Secondary essay word limits

So…when a secondary says “We suggest you limit your essay to about 400 words” is 480 words too many?

Is there a guideline on how close to their suggested limit you need to be to keep from appearing to disregard their instructions? I don’t want to chop details, but I don’t want to get bumped down for inability to take directions.

I always kept it to their recommendations just in case they used it as a screening tool.

Think of it this way: with a reco of 400 and your content at 480, you are 15-20% longer than they would like.

You could probably get away with 405, but 480 seems a bit high.


That’s what I was afraid of.


I’ve been keeping mine MUCH shorter than the limits. The vast majority of the essays I’ve seen thus far are covered in the personal statement in my primary application, I’m not about to repeat myself any more than I absolutely have to.