How to Write a Great 500 Word Essay

Learn to write the perfect 500 word essay with this step-by-step guide. We will also provide an example for inspiration. Includes sample introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs.
young female writer pondering over 500 word essay

During your scholarship applications, you may need to submit a 500-word essay answering a specific question. The theme of the essay can range from personal achievements to political controversies. This means you can adjust your writing style to fit the message of the prompt. This guide will explain how to write a 500-word scholarship essay. We will also provide an example for inspiration.

How to Format a 500-Word Scholarship Essay

The format of a 500-word scholarship essay is similar to a shorter essay. Each paragraph is about 75-125 words, and it consists of 3-5 well-written sentences. If you are writing a story or personal anecdote, the formatting can be more like a novel than a news article.

The main components of a 500-word essay include:

  • Introduction paragraph that engages the reader and establishes the thesis. The thesis may be a question that you will later answer in the essay content, or it can be a statement that you support in the body paragraphs. If you are writing a story, your “thesis” may not be as apparent.

  • 4-6 body paragraphs that provide evidence to back up your thesis. Each paragraph should be a cohesive element with an intro and conclusion. The body paragraphs should flow well from one point to the next.

  • A conclusion paragraph that reminds the reader of the thesis and highlights key points from the body text. The conclusion should answer the question or complete the statement made in the introduction. It should give the reader a sense of closure and resolution

500-word essays do not have to be exactly 500 words, but they should be as close as possible. The essay prompt may say “in under 500 words” or “in at least 500 words,” which would state whether 500 is the minimum or maximum word count. If that information is not specified, write as much as you need to comprehensively address the prompt without frivolous content.

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500-Word Essay vs. 250-Word Essay 

500-word scholarship essays offer more writing flexibility than 250-word essays. With a shorter word count, you are often forced to summarize long-winded thoughts into quick to-the-point snippets. 500 words give you more room to express your opinion. Yet, it is still short enough that it does not need footnotes and cited resources, usually.

500-Word Essay vs. 1000+ Word Essay

Another scholarship essay length you may encounter is 1,000 words. With a 1,000-word scholarship essay, you will need to cite sources and provide detailed references to support your claims. 1,000+ word essay prompts are often used for writing competitions, where you may be asked to create a fictional story. The extra length gives room for extra creativity, but it also requires more time to put the perfect piece together.

You should approach all essays with the same mentality, regardless of their length. Your goal is to compose a piece that clearly guides the reader through your thoughts and reasoning. You may have to adjust how you convey those thoughts based on the length. Your essay should always have a beginning, middle, and end.

 A Step-by-Step 500-Word Essay Example

To help you see how to write a 500-word scholarship essay, we want to show you each section of the essay step-by-step. Use this as a general guide when you write your essay. However, feel free to add your own spin to it. Our writing sample will be in green, and the commentary will be in plain text. So…let’s begin!

TOPIC: Should cell phone usage be controlled in college classrooms?

Step 1 – Create a Thesis

Everything in your essay revolves around your thesis. This is the big point you are trying to make, which is usually an answer to a question in the essay prompt. You will use the rest of the essay to support this thesis.

For the topic Should cell phone usage be controlled in college classrooms? our thesis will be:

“Cell phone usage should be controlled in college classrooms, as long as it does not hinder students’ rights.”

Step 2 – Write the Introduction

The introduction should grab your reader’s attention and prepare for an explanation of the thesis. It usually starts with a general statement related to the topic at hand, followed by supplementary sentences that lead into the thesis. Here is a sample introduction for our essay, including the thesis at the end of the paragraph:

Cell phones have gone from a sought-after luxury to a daily necessity. While these devices provide convenient access to the outside world, they can be problematic for educators. High school teachers can tell children in their classes to put their phones away, but should professors have the same control over adult men and women? The key is to create cell phone usage policies that limit distractions without hindering student rights.

Word count: an Intro paragraph, 70 words.

Step 3 – Write the Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs should provide support for the thesis. Why do you think this way, and what evidence do you have to support those beliefs? The paragraphs should flow from one to the next like a constant stream of thought. Each paragraph should conclude the statement made at the beginning of the paragraph.

Building on the thesis “Cell phone usage should be controlled in college classrooms, as long as it does not hinder students’ rights,” we will now explain how colleges can control cell phones in class while preserving student rights. If our thesis was that cell phones should NOT be controlled in college, we would explain the dangers of not having access to cell phones.

No matter which side of the argument you choose, you should acknowledge the other angle and negate those statements. As you will see below, we remark on why some students may not want cell phone usage policies. We will also suggest how to get around those concerns. Doing this provides the best possible support for your thesis because it shows you have taken every angle into consideration.

Here is the body for our 500-word essay sample:

The primary argument supporting cell phone control in the classroom is the fact that phones can be distracting. Not only do cell phones distract instructors, but they may also distract students trying to pay attention to the lecture. This is the same effect as a moviegoer looking at his phone in a theater. Even if the phone makes no noise, the light from the screen is enough to catch someone’s attention.

Arguments against cell phone control typically focus on safety concerns. Should a crisis occurs in the classroom, students should have their phones on hand to make a call. If a student has a child, he or she may need a phone in case of a medical emergency. If the student is on call for work, he or she will need access to a phone. The list of exception-worthy scenarios is endless.

The best solution is to create cell phone usage rules that allow devices to be accessible without disturbing other students’ educational opportunities. Students should be permitted to keep their phones in their bags, pockets, or other belongings as long as the phones are on silent in class. Vibrate settings may be permitted if the instructor does not believe it will distract him or her, since the noise of the vibration may not be noticeable in a large classroom. If a student needs to answer the phone during an emergency, he or she can step out of the classroom to do so. This setup would give the students and the instructor peace of mind.

Cell phone restrictions in classrooms should also include specific disciplinary actions for breaking the rules. If a student is caught using the phone in class, he or she should be excused for the rest of the day. Professors should refrain from physically taking possession of a student’s phone because of liability conflicts. If the phone is damaged while in the professor’s possession, the school or the instructor could be held responsible for the repairs. It is safer to ask the student to leave the classroom than it is to take the phone away completely.

Word count: Body paragraphs, 349 words. Total essay is now 419 words.

Step 4 – Wrap It up with a Conclusion

Once you have covered all your points, you should summarize the essay’s contents in the conclusion. This is your last opportunity to convince the reader of your thesis. Touch on the most important aspects of your essay then leave the reader with something to think about. Here is an example of how to conclude our essay:

Each school, professor and student body is different. Colleges must adapt their rules and discipline efforts to reflect the current needs of their students. Eliminating cell phones in college classrooms is an overstretch, but there are ways to balance students’ rights and instructors’ rights. With the right amount of control and flexibility, colleges can create a pleasant learning environment with maximum safety and minimal interruptions.

Notice how our conclusion was definitive but optimistic. We explain that colleges need to adapt their rules to fit the needs of their students. Yet still, confirm that cell phone use policies should be enforced.

Word count: Conclusion paragraph, 65 words. Total essay is now 484 words.

But wait! You’re 16 words short! We know that. The essay covered everything we wanted to without the need for extra words. If the prompt asked for at least 500 words, we would add another sentence to support one of the paragraphs. Since that was not a requirement though, we kept the essay as-is to avoid sounding wordy or repetitive.

The Complete 500-Word Essay Example

Cell phones have gone from a sought-after luxury to a daily necessity. While these devices provide convenient access to the outside world, they can be problematic for educators. High school teachers can tell children in their classes to put their phones away, but should professors have the same control over grown men and women? The key is to create cell phone usage policies that limit distractions without hindering student rights.

The primary argument supporting cell phone control in the classroom is the fact that phones can be distracting. Not only do cell phones distract instructors, but they may also distract students trying to pay attention to the lecture. This is the same effect as a moviegoer looking at his phone in a theater. Even if the phone makes no noise, the light from the screen is enough to catch someone’s attention.

Arguments against cell phone control typically focus on safety concerns. Should a crisis occurs in the classroom, students should have their phones on hand to make a call. If a student has a child, he or she may need a phone in case of a medical emergency. If the student is on call for work, he or she will need access to a phone. The list of exception-worthy scenarios is endless.

The best solution is to create cell phone usage rules that allow devices to be accessible without disturbing other students’ educational opportunities. Students should be permitted to keep their phones in their bags, pockets, or other belongings as long as the phones are on silent in class. Vibrate settings may be permitted if the instructor does not believe it will distract him or her, since the noise of the vibration may not be noticeable in a large classroom. If a student needs to answer the phone during an emergency, he or she can step out of the classroom to do so. This setup would give the students and the instructor peace of mind.

Cell phone restrictions in classrooms should also include specific disciplinary actions for breaking the rules. If a student is caught using the phone in class, he or she should be excused for the rest of the day. Professors should refrain from physically taking possession of a student’s phone because of liability conflicts. If the phone is damaged while in the professor’s possession, the school or the instructor could be held responsible for the repairs. It is safer to ask the student to leave the classroom than it is to take the phone away completely.

Each school, professor and student body is different. Colleges must adapt their rules and discipline efforts to reflect the current needs of their students. Eliminating cell phones in college classrooms is an overstretch, but there are ways to balance students’ rights and instructors’ rights. With the right amount of control and flexibility, colleges can create a pleasant learning environment with maximum safety and minimal interruptions.

Tips for Writing a Great 500-Word Essay

Here are some tips to help you write a great 500-word scholarship essay:

  • Give yourself at least two full days to write the essay. You can use the first day to write a draft and do some minor editing. Then on the second day, you can look at the essay with fresh eyes to do your final edits.

  • If you have a chance to show your essay to your English instructor or academic adviser, do so. You can use the feedback to improve the essay before submitting it.

  • Don’t focus on the word count as you write. Get all your thoughts on paper, and you can extend or shorten the essay during the editing process.

  • Write the first draft from start to finish, even if you know your thoughts are out of order. You can re-arrange them at a later time, but the initial run through will be as fluid as possible.

  • Re-read the prompt several times before writing. You don’t want to write an entire essay only to find out you were completely off topic.

  • Always think about your audience when writing a scholarship essay. What organization is issuing the scholarship, and how can you tie that into your writing? What is the underlying information they want to learn from your essay? Write in a way that shows you are the best candidate for the scholarship.