500 Word Essay Guide for Beginners — Updated

writing 500 words essay

For an experienced nerd, 500 words essay costs one hour of easy work. For people new to writing, however, five hundred words are too little to squeeze in big ideas, and too much to write as short as we do on social media.

In result, traditional outlines and examples fail, and students run over the Internet in pain 😧Today, I will publish my step-by-step tricks for writing 500-word essay fast and easy.

500 Word Essay Length and Other Useful Stats

If you are new in academic writing, 500 words do not say much for you. So, let us break down such little essay into more convenient terms.

  • 500-wordessay length in pages is 2 A4 letters. They have 1 Inch margins on all sides, 12 size font, and double spacing.
  • A title page, footnotes, references, and works cited page are not included in the total word count.
  • In 500 words, you can perfectly fit six paragraphs. They are an introduction, 4 body paragraphs, and conclusion.
  • 26 sentences are perfectly fine to keep the academic style and cover 500 words. Experienced nerds are fine with 22, but lengthy sentences are too risky for beginners.
  • Tutors request only two sources for 500 words essay.
  • 10% leeway is usually allowed. So, you can write from 450 to 550 words without any consequences.

So, you may see that such an essay is not a big deal — you need to write slightly less than 2 A4 pages and find only two sources. If you are lucky to write a personal narrative essay or 500 words essay about yourself, you will not need sources at all.

Essay Format & Outline to Get Started

Students often ask me why tutors assign 500 words essays, and there is some sense in their doubts. Why not 400 or 600, what is the purpose of such a short write up?

You will be surprised — 500 words are a teacher’s trick indeed 🤔

500 Word Essay Format & Outline to Get Started

Tutors state that short essays show student’s ability to write according to the format. It assumes the consequent and thoughtful expression of the ideas according to the academic pattern. They suggested me the following outline of 500 words essay.

  1. Introduction, 50 words. It includes two or three sentences about the topic of the essay, and the last one is a thesis.
  2. Four body paragraphs, 100 words and 4-5 sentences each. Each of them explains a part of the thesis statement in the following order.
    1. Topic sentence reports the main idea of the paragraph. It should support thesis or explain it in a higher level of details.
    2. With evidence sentence, you cite a source that supports the topic sentence and adds new information.
    3. Evidence development sentence discusses the citation to support the idea of the topic sentence further.
    4. In concluding sentence, you will summarize the contents of the whole sentence and restate thesis.
  3. Conclusion, 50 words. In 2-3 sentences, you rephrase concluding sentences of your body paragraphs. Yes, that means to restate your thesis or summarize the argument — things that tutors require.

500 word essay is done

So, in order to complete your 500 words essay, you need to write only 26 sentences at the very max. It is like a talk on a messenger or a lengthy discussion in comments. Follow the outline, and you will complete the essay nice and smooth — if you have a good topic.

Short Essay Topics: Neither Broad nor Boring

The trick is that not every question is good for 500 words. If you select something too broad, say corruption or abortions, you will provide a very superficial review in the best case. However, if you end up with something too specific, say food interests of Haitians in the XIX century (💤), no one will be interested in your writing.

Short Essay Topics: Neither Broad nor Boring

Of course, your teacher is paid for reading anything you write, but grading rubric often includes engagement, relevance, and flow — things that you cannot do with a wrong topic. Hence, I prepared a short list of questions that will suit the word count and will be still exciting to read.

14 Things I Love the Most in the World.

It is quite right to love the life, but some little and big stuff makes breathing especially delightful 😍. In 500 words essay, you have 4 paragraphs — so devote each to one element that you love the most, and then conclude in a joyful manner.

24 Things in the Life that Should Be Fixed.

Well, living can also be very miserable sometimes. However, some problems would disappear if we would resolve issues that exist for ages. For example, slowing city traffic to 20-30 mph reduces passenger hit fatality, while average car speed remains unchanged.

3People Who Forged our Today


Don’t worry about the breadth of the topic — you can just pick four people and write a paragraph about the contribution of which. We enjoy accessible cars thanks to Henry Ford and this article on the Internet was made possible by Tim Berners-Lee’s efforts. John Biggins created credit cards we use, and Alexander Fleming invented penicillin that helps people to not die because of catching a cold. Sure, you can already use these great guys for your 500 words essay.


4Favorite X of Your Country.

It is one of the most flexible topics ever. You may pick a sport, food, activity, profession or belief of the state and write four paragraphs about them.

5Short Film Review.

The majority of reviews on media do not exceed 500 words, so you may use the opportunity that genre provides 😎 Discuss plot in the first paragraph and cast in the second, and then evaluate graphics and ideas in the third and fourth paragraphs respectively. Then, in conclusion, you may sum up your opinion. It is also the most citation-light topic as you are not likely to be able to refer to exact minutes and seconds on fresh-resealed movies.

6Personal Narrative Essay.

For college admissions and grade-to-grade progress in middle and high school, you may need to write personal narratives — a spotlight on your personality and skills. Sometimes they are required to be quite small, so 500 words essay is an excellent opportunity to train the brevity as a soul of wit.

personal narrative writer

Typical personal narrative writer

I will discuss best narrative writing rules approved by college juries soon, so check updates (actually, here is personal narrative essay guide already). Then, scale these guidelines down to four paragraphs.

The primary criterion you should use is the ability of the topic to fit into four paragraphs. You may conduct a SWOT analysis or tell about four parts of the world. At the same time, top 5 musicians of all time will feel awkward within 500 words limit. This advice may look strange, but the ability to plan and predict is the central grading area in short essays.

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Writing Five Hundred Words Fast: How to Finish an Essay Within an Hour

Here we will learn some dirty tricks that tutors are unable to recognize. Nerds usually write very fast because they are trained to do so, but students may lack practice.

So, here is my toolbelt of hints I use each time I lack time.

500 word essay - lifehacks to save time

  • Use American Psychological Association (APA) style of citation. It is very easy to cite, and it also does not require you to specify page numbers. So, you can paraphrase sources very free and remain legitimate.
  • Add a bit of wordiness. “To” is the same as “in order to, “and” equals to “as well as” and “because” is the same as “as far as” — however, the latter is longer by three times. When you refer to sources, you may use an awesome phrase “According to the article by [author].” You should not overuse this trick, but it is an excellent tool to add 20-30 words.
  • Use straightforward language in the first draft. When you write the essay in informal writing and copy-and-paste all sources instead of paraphrasing, you will have a rough draft within 20 minutes. Then, you can add some words, expand sentences and proofread — with creative thinking done, editing will be fast and easy.
  • Do not google for too long. Two sources are excellent for 500 words essay, and teachers will hardly expect more. Once you have found two and read articles to support your position, you are good to go. Of course, it is better to conduct massive research, but honest studying also doubles and triples time expenses.
  • Double check instructions. In the vast majority of school and colleges, essay instructions already contain clues for sources, outline, and topics. It helps to accelerate the work and improves grades — tutors love when you really ­read their requirements.
  • Try not to use essay examples. More experienced students should think on their own, using only an outline as a scaffolding. Samples of essays are useful for understanding, but you will spend more time while referring back to them during writing. At the same time, your own thoughts are much faster to write up.

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So, my main advice is simple — do not be afraid of your words and ideas! Using an outline, you will surely write a good 500 words essay.

If you are assigned an unusual topic for 500 words essay by your tutor, drop into comments 🖖 I will check them and add a new section on how to deal with such assignments.

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