Venky - you are arguing a very long established theory, but one with which there is no real defence. I am not saying it is not the case that people allow runovers, but it isn't wise. Why MUST 10% be considered reasonable?
If they wanted 550, not 500, they would say 550
I honestly think that overrunning a little is OK, but starting new sentences over the recommended word limit is taking the p!ss. If you have other things to say, put them in the optional essay.
Sure, a 500 word essay is tricky. It is for everyone. That's probably why they chose a 500 word limit.
I am from a world of limits being limits, rather than soft limits. In my mind a 550 word answer to a 500 word limit question isn't well written!
A lot depends on ur writing.
There is no generic right answer.
A poorly written essay which is within word limits but nothing much to say is worse then a well written essay which is say 530 words in length (limit = 500)
What I advise is keep 550 (say 10 %) as a overshoot limit. Becuase chopping down to meet word limits can cause the original effect of the essay to be hampered. If I am satisfied withy my essay quality and it happens to be say 530 words then I wouldnt go and try shortening it.
Again as a manager you cant do everything by the rules
sometimes its ok to exceed your limits within limits (complex sentence fun intended)
What I mean here is keep quality of essay and communication clarity as the primary descion makers and the word limit exceeding issue as secondary (just to decide whether you need to trim down or not)
As a former college admissions officer who read over 3,000 essays every admissions cycle, I can’t stress enough that students should consider quality over quantity when drafting college essays. My colleagues have previously written blog posts encouraging students to draft essays in their everyday voice, and to avoid replacing normal words with cousins from the thesaurus. The bigger picture here is to tell your own story as clearly and concisely as you can. The same goes for the length of your personal statement—hone in on the specific message you want to convey and deliver it as succinctly as you can.
Admission officers prioritize content over quantity. I never met an admission officer who literally counted the words in a college essay. Outliers in either direction were immediately noticed, though—writing 250 words when the space accommodates 650, or submitting 2-3 pages when a single page was requested—can send a bad first impression. But the difference between 280 words and 315 words, or 512 words and 627 words, will go completely unnoticed. Admission officers do notice, however, the clarity of your thought and the effectiveness with which you convey your ideas. If your message was well-said in 250 words but the maximum was 300, so you added 50 words of fluff, those 50 words are diluting the strength of your message. Similarly, if you wrote a 500-word piece you’re proud of but the maximum is 300, please don’t go line-by-line to delete extra words; instead, reconsider the scope of your essay, because you may have selected a larger topic than can be thoughtfully addressed within the word count.
For those of you still concerned about the literal word count: The most common “personal statement” length is in the ballpark of 500 words. The three standardized application portals—the Common App, the Universal App, and the Coalition App—all request personal statements capped at 650 words, but that’s the absolute limit, at which point your writing will be cut off. I consider 500 the “sweet spot,” but don’t stress if you write an essay closer to 430 or 620 that you’re honestly proud of. Many colleges also ask for short answer responses, sometimes called supplemental prompts or personal insight questions, in the range of 150, 250, or 350 words; in this case, aim for the suggested length and be aware of the hard limits on either end, but don’t stress if you’re over or under by 10-15%.