admissions essays are very different. They usually want to convince the committee that you are a deserving candidate.

how long are essays

The appropriate section of the college website should have all the information about such essays available to the public. However, you still have some options if you don’t know the word count requirement and can’t find it. Below is a quick answer to the “how long is a college essay” question.

An essay for college typically has 500 words.

Admissions Essay Length Tips

  • Once you open the college’s site, look for phrases like “essay questions,” “information about supplemental essays,” “application instructions,” etc.
  • Because board officers must read a large number of them every day, admissions essays are typically brief (250–600 words).
  • Keep the length within the specified range; for example, if it says 500–550 words, the maximum length would be 600.
  • Don’t go over the word limit because it might prevent someone from reading your essay all the way through.

What If There Are No Restrictions On Length?

College essay prompts occasionally don’t specify a maximum length. But don’t worry just yet; there are a number of ways to handle this circumstance.

A Sample Of Your Writing Must Be Submitted

Potential candidates may have a variety of options. Amherst College offers you two options: (Option A) compose a response to one of the quotations on the list, or (Option B) turn in a graded essay that best demonstrates your writing abilities.

The final option implies that your options are constrained by the number of words in the papers you can pick from. However, there is usually a page with instructions for paper sample submissions.

The Description Makes It Clear How Long It Should Be

Wellesley College does not specify a word count or a number of pages in the instructions for the essay prompt. Instead, it says, “in two well-developed paragraphs.” So, paragraphs can be as long as 450–500 words, which is a reasonable maximum. Therefore, this is when you’ll need to make an estimate or even a little guess.

You Must Look For The Length Specifications

It can happen that the essay length requirements are not listed on the same page as the prompts. But if you Google it, you can discover posts on social media sites and forums that cover these essay writing requirements.

You can also try searching “long” or “length” within the college site by typing “site:yourcollegewebsite.com” with those words.

Call The Admissions Department Right Away

Call the admissions office if you can’t find the word limit guidelines anywhere. Even if they don’t have a precise figure, they can estimate the length of your essay based on the ones they have already read.

Why Is Adherence To Expected Essay Length Important?

Remember that the length of the essay the professor expects will vary depending on the student’s academic standing. Even if you are unsure of the precise word count requirements for an essay for a particular class or university course, follow the general guidelines.

The tutor may conclude that the student did not submit the assignment with sufficient effort if the student writes an essay that is shorter than anticipated.

In fact, if the essay has a large word count, the student may have added unnecessary information without doing proper analysis or used wordy constructions.

Conclusion: Polish Your Essay

Most assignments include explicit instructions on how many words or pages you are required to write. Instead of being a precise number, this is frequently a range (for instance, 2500–3000 words or 10–12 pages). Finding the ideal essay length can seem like a challenging process.

Fortunately, using the aforementioned advice, you ought to be heading in the right direction. Don’t forget to share this post if it helps you.

How Long is a Short Essay?

Short essays usually involve answering a question related to course content and could be anywhere from 200 words to 750 words long, depending on the professor’s guidelines. Writing a short essay can be difficult because you have to decide what information is most crucial to include and what can be skipped.

How Long is a 200-word Essay?

A 200 words essay will be 0.4 pages single-spaced or 0.8 pages double-spaced . 500 words make up one standard single-spaced page.

Is a 500 Word Essay Too Short?

In general, 500 words or so is pretty safe for a college essay . In fact, the word limit is pretty typical.

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7th grade writing

by: Hank Pellissier | Updated: August 4, 2022

Print article

Your seventh grader’s writing under Common Core Standards

Seventh graders need to avoid dangling modifiers, hasty drafts, and plagiarism! They rewrite to tighten their writing. They critique each other’s essays to learn what’s vague or missing. Finally, they study phrases, clauses, and sentence structure.

Seeing both sides

Your young adult’s critical thinking skills will be put to use this year. In argument papers , students express their fact-based opinions. In a strong paper, they also acknowledge — and use facts to argue against — opposing viewpoints. Your seventh grader’s writing should demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the topic, use clear logic, and incorporate solid evidence from reputable sources .

Your child’s papers should be written in formal language, with clear introductions and concise conclusions that summarize their position. Sounds pretty adult, right? Never fear, assignments are often on tween-friendly social issues, such as Do middle schoolers spend too much time on Instagram ?

We formally inform you

Your seventh grader will also write informative and explanatory papers on science and social studies topics. They’ll be expected to employ a range of “strategy tools” such as:

  • Adding definitions for complex words or ideas.
  • Using academic vocabulary .
  • Adding concrete details.
  • Choosing quotations.
  • Comparing and contrasting concepts.
  • Citing cause-and-effect relationships.
  • Classifying information.
  • Formatting (e.g., headings, bullet points).
  • Including graphics (e.g., charts, images) and multimedia.

The language your child uses in these papers should be formal and precise. They should use transition words (e.g. so, if, for, as, and but ) and phrases (e.g. in view of these facts, under these particular circumstances ) to connect ideas and help their writing flow. Finally, your child write have a succinct synopsis as a conclusion.

Believe it.. or not?

Some of the most fun — and challenging — writing of the year will be narrative story assignments that portray actual events (e.g. memoirs, personal history ) or imagined experiences (e.g. fiction, fantasy ). Your child should experiment with effective storytelling techniques. These may include character development, plot twists and pacing, precise descriptions, tone of the narrator’s voice, crisp dialogue, and adventurous action. In class, kids will learn and practice transition vocabulary to help guide readers from one scene or timeframe to another (e.g. Meanwhile, back at the space station; Centuries earlier, when Brontosaurus first roamed the swamps… ).

Tear it apart and start again

Don’t be dismayed if your seventh grader is asked to replan, re-outline, revise, re-edit, and/or rewrite many of their papers. This isn’t perfectionism or punishment — it helps students sharpen the precision, complexity, pacing, and variation of their literary technique. “By the time I am nearing the end of a story,” says Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory , “the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least 150 times. …Good writing is essentially rewriting.”

Collaborating online

Seventh graders interact and collaborate online to create and publish writing that links to online sources. Regular online communication with teachers — often in Google docs and other sharing tools — is increasingly prevalent, along with emailing or uploading completed assignments. The challenge for kids? Believable replacements for the classic excuse: “My dog ate my homework.”

Understanding and avoiding cheating

Seventh grade is the year of short research projects using sources like reference books, magazines, and data found online. Your young researcher will learn how to judge the accuracy and credibility of their sources . (For example, Does MAD Magazine have the same integrity as the Boston Globe ? No!) Kids learn to paraphrase information and use quotes to avoid plagiarizing. To plagiarize is defined as “ to copy another person’s ideas, words or work and pretend that they are your own,” and it is a form of cheating that has reached epidemic proportions. Citing their work correctly is the antidote for this error. Papers should follow formats for citations and end with a bibliography.

Grammar with a capital G

Kids learn about phrases , defined as two or more words that express an idea but are not a complete thought or sentence because phrases don’t have a subject and a verb. Kids also learn two types of clauses . Dependent clauses have a subject and a verb and form part of a sentence. Independent clauses have a subject and a verb and create short, complete sentences inside larger sentences.

Seventh graders learn to recognize and use four kinds of sentences . Simple sentences have a single independent clause, with one subject and one verb, e.g., Harold eats pie . Compound sentences have two or more independent clauses, connected with a conjunction, e.g., Harold eats pie because it’s delicious . Complex sentences contain one independent clause and one dependent clause. e.g., Harold eats pie whether it’s hot or cold . Compound complex sentences have at least two independent clauses and one dependent clause. e.g., Jerry eats pie because it’s delicious whether it’s hot or cold .

The common mistake of dangling modifiers happens when modifying words are disconnected from the word they’re meant to modify or the attachment is vague. For example: Alice painted the turtle on the table. Did Alice paint a picture of a turtle on the table surface? Or did she paint the shell of the turtle itself? We’re just not sure.

Seventh graders also start to learn how to use commas correctly. Commas separate adjectives that are equal in value in terms of how they modify the word they describe. If you can reverse the order of the adjectives, then they are equal and you need a comma. For example, Jordana found a red, vintage bag at the thrift store . Since you could also describe it as a vintage, red bag, you need a comma. But you don’t need a comma in this sentence: Mateo wore a yellow rain jacket . Why? Because the reverse order — a rain yellow jacket — makes no sense (unless we’re talking about new species of wasp).

Speak up for the back row

A new focus for writing instruction is that writing should involve a lot of… talking. That’s right. Oral presentations will take center stage for many of your seventh grader’s assignments. The idea is to present their research-backed opinions, arguments, or ideas to their classmates aloud, using formal language, clear pronunciation, and at a volume loud enough for everyone in the class to hear. Kids’ presentations should be well-organized, share main points, and include relevant details and examples. Many presentations will include visual and multimedia displays. Again, it sounds like a lot, but it’s meant as practice to set your child up for real-world, on-the-job success in the future.

Here’s a preview of the presentation skills required in high school.

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  • Reader Profiles

Writing for 7th Grade Readers — Syntactic Stats

Writing for 7th Grade Readers

Sentence Length:

  • Average Sentence Length : 15-20 words
  • Range : A mix of shorter sentences ( 5-10 words ) and longer, more complex sentences ( 20-30 words )

Sentence Complexity:

  • Simple Sentences : About 30-40% of sentences
  • Compound Sentences : About 25-35% of sentences
  • Complex Sentences : About 20-30% of sentences
  • Compound-Complex Sentences : About 5-15% of sentences

Paragraph Structure:

  • Average Paragraph Length: 4-6 sentences

7th Grade Reading Rate:

Average reading rate is 150-200 words per minute , though this will vary based on individual differences and text complexity.

Word Length

Word length, measured by the number of letters in a word, also adds to text complexity. For 7th graders, you can see a variety of word lengths. Here’s a general breakdown:

Short Words (1-4 Letters) :

  • These make up a large portion of the text, around 50-60% .
  • Examples include “the,” “and,” “is,” “cat,” “jump.”

Medium-Length Words ( 5-7 Letters ):

  • These common words make up 30-40% of the text.
  • Examples include “brother,” “running,” “quickly.”

Long Words ( 8+ Letters ):

  • Roughly 5-10% may be longer, more complex words.
  • Examples include “community,” “entertainment,” “organization.”

Content-Specific Long Words :

  • In texts about subjects like science, history, or literature, students may encounter longer words specific to the content. These words may be explained or defined within the text.

Complexity of Themes and Topics :

  • The length of words may vary based on themes or topics. More advanced texts may include a higher proportion of longer words.

Impact on Readability :

  • Texts with a higher proportion of longer words may be more challenging to read. Be mindful of word length, sentence structure, and vocabulary to match texts to the appropriate reading level.

Vocabulary Development :

  • Educators may provide support for understanding and using longer words through instruction, context clues, and other strategies.

Correlation with Syllables :

  • Longer words often correlate with a higher number of syllables, adding to the phonetic complexity of the text.


  • Commas, Periods, Question Marks : Regularly used
  • Colons, Semicolons : Introduced but less frequent
  • Parentheses, Dashes : Used sparingly for bonus information or emphasis


  • Tier 2 Vocabulary : High-utility, academic words that are sophisticated but not overly specialized
  • Some Tier 3 Vocabulary : Subject-specific or specialized words with explanation or context

Grammar and Syntax :

  • Varied Sentence Starters : Different ways to begin sentences (adverbs, conjunctions, prepositional phrases)
  • Subordination and Coordination : Use of subordinating and coordinating conjunctions to join clauses
  • Active and Passive Voice : Primarily active voice but with some passive constructions

Dialogue and Quotations :

  • Proper Use of Quotation Marks : For dialogues and direct quotations
  • Internal Dialogue Representation : May include characters’ thoughts or internal dialogues

Use of Figurative Language:

  • Similes and Metaphors : Commonly used for imagery
  • Personification, Onomatopoeia, Alliteration : Introduced and used to create literary effects

Narrative Techniques:

  • Varied Point of View : First person, third person limited, or omniscient point of view
  • Flashbacks or Foreshadowing : May be introduced for complex storytelling

Repeat Words vs. Unique Words

The ratio of unique words to repeat words in a text is known as lexical diversity , and it is an important aspect of text complexity. This ratio can vary widely based on the type of text, the subject matter, and the author’s style.

Unique Words :

  • Expect 20-30% of unique words in a text . This percentage might be higher in texts that cover specialized topics or use a rich and varied vocabulary.

Repeat Words :

  • The remaining 70-80% of words are repetitions previously used in the text. These repeat words include common function words (e.g., “the,” “and,” “is”) and content words essential to the text’s main themes or concepts.

Impact on Readability and Engagement :

  • A higher percentage of unique words might make a text engaging and intellectually stimulating, but could also make it challenging to read. Conversely, a higher percentage of repeat words can reinforce understanding but might make a text less engaging.

Content-Specific Vocabulary :

  • In subject-specific texts, such as science or history, you may find a higher percentage of unique words related to the subject. The author might repeat these words to reinforce understanding.

Literary Texts :

  • Literary texts, such as novels and poems, may have more unique words to create imagery, mood, and character. The repetition of words or phrases may also be used deliberately for effect.

Abbreviated Words

The percentage of abbreviations can vary significantly. Here are some general guidelines:

Fiction Texts :

  • Percentage : Approx. 1-3% .
  • Usage : Abbreviations in fiction are limited to dialogue or specific contexts where they would naturally occur.
  • Example : Common titles like “Mr.” or “Dr.,” or colloquial expressions.

Non-Fiction Texts :

  • Percentage : Approx. 3-5% .
  • Usage : In non-fiction, especially in subject areas like science or history, abbreviations and acronyms might be used more frequently.
  • Example : “U.S.” for United States, “WWII” for World War II, “DNA” for deoxyribonucleic acid.

Textbooks or Educational Materials :

  • Percentage : Varies, could be up to 5-10% .
  • Usage : Textbooks might use abbreviations for terms frequently repeated or when introducing specific concepts.
  • Example : “e.g.” for example, “i.e.” for that is, or subject-specific abbreviations like “kg” for kilograms.

Syllables also determine reading complexity and accessibility. Here’s a breakdown of what you might expect:

Average Syllables per Word :

  • Around 1.4 to 1.6 syllables. This reflects a mix of monosyllabic and multisyllabic words suitable for this grade level.

Use of Monosyllabic Words :

  • Around 60-70% of the words may be monosyllabic. These words form the core of English and are more familiar to students.

Use of Multisyllabic Words :

  • Roughly 30-40% of the words may have two or more syllables.

Within this category, you may find:

  • 2-syllable words : 15-20%
  • 3-syllable words : 8-12%
  • 4 or more syllable words : 3-5%

Challenging Vocabulary :

Challenging words with three or more syllables may be introduced to stretch students’ vocabulary and reading comprehension. Words like: “unforgettable,” “disappointment,” or “entertainment.”

Content-specific Multisyllabic Words :

In subject-specific texts, such as science or history, students encounter multisyllabic terms like “photosynthesis” or “Constitution.” Definitions and explanations are often provided for these terms.

Poetic and Literary Texts :

In poetry or literary prose, syllables are varied to create rhythm, imagery, or emotional effect. These texts have more multisyllabic words and require more guidance and discussion to understand fully.

Reading Aloud and Phonics Support :

Reading aloud and phonics activities can assist 7th graders in tackling multisyllabic words by breaking them down into manageable parts.

The syllable structure helps strike a balance between readability and challenge. The blend of simpler and more complex words encourages students to expand their vocabulary and comprehension while providing accessible and engaging reading material.

Active Voice vs. Passive Voice

The balance between active and passive voice can affect its readability and engagement. Here’s a general guideline for what you might expect:

Active Voice :

  • Percentage : Around 70-90% .
  • Usage : Active voice is more direct and engaging. It’s preferred in storytelling and most non-fiction texts.
  • Example : “The scientist conducted the experiment,” instead of “The experiment was conducted by the scientist.”

Passive Voice :

  • Percentage : Around 20-30% .
  • Usage : Passive voice can be used to emphasize the action rather than the doer of the action. It might be more common in scientific writing or formal reports, where the focus is on the result or process.

Subject-Specific Considerations :

  • In science or formal academic writing, the passive voice might be used more frequently to create an objective tone.
  • In literature or general non-fiction, active voice is likely to predominate to create a more engaging and accessible style.

Teaching Considerations :

  • In 7th grade, students begin to distinct between active and passive voice and how to use each. They might be encouraged to use active voice in their writing but also to recognize situations where passive voice is appropriate.

Impact on Reading Comprehension :

  • Excessive use of passive voice can make a text more challenging to read, as it often requires more cognitive processing. However, some passive constructions are better for conveying specific meanings or adhering to a  writing style.

Parts of Speech:

  • Nouns : 20-25% .
  • Verbs :  15-20% .
  • Adjectives : 10-15% .
  • Adverbs : 5-10% .
  • Conjunctions, Prepositions, Interjections : Varying percentages depending on writing style.

Proper Nouns:

The percentage of proper nouns in a text for 7th graders also varies depending on the genre, subject matter, and context of the text.

  • Percentage: 5-8% .
  • Use: This includes the names of characters, locations, specific events, etc.
  • Example: In a novel set in a real-world location, names of cities, landmarks, and people are common.
  • Percentage: 3-6% .
  • Use: historical names, brand names, scientific terminology, and so on.
  • Example: A history text might include names of significant individuals, places, and events.
  • Percentage: Varies, around 4-7% .
  • Use: Specific terms, names of theories, scientists, historical figures, and geographical locations.
  • Example: In a science textbook, names of scientists, theories, and specific terminologies are considered proper nouns.

Cultural and Contextual Considerations :

  • The frequency of proper nouns might influence cultural references and the subject matter.

Reading Comprehension and Engagement :

  • Too many unfamiliar proper nouns without context or explanation can hinder reading comprehension.
  • Percentage : 1-3% .
  • Length : Shorter numbers like dates, ages, or quantities.
  • Use : Numbers in fiction might relate to time, age, quantity, or other basic numerical information.
  • Percentage :  2-5% .
  • Length : Varies depending on the topic. Short numbers for general information, longer numbers for scientific or mathematical content.
  • Use : This could include dates, statistics, measurements, etc.

Textbooks or Educational Materials:

  • Percentage : Varies widely, from 5-15% or more, especially in mathematics or science texts.
  • Length : Can vary from simple, single-digit numbers to more complex numbers, including decimals, fractions, or large quantities.
  • Use : Numbers in educational texts could represent anything from simple counting to complex mathematical or scientific data.

General Considerations:

  • Comprehension : The complexity and frequency of numbers should match the readers’ numerical literacy. Long and complex numbers may be challenging for some 7th graders, depending on their math background.
  • Contextual Clues : Providing context or explanation for numbers, especially if they are central to understanding the content, is essential.
  • Subject-Specific Texts : In subjects like mathematics, physics, or economics, numbers will be more prevalent and can be more complex.
  • Cultural Considerations : Numbers might be influenced by cultural norms, such as the use of commas or periods in large numbers.

Dialogue vs. Description (for Fiction):

  • Dialogue : 40-60% (can vary widely based on author’s style and genre).
  • Description/Narration :  40-60% .

Text Cohesion:

  • Transition Words : Approximately 3-5% .

Vocabulary Stats

Here’s a breakdown of vocabulary for 7th-grade readers.

  • Vocabulary Size : Student know around 20,000 to 25,000 English words.
  • Lexile Range : Texts align with a Lexile measure 950L to 1075L , a measure of text complexity.
  • Academic Vocabulary : Students can understand and use 700-900 academic words across various subjects. Roughly, this could consist of:
  • Science : 150-200 words
  • Mathematics : 100-150 words
  • History : 150-200 words
  • Literature : 100-150 words
  • Reading Comprehension : 60-80% for age-appropriate material.
  • Words per Minute (WPM) : The average reading rate ranges from 150-200 WPM.
  • Morphological Understanding : Understanding complex words through Latin and Greek roots might cover around 300-500 common roots and affixes.

What is a 7th Grade Reading Level?

The reading level for 7th graders uses texts that contain sophisticated language, themes, and structures.

  • Sentence Structures : Sentences may include multiple clauses and higher-level punctuation. For example, “ While she studied for her history test, her brother, who had already finished his homework, played his favorite video game .”
  • Multifaceted Plotlines : Books may contain several intertwining plotlines or themes. An example is “ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ” by J.K. Rowling , where she introduces various storylines involving friendship, politics, magical education, and personal growth.
  • Abstract Ideas and Themes : Themes like moral ambiguity, identity, and self-discovery are explored. A novel like “ The Giver ” by Lois Lowry introduces concepts of utopia, memory, and societal control that provoke deeper thinking.
  • Use of Figurative Language : 7th graders are exposed to metaphors, similes, allegories, and symbolism. For instance, in “ A Wrinkle in Time ” by Madeleine L’Engle , the concept of the “tesseract” is used as a symbol to connect dimensions of space and time.
  • Vocabulary : Words outside of everyday language begin to appear in their reading. In “ The Hobbit ” by J.R.R. Tolkien , words like “flummoxed” and “beseech” are included, which may require the reader to use context clues or a dictionary.
  • Non-Fiction and Varied Genres : They might read historical accounts, scientific explanations, or biographical texts that require comprehension of factual information and more formal language. For example, “ Diary of a Young Girl ” by Anne Frank provides historical insight into World War II from a teenager’s viewpoint.
  • Author’s Craft : Readers in 7th grade start to identify literary devices such as irony, foreshadowing, or unreliable narrators. Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, like “ The Tell-Tale Heart ,” exemplifies these techniques.

Teachers and caregivers might use a mix of classical literature, contemporary novels, and non-fiction texts to create a well-rounded reading experience.

7th Grade Vocabulary Overview

Word Recognition :

  • Complex Words : They can recognize and understand more complicated words that might be subject-specific or related to themes in literature, such as “democracy,” “metabolism,” or “foreshadowing.”
  • Multisyllabic Decoding : They can decode multisyllabic words by recognizing syllable patterns and using phonics skills.

Context Clues :

  • Inferencing Meaning : 7th grade readers can infer the meaning of unknown words by examining the surrounding text, looking for synonyms, antonyms, explanations, or examples in the context.

Word Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes :

  • Morphological Awareness : Readers begin to understand common word roots and affixes (prefixes and suffixes), enabling them to deduce the meanings of unfamiliar words. For example, knowing that “tele” means distant can help with words like “telescope” or “telecommunication.”

Domain-Specific Vocabulary :

  • Subject-Related Terms : They can comprehend vocabulary specific to subjects like science, history, or literature. For example, in science, words like “photosynthesis” or “ecosystem” become part of their vocabulary.

Synonyms and Antonyms :

  • Expression : They can identify synonyms and antonyms, allowing for expression and understanding of nuances in meaning. They might recognize that “benevolent” is a synonym for “kind,” but with a slightly different connotation.

Figurative Language :

  • Idioms and Metaphors : They begin to understand figurative expressions, such as idioms, metaphors, and similes. They can interpret phrases like “break a leg” or understand metaphorical comparisons like “the world is a stage.”

Writing and Speaking :

  • Expressive Vocabulary : They can apply new vocabulary in their writing and speaking, enhancing their ability to communicate ideas more precisely and creatively.

Reference Materials :

  • Dictionary and Thesaurus Skills : They are adept at using dictionaries, thesauruses, and online tools to look up unfamiliar words, understand multiple meanings, and find synonyms and antonyms.

Vocabulary in Different Contexts :

  • Adapting Language : They can adjust their language based on the context, recognizing the difference between formal and informal language, and choosing words accordingly.

Cultural and Global Awareness :

  • Exposure to diverse reading materials can help them understand words and expressions from various cultural backgrounds, fostering global awareness.

Overall, 7th-grade readers’ vocabulary skills reflect a move towards greater complexity, nuance, and adaptability. This development supports their ability to comprehend more sophisticated texts, engage in critical thinking, and express themselves with greater clarity and creativity.

7th Grade Word Usage

The word usage reflects a growing command of language that allows for more nuanced and expressive communication.

Complex Sentence Structure :

  • Compound and Complex Sentences : They are beginning to use more compound and complex sentences, combining ideas using conjunctions like “although,” “however,” and “therefore.”
  • Varied Sentence Openings : They can vary sentence beginnings to create interest and rhythm in their writing.

Descriptive Language :

  • Adjectives and Adverbs : They can use adjectives and adverbs to provide more detailed descriptions, such as “ The swiftly flowing river wound through the lush, green valley .”
  • Sensory Details : They are developing the ability to use sensory details to create vivid imagery in their writing.
  • Similes and Metaphors : They may use similes and metaphors to add depth to their writing, such as comparing ideas or feelings to something tangible. E.g., “Her smile was as bright as the sun.”
  • Idiomatic Expressions : They can begin to use idioms in their speech and writing, understanding their figurative meanings.

Formal vs. Informal Language :

  • Understanding Register : They can recognize when to use formal language in academic or professional settings and informal language with friends or family. For example, using “cannot” instead of “can’t” in a formal essay.

Subject-Specific Vocabulary :

  • Appropriate Usage : They are learning to use subject-specific vocabulary in subjects like science, history, or mathematics, understanding when and how to use these terms accurately.

Persuasive Language :

  • Rhetorical Devices : They may begin to experiment with rhetorical devices like rhetorical questions, repetition, or parallel structure to persuade or engage their audience.

Transition Words and Phrases :

  • Cohesiveness : They use transition words and phrases to guide the reader through their ideas and show connections between thoughts, such as “in addition,” “on the other hand,” or “as a result.”

Pronoun Consistency :

  • Proper Use of Pronouns : They usually demonstrate an understanding of pronoun-antecedent agreement, ensuring that pronouns match in number and gender with the nouns they refer to.

Connotation and Tone :

  • Word Choice for Effect : They can choose words for their connotative meanings, understanding how word choice can affect the tone and mood of a piece. For example, using “slim” instead of “skinny” to convey a more positive tone.

7th Grade Word Usage Challenges

Complex Multisyllabic Words :

  • Examples : “Photosynthesis,” “apprehension,” “circumference.”
  • Challenge : The length and complexity of these words can make pronunciation and understanding difficult.

Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs:

Words that sound or look the same but have different meanings can be confusing in both reading and writing.

  • Examples : “lead” (to guide) vs. “lead” (a type of metal), “two” vs. “too” vs. “to.”

Technical and Subject-Specific Vocabulary:

These terms are often new and specific to subjects such as science, literature, or mathematics, requiring context and background knowledge.

  • Examples : “mitosis,” “allegory,” “quadratic.”

Words with Uncommon or Irregular Spellings:

Unusual or non-phonetic spelling can make these words difficult to read, spell, and remember.

  • Examples : “pneumonia,” “rhythm,” “colonel.”

Advanced Abstract Concepts:

Words that represent complex, abstract ideas may require higher-level thinking and context to fully grasp.

  • Examples : “existential,” “philosophy,” “dichotomy.”

Idiomatic Expressions and Figurative Language:

These phrases often cannot be understood literally, and understanding them requires familiarity with cultural context.

  • Examples : “Bite the bullet,” “the ball is in your court.”

Background Knowledge or Cultural Awareness:

Without prior knowledge or context, these words might be challenging to comprehend.

  • Examples : Names of historical events, cultural terms like “samurai” or “Renaissance.”

Words with Multiple Meanings:

Choosing the correct meaning based on context requires careful reading and understanding.

  • Examples : “light” (not heavy vs. illumination), “bark” (of a tree vs. a dog’s sound).

Formal and Archaic Language:

Readers will see these confusing words in classical literature.

  • Examples : “thou,” “whence,” “heretofore.”

Language with Emotional or Social Nuance:

Words that convey subtle social or emotional nuances might require maturity and social awareness to fully understand.

  • Examples : “sarcasm,” “empathy,” “prejudice.”

Foreign Words and Phrases:

Words and phrases borrowed from other languages may be unfamiliar and require explanation.

  • Examples : “déjà vu,” “cliché,” “tsunami.”

Words that Break Standard Phonics Rules:

These words don’t follow typical sound-letter correspondence, making them tricky to read and spell.

  • Examples : “through,” “though,” “knight.”

The best syntactic writing style for 7th graders strikes a balance between complexity and clarity. It challenges readers to grow their comprehension and analytical skills without overwhelming them. By using a mix of sentence types, appropriate vocabulary, and clear organization, writers can create engaging and educational texts for this age group.

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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.

The picture enumerates the factors influencing essay length.

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

🔍 References

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.

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.

🤔 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.

The picture describes how formatting affects essay length.

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.
  • Explanation.
  • Transitions.

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 .

The picture shows the fact about the average speed of writing.

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
  • Components of a Good Essay: University of Evansville
  • 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 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:

4th grade writing prompt

  • 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!

Genie Academy offers a range of after-school educational activities for students, encompassing areas such as mathematics, reading, writing, and coding. Spread across New Jersey, including a location in Plainsboro , these programs are specifically crafted for students from Pre-Kindergarten to 8th grade.

Source: https://www.journalbuddies.com/prompts-by-grade/7th-grade-writing-ideas/

Topics: Essays , Writing Skills , Writing Stlyes , Seventh Grade , Writing Prompt

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Writing Prompts for 7th Grade

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how long should an essay be 7th grade

By seventh grade, students should be refining the core writing skills of brainstorming , researching, outlining, drafting, and revising. In order to hone these skills, seventh-grade students need regular practice writing a variety of essay styles, including narrative, persuasive, expository , and creative essays. The following essay prompts offer age-appropriate starting points to help seventh graders flex their writing muscles.

Narrative Essay Writing Prompts

Narrative essays share a personal experience to tell a story, usually to make a point rather than merely to entertain. These narrative essay prompts encourage students to describe and reflect on a story that's meaningful to them.

  • Embarrassing Pasts - As people get older, they are sometimes embarrassed by things they used to like, such as toys, television shows, or nicknames. Describe something that you used to enjoy that you now find embarrassing. Why is it embarrassing now?
  • Bonds of Hardship - Sometimes difficulties draw families closer. Describe something that your family endured together that strengthened your relationships.
  • There’s No Place Like Home - What makes your hometown special? Explain this special quality.
  • New Kid in Town - Being new to a town or school can be challenging because you don’t know anyone, or exciting because no one knows you and your past. Describe a time when you were the new kid.
  • Finders Keepers -  Write about a time when you lost (or found) something of value. How did that experience affect your opinion of the saying, “Finders keepers; losers weepers?"
  • Follow the Leader -  Describe a time when you were in a leadership role. How did it make you feel? What did you learn from the experience?
  • April Fools -  Write about the best prank you’ve ever played on someone (or had played on you). What made it so clever or funny?
  • Bon Appetit - Special meals can be powerful memory-makers. Write about a specific meal that stands out in your memory. What made it so unforgettable?
  • Bon Voyage - Family trips and vacations also create lasting memories. Write an essay detailing your favorite family vacation memory.
  • Batter Up -  Write about a valuable lesson that you learned while playing your favorite sport.
  • Best Friends Forever -  Describe your friendship with your BFF and what makes it so important to you.
  • The Real Me -  What is one thing you wish your parents, teachers, or coaches really understood or knew about you?
  • TV -  Explain what makes your favorite television show so enjoyable or relatable to you.

Persuasive Essay Writing Prompts

Persuasive essays use facts and reasoning to convince the reader to embrace the writer’s opinion or take a course of action. These essay prompts empower seventh graders to write persuasively about an issue they genuinely care about. 

  • Outdated Laws - What is one law or family or school rule that you think needs to be changed? Convince lawmakers, your parents, or school leaders to make the change.
  • Bad Ads - Advertising can have a powerful impact on consumers. What is a product that you’ve seen advertised that you don’t think should be? Explain why the media should quit showing these ads.
  • Puppy Love - You want a pet, but your parents don’t think you need one. What would you say to change their minds?
  • Lights, Camera - What is your favorite book of all time? Write an essay convincing a producer to make a movie about it.
  • Snooze Button - Studies have shown that tweens and teens need more sleep. Write a proposal for a later school start time.
  • Body Shop - Magazines can negatively impact their readers’ body image by using edited images of models. Convince a teen magazine publisher that they should not use heavily-edited model images in their publication.
  • It Can’t Be Over - The network is canceling your favorite television show. Write a paper convincing the station that they’re making a mistake.
  • Curfews -  Some malls have policies forbidding kids under 18 to be at the mall without adult supervision during certain times. Do you think this is fair or unfair? Defend your position.
  • Team Spirit - Should homeschooled students be allowed to play sports on public or private school teams? Why or why not?
  • Smartphones - All of your friends have the latest smartphone, but you only have a “dumb phone.” Should your parents upgrade your phone, or are smartphones for middle school kids a bad idea?
  • Bullies - Some dogs, such as pit bulls or Dobermans, are labeled “bully breeds.” Is this label deserved or undeserved?
  • Money Can’t Buy You Love - People say that money can’t buy happiness, but some studies have shown that people with higher incomes may be happier . Do you think this is true? Why or why not?
  • Ratings -  There are age restrictions on movies and video games, ratings on television shows, and warning labels on music. Computers and smartphones offer parental controls. Do adults have too much control over what kids watch and listen to or do these restrictions serve a valuable purpose?

Expository Essay Writing Prompts

Expository essays describe a process or provide factual information. These prompts can serve as jumping-off points for the explanatory process. 

  • School’s in Session - Would you rather attend public school, private school, or be homeschooled. Explain the benefits of your choice.
  • Admiration -  Who do you admire from your life or history? Write an essay describing how their character or contributions to their community have earned your respect.
  • Global Community -  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Write about your dream hometown and why you want to live there.
  • Peer Problems - Peer pressure and bullying can make life as a middle school student difficult. Describe a time you were pressured or bullied and how it affected you.
  • Order Up -  A friend wants to learn how to make your favorite food. Detail the process, step-by-step, so your friend can recreate the dish.
  • Addictions - Many people are impacted by drug or alcohol addictions. Share facts about how the use of these substances negatively affects families or communities. 
  • Serve Others - Community service is a valuable experience. Describe a time you volunteered. What did you do and how did it make you feel?
  • City or Country Mouse - Do you live in a big city or a small town? Explain why you do or don’t like living there.
  • Aspirations - What do you want to be when you’re an adult? Explain why you’d choose that career  or what you’ll do to prepare for it.
  • Point in Time - Sometimes people bury time capsules so future generations can learn about the past. What would you include to give an accurate snapshot of life in the current time?
  • Hobbyist -  You’re friend wants to take up your favorite hobby. Explain it to him.
  • SOS - A natural disaster has destroyed homes and businesses in a nearby city. Describe what you can do to help.
  • Wonder Twin Power - Some superheroes can fly or become invisible. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Creative Essay Writing Prompts

Creative essays are fictional stories. They use plot, character, and dialog to engage and entertain the reader. These prompts will get the creative juices flowing. 

  • Fan Fic -  Write a story about your favorite characters from a book, film, or television show.
  • Cats vs. Dogs - You have two pets of different species. Write a story from their point of view about a day at home alone.
  • Time Travel - You find a time machine in your backyard. What happens when you step inside?
  • Dream State - Think about a time when you woke in the middle of a vivid dream. What would have happened if the dream hadn’t been interrupted?
  • New Door -  You’ve just discovered a door that you’ve never seen before. What happens when you walk through it?
  • Secret Keeper - You find out your best friend has kept a secret from you. What is the secret and why didn’t your friend tell you?
  • Fridge Fun - Write a story from the perspective of an item in your refrigerator.
  • Desert Island - You’ve just discovered an uncharted island. What happens next?
  • Fly on the Wall - You see two people talking excitedly, but you can’t hear what they’re saying. Write a story about what they might be saying.
  • Special Delivery - You receive a battered package in the mail. Write a story about its journey from the sender to you.
  • A Mile in My Shoes - You find a pair of shoes in the thrift store and put them on. Suddenly you find yourself transported into someone else’s life. Describe what happens.
  • Mission to Mars - Imagine that you’re a pioneer to start a colony on Mars. Write about a typical day on your new planet.
  • Snow Days - You find yourself snowed in for a week with your family. There is no electricity or phone service. What do you do for fun?
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  • Writing Prompt (Composition)


How long is an essay 7th grade?


An essay in 7th grade typically falls within the range of 300 to 800 words. This allows students to learn and practice the basic structure of a 5-paragraph essay, which includes an introduction, a thesis statement, the body, and a conclusion.

How many paragraphs should a 7th grade essay have?

A standard short essay for 7th grade usually consists of five paragraphs. This structure provides enough information in a concise format.

What should a 7th grade essay look like?

In 7th grade, an essay should have an introductory paragraph that includes the title of the essay or article, the author’s full name if given, and the topic. The following 2-3 sentences should provide some background information about the essay or article, typically taken from the first paragraph.

How long is an essay in the UK?

In the UK, an extended essay usually has common lengths of 1,500, 3,000, or 5,000 words, with a word count allowance of plus or minus 10%.

How long should a year 12 English essay be?

Most year 12 English essays are around 1,000 to 1,200 words in length. However, some essays may go slightly over or under depending on the specific requirements.

How many pages is a 20000-word essay?

A 20,000-word essay is approximately 40 pages when single-spaced or 80 pages when double-spaced. This can vary slightly depending on the formatting and font size used.

How many pages is a 5,000-word essay?

A 5,000-word essay is around 10 pages when single-spaced or 20 pages when double-spaced. However, this can vary based on formatting and font size.

How many pages is a 3,000-word essay?

A 3,000-word essay is approximately 6 pages when single-spaced or 12 pages when double-spaced. Actual page count may vary depending on formatting and font size.

Is 70% a good grade for an essay?

A grade of 70% or above is considered a top band of marks. It is considered a good grade, as anything in the 60% range is typically considered a good grade as well.

How should 7th graders write?

Seventh-grade writing should demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the topic, logical reasoning, and incorporation of solid evidence from reliable sources. Papers should be written in formal language and include clear introductions and concise conclusions that summarize the student’s position.

How do you start a 7th grade essay?

A persuasive 7th grade essay should begin with a hook or attention-grabbing sentence, such as a general statement, question, quote, short story, or shocking statement. The following 2-5 sentences should provide background information on the topic or a summary when appropriate.

Can an essay have 7 body paragraphs?

While the traditional academic standard suggests that an essay should have three body paragraphs, any number is possible. Some essays may have 4, 7, 10, or more paragraphs depending on the content and organization.

Is 7 sentences 2 paragraphs?

There is no absolute rule for the number of sentences in a paragraph. A paragraph can have two to three sentences, but it can also have more. The typical maximum number is five sentences, though this can vary depending on the content.

How many paragraphs is a 500-word essay?

A 500-word essay typically consists of 4-6 paragraphs. Since most paragraphs contain around 75-200 words, a 500-word essay would require this number of paragraphs for proper organization and development.

How many paragraphs is a 600000-word essay?

A 600,000-word essay would have a varying number of paragraphs depending on the organization and content. However, for the sake of discussion, if each paragraph contains around 200 words, a 600,000-word essay would have approximately 3,000 paragraphs.

How many paragraphs is a 700000-word essay?

Similarly to the previous question, the number of paragraphs in a 700,000-word essay would depend on the organization and content. If each paragraph contains around 200 words, a 700,000-word essay might have around 3,500 paragraphs.

How many paragraphs is a 900000-word essay?

Like the previous examples, the number of paragraphs in a 900,000-word essay will vary. If each paragraph contains around 200 words, a 900,000-word essay might have approximately 4,500 paragraphs.

How many paragraphs is a 1000000-word essay?

Similar to the previous examples, the number of paragraphs in a 1,000,000-word essay will vary. If each paragraph contains around 200 words, a 1,000,000-word essay might have around 5,000 paragraphs.

How long is a 15,000-word essay?

A 15,000-word essay would be approximately 30 pages when single-spaced, or 60 pages when double-spaced. The actual length may vary based on formatting and other factors.

Can I write a 15,00-word essay in 6 hours?

Writing a 15,000-word essay in 6 hours would be a challenging task. It typically takes about 37.5 minutes to write 1,500 words. Assuming a similar pace, writing 15,000 words would take around 375 minutes or 6.25 hours, not including breaks or research time.

Is 1,200 words a lot?

Writing 1,200 words generally takes about 3.5 to 4.5 hours. This is a moderate length for an article and allows for the inclusion of key details. However, the writer may not be able to go into extensive depth unless the topic is straightforward.

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How long should the average 7th grade essay be?

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  • by The Alchemy Team

Just starting out year 7 and want to be the most prepared for your first high school English class? Confused about the expectations for your first essay assignment?

Look no further. This article will answer all the frequently asked questions on how to structure an essay.

How long should my essay be?

Essay assignments often have a word count guide you need to follow. But in the case of an in-class essay test, here is a rough guideline: within a standard 40-minute time frame, you should aim for an introduction, 2 TEEL body paragraphs and a conclusion.

What do I put in the introduction? How long should it be?

Your introduction should only be 3-4 sentences. Get straight to the point within your opening sentence. The best openings demonstrate you have clearly planned your arguments. So before starting to write, it is crucial you take 5 minutes to think of your argument and plan out how you will support them in the body paragraphs. Then, the first sentence just needs to offer your direct response to the question itself.

Tip : To make sure you are properly addressing the question, use synonyms or words directly from the question itself in your thesis statement.

How long should each body paragraph be?

Always think back to the TEEL structure as you are writing the body paragraphs. Each paragraph should have:

  • Topic sentence – clearly identify your argument. (1 sentence)
  • Example – quote at least one example from the text. Make sure this quote has been chosen strategically to best support your argument. Remember to use quotation marks. (1 sentence)
  • Elaboration – analyse the quote. Did the author use a certain technique? What can be extracted from this example to prove the argument you are trying to say? (2-3 sentences)
  • Link – connect the discussion back to the topic sentence to further emphasise the idea in this paragraph. (1 sentence)

What goes in the conclusion?

Your conclusion only needs to be 2-3 sentences long. It offers your final answer to the question. You can summarise the 2 main ideas you analysed in the 2 body paragraphs and offer your final judgement about your interpretation of the question.

I’ve followed these guidelines and finished early. What should I do?

  • Proofread – check there are no spelling, grammar or punctuation errors.
  • Check the style – did you avoid using conversational or slang words such as ‘like’?
  • Did you use speech marks to quote your examples?

Hopefully, essay writing now seems less intimidating. Remember, the best way to prepare is to just practise. Practise using these guidelines to structure your next essay and you will notice big improvement in no time.

By Brittanie Hsu, an Alchemy tutor

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How Long Should Your College Essay Be? What Is the Ideal Length?

What’s covered: , personal statement length vs. supplemental essay length, are college essay word limits hard, what if a college essay word count isn’t given, what if you need to submit a graded paper, where to get your essays edited.

Students often spend hours agonizing over the best topics for their college essays. While it’s natural to wonder whether your personal statement is original or compelling enough, there’s one aspect of the process that shouldn’t cause you undue stress—how many words should a college essay be? Fortunately, with a little research, you can uncover the ideal college essay length for all your applications.

Unlike high school assignments, which typically have a strict page requirement, most colleges provide a word limit or word range for their application essays. This practice helps ensure that essays are the same length regardless of font or formatting. A good guideline is that students should strive to get as close as possible to the upper limit of the word range without exceeding it. Keep reading to learn more about best practices for college essay length.

How many words should a college essay be? Personal statements are generally 500-650 words. For example, the Common Application , which can be used to apply to more than 800 colleges, requires an essay ranging from 250-650 words . Similarly, the Coalition Application , which has 150 member schools, features an essay with a recommended length of 500-650 words.

650 words is the most common limit for your personal statement, but some schools may ask students to write more or less. For example, ApplyTexas , a platform used to apply to Texas public universities and other select colleges, requests essays with requirements that vary by school. For example, students applying to UT Austin will need to submit an essay of 500-700 words, along with three short-answer questions of 250-300 words each.

On the other hand, the University of California (UC) application includes a Personal Insight section with eight prompts . Students are asked to respond to any four of these prompts, with each response topping out at 350 words.

Additionally, some schools request a few supplemental essays, which are typically shorter than a personal statement. These questions are designed to gain more information about a student’s interests and abilities, and may include topics like your reasons for wanting to attend their school, your desired major, or your favorite activity.

Most schools require 1-3 supplemental essays, though some may require more or none at all (see our list of top colleges without supplemental essays ). These essays tend to be around 250 words, but some may be just as long as your main essay. For example, Cornell requires applicants to write a second supplemental essay (of 650 words max) that is specific to the program they’re applying to. The exception to this is the Cornell College of Engineering, for which applicants are required to compose two supplemental essays of 250 words max each.

For best results, keep your essays within the word range provided. While you don’t have to hit the count exactly, you should aim to stay within a 10% difference of the upper limit—without including fluff or filler. For example, if the school requests 500 words, try to ensure that your essay is between 450 and 500 words.

For the Common App, try to stay within 550-650 words, even though the given range is 250-650. Any submission shorter than 500 words will make it look as though you simply didn’t care enough to give your best effort. An essay shorter than 500 words won’t be long enough to truly share who you are and what matters to you.

Exceeding the word count isn’t an option—the application portal cuts off anything over the maximum number of allowed words. This is something you want to be particularly careful of if you’re drafting your essay in a Word or Google document and pasting it into the application.

Although most schools provide applicants with a specific word count, some offer more general guidelines. For example, a college may ask for a particular number of pages or paragraphs.

If you aren’t given a word count, try to adhere to the best practices and conventions of writing. Avoid writing especially short or overly long paragraphs—250 words per paragraph is generally a safe upper limit. If you’re asked to write a certain number of pages, single- or double-spaced, stick to a standard font and font size (like 12-point Times New Roman).

In the event that the college doesn’t offer any guidelines at all, aim for an essay length of around 500 words.

While essays are the most commonly requested writing sample, some colleges ask for additional pieces of content. For example, Princeton University requires students to submit a previously graded paper for evaluation .

Princeton offers guidelines that cover length, but if another school requests an old paper and doesn’t offer length requirements, a paper ranging from 3-5 pages should yield the best results. The goal is to select a paper long enough to showcase your writing skills and unique voice, but short enough that the admissions officer doesn’t get bored reading it.

Is your essay effective while staying within the required word count? It’s hard to evaluate your own writing, especially after rereading it numerous times. CollegeVine’s free Peer Essay Review provides an opportunity to have your essay reviewed by a fellow student, for free. Similarly, you can help other students by reviewing their essays—this is a great way to refine your own writing skills.

Expert advice is also available. CollegeVine’s advisors are prepared to help you perfect your personal statement and submit a successful application to your top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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how long should an essay be 7th grade

how long should an essay be 7th grade

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How to Write an Essay Introduction (with Examples)   

essay introduction

The introduction of an essay plays a critical role in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. It sets the stage for the rest of the essay, establishes the tone and style, and motivates the reader to continue reading. 

Table of Contents

What is an essay introduction , what to include in an essay introduction, how to create an essay structure , step-by-step process for writing an essay introduction , how to write an introduction paragraph , how to write a hook for your essay , how to include background information , how to write a thesis statement .

  • Argumentative Essay Introduction Example: 
  • Expository Essay Introduction Example 

Literary Analysis Essay Introduction Example

Check and revise – checklist for essay introduction , key takeaways , frequently asked questions .

An introduction is the opening section of an essay, paper, or other written work. It introduces the topic and provides background information, context, and an overview of what the reader can expect from the rest of the work. 1 The key is to be concise and to the point, providing enough information to engage the reader without delving into excessive detail. 

The essay introduction is crucial as it sets the tone for the entire piece and provides the reader with a roadmap of what to expect. Here are key elements to include in your essay introduction: 

  • Hook : Start with an attention-grabbing statement or question to engage the reader. This could be a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or a compelling anecdote. 
  • Background information : Provide context and background information to help the reader understand the topic. This can include historical information, definitions of key terms, or an overview of the current state of affairs related to your topic. 
  • Thesis statement : Clearly state your main argument or position on the topic. Your thesis should be concise and specific, providing a clear direction for your essay. 

Before we get into how to write an essay introduction, we need to know how it is structured. The structure of an essay is crucial for organizing your thoughts and presenting them clearly and logically. It is divided as follows: 2  

  • Introduction:  The introduction should grab the reader’s attention with a hook, provide context, and include a thesis statement that presents the main argument or purpose of the essay.  
  • Body:  The body should consist of focused paragraphs that support your thesis statement using evidence and analysis. Each paragraph should concentrate on a single central idea or argument and provide evidence, examples, or analysis to back it up.  
  • Conclusion:  The conclusion should summarize the main points and restate the thesis differently. End with a final statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Avoid new information or arguments. 

how long should an essay be 7th grade

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write an essay introduction: 

  • Start with a Hook : Begin your introduction paragraph with an attention-grabbing statement, question, quote, or anecdote related to your topic. The hook should pique the reader’s interest and encourage them to continue reading. 
  • Provide Background Information : This helps the reader understand the relevance and importance of the topic. 
  • State Your Thesis Statement : The last sentence is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be clear, concise, and directly address the topic of your essay. 
  • Preview the Main Points : This gives the reader an idea of what to expect and how you will support your thesis. 
  • Keep it Concise and Clear : Avoid going into too much detail or including information not directly relevant to your topic. 
  • Revise : Revise your introduction after you’ve written the rest of your essay to ensure it aligns with your final argument. 

Here’s an example of an essay introduction paragraph about the importance of education: 

Education is often viewed as a fundamental human right and a key social and economic development driver. As Nelson Mandela once famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is the key to unlocking a wide range of opportunities and benefits for individuals, societies, and nations. In today’s constantly evolving world, education has become even more critical. It has expanded beyond traditional classroom learning to include digital and remote learning, making education more accessible and convenient. This essay will delve into the importance of education in empowering individuals to achieve their dreams, improving societies by promoting social justice and equality, and driving economic growth by developing a skilled workforce and promoting innovation. 

This introduction paragraph example includes a hook (the quote by Nelson Mandela), provides some background information on education, and states the thesis statement (the importance of education). 

This is one of the key steps in how to write an essay introduction. Crafting a compelling hook is vital because it sets the tone for your entire essay and determines whether your readers will stay interested. A good hook draws the reader in and sets the stage for the rest of your essay.  

  • Avoid Dry Fact : Instead of simply stating a bland fact, try to make it engaging and relevant to your topic. For example, if you’re writing about the benefits of exercise, you could start with a startling statistic like, “Did you know that regular exercise can increase your lifespan by up to seven years?” 
  • Avoid Using a Dictionary Definition : While definitions can be informative, they’re not always the most captivating way to start an essay. Instead, try to use a quote, anecdote, or provocative question to pique the reader’s interest. For instance, if you’re writing about freedom, you could begin with a quote from a famous freedom fighter or philosopher. 
  • Do Not Just State a Fact That the Reader Already Knows : This ties back to the first point—your hook should surprise or intrigue the reader. For Here’s an introduction paragraph example, if you’re writing about climate change, you could start with a thought-provoking statement like, “Despite overwhelming evidence, many people still refuse to believe in the reality of climate change.” 

Including background information in the introduction section of your essay is important to provide context and establish the relevance of your topic. When writing the background information, you can follow these steps: 

  • Start with a General Statement:  Begin with a general statement about the topic and gradually narrow it down to your specific focus. For example, when discussing the impact of social media, you can begin by making a broad statement about social media and its widespread use in today’s society, as follows: “Social media has become an integral part of modern life, with billions of users worldwide.” 
  • Define Key Terms : Define any key terms or concepts that may be unfamiliar to your readers but are essential for understanding your argument. 
  • Provide Relevant Statistics:  Use statistics or facts to highlight the significance of the issue you’re discussing. For instance, “According to a report by Statista, the number of social media users is expected to reach 4.41 billion by 2025.” 
  • Discuss the Evolution:  Mention previous research or studies that have been conducted on the topic, especially those that are relevant to your argument. Mention key milestones or developments that have shaped its current impact. You can also outline some of the major effects of social media. For example, you can briefly describe how social media has evolved, including positives such as increased connectivity and issues like cyberbullying and privacy concerns. 
  • Transition to Your Thesis:  Use the background information to lead into your thesis statement, which should clearly state the main argument or purpose of your essay. For example, “Given its pervasive influence, it is crucial to examine the impact of social media on mental health.” 

how long should an essay be 7th grade

A thesis statement is a concise summary of the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, or other type of academic writing. It appears near the end of the introduction. Here’s how to write a thesis statement: 

  • Identify the topic:  Start by identifying the topic of your essay. For example, if your essay is about the importance of exercise for overall health, your topic is “exercise.” 
  • State your position:  Next, state your position or claim about the topic. This is the main argument or point you want to make. For example, if you believe that regular exercise is crucial for maintaining good health, your position could be: “Regular exercise is essential for maintaining good health.” 
  • Support your position:  Provide a brief overview of the reasons or evidence that support your position. These will be the main points of your essay. For example, if you’re writing an essay about the importance of exercise, you could mention the physical health benefits, mental health benefits, and the role of exercise in disease prevention. 
  • Make it specific:  Ensure your thesis statement clearly states what you will discuss in your essay. For example, instead of saying, “Exercise is good for you,” you could say, “Regular exercise, including cardiovascular and strength training, can improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.” 

Examples of essay introduction 

Here are examples of essay introductions for different types of essays: 

Argumentative Essay Introduction Example:  

Topic: Should the voting age be lowered to 16? 

“The question of whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 has sparked nationwide debate. While some argue that 16-year-olds lack the requisite maturity and knowledge to make informed decisions, others argue that doing so would imbue young people with agency and give them a voice in shaping their future.” 

Expository Essay Introduction Example  

Topic: The benefits of regular exercise 

“In today’s fast-paced world, the importance of regular exercise cannot be overstated. From improving physical health to boosting mental well-being, the benefits of exercise are numerous and far-reaching. This essay will examine the various advantages of regular exercise and provide tips on incorporating it into your daily routine.” 

Text: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee 

“Harper Lee’s novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ is a timeless classic that explores themes of racism, injustice, and morality in the American South. Through the eyes of young Scout Finch, the reader is taken on a journey that challenges societal norms and forces characters to confront their prejudices. This essay will analyze the novel’s use of symbolism, character development, and narrative structure to uncover its deeper meaning and relevance to contemporary society.” 

  • Engaging and Relevant First Sentence : The opening sentence captures the reader’s attention and relates directly to the topic. 
  • Background Information : Enough background information is introduced to provide context for the thesis statement. 
  • Definition of Important Terms : Key terms or concepts that might be unfamiliar to the audience or are central to the argument are defined. 
  • Clear Thesis Statement : The thesis statement presents the main point or argument of the essay. 
  • Relevance to Main Body : Everything in the introduction directly relates to and sets up the discussion in the main body of the essay. 

how long should an essay be 7th grade

Writing a strong introduction is crucial for setting the tone and context of your essay. Here are the key takeaways for how to write essay introduction: 3  

  • Hook the Reader : Start with an engaging hook to grab the reader’s attention. This could be a compelling question, a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or an anecdote. 
  • Provide Background : Give a brief overview of the topic, setting the context and stage for the discussion. 
  • Thesis Statement : State your thesis, which is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be concise, clear, and specific. 
  • Preview the Structure : Outline the main points or arguments to help the reader understand the organization of your essay. 
  • Keep it Concise : Avoid including unnecessary details or information not directly related to your thesis. 
  • Revise and Edit : Revise your introduction to ensure clarity, coherence, and relevance. Check for grammar and spelling errors. 
  • Seek Feedback : Get feedback from peers or instructors to improve your introduction further. 

The purpose of an essay introduction is to give an overview of the topic, context, and main ideas of the essay. It is meant to engage the reader, establish the tone for the rest of the essay, and introduce the thesis statement or central argument.  

An essay introduction typically ranges from 5-10% of the total word count. For example, in a 1,000-word essay, the introduction would be roughly 50-100 words. However, the length can vary depending on the complexity of the topic and the overall length of the essay.

An essay introduction is critical in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. To ensure its effectiveness, consider incorporating these key elements: a compelling hook, background information, a clear thesis statement, an outline of the essay’s scope, a smooth transition to the body, and optional signposting sentences.  

The process of writing an essay introduction is not necessarily straightforward, but there are several strategies that can be employed to achieve this end. When experiencing difficulty initiating the process, consider the following techniques: begin with an anecdote, a quotation, an image, a question, or a startling fact to pique the reader’s interest. It may also be helpful to consider the five W’s of journalism: who, what, when, where, why, and how.   For instance, an anecdotal opening could be structured as follows: “As I ascended the stage, momentarily blinded by the intense lights, I could sense the weight of a hundred eyes upon me, anticipating my next move. The topic of discussion was climate change, a subject I was passionate about, and it was my first public speaking event. Little did I know , that pivotal moment would not only alter my perspective but also chart my life’s course.” 

Crafting a compelling thesis statement for your introduction paragraph is crucial to grab your reader’s attention. To achieve this, avoid using overused phrases such as “In this paper, I will write about” or “I will focus on” as they lack originality. Instead, strive to engage your reader by substantiating your stance or proposition with a “so what” clause. While writing your thesis statement, aim to be precise, succinct, and clear in conveying your main argument.  

To create an effective essay introduction, ensure it is clear, engaging, relevant, and contains a concise thesis statement. It should transition smoothly into the essay and be long enough to cover necessary points but not become overwhelming. Seek feedback from peers or instructors to assess its effectiveness. 


  • Cui, L. (2022). Unit 6 Essay Introduction.  Building Academic Writing Skills . 
  • West, H., Malcolm, G., Keywood, S., & Hill, J. (2019). Writing a successful essay.  Journal of Geography in Higher Education ,  43 (4), 609-617. 
  • Beavers, M. E., Thoune, D. L., & McBeth, M. (2023). Bibliographic Essay: Reading, Researching, Teaching, and Writing with Hooks: A Queer Literacy Sponsorship. College English, 85(3), 230-242. 

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How Long Should My Academic Essay Be?

Tonya Thompson

When you're given an academic essay assignment, it's easy to feel overwhelmed—especially if English is your second language or you have limited experience with academic writing. Academic essays can range from a few paragraphs to book-length dissertations, so the scope of expectations varies widely based on the school you're attending, the class you're taking, the departmental expectations, and (most especially) the professor giving you the assignment.

However, if you're new to academic essay writing and are stressing over the length it should be, keep in mind that in most situations, your questions will be answered by your professor or the admissions committee assigning you the essay in the first place. When an assignment is given, some professors are very specific on their expectations, including what they expect the word count to be.

When an assignment is given, some professors are very specific on their expectations, including what they expect the word or page count to be.

For most assignments, you'll likely be given guidelines based on word count (for example, 1,000 to 1,200 words) or page count (3 to 5 pages, double-spaced). You might also be given guidelines on the citation format to use, how many sources you should have, and even the publication date range of those sources. Some professors like to be extremely specific on their expectations for each academic essay assignment, while others might be more lenient and less structured in their guidelines. And of course, these guidelines will vary based on the type of academic essay and its purpose.

General guidelines for essay length

Middle school.

Academic essay assignments typically start in middle school in the American education system and fall within the range of 300 to 800 words. In these grades, you'll be learning the basic 5-paragraph essay structure, which includes an introduction, a thesis statement, the body, and a conclusion. In the typical 5-paragraph essay format, the first paragraph should be the introduction, the second through fourth paragraphs should be the body of the essay, and the fifth paragraph should be the conclusion. In very rare instances would your introduction or conclusion take up more than one paragraph for these types of essays.

High school

In high school, you'll still likely need to write a 5-paragraph essay, although some teachers (especially English and Language Arts) will start to require longer essays (3 to 5 pages). This is to prepare you for the rigor of academic writing that you'll be fine-tuning in college. In these essays, you will still have the basic format of introduction, body and conclusion; however, you'll expand the body to more thoroughly explore or explain a topic. The conclusion of your 3 to 5-page essay will likely still fall within one paragraph, although the introduction might be more than one, depending on the topic.

University (Undergraduate level)

Once you get admitted into an undergraduate program, the length of your academic essay assignments will vary significantly, depending on the classes you take and the departments you take them in. You'll also encounter classes that require academic essays of varying length as the semester progresses, with a longer essay due as the final assignment for a greater percentage of the class grade. In most cases, these longer academic writing assignments will be structured in such a way in that parts of the essay assignment must be turned in at different times, with all sections being put together as a final paper.

For example, in an advanced-level English class, your professor might assign multiple shorter essays of 5 to 7 pages (or 1,500 to 2,100 words) and one final essay that explores a topic in more depth at 8 to 10 pages (or 2,400 to 3,000 words). Another class, such as a core curriculum survey course, might require fewer essays or more journal prompt-type writing assignments.

University (Graduate level)

Much the same as the undergraduate level of college, graduate-level academic writing assignments will vary based on several factors, such as the professor, the course, the department, and the program of study. One university program might require extensive writing while another might be more lab-based or hands-on experience.

Graduate level is also where you're likely to first encounter "thesis" and "dissertation" academic writing assignments, which can go up to 100,000 words or more. These types of assignments obviously require extensive planning, research, and writing time, but you'll likely be given very specific word count and citation requirements when being assigned the paper to write.

Graduate level writing is significantly more involved than the 5-paragraph essay format and contains elements such as sections related to a review of literature, background of the topic/theoretical framework, methodology of research, and your specific findings. These separate sections might have their own word count limits and requirements, with some requiring significantly more time and writing than others. As with some undergraduate assignments, you might be asked to submit these academic writing assignments in stages or sections, including a proposal, a list of your sources, etc.

Beyond word and page count

Even if you stay within a certain word or page count that is required for an academic writing assignment, you could still receive a poor grade for not using that count wisely. For example, it's possible to write a 3 to 5-paragraph paper that is disorganized and illogical, in the same sense that an 8-page essay might have the same faults.

Here are some important guidelines to follow when writing an academic essay, regardless of the word count required:

  • Always carefully outline before you begin writing. An outline will help you cover everything that should be covered and ensure that you've included all of the required parts of the essay (introduction, thesis statement, etc.)
  • Never allow your academic essay writing style to appear rambling, off-topic, or full of "filler" words. While the topic you're writing about might be new to you, your professor will likely know it extensively and will be able to tell if you're writing just to fill space.
  • Do your best to avoid hedging. Hedging is when you essentially dance around a topic with vague statements but never have an actual stance on it. In most forms of academic writing, you're expected to make a clear assumption or thesis statement and then back up your claim with solid research and/or data.

It's important to avoid vague statements or ambiguity in your academic essay writing.

So, can I go over or under word count?

Ultimately, it will always be in your best interest to stay within word count requirements given to you on assignments. Word count or page count limits are given to you for a reason—your professor knows exactly how in-depth you can explore a topic or topics given that word count restriction. If you find that you are significantly under word count when you've completed your writing assignment, it's likely that you haven't explored the topic to the depth expected of you by your instructor. A poor or failing grade might be the result, as it will be clear to your professor that you either didn't understand the topic or didn't take the time needed to research it correctly.

Some professors will allow word count that is over suggested limits a lot more readily than word count that is under them. However, keep in mind that if you have gone significantly over word count in your academic essay assignment, it's always a good idea to ask your teacher if this is acceptable. He or she might have such a heavy student and research load that they are simply unable to read hundreds of essays that are over the suggested word count limit, and might be forced to stop reading once you've reached it. This means that important parts of your writing will not be read and could affect your teacher's grade choice for the assignments.

This is also true for college admissions essay assignments. Admissions committees might be reading the essays of thousands of applicants and need those writers to stay within word count restrictions for the sake of time and logistics. Allowing one applicant to write extensively more could also put that applicant at an unfair advantage, so word count restrictions should always be followed. For a more in-depth look at what you should and shouldn't do on your college admissions essay, check out this article on writing a college admissions essay that stands out from the crowd .

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the best college essay length: how long should it be.

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College Essays


Figuring out your college essay can be one of the most difficult parts of applying to college. Even once you've read the prompt and picked a topic, you might wonder: if you write too much or too little, will you blow your chance of admission? How long should a college essay be?

Whether you're a terse writer or a loquacious one, we can advise you on college essay length. In this guide, we'll cover what the standard college essay length is, how much word limits matter, and what to do if you aren't sure how long a specific essay should be.

How Long Is a College Essay? First, Check the Word Limit

You might be used to turning in your writing assignments on a page-limit basis (for example, a 10-page paper). While some colleges provide page limits for their college essays, most use a word limit instead. This makes sure there's a standard length for all the essays that a college receives, regardless of formatting or font.

In the simplest terms, your college essay should be pretty close to, but not exceeding, the word limit in length. Think within 50 words as the lower bound, with the word limit as the upper bound. So for a 500-word limit essay, try to get somewhere between 450-500 words. If they give you a range, stay within that range.

College essay prompts usually provide the word limit right in the prompt or in the instructions.

For example, the University of Illinois says :

"You'll answer two to three prompts as part of your application. The questions you'll answer will depend on whether you're applying to a major or to our undeclared program , and if you've selected a second choice . Each response should be approximately 150 words."

As exemplified by the University of Illinois, the shortest word limits for college essays are usually around 150 words (less than half a single-spaced page). Rarely will you see a word limit higher than around 650 words (over one single-spaced page). College essays are usually pretty short: between 150 and 650 words. Admissions officers have to read a lot of them, after all!


Weigh your words carefully, because they are limited!

How Flexible Is the Word Limit?

But how flexible is the word limit? What if your poignant anecdote is just 10 words too long—or 100 too short?

Can I Go Over the Word Limit?

If you are attaching a document and you need one or two extra words, you can probably get away with exceeding the word limit by such a small amount. Some colleges will actually tell you that exceeding the word limit by 1-2 words is fine. However, I advise against exceeding the word limit unless it's explicitly allowed for a few reasons:

First, you might not be able to. If you have to copy-paste it into a text box, your essay might get cut off and you'll have to trim it down anyway.

If you exceed the word limit in a noticeable way, the admissions counselor may just stop reading your essay past that point. This is not good for you.

Following directions is actually a very important part of the college application process. You need to follow directions to get your letters of recommendation, upload your essays, send supplemental materials, get your test scores sent, and so on and so forth. So it's just a good general rule to follow whatever instructions you've been given by the institution. Better safe than sorry!

Can I Go Under the Word Limit?

If you can truly get your point across well beneath the word limit, it's probably fine. Brevity is not necessarily a bad thing in writing just so long as you are clear, cogent, and communicate what you want to.

However, most college essays have pretty tight word limits anyways. So if you're writing 300 words for an essay with a 500-word limit, ask yourself: is there anything more you could say to elaborate on or support your points? Consult with a parent, friend, or teacher on where you could elaborate with more detail or expand your points.

Also, if the college gives you a word range, you absolutely need to at least hit the bottom end of the range. So if you get a range from the institution, like 400-500 words, you need to write at least 400 words. If you write less, it will come across like you have nothing to say, which is not an impression you want to give.


What If There Is No Word Limit?

Some colleges don't give you a word limit for one or more of your essay prompts. This can be a little stressful, but the prompts generally fall into a few categories:

Writing Sample

Some colleges don't provide a hard-and-fast word limit because they want a writing sample from one of your classes. In this case, a word limit would be very limiting to you in terms of which assignments you could select from.

For an example of this kind of prompt, check out essay Option B at Amherst :

"Submit a graded paper from your junior or senior year that best represents your writing skills and analytical abilities. We are particularly interested in your ability to construct a tightly reasoned, persuasive argument that calls upon literary, sociological or historical evidence. You should NOT submit a laboratory report, journal entry, creative writing sample or in-class essay."

While there is usually no word limit per se, colleges sometimes provide a general page guideline for writing samples. In the FAQ for Option B , Amherst clarifies, "There is no hard-and-fast rule for official page limit. Typically, we anticipate a paper of 4-5 pages will provide adequate length to demonstrate your analytical abilities. Somewhat longer papers can also be submitted, but in most cases should not exceed 8-10 pages."

So even though there's no word limit, they'd like somewhere in the 4-10 pages range. High school students are not usually writing papers that are longer than 10 pages anyways, so that isn't very limiting.

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Implicit Length Guideline

Sometimes, while there's no word (or even page) limit, there's still an implicit length guideline. What do I mean by this?

See, for example, this Western Washington University prompt :

“Describe one or more activities you have been involved in that have been particularly meaningful. What does your involvement say about the communities, identities or causes that are important to you?”

While there’s no page or word limit listed here, further down on page the ‘essay tips’ section explains that “ most essay responses are about 500 words, ” though “this is only a recommendation, not a firm limit.” This gives you an idea of what’s reasonable. A little longer or shorter than 500 words would be appropriate here. That’s what I mean by an “implicit” word limit—there is a reasonable length you could go to within the boundaries of the prompt.


But what's the proper coffee-to-paragraph ratio?

Treasure Hunt

There is also the classic "treasure hunt" prompt. No, it's not a prompt about a treasure hunt. It's a prompt where there are no length guidelines given, but if you hunt around on the rest of the website you can find length guidelines.

For example, the University of Chicago provides seven "Extended Essay" prompts . You must write an essay in response to one prompt of your choosing, but nowhere on the page is there any guidance about word count or page limit.

However, many colleges provide additional details about their expectations for application materials, including essays, on FAQ pages, which is true of the University of Chicago. On the school’s admissions Frequently Asked Questions page , they provide the following length guidelines for the supplemental essays: 

“We suggest that you note any word limits for Coalition or Common Application essays; however, there are no strict word limits on the UChicago Supplement essays. For the extended essay (where you choose one of several prompts), we suggest that you aim for around 650 words. While we won't, as a rule, stop reading after 650 words, we're only human and cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention indefinitely. For the “Why UChicago?” essay, we suggest about 250-500 words. The ideas in your writing matter more than the exact number of words you use!”

So there you go! You want to be (loosely) in the realm of 650 for the extended essay, and 250-500 words for the “Why UChicago?” essay.

Help! There Really Is No Guidance on Length

If you really can't find any length guidelines anywhere on the admissions website and you're at a loss, I advise calling the admissions office. They may not be able to give you an exact number (in fact, they probably won't), but they will probably at least be able to tell you how long most of the essays they see are. (And keep you from writing a panicked, 20-page dissertation about your relationship with your dog).

In general, 500 words or so is pretty safe for a college essay. It's a fairly standard word limit length, in fact. (And if you're wondering, that's about a page and a half double-spaced.) 500 words is long enough to develop a basic idea while still getting a point across quickly—important when admissions counselors have thousands of essays to read!


"See? It says 500 words right there in tiny font!"

The Final Word: How Long Should a College Essay Be?

The best college essay length is usually pretty straightforward: you want to be right under or at the provided word limit. If you go substantially past the word limit, you risk having your essay cut off by an online application form or having the admissions officer just not finish it. And if you're too far under the word limit, you may not be elaborating enough.

What if there is no word limit? Then how long should a college essay be? In general, around 500 words is a pretty safe approximate word amount for a college essay—it's one of the most common word limits, after all!

Here's guidance for special cases and hunting down word limits:

If it's a writing sample of your graded academic work, the length either doesn't matter or there should be some loose page guidelines.

There also may be implicit length guidelines. For example, if a prompt says to write three paragraphs, you'll know that writing six sentences is definitely too short, and two single-spaced pages is definitely too long.

You might not be able to find length guidelines in the prompt, but you could still hunt them up elsewhere on the website. Try checking FAQs or googling your chosen school name with "admissions essay word limit."

If there really is no word limit, you can call the school to try to get some guidance.

With this advice, you can be sure you've got the right college essay length on lockdown!


Hey, writing about yourself can even be fun!

What's Next?

Need to ask a teacher or friend for help with your essay? See our do's and dont's to getting college essay advice .

If you're lacking in essay inspiration, see our guide to brainstorming college essay ideas . And here's our guide to starting out your essay perfectly!

Looking for college essay examples? See 11 places to find college essay examples and 145 essay examples with analysis !

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. She received a BA from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.

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how long should an essay be 7th grade

  • Mar 24, 2021

Essays in 6th Grade: A Basic Format that Elevates the Standard 5-Paragraph Structure

how long should an essay be 7th grade

6th grade is such a funny year. Funny haha and funny weird. Student writing levels are all over the map. You will have students coming to you writing on a very elementary level, still needing loads of help with grammar and paragraph formation. Then, you will have students ready to write critique pieces and analyses. How do you navigate this? Read to find out more!

Give Them a Format...to Start

I've learned that 6th graders still need format . They still need structure. They still need checklists. As much as I loathe limiting them in this way, I think it is very reassuring to them. That's not to say you can't tweak for the strong writers, but I do still feel they need it.

For my students in particular, I like to let them dabble in looser formats of non-fiction writing in other ways. They do book reviews , a debate , podcasting , etc. They are offered choices in reading responses to non-fiction reading and analysis, too. My classes actually write digital eBooks, too. But on the whole, they are expected to write two essays with a very similar format twice a year.

Bye-Bye 5-Paragraph Essay

Alright, so this is kind of not totally true. My students do end up writing 5 paragraphs, but that typical structure we all commonly know, I navigate away from. I think it's a fine format, but as they get into middle school they are expected to compare a LOT more and not focus on one specific topic . They are expected to follow through on a thread, a claim, a theme, an idea and how it is shown in various sources. And this is super new for them, analyzing various sources on the same concept. They really need a structure for this.

So, the typical essay, before they get to me, goes like this, and it is a good precursor:

Introduction that states your thesis and 3 major reasons to support your claim.

Conclusion that looks a whole lot like the introduction.

This format does not allow analysis of multiple sources and if you throw in other sources, it gets messy. Instead, I gear my students to focus on each source separately, then comparing them all.

The Format that Works (Research and Literary Analysis)

First of all, it's important to know what essays I actually do with my kiddos. I do a research unit. This changes almost every year, but typically they choose some kind of topic, I group them based on their topic choice. First, they do research (non-fiction skills) using a book, article, and video. They then use those sources to write an essay on a claim they make based on their topic. Later, they make eBooks in groups based on their topic.

The other essay I do is Literary Analysis . This follows a dystopian unit . They read a dystopian book in book clubs. Then, I have them choose from a short list of short stories that are dystopian. Lastly, we watch the movie The Truman Show . (This year I had them watch "The Scarecrow" on YouTube since we were hybrid due to the pandemic). They then determine a theme that is true for all three sources and write an essay based on that theme.

This essay format works for both of these essays. So here it goes!

how long should an essay be 7th grade

Introductory and Conclusion Statements

In a traditional essay, students have to write a hook, their claim/thesis, and essentially ANOTHER three sentences that state what their essays will be about. In my opinion, all of this is completely unnecessary. How many times do you read introductions in books? Okay, real avid readers do, but in reality many people don't. So for these, I tell my students to get right to the point .

Here's what should be in their introductory and conclusion statements:

A statement that introduces the topic. (This is a hook of some kind. I sometimes tell them to start it with "in our world..." or "in our lives..." and something that relates to their topic. Or just starting it with their topic and explaining what it is.)

The claim/thesis.

A statement that references there are differences and similarities in the sources. (For example: "[Title of sources] support this claim in different and similar ways." That's it.)

This all ends up being 2-3 sentences.

Topic Sentences

I have my students start their essay prep with topic sentences. This helps them get a sense of where their essays will go.

The big thing to understand here is how the paragraphs are set up .

Body #1 : Focus on source #1 and how it shows claim/thesis.

Body #2 : Focus on source #2 and how it shows claim/thesis.

Body #3 : Focus on source #3 and how it shows claim/thesis.

Body #4 : Focus on how ALL SOURCES show the claim/thesis in the same way.

So they start with creating topic sentences for those paragraphs. Each topic sentence is set up like this. The last topic sentence would start with "all sources..." instead of "source title".:

how long should an essay be 7th grade

Body Paragraph Format

In the picture you see below, I have specific colors for specific aspects of body paragraphs. ALL body paragraphs follow this format in that exact sequence/order. I will be completely honest, I don't give them a ton of wiggle room since this is pretty new to them. However, my stronger writers dabble in mixing evidence stems and elaboration stems around.

how long should an essay be 7th grade

Their paragraph starts with the topic sentence they already prepared. From there, the next sentence begins with an evidence stem . Here are a few examples of evidence stems:

According to the text,

The author states,

In [title],

Right after the evidence stem, in the same sentence, they add their text detail to support their topic sentence. I encourage them to quote exactly from the text for most text details. They can paraphrase, too, but should really try to get exact lines.

In regards to quoting, I also mention to them not to quote plop . I made this up. I plan on making a product for this at some point. A quote plop is bad . It's when students take a line from the text and just plop it in their essay. I show them how to break up the quote from the text with their own words.

So, a first sentence may look like this: According to the text [evidence stem, highlighted green] , when Luke was hiding due to being a third child, "they took the woods away" , [text detail with context, a.k.a. not just plopping the quote in the sentence, highlighted yellow].

Directly after that sentence should be an elaboration stem with an elaboration explaining how the text detail shows their claim/thesis. Students highlight this entire sentence in blue and their claim within it dark blue. Here are some elaboration stems:

This proves [claim] because...

This shows [claim] because ...

After that they do the same process two more times; two more text details with elaborations. Lastly they do a closing sentence .

how long should an essay be 7th grade

Comparison Paragraph: This is set up almost exactly the same, except the focus is on how ALL the sources show the claim in the same way. They then provide a NEW text detail from each source to prove how the claim is being shown similarly in each.

how long should an essay be 7th grade

Once all their body paragraphs are written, I have them go review their introductory and conclusion statements, put everything into a final draft and leave the highlights in the essay . This helps them visualize all the components and helps me grade!

For revision, the focus is on not quote plopping, being sure their details support their thesis, changing up the wording of claims/theses, and rearranging for strong writers.

Bottom Line

While this is very limiting for some, it is super helpful for struggling writers. Having that checklist and having the highlights helps students visualize what they need to compare sources in an essay format.

I'd say it'd be great to introduce this in 6th and by 8th, they can certainly make these more interpretive, creative, and unique.

You can find a lot more detail about this in the product below . What you see here is only a taste. This contains a full sample essay, checklists, tips, and more. You can also edit it to meet your needs.

how long should an essay be 7th grade


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Really interesting - thank you!!

This exactly the kind of thing I've been looking for, and even better! I love your approach and it's so well explained. I couldn't disagree more with any of the negative feedback to this article. I think it's perfect for my style of teaching and my standard of writing. Most of all, the way you explained this and broke it down into small steps will make it so achievable for even lagging students to develop great writing skills and feel confident in the process! You nailed it. Thank you so much!

I read all the essay writing format instructions. All the points are useful for any kind of essay writing. But at the age of high-level essay writing learners need to be essay writer experts like the 6 Dollars Essay Website , ready to do professional essay writing for any essay grade.

This is beyond me and I teach HS English. Where does this lady teach, at Princeton? I do not know any 6th grader that does this or would understand this. I see why so many of our young people have become disinterested in the learning process. I also see why so many teachers quit. The profession is stale, boring, and antiquated. This article was not fun to read and I'm thinking this new 5 paragraph writing style would be a drag for the average ela teacher to teach.

. In the blog post, I mention the various types of writing I do with students. I also have other blog posts that discuss these other formats. This is not the end all be all. In my over a decade experience with teaching writing, having a structure helps struggling writers. This is not a writing style. This a format for one type of writing. As teachers, we should be offering all types of formats, especially with younger writers who are still learning how to write.

Here's the pitch deck my tween made me to get an iPhone

  • When my daughter was in 7th grade she made a presentation to get an iPhone or iPod. 
  • It didn't change my mind, and she didn't get one. 
  • She's now 16 and finally has her own phone, along with her younger sister. 

Insider Today

"You know, my life is so much better this year, and do you know why that is?" my 16-year-old daughter asked my husband and me as we sat around the dinner table recently.

I raised my eyebrows at her, knowing what was coming next.

"It's my phone!" she exclaimed. "My life got so much better with my phone; I don't know why you made me wait so long!"

Here's the thing: I was — and am — firmly in the "mean mom" camp of a parent who delayed giving my teenage daughters smartphones . I didn't have any arbitrary, set-in-stone rules about when they would get smartphones, but for various reasons, my oldest daughter did not get a full smartphone until she entered high school.

There were many reasons she didn't get one earlier

I could list some of the reasons. My kids attended a very small, private school during their elementary years before transferring to a public school, so phones weren't the norm. She became a teenager during the pandemic and did virtual school for two years, so she was home with me and there was no real need for a phone. Her father works at the same school she now attends, so again, there wasn't a huge, pressing need for me to have a way to contact her — but overall, I didn't see a need to rush into changing all of our lives by opening Pandora's box of a smartphone.

Related stories

My daughter is the oldest of five children, and I knew that once I introduced smartphones to my kids, it would set a precedent for the rest. Plus, there was no going back, so I wasn't in a hurry.

She made a presentation to try to convince me

That didn't stop my daughter from constantly pleading and begging for a phone . In 7th grade, she even designed a downright impressive infographic to convince me to get her a phone or at least an iPod (which some of her friends from her old school had at the time).

"Knowing my mom, I thought if I seemed professional about it and could write a whole presentation about it, they would cave," my daughter said of her decision to make the infographic. And I have to admit, she was professional with her presentation, hitting some major aspects of phone ownership, including:

  • A valid reason for communicating with friends that the phone would provide
  • Her role as a phone owner
  • An offer to help fund the phone with her own money
  • Having ownership of something as the oldest with more responsibilities on her shoulders

Although I was deeply impressed with her infographic , it didn't make me change my mind. I didn't feel that her need to fit in was greater than my wish to preserve the advantages of a phone-free childhood for as long as possible.

When I talk to my daughter now, I do feel some regret that she felt left out from her peers without a phone , especially because she went through the very difficult process of transferring from a small private school to a much larger public school, where she knew only a few other students.

She got a phone when she was in high school

Eventually, I decided that it was time for my daughter to get a phone, largely because she was in high school and had joined a varsity sport, and I felt that she and I were both ready to navigate this new step together.

To make things horribly unfair for her, I also got her sister — who is two years younger — a phone at the same time. Again, I had my reasons for that, in wanting them to be able to talk to each other, sports, school resuming, and, of course, the family plan appeal.

I will fully admit that my oldest daughter got the full "eldest daughter" treatment by waiting longer than her sister.

I can't say with 100% confidence that I made the right decision about delaying phones for our family — if such a thing as a "right" decision exists at all in parenting — but I followed my gut as best I could, and I still feel firmly that a phone-free existence can be a gift in many ways.

Today, my daughter is thrilled to be connected with a phone, but she also admits that there are some drawbacks to life with a phone. "With social media, sometimes I feel like I have to answer on Snapchat or compare myself with other girls," she told me.

Watch: India is the Biggest Dumping Ground for E-Waste. Here's How Teens Recycle It

how long should an essay be 7th grade

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Ibram X. Kendi in a suit surrounded by bookcases.

Ibram X. Kendi Faces a Reckoning of His Own

In 2020, the author of “How to Be an Antiracist” galvanized Americans with his ideas. The past four years have tested them — and him.

Ibram X. Kendi, the founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. Credit... Wayne Lawrence for The New York Times

Supported by

Rachel Poser

By Rachel Poser

Rachel Poser is an editor for the magazine. She spoke to Kendi over a period of several months and visited him at his research center in Boston.

  • June 4, 2024 Updated 11:46 a.m. ET

Ibram X. Kendi has a notebook that prompts him, on every other page, to write down “Things to be grateful for.” There are many things he might put under that heading. First and foremost, his wife and two daughters, and his health, having made it through Stage 4 colon cancer in his 30s — a diagnosis with a 12 percent survival rate. Tenure at Boston University, where Martin Luther King Jr. earned his doctorate in theology. A National Book Award, and a MacArthur “genius” grant for “transforming how many people understand, discuss and attempt to redress America’s longstanding racial challenges.” Then there were the millions of people who bought “How to Be an Antiracist,” the first of five of his books to take the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list. But he was particularly grateful to the readers who wrote to him to say his work changed them for the better.

Listen to this article, read by January LaVoy

These days, he could use the reminder. Four years have gone by since George Floyd was murdered on the pavement near Cup Foods in Minneapolis, sparking the racial “reckoning” that made Kendi a household name. Many people, Kendi among them, believe that reckoning is long over. State legislatures have pushed through harsh antiprotest measures . Conservative-led campaigns against teaching Black history and against diversity, equity and inclusion programs are underway. Last June, the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions. And Donald Trump is once again the Republican nominee for president, promising to root out “the radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”

Kendi has become a prime target of this backlash. Books of his have been banned from schools in some districts, and his name is a kind of profanity among conservatives who believe racism is mostly a problem of the past. Though legions of readers continue to celebrate Kendi as a courageous and groundbreaking thinker, for many others he has become a symbol of everything that’s wrong in racial discourse today. Even many allies in the fight for racial justice dismiss his brand of antiracism as unworkable, wrongheaded or counterproductive. “The vast majority of my critics,” Kendi told me last year, “either haven’t read my work or willfully misrepresent it.”

Criticism of Kendi only grew in September, when he made the “painful decision” to lay off more than half the staff of the research center he runs at Boston University. The Center for Antiracist Research, which Kendi founded during the 2020 protests to tackle “seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity and injustice,” raised an enormous sum of $55 million, and the news of its downsizing led to a storm of questions. False rumors began circulating that Kendi had stolen funds, and the university announced it would investigate after former employees accused him of mismanagement and secrecy.

The controversy quickly ballooned into a national news story, fueled in large part by right-wing media, which was all too happy to speculate about “missing funds” and condemn Kendi — and the broader racial-justice movement — as a fraud. On Fox News, the conservative activist Christopher Rufo told the host John Roberts that the center’s “failure” was “poetic justice.” “This is a symbol of where we have come since 2020 and why that movement is really floundering today,” he said. In early October, a podcast affiliated with the Manhattan Institute, the conservative think tank where Rufo works, jubilantly released an episode titled “The End of Ibram X. Kendi?”

‘I don’t know of anybody more ill suited for fame than Ibram Kendi.’

In December, I met Kendi at the Center for Antiracist Research, which was by then mostly empty, though I caught signs of its former life: Space heaters sat idly under desks, and Post-it notes lingered around the edges of unplugged monitors. On the frame of one cleared-out cubicle, a sticker in the shape of Earth read “Be the change.” Kendi welcomed me into his office in a pink shirt and a periwinkle blazer with a handkerchief tucked neatly in its pocket. He was calm on the surface, but he seemed to me, as he often did during the conversations we’d had since the layoffs, to be holding himself taut, like a tensile substance under enormous strain. The furor over the center, he said, was a measure of how desperate many people were to damage his reputation: “If this had happened at another center, it would either not have been a story or a one-day story.”

In “How to Be an Antiracist,” his best-known book, Kendi challenges readers to evaluate themselves by their racial impact, by whether their actions advance or impede the cause of racial equality. “There is no neutrality in the racial struggle,” he writes. “The question for each of us is: What side of history will we stand on?” This question evinces Kendi’s confidence that ideas and policies can be dependably sorted into one of two categories: racist or antiracist.

Kendi is a vegan, a tall man with a gentle, serious nature. “He’ll laugh at a joke — he’ll never crack one,” Kellie Carter Jackson, the chair of the Africana studies department at Wellesley and someone who has known Kendi for years, told me. He considers himself an “introvert and loner” who was chased down by the spotlight and is now caught in its glare. “I don’t know of anybody more ill suited for fame than Ibram Kendi,” said Stefan Bradley, a longtime friend and professor of Black studies at Amherst. There is a corniness to Kendi that’s endearing, like his use of the gratitude notebook — a thick, pastel-colored pad with gold spiral binding — or the fact that his phone email signature is “Sent from Typoville aka my iPhone.” Though he is always soft-spoken, volume sometimes seems to be a gauge of how comfortable he feels. The first time I met him in person, he greeted me so quietly that I worried my recorder wouldn’t pick up his voice.

Kendi had hired a pair of crisis-P.R. consultants to help him manage the fallout from the layoffs, a controversy that he believed had fed into dangerous, racist stories about Black leaders, and about him in particular. In the fun-house mirror of conservative media, Kendi has long loomed as an antiwhite extremist trying to get rich by sowing racial division. Kendi told me he received regular threats; he allowed me to come to the center only on the condition that I not reveal its location. “When it comes to the white supremacists who are the greatest domestic terrorist threat of our time, I am one of their chief enemies,” he told me.

Boston University had recently released the results of its audit, which found “no issues” with how the center’s finances were handled. The center’s problem, Kendi told me, was more banal: Most of its money was in its endowment or restricted to specific uses, and after the high of 2020, donations had crashed. “At our current rate, we were going to run out in two years,” he said. “That was what ultimately led us to feel like we needed to make a major change.” The center’s new model would fund nine-month academic fellowships rather than a large full-time staff. Though inquiries into the center’s grant-management practices and workplace culture were continuing, Kendi was confident that they would absolve him, too. In the media, he’d dismissed the complaints about his leadership as “unfair,” “unfounded,” “vague,” “meanspirited” and an attempt to “settle old scores.”

In the fall, when I began talking to former employees and faculty — most of whom asked for anonymity because they remain at Boston University or signed severance agreements that included nondisparagement language — it was clear that many of them felt caught in a bind. They could already see that the story of the center’s dysfunction was being used to undermine the racial-justice movement, but they were frustrated to watch Kendi play down the problems and cast their concerns as spiteful or even racist. They felt that what they experienced at the center was now playing out in public: Kendi’s tendency to see their constructive feedback as hostile. “He doesn’t trust anybody,” one person told me. “He doesn’t let anyone in.”

To Kendi, attacks from those who claim to be allies, like attacks from political enemies, are to be expected. In his books, Kendi argues that history is not an arc bending toward justice but a war of “dueling” forces — racist and antiracist — that each escalate their response when the other advances. In the years since 2020, he believes, the country has entered a predictable period of retrenchment, when the force of racism is ascendant and the racial progress of the last several decades is under threat. To defend antiracism, to defend himself, he would simply have to fight harder.

Not so long ago, Kendi thought he saw a new world coming into being. “We are living in the midst of an antiracist revolution,” he wrote in September 2020 in an Atlantic cover story headlined, “Is This the Beginning of the End for American Racism?” Nearly 20 percent of Americans were saying that “race relations” was the most urgent problem facing the nation — more than at any point since 1968 — and many of them were turning to Kendi to figure out what to do about it. They were buying his memoir and manifesto, “How to Be an Antiracist,” much of which he wrote while undergoing chemotherapy. “This was perhaps the last thing he was going to write,” Chris Jackson, Kendi’s editor, told me. “There was no cynicism in the writing of it.” (Jackson was the editor of a 2021 book based on The 1619 Project, which originated in this magazine in 2019 ; Kendi contributed a chapter to that book.)

Kendi speaking into a microphone in front of a crowd in chairs surrounded by bookshelves.

Kendi confesses in the introduction that he “used to be racist most of the time.” The year 1994, when he turned 12, marked three decades since the United States outlawed discrimination on the basis of race. Then why, Kendi wondered as an adolescent, were so many Black people out of work, impoverished or incarcerated? The problem, he concluded, must be Black people themselves. Not Black people like his parents, God-loving professionals who had saved enough to buy a home in Jamaica, Queens, and who never let their two sons forget the importance of education and hard work. But they were the exception. In high school, Kendi competed in an oratory contest in which he gave voice to many of the anti-Black stereotypes circulating in the ’90s — that Black youths were violent, unstudious, unmotivated. “They think it’s OK to be the most feared in our society,” he proclaimed. “They think it’s OK not to think!” Kendi also turned these ideas on himself, believing that he was a “subpar student” because of his race.

Kendi’s mind began to change when he arrived on the campus of Florida A&M, one of the largest historically Black universities in the country, in the fall of 2000 to study sports journalism. “I had never seen so many Black people together with positive motives,” he wrote at the time. Kendi was disengaged for most of high school, as concerned with his clothes as his grades. His friends at the university teased him for joining a modeling troupe and preening before parties, particularly because once he got to them he was too shy to talk to anyone. “He would come out, and you could smell the cologne from down the hall,” Grady Tripp, Kendi’s housemate, told me. But experimenting with his style, for Kendi, was part of trying on new ideas. For a while, he wore honey-colored contact lenses that turned his irises an off-putting shade of orange; he got rid of them once he decided they were a rejection of blackness, like Malcolm X’s straightening his hair with lye.

Over long hours spent reading alone in the library, Kendi found his way to some unlikely conclusions. In “How to Be an Antiracist,” he describes bursting into his housemate’s room to declare that he had “figured white people out.” “They are aliens,” he said. Kendi had gone searching for answers in conspiracy theories and Nation of Islam theology that cast whites as a “devil race” bred by an evil Black scientist to conquer the planet. “Europeans are simply a different breed of human,” he wrote in a column for the student newspaper in 2003. They are “socialized to be aggressive” and have used “the AIDS virus and cloning” to dominate the world’s peoples. Recently, the column has circulated on right-wing social media as evidence of Kendi’s antiwhite extremism, which frustrates him because it’s in his own memoir as an example of just how lost he had become.

Kendi went on to earn a Ph.D. in African American studies from Temple University. The founder of his department was Molefi Kete Asante, an Afrocentrist who has called on the descendants of enslaved people to embrace traditional African dress, languages and religions. Kendi eventually changed his middle name to Xolani, meaning “peace” in Zulu; at their wedding, he and his wife, Sadiqa, adopted the last name Kendi, meaning “loved one” in Meru. Kendi has called Asante “profoundly antiracist,” but Kendi remained an idiosyncratic thinker who did not consider himself a part of just one scholarly tradition; he knew early on that he wanted to write for the public. In a 2019 interview, when asked about his intellectual lineage, Kendi named W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells and Malcolm X.

Kendi became part of a cohort of Black writers, among them Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates, who, through the sunset of the Obama presidency and the red dawn of the MAGA movement, argued that anti-Blackness remains a major force shaping American politics. They helped popularize the longstanding idea that racism in the United States is systemic — that the country’s laws and institutions perpetuate Black disadvantage despite a pledge of equal treatment. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended de jure white supremacy, but President Lyndon B. Johnson, who signed it into law, acknowledged that it wouldn’t uproot a racial caste system grown over centuries.

“The next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights,” he said, would be to achieve “not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact.” Kendi and others wrote bracingly about the failure of that promise. Far from economic redress, Black Americans were met with continued discrimination in every realm of life, while being told the country was now “colorblind.” Kendi and others argued that remedying the impact of hundreds of years of subjugation would require policies that recognize, rather than ignore, that legacy, such as affirmative action and reparations.

‘The vast majority of my critics either haven’t read my work or willfully misrepresent it.’

Far too many Americans, Kendi felt, still thought of racism as conscious prejudice, so conversations got stuck in cul-de-sacs of denial, in which people protested that they were “not racist” because they harbored no anti-Black animus. To convey this, he landed on the binary that would become his most famous and perhaps most controversial idea. “There is no such thing as a not-racist idea” or a “race-neutral policy,” he wrote in “How to Be an Antiracist,” published in 2019. “The opposite of ‘racist’ isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘antiracist.’”

Black activists have long used the word “antiracist” to describe active resistance to white supremacy, but “How to Be an Antiracist” catapulted the term into the American lexicon, in much the same way that Sheryl Sandberg turned “Lean In” into a mantra. After George Floyd’s death, the book sold out on Amazon, which was “unheard-of,” Kendi said. Media coverage of Kendi in those days made him sound nearly superhuman. In a GQ profile, for example, the novelist ZZ Packer describes Kendi as a “preternaturally wise” Buddha-like figure, “the antiracist guru of our time” with a “Jedi-like prowess for recognizing and neutralizing the racism pervading our society.”

During the summer of 2020, Kendi sometimes appeared onstage or onscreen alongside Robin DiAngelo, the educator whose book “White Fragility” was also a No. 1 best seller. Kendi and DiAngelo write less about the workings of systemic racism than the ideas and psychological defenses that cause people to deny their complicity in it. They share a belief in what Kendi calls “individual transformation for societal transformation.” When Kendi took over Selena Gomez’s Instagram, for example, he urged her 180 million followers to “1. Acknowledge your racism,” “2. Confess your racist ideas” and “3. Define racism and antiracism.” Then they would be ready for Steps 4 and 5, identifying and working to change racist policies.

Kendi and DiAngelo’s talk of confession — antiracism as a kind of conversion experience — inspired many people and disturbed others. By focusing so much on personal growth, critics said, they made it easy for self-help to take the place of organizing, for a conflict over the policing of Black communities, and by extension their material conditions, to become a fight not over policy but over etiquette — which words to use, whether to say “Black Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter.” Many allies felt that Kendi and DiAngelo were merely helping white people alleviate their guilt.

They also questioned Kendi’s willingness to turn his philosophy into a brand. Following the success of “How to Be an Antiracist,” he released a deck of “antiracist” conversation-starter cards, an “antiracist” journal with prompts for self-reflection and a children’s book, “Antiracist Baby.” Christine Platt, an author and advocate who worked with Kendi at American University, recently co-wrote a novel that features a Kendi-like figure — a “soft-spoken” author named Dr. Braxton Walsh Jr., whose book “Woke Yet?” becomes a viral phenomenon. “White folks post about it on social media all the time,” rants De’Andrea, one of the main characters. “Wake up and get your copy today! Only nineteen ninety-nine plus shipping and handling.”

Those who thought of him as a self-help guru, Kendi felt, simply hadn’t read his work. Like most scholars of race, Kendi believes that Blackness is a fiction born of colonial powers’ self-interest, not just ignorance or hate, meaning that combating racism today requires upending the economic and political structures that propagate it. But Kendi doesn’t like the term “systemic racism” because it turns racism into a “hidden and unknowable” force for which there’s no one to blame, so he prefers to talk about “racist policies.”

In The Atlantic, he warned against the country going down a path of symbolic change where “monuments to racism are dismantled, but Americans shrink from the awesome task of reshaping the country with antiracist policies,” like Medicare for All, need-based school funding and reparations. Changing policy was exactly what he aimed to do at Boston University. During the protests, in the summer of 2020, the university named Kendi the Andrew W. Mellon professor of the humanities, a chair previously held by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, and announced the creation of a center on campus to put his ideas into action. Donations came pouring in, led by an anonymous $25 million gift and a $10 million gift from the Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, which the provost said would give Kendi “the resources to launch the center like a rocket ship.”

Kendi started the center from his home in Boston, while Sadiqa, a pediatric E.R. doctor, came and went from the hospital in full protective gear. Kendi ran a research center as part of his old job at American University, but he felt unable to make a meaningful impact because the resources were modest and he was diagnosed with cancer just four months after its founding. Now, granted tens of millions of dollars to enact his most ambitious ideas, Kendi was determined to create an organization that could be a real engine of progress. “We’ve got to build an infrastructure to match what the right has created,” he later told a co-worker. “We’ve got to build something equally powerful.”

Kendi’s two centers were part of a wave of racial-justice spaces being founded at universities, like the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard or the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab at Princeton, that pledged to work in partnership with activists and community groups to achieve social change. Kendi envisioned an organization that supported people of color in campaigning for policies that would concretely improve their lives.

To reflect that mission, he designed a structure with four “pillars” or offices: Research, Policy, Narrative and Advocacy. He recruited data scientists, policy analysts, organizers and educators and brought in faculty members working on race from across the university. They set up a model-legislation unit, which would draft sample bills and public-comment notes; an amicus-brief practice, which would target court cases in which race was being overlooked as an issue; and a grant process to fund research on racism by interdisciplinary teams elsewhere at the university, among other programs. Kendi also struck up a partnership with The Boston Globe to revive The Emancipator, a storied abolitionist newspaper. “It was a really exciting time,” he told me.

That summer, however, Kendi found himself on the defensive beyond Boston as Republican book-banning campaigns revved up. On Fox News, Tucker Carlson denounced “How to Be an Antiracist” as “poisonous,” plucking out Kendi’s summary of the case for race-conscious policymaking, which sounded particularly maladroit when taken out of context: “ The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination ,” Carlson read in mock disbelief. “In other words, his book against racism promotes racism.” This was around the same time that Rufo, the conservative activist, started to position Kendi as a leading proponent of critical race theory, a school of thought, Rufo told The New Yorker, that he discovered by hunting through the footnotes of “How to Be an Antiracist.”

Critical race theorists were a group of legal scholars in the 1970s and ’80s who documented ways that the American legal framework of racial equality was nevertheless producing unequal treatment. They elaborated the idea of systemic racism and the critique of “colorblindness” that inform much of the writing of Kendi’s cohort. Rufo wrote on Twitter that his goal was to change the meaning of the term “critical race theory” — to “turn it toxic” by putting “all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category.” In his attacks on Kendi, Rufo also amplified the left’s critique of Kendi’s corporate-friendliness, caricaturing Kendi as a grifter out to enrich himself by raking in speaking fees. The number of threatening messages Kendi received began to rise. “I don’t feel safe anywhere,” Kendi later told a colleague. “I’m constantly looking over my shoulder.”

By the time the academic year began, in the fall of 2021, Kendi decided to take extraordinary measures. Before the center began in-person work that September, Kendi sent the staff an email about “security protocols,” instructing them to conceal the location of the center even from other Boston University faculty members and students. “It is critical to not share the address of the center with anyone or bring anyone to the center,” Kendi wrote. The email included a mock script to be used in the event of an inquiry about the center’s location, which ended abruptly with, “I gotta go.”

Though such precautions felt necessary to Kendi, they were met with incredulity and frustration by some employees who were starting to question his leadership. Problems emerged within the first six months, according to more than a dozen staff and faculty members I interviewed. Some told me they had gone to the center because they considered Kendi a visionary; others had reservations about or flat-out disagreements with his work but believed he had brought much-needed attention to issues they cared about. They would be able to find common ground, they thought. They were ready for some chaos as they tried to spin up a new organization remotely, but they quickly ran into difficulty as they tried to execute some of Kendi’s plans.

Kendi emphasizes in his books that policies alone are the cause of racial disparities today. In “Stamped From the Beginning,” his 2016 history of anti-Black ideas from the 15th century to the Obama presidency — which won the National Book Award and was recently made into an Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary — Kendi writes that blaming Black people for their own oppression, by implying that Black people or Black culture are inferior or pathological, was one of the oldest cons in America. He had witnessed it again during the early days of the pandemic, when the numbers suggested that Black people were dying from Covid faster than every racial group save Native Americans. Some pundits speculated about the “soul food” diet or posited that Black communities weren’t taking the virus seriously, even though a Pew survey found that Black respondents were most likely to view the coronavirus as a major threat.

Kendi wanted the center to build “the nation’s largest online collection” of racial data to track disparities like this one and do analytical work to understand each policy responsible. In the case of Covid, for example, Black Americans are disproportionately likely to work in low-income essential jobs, to live in crowded conditions and to lack access to high-quality insurance or medical care. The center might research these conditions and propose targeted interventions, like changes to Medicaid coverage, or more transformative measures, like a universal basic income. One faculty member involved told me that she was “initially incredibly enthusiastic” about the idea. “It seemed like an opportunity to do rigorous, well-funded social-science research that would be aimed at real policy change on issues that I cared about,” she told me.

Like Kendi, his staff believed that historical oppression and ongoing discrimination explained why Black Americans fared comparatively poorly on so many measures of well-being, from education to wealth to longevity, and that centuries of injustice demanded a sweeping policy response to remedy. But understanding that past and present racism is the underlying cause of Black disadvantage is different from the work of assessing its role in any single policy, let alone figuring out how to change the policy to eliminate it. That takes careful analysis. “You have to have specificity,” the faculty member said, “or you can’t measure.”

Kendi pushed back at staff members who argued that the center should constrain its focus. There were plenty of academic centers and researchers that tracked data on racial disparities in one policy area or another, he said; he wanted to convene that pre-existing data, bringing it together in one place for easy access by the public. In a 2022 meeting, when the team tried to get a better sense of his vision, Kendi told them that he wanted a guy at a barbershop or a bar to be able to “pull up the numbers.” To many employees with data or policy backgrounds, what Kendi wanted didn’t seem feasible; at worst, they thought, it risked simply replicating others’ work or creating a mess of sloppily merged data, connected to too many policies for their small team to track rigorously. In the midst of the pandemic, the center struggled to hire a director of research who might have been able to mediate the dispute.

In November, a confidential complaint was filed with the university administration raising concerns about Kendi’s leadership. The anonymous employee told a university compliance officer that Kendi ran the center with “hypercontrol” and created an environment of “silence and secrecy” that was causing low morale and high turnover, claiming that “when Dr. Kendi is questioned, the narrative becomes that the employee must be the one with the ‘problem.’” The employee warned the university that the situation “is potentially going to blow up.”

One of Kendi’s refrains is that being antiracist demands self-criticism. “If I share an idea that people don’t understand, I’m to blame,” he told an interviewer in 2019. “I’m always to blame.” Kendi told me that his most productive conversations with critics of his ideas often happened in private, including one with a prominent Black thinker who inspired him to make a change in the revised edition of “How to Be an Antiracist.” “This person talked about how the goal should not just be equity,” Kendi said. “The goal should not be the same percentage of Black people being killed by police as white people. The goal should be no one being killed by police.” But some Black scholars, as the right-wing backlash strengthened, debated whether to make their criticisms in public. The philosopher Charles Mills, after listening to a graduate-student presentation about Kendi and DiAngelo at a conference in 2021, asked the presenter: “Are their views now sufficiently influential, or perhaps sufficiently harmful, that we should make them a part of the target?”

Kendi was frustrated to be constantly lumped in with DiAngelo, whose ideas diverge from his in important ways. DiAngelo considers “white identity” to be “inherently racist,” while Kendi argues that anyone, including Black people, can be racist or antiracist. That puts him at odds with an understanding — common in the academy and the racial-justice movement — that Black people can’t be racist because racism is a system of power relations, and that Black people as a group don’t have the structural means to enforce their prejudice; this notion is often phrased as a formula, that racism is “prejudice plus power.”

Kendi thinks of “racist” not as a pejorative but as a simple word of description. His reigning metaphor is the sticker. Racist and antiracist are “peelable name tags,” Kendi writes; they describe not who we are but who we are being in any particular moment. He says he opposes the censoriousness that has become the sharp edge of identity politics, because he doesn’t regard shame as a useful social tool. But he has no intention of taking the moral sting out of “racist” completely. “I wouldn’t say that a person is not being condemned when they’re being called a racist,” he told Ezra Klein in a 2019 interview.

Rather than replacing one definition of racism with another, Kendi is really joining two senses into one. For much of the 20th century, the white mainstream considered racism a personal moral issue, while Black civil rights activists, among others, argued that it’s also structural and systemic. In his definition, Kendi aims to connect the individual to the system. A “racist,” he writes, is “one who is expressing an idea of racial hierarchy, or through actions or inaction is supporting a policy that leads to racial inequity or injustice.”

Kendi’s focus on outcomes is not new. For decades, civil rights activists have brought lawsuits based on the legal theory of “disparate impact,” which holds that unequal outcomes prove that certain practices (by, for example, an employer or a landlord) are racially discriminatory, without evidence of malicious intent. Kendi’s definition urges us to perform this sort of disparate-impact analysis all the time. In Politico in 2020, Kendi proposed the creation of a federal agency that would clear every new policy — local, state or federal — to ensure that it wouldn’t increase racial disparities. But as his team at the center knew well, policies can have complicated effects. Let’s say that a local environmental policy would improve the air quality in Black neighborhoods near factories but would also lead to hundreds of lost jobs and worsen the area’s racial wealth gap. Should it be cleared? Is such a policy racist or antiracist?

The question is made even trickier by the fact that the racial impact of many policies might not become clear until years later. The legacy of desegregation, for example, shows that even a profoundly antiracist policy can be turned against itself in its implementation. This is what the term “systemic racism” captures that can be lost in Kendi’s translation of “racist policies.”

In “Stamped From the Beginning,” Kendi writes that “racist policy is the cause of racial disparities in this country and the world at large.” Mary Pattillo, a sociologist at Northwestern, told me that Kendi’s focus on race didn’t fully capture the complexity of social life — the roles of class, culture, religion, community. “No one variable alone explains anything ,” she said. But she thought there was value in simplifying. She understood Kendi not as an official making policy but as a thought leader making a “defensible, succinct provocation.” “We live in a country whose ideology is very individualistic, so the standard response to any failure is individual blame,” she said. “Those of us who do recognize the importance of policies, laws and so on have to always push so hard against that that we have to make statements like the one that Kendi is making.”

I came to think, after months of talking to Kendi, that this was the key to understanding him — to remember that he is trying to push so hard against that . To shove back the anti-Black stereotypes he documented in “Stamped From the Beginning,” the racist ideas that poisoned his own mind and sense of self-worth. His aim, at every turn, is to blame the policies that create unequal conditions and not the people enduring them. But Kendi is so consumed by combating the racist notion of Black inferiority that some of what he says in response is overstated, circular or uncareful, creating an easy target for his critics and discomfiting his allies. Conservatives were far from the only ones alarmed, for example, by his proposal for a constitutional amendment to appoint a panel of racism “experts” with the power to discipline public officials for “racist ideas.” (Kendi told me he modeled this proposal on European countries like Germany, where the bar for hate speech is much lower.)

Some of Kendi’s ideas are softer than they appear at first. Kendi told me that people who believe that his binary applies to “everything” are misreading him. Though he writes that “there is no such thing as a not-racist idea, only racist ideas and antiracist ideas,” he says he never meant that sentence to apply to the whole universe of ideas, only to ideas about race. When I asked him whether the environmental policy above would be racist or antiracist based on his definition, he qualified that “policies can be like people, both racist and antiracist,” and went on: “By improving the air quality in Black neighborhoods near factories, the policy is being antiracist. By exacerbating the area’s racial wealth gap, the policy is being racist.” Many of his critics might find this a more reasonable position, but it also leads to a question about how useful or powerful a dichotomy it is in the end.

Kendi wanted to remain open to criticism, but so much of what he encountered was racist mockery, lies, professional jealousy, misreadings and threats. “I have thought many times about exiting my vocation as a scholar who studies racism,” he wrote in the revised edition of “How to Be an Antiracist.” “After the experience of the last three years, it does not feel safe for me to be publicly self-reflective or self-critical. It feels dangerous for me to be vulnerable.” Though he commits to doing so anyway, the onslaught brought on by celebrity seemed to cause Kendi’s introversion to harden into distrust. “Fame can be defeating and depleting,” Stefan Bradley, Kendi’s friend, told me. “Every word he puts into the atmosphere will be chopped up a hundred different ways, and that takes a toll on somebody’s mental health.” Bradley continued: “I think that if he were a lesser spirit, he would have been destroyed.”

That Kendi felt under siege became clear to Yanique Redwood when she started her job at the Center for Antiracist Research. Redwood had met Kendi once, in 2017, and she remembered him as soft-spoken but burning with big, exciting ideas. In the fall of 2021, when she interviewed to be the center’s executive director, Kendi told her he felt as though he was failing. Fund-raising while also running the center was too much for one person, and he wanted Redwood, a Caribbean American health and racial-equity researcher who had spent nearly a decade running a small foundation, to take over internal operations. Redwood was prepared to find some disorder, but the state of the center’s finances was a mess unlike any she had ever seen. “Nothing was in place,” she said. “It was unbelievable that an institution like that, with so much spotlight on it, just did not have systems. I understood why I was being brought in.”

Before starting, she conducted a round of entry interviews with faculty and staff members, and by her 27th and last conversation, she was exhausted from absorbing their frustration. “There’s something really wrong here,” she told Kendi. Much of the staff was relieved when Redwood was hired. There had been widespread confusion as employees were asked to do “damage control” by performing jobs for which they weren’t hired, or even qualified. “Everyone was overwhelmed,” Redwood told me. “There were too many promises being made to funders. Products were being promised that could never be delivered.”

Redwood designed a process to help get researchers going on pilot projects tracking disparities relating to felony murder, the health and social safety net, reparations and student-debt forgiveness. She wanted to share some takeaways from her round of entry interviews with the staff, in a tactful and encouraging way, to start the work of repairing the center’s culture, but Kendi worried that whatever she wrote might leak. A reporter from a conservative media outlet was reaching out to former employees, asking about problems at the center. “This media storm was coming,” Redwood told me. “It was brewing.”

Employees said Kendi’s fear of leaks slowed the work and created confusion and unease. The first time Rachael DeCruz, the head of the Advocacy office, asked Kendi about the center’s finances to help her budget, in 2021, he reacted “bizarrely,” she told me. “Why do you need that information?” he asked. (Kendi denies that this conversation took place. DeCruz says that after asking repeatedly, she received the information about six months later.) The threat of outside scrutiny exacerbated what employees described as Kendi’s tendency to withhold information to avoid interpersonal conflict. “He doesn’t understand people, how to nurture them, how to make them want to do their best work,” Redwood told me. “It’s not his strength, not even a little bit.”

During her entry interviews, Redwood asked each employee what the organization’s values were, and many of them responded by saying something along the lines of “I’ve been wondering that myself.” She encouraged Kendi to hold a retreat to talk through the mission as a group. Kendi was hesitant because he found work retreats “uncomfortable” — “sitting in a room with a large group of people all day long is exhausting for me,” he told me — but he committed to holding one anyway and solicited staff comments on a document he wrote laying out his theory of social change and the center’s role in it. “I was happy to receive all this great feedback,” he wrote to Redwood. “I think the changes will make the document much stronger and clearer.”

On a spring day in 2022, the staff met at a conference center a half-hour’s drive from campus. The day’s agenda, though couched in the gentle jargon of nonprofits, contained hints of the mood: The organizers on staff had scheduled time for an acknowledgment of the center’s growing pains, for a “healing justice moment” and for a period of “wicked questions” when concerns or challenges could be raised. At the start of the day, Naima Wong, an outside facilitator, encouraged the staff not to hold back. “We’re here to really get into this,” she said.

Late in the afternoon, when it was time to wrap up, the group assembled at tables arranged in a circle. Saida Grundy, a sociologist, was seated across from Kendi. She had never been on board with Kendi’s understanding of racism, subscribing instead to the “power plus prejudice” view. Grundy had forwarded Kendi’s email about security to colleagues with the note “The paranoia is INSANE.” “Ibram is so lily-livered he probably jumps when the biscuit tin pops,” she told me. Grundy was the one who, back in November, had made the anonymous complaint, in which some charges carried a hint of paranoia of her own, like the idea that Kendi “despises academia” and had “gotten satisfaction out of pulling academics out of their own research.” She had accused the center of being an exploitative workplace and, after having conflict with her supervisor, had already mostly stepped back from her role. Grundy had told the compliance office that the center might explode, and now she was ready to blow it up herself.

Her voice raised, Grundy laid out an indictment of the document Kendi wrote. “This is a mile wide and an inch deep,” she said. She argued that the center needed to be more specific about its goals; “fighting racism” was such a broad mission that it felt cynically strategic, allowing the center to take in money for all sorts of projects. “If there is a grant for antiracism on Jupiter, great,” she said. “We do extraterrestrial antiracism.” Grundy, unlike most of the staff, thought the center should become a resource for university faculty members and students; her parents were Black student activists in the 1970s, and she believed that real change starts where you are. “If you lined up 99 Black students at B.U.,” she said, “99 will tell you the center’s made no difference to their experience.”

When she finished speaking, the room was silent. Several people were crying. Dawna Johnson, the center’s financial director at the time, called it an “explosion.” “People didn’t know what to say after that,” she said. “It just left you so unhappy and uptight.” Kendi, his face inscrutable behind a Covid mask, said nothing, and the facilitator wrapped up the session. “Scholars who study the experience of Black leaders find that the No.1 racist challenge Black leaders face is contested authority, even from other Black leaders and staff,” he wrote to me later. I asked him what he remembered from that day. “It’s almost like trying to remember a day in which you were really happy, but then something horrible happened at the end,” he told me. “It’s hard to remember anything else other than that horrible thing.”

Grundy had admittedly come in hot, many staff members agreed, but it didn’t seem to matter how they couched their concerns. Employees continued to push to make sure that the center’s research projects were both rigorous and responsive to community needs, but the issues they raised in response to Kendi’s “theory of change” document never seemed to get fully resolved. “He’s communicating one thing,” one person said. “Behind the curtain, he’s behaving a very different kind of way.” Redwood and several others said that if someone was too persistent about a concern, Kendi would slow or stop his communication with that person. “If someone disagrees or someone is being vocal, you can’t just get rid of them,” she wanted to tell him. “Like, this is how you breed distrust.”

Redwood ultimately decided that Kendi wasn’t interested in building consensus around a shared mission. “Only he had the ideas,” she said. “We were there to execute on his ideas.” Redwood resigned in October 2022.

In a memo to The Times, Kendi disputed many of the staff’s recollections of his leadership. “This is not me, and anyone close to me, who has worked with me for a long time, knows that I’m open to constructive criticism as a writer and a thinker and a leader,” he wrote. Many progressive advocacy groups, Kendi pointed out, have been torn apart by internal clashes in recent years, conflicts that he said were driven by employees who “care more about performing their radicalism” than working to “improve the lives of everyday people.” “Former employees constantly deauthorized me as the director of the center — not because they were against hierarchy — but to assume authority for themselves,” he wrote.

Even before Redwood’s departure, Kendi told me, he realized the center was in financial trouble. He was far from the only nonprofit leader caught short as funding for racial-justice work collapsed after 2020. Funders that doused organizations with cash in the wake of George Floyd’s murder proved unwilling or unable to sustain their commitment, and layoffs were taking place across the sector, even at large nonprofits like the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. The center had gone from raising $40 million in 2020 to a fraction of that — $420,000 — the next year.

In June 2023, after he went on parental leave, Kendi approached university leaders with the idea of switching to a fellowship model, which could adjust its number of awards to fluctuations in fund-raising. He told the staff only that he would be announcing some major changes when he returned from leave. Dawna Johnson, who succeeded Redwood as executive director, was left to manage a staff frustrated by being kept in the dark. “I think the staff thought I knew more than I actually did, as far as what the future of the center was,” she told me. “He’s like, Just don’t spend money, essentially, which is kind of difficult in an organization that needs to move forward.” (Kendi denies that he said anything like this to Johnson, who remains in her role today.)

Kendi spent the next three months taking care of his newborn daughter, Imara, and his wife, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer while pregnant. In his absence, at another staff retreat, four employees stood up and spoke in turn about the problems at the center. Much of the staff had just learned that the center agreed to partner with the D.E.I. arm of the consulting company Deloitte, which does work for the police and prisons, on designing an antiracism training for corporate workplaces. “Why wasn’t this shared with the broader staff sooner, as a potential high-risk partnership that could impact the relationships we are forging with movement leaders?” one person said. “Why are we contemplating this partnership that arguably goes against our values?”

Kendi, who identifies as a police and prison abolitionist, suggested that donations from corporations could be seen as a “form of reparations,” and he stressed to me that the Deloitte agreement “allowed us to control the products from design to delivery.” He once again dismissed the critics at the retreat as “performative radicals” of the sort that have been “causing all kinds of havoc in Black-led social justice organizations for years, claiming that they are against hierarchy when they really are against being directed by a Black person.” He thought they were being hypocritical in objecting to the Deloitte partnership because they “do not object to personally having profiles on social media corporations that platform copaganda, or buying goods from retailers employing incarcerated labor in their supply chains, or using technology from corporations providing carceral states with technologies of surveillance.”

When I asked the employees about this, one of them called Kendi’s comments about hypocrisy a “deflection tactic.” She stressed that the staff was not making a demand but asking for an open dialogue — or at least a clearly articulated rationale — about decisions that affected them. His response fit a clear pattern, they thought, of believing that employees were trying to undermine him when they really just cared about the work. “I understand he’s coming from a place of trauma,” another told me. “He’s criticized unfairly and through a racist lens constantly. I do understand it. But then to distort that into an inability to receive feedback that’s going to ensure the success and usefulness of the center — that’s where it becomes a problem.”

In September, Kendi fired 19 of the center’s 36 employees in a series of Zoom meetings. Many told me they could understand the layoffs given the financial climate, but to change the model from an ambitious organization that had pledged to drive social change to one that handed out academic fellowships felt like a betrayal of the mission. The abruptness of the decision forced the staff to scramble to find other homes for projects, including a research program supporting Boston-area organizers on a campaign to challenge family policing in schools, for which they were in the midst of sensitive interviews with affected parents and caregivers. Breaking promises they’d made to grass-roots partners was what bothered her team most, said DeCruz, the head of the Advocacy office, because equitable and sustained relationships between communities and advocates build a strong network — a movement aligned on its goals. Pulling out damaged those relationships.

Though some staff members told me they appreciated Kendi — “My life forever, forever changed because I worked for someone who pushed me to envision what’s possible,” one said — many others had become darkly cynical about him. The most vocal among them was Grundy, who took to Twitter calling Kendi a “grifter” and fueling the rumor that he might have stolen funds. Redwood tried to have empathy. She imagined what it must be like to be constantly attacked — to have your intelligence insulted, your motives questioned. “I wonder if some of the secrecy and paranoid behavior came about as a result of that,” she told me. “I have no idea, and I had to just eventually stop trying to figure it out and just move on, because I couldn’t understand how the person I met when he was at American, when I sat down with him for lunch, the person who appeared to be so humble, so committed — and I still think he is committed — could be the person that I worked for. It is not something that I have ever been able to understand.”

Several people stressed to me that Kendi’s weaknesses as a leader were not as important as the larger forces that surrounded his leadership — the opportunism of white-led institutions, the boom and bust of trend-chasing nonprofit funding, the commodification of Black thought and activism. I asked Boston University to comment on a complaint I heard from the staff, that its administration had failed to provide adequate oversight. “Boston University provided significant financial and administrative support to Dr. Kendi and the center. Dr. Kendi did not always accept the support,” a spokesperson wrote. “In hindsight, and with the fuller knowledge of the organizational problems that arose, the university should have done more to insist on additional oversight.”

The spokesperson also said that the decision to end the center’s projects was Kendi’s choice. “Several different models were discussed with Dr. Kendi, including bringing many of the projects to completion over the next two years and lessening the impact on staff,” he wrote. “However, Dr. Kendi’s preference was to terminate the ongoing projects and ask the funders to repurpose the funds for his new endeavor.” (In a written response, Kendi accused the interim university administration of trying to undermine the center’s work. “The center has faced more oversight and scrutiny than every other center at B.U. from the Office of Research and this interim B.U. administration,” he wrote. “I’m disappointed that this interim B.U. administration is giving The Times a version of events that doesn’t reconcile with the facts.”)

The last time I saw Kendi in person was in January, when he came to New York to promote his newest book, a young readers’ adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston’s “Barracoon,” based on her 1927 interviews with Cudjo Lewis, one of the last survivors of the Middle Passage from Africa. That night, Kendi was doing an event at an independent bookstore in Brooklyn Heights, where the streets were salt-streaked after a light snowstorm and white string lights glowed on a tree outside. One of the three personal-security officers he brought with him — bearded Black men in black peacoats and dress pants, fitted with earpieces — was checking bags at the door.

Kendi was standing by a wall of books in a teal blazer, his pocket square in place. For a while, he said, he stopped doing many public events because of his security concerns, but he realized it had contributed to his feeling alienated and embattled. “Not doing live book signings prevented me from engaging with the people who were reading and appreciating my work,” he told me later. Going on tour again had “helped tremendously,” he said. But he didn’t want to be away from home long while Sadiqa was in treatment. “It’s incredibly difficult to witness someone you care about deeply facing so much pain and loss,” he said. “I’d much rather just be the one facing that pain.”

Boston University had cleared him and the center of grant mismanagement, but he was still waiting for Korn Ferry, the management consulting firm hired by the administration, to finish its culture inquiry, and he continued to attribute any dysfunction at the center to the hardships of the pandemic and employees who repeatedly contested his leadership. He was coordinating with the university on the center’s next phase, he said, but the work that felt most meaningful to him at the moment was “getting back to my roots as a writer.” He was at work on his next big project, a contemporary political history.

Kendi has spun out 13 books since “How to Be an Antiracist” in 2019, 10 of which are adaptations of his or others’ work for children. Since becoming a father, he told me, it has become even more important to him to reach young readers — particularly Black kids like him who may have internalized racist ideas about themselves. Earlier that day, Kendi spoke to 250 kids at a middle school elsewhere in Brooklyn, taking questions from a panel of seventh and eighth graders. “Barracoon” was the latest in a series of books he was adapting by Hurston, the Harlem Renaissance ethnographer he has called the “greatest antiracist novelist of the interwar era.” “I wanted it to read like a grandparent sharing their difficult life story with care and love to their grandchild,” Kendi wrote on Instagram.

During the talk, Kendi told the audience that there are some Black people who, from the way they maneuver in the world, you can tell are spiritual maroons. “This is the person who truly is living and navigating from the standpoint of a freedom,” he said. “They’re unafraid or not worried at all about the white gaze. They’re operating and navigating the world based on their own destiny, based on what they want.” Hurston, who traveled throughout the South, Jamaica and Haiti collecting folklore from the descendants of slaves, was one of those people, Kendi said.

Listening to him, I wondered how often he felt like one of them, too. I got the impression that Kendi spent a lot of time in his head, in that defensive pose, anticipating or parrying attacks from his critics. When I asked him later where he and Sadiqa had gone on vacation over the New Year holiday, he declined even to name the country for fear that “bad-faith people” would try to figure out where they had stayed and how much their hotel room cost. I told him it seemed as though he devoted a lot of thought to how something he said or did could be used against him by the least generous person on the internet. “I certainly don’t want to provide fodder for it,” he told me.

Kendi is right that there’s a mess of misinformation about what he believes. He has become a cipher for the unfinished national conversation about the post-George Floyd moment — the outrage and wild hope of the protests, the reactionary anger, the disillusionment. In tying together racism’s two senses — the personal and the systemic — Kendi has helped many more Americans understand that they are responsible not only for the ideas in their heads but also for the impact they have on the world. But this gap between intention and action, so core to his thinking, is where all the hard work takes place, DeCruz told me. That’s where organizing and movement-building happens, where you practice the kind of world you want to live in. “Having a shared language is important,” she said, but “it’s just the first step.”

Read by January LaVoy

Narration produced by Emma Kehlbeck and Krish Seenivasan

Engineered by David Mason

Rachel Poser is a story editor for the magazine. She has previously written about whiteness in classical studies, sting operations and the charms of paleoart. Wayne Lawrence is a visual artist in Brooklyn and Detroit whose work is focused on community and purpose. His work is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

An earlier version of this article misstated how the center’s fundraising in 2021 compared with the previous year. It was approximately one-hundredth of the amount raised in 2020, not a tenth.

How we handle corrections

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