Why do we have a word count limit in our English compositions?
Usually, word counts level the playing field among students. It restricts all students to the same amount of text so that grading and evaluation is more straightforward and efficient.
Some of our students struggle with hitting the word count either because they write too little or they write too much. Don’t worry, I’ve got a couple of tips for you to help your student.
Get Them to Practise Summarising
One way to help students keep within the word count limit is to let them practice on writing summaries.
When writing compos, your student must keep their sentences short, simple and straight to the point. Adding adverbs, adjectives, and wordy sentences increases their word count and you don’t want that.
By practising their summary skills, they learn to reorganise their sentences and declutter them, which reduces their word count. They also learn to take out unnecessary words and it is also practice for their comprehension summary writing.
Practise Writing Introduction and Conclusion
Some students often make the mistake of adding too much information (like elaborating on their points) into their introduction paragraph and conclusion.
This is especially so for argumentative essays. Not only does this increase word count, but it also makes the composition seem redundant and repetitive.
So get them to practise writing more introductions and conclusions. Give them a composition question and ask them to write an intro or conclusion for it. Make sure that they summarise the main points only.
Address Different Viewpoints
If your student can’t hit the word count because they do not have enough words, you can get them to address different viewpoints and perspectives. This is effective when writing argumentative essays.
When getting them to practise writing argumentative essays, get your student to write at least three points for both ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’ perspectives.
Teach them to Plan and Organise their Paragraphs
Sometimes, students exceed the word count because their paragraphs are not properly planned out and organised. They often beat around the bush either by repeating points or they keep referring to a certain idea they have.
So teach your students to plan their compositions. You can do this by teaching them different outlines like PEEL (Point, Evidence, Elaboration, Link) or you can also get them to cultivate the habit of jotting down notes and a rough idea of their compo before they start writing.
It is important to keep to the word count when writing composition pieces. After all, examiners (especially the very strict ones) may cut out words beyond the word count limit. This will affect our students’ scores, which is a shame.
Let us know if you have any other tips for keeping to the compo word count in the comments! Good luck!