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Purposely going under word count?

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There are many posts on this sub-forum about the troubles people have with going over the word count - i.e. trying to cram all that they want to say into a relatively limited space.

I am having the opposite problem.

I think my shorter SOPs (500-600 words) are objectively better than the longer ones (1000 words). They are more concise, focused, and I actually think the relatively short length gives them greater impact by saying everything before your attention begins to wander.

What are your thoughts on submitting a significantly under-word-limit SOP?

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If you can swing it, without sacrificing quality, I think it would be a shrewd and appreciated gesture to admissions committees. 500-600 words is still sufficient to cover virtually everything... as long as your words retain power and focus, and it sounds like you're confident about that.

I'd go with your instinct and submit the shorter, superior version.

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Because you are defining the dynamic as a "problem," I recommend that you take a look at how you can use your word 'surplus' to your benefit. Maybe ask yourself questions like: Can you develop additional points to support your candidacy? Can you use the extra space to demonstrate your skills as a writer? Do your shorter responses sacrifice clarity for length (i.e. are they turgid)?

In contrast to cunninlynguist's reply, I recommend that you also consider the possibility that there can be a differences among a reader's appreciation, a reader's expectations, and a reader's approval. As the objective of the SoP is to secure the latter, I would strive to exceed readers' expectations by writing SoPs that approach, but do not exceed, the word count.

My $0.02. YMMV.

Edited by Sigaba
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I agree that you should ask yourself if there are places where you can improve your short SOP but I also understand where you are coming from. I felt that my shorter SOPs were stronger than my longer ones--more concise without sacrificing any of the content--when I was applying. I ended up submitting a version that was about 600-words long and based on my very concise 500-word SOP whenever I could. Not that my long version was all that long--it was about 850 words--but there is something appealing about the very condensed very precise text that you have to write when there is a tight limit. Submitting shorter essays definitely didn't hurt my application, in the end it's still all about the content. As long as you believe that you are submitting the strongest piece you can, don't worry overmuch about being under the limit.

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