A common problem I'm sure a lot of you are facing is how to reach essay minimum page requirements. I'm here to help. This is only really looking at one specific technique, there's lots of others, and maybe I'll do write-ups on them also. The key here though is that this isn't about just padding your essay. It's about reaching the minimum length by doing what you're actually expected to do. It's like cheating on a test by smuggling notes in your brain.



But how to add to Essay length without cheating?

Let's take a hypothetical essay discussing polarizing foods. Here's a stereotypically bad bit of (hypothetical) student writing:

One food that causes a lot of debate is pineapple on pizza. In Haidt's article he finds that 40% of people hate pineapple on pizza. This clearly shows pineapple is one of the most controversial foods on pizza.

Shit. We just covered pineapple in like 2 lines of text. That was going to be the centerpiece of the essay!

To improve on this, always look for more clarity, depth, and specificity. We'll start with the first sentence. …Is there evidence of this debate we can point to?

One food that causes a lot of debate is pineapple on pizza. For instance, a Reddit post ranked pineapple on pizza as the most controversial food.



But how to add to Essay length without cheating?
But how to add to Essay length without cheating?
Details are missing

Good start, but what lots of details are missing.

For instance, a Reddit post on the popular r/askreddit forum asked community members what food they found to be the most controversial and pineapple was the clear winner.

Better, but we're using an internet source a lot of folks aren't familiar with. Is it credible? More detail helps:

For instance, a Reddit post on the popular r/askreddit forum asked community members what food they found to be the most controversial. The post received a net 14,000 upvotes and 3,000 comments. The highest voted comment was for pineapple on pizza. But, pineapple on pizza wasn't just the top response; it also ranked 7th, 14th, and 17th.

Our first sentence has now become longer than the entire original paragraph just be expanding on the “causes a lot of debate” idea. Now let's move on to “In Haidt's article he finds that 40% of people hate pineapple on pizza.”



First, we need to tell the audience who this guy is.

Jonathan Haidt is an ethics professor at the NYU Stern School of Business and has written extensively on the subject of disgust.

After that, we should give more detail about just what the study found (I'm making up the study, btw, but Haidt does study disgust). We should provide more detail about the specific research results, and can add a bit of narrative about the research methods as well.

In a study of 300 college students in New York City, Haidt found that on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is “strongly dislike” and 5 is “strongly like,” 40% of respondents ranked pineapple on pizza at 1, while 30% ranked it at 5. Only 3% put it in the middle with a rank of 3.

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We're getting to it

In the original, 40% disliking it didn't actually tell us it was controversial, it told us only a lot of people hate it — but we need to know how many like it as well, and the number of ambivalent people is another useful detail. We can go into more depth with some added context drawn from other questions in the study:



While pineapple had 70% of all respondents answering 1 or 5, sausage only had 30% in either category, with only 5% saying they strongly dislike it.

Good, that tells us how it compares to an uncontroversial topping. How does it rate among other controversial toppings though?

Compared to other controversial toppings, pineapple is still very polarizing. For instance, olives only had 40% ranking it 1 or 5, bell peppers had 30%, and mushrooms were at 55%. The only thing with more results at the extremes was anchovies with 90% having a strong opinion, though 85% ranked it at 1, showing it isn't controversial, just universally disliked.

Holy cow, now we've got ourselves a real-life college essay paragraph.

Putting things together

Let's put the pieces together and see how she looks:

One food that causes a lot of debate is pineapple on pizza. For instance, a Reddit post on the popular r/askreddit forum asked community members what food they found to be the most controversial. The post received a net 14,000 upvotes and 3,000 comments. The highest voted comment was for pineapple on pizza. But, pineapple on pizza wasn't just the top response; it also ranked 7th, 14th, and 17th. Jonathan Haidt is an ethics professor at the NYU Stern School of Business and has written extensively on the subject of disgust. In a study of 300 college students in New York City, Haidt found that on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is “strongly dislike” and 5 is “strongly like,” 40% of respondents ranked pineapple on pizza at 1, while 30% ranked it at 5. Only 3% put it in the middle with a rank of 3. While pineapple had 70% of all respondents answering 1 or 5, sausage only had 30% in either category, with only 5% saying they strongly dislike it. Compared to other controversial toppings, pineapple is still very polarizing. For instance, olives only had 40% ranking it 1 or 5, bell peppers had 30%, and mushrooms were at 55%. The only thing with more results at the extremes was anchovies with 90% having a strong opinion, though 85% ranked it at 1, showing it isn't controversial, just universally disliked.



That's more than half a page (TNR 12, double spaced). Now you know how to add to Essay length without cheating.

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Halfway knowing how to add to Essay length without cheating

Now, what about the last line from the original? “This clearly shows pineapple is one of the most controversial foods on pizza.”

Cut it. Don't need it. If I clearly showed you something, I don't need to tell you that I clearly showed you it. You know.

But wait, we're not done! We can get even more mileage out of this by commenting on the limitations of the study:

It should be noted that the study was only of college students in New York City, and there may be a regional preference.

Again, we can expand this with greater levels of detail and specificity.



It should be noted that the study was only of college students in New York City, and regional preferences may have influenced the results. Food preferences and traditions are known to vary from one region to the next, and pizza in particular has regional variations such as the Chicago deep dish. It may be that in some places were pineapple is more popular, pineapple on pizza is less of a contentious issue.

And, if you need to squeeze a little more mileage out of it, add a bit of your research narrative:

However, in researching this topic, I was not able to find a study that compared regional attitudes towards pineapple on pizza.



That's all there is to it.

…One huge caveat of course. Expanding your writing in this way first requires that you have a clue what the heck you're talking about. You need to have done the research, have actual good sources, and understand the sources and your subject to be able to discuss it in a nuanced manner. If you're still in camp “lol didn't read,” this isn't going to help you much.

And this is how to add to Essay length without cheating.