never had to write something this long before!” is a common complaint.
Realistically, however, the students will face much longer assignments
during their hoped for university career.
there is a different problem I face every term: many students—the ones
who don’t complain—will tend to “overwrite” rather than write too few
words. Oftentimes, the extra words add nothing; other times, the excess
verbiage gives them an unfair advantage over those who adhere to the
have an answer for that tendency. Each assignment and test paragraph
has what I call my “10% rule.” Students may write 10% under or over my word
counts. Otherwise, marks will be lost for failing to keep to the word
the end of term, more than one student will comment on how staying
within word count guidelines has forced them to be better, clearer
writers. And, as I often say, “Why force your reader to wade through
more words than necessary? Usually, the reader will dislike you for
wasting time, rather than admire you for your prose!”