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Stick to the prompt?

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I am applying to a bunch of universities, including University of Florida. The prompt in UF's Personal Statement instructions is very specific, asking me to explain my purpose for graduate study, including my current degree goals and reasons for selecting a particular field of study. The guidelines also mention that the essay should be 400-500 words long. 

Are we supposed to strictly stick to the word limit and the prompt? Or can we add additional information about ourselves, like academic credentials? 


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IMO I would stick to the prompt. Here is why, they word count that they gave you is very restrictive and you will likely need most if not all of it to fully answer the prompt. They asked you these questions for a reason and by not fully answering them you are basically telling them that you know better than they do on what they need to know about you to make a decision. Also I often wonder ho much of the nit-picky nature of grad applications is to see if we can follow directions. 

That being said there is no reason that if you have room you couldn't weave in some personal information as you answer the prompt. 

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