Wordcount Management

How to manage wordcount issues

Internal Assessments are a great way to lock in a significant part of your overall grade long before stepping into the final exams. An important factor that has quite an effect on your IA grades, yet is never officially taught, is wordcount management. Even though the wordcount seems unnecessary and pesky, it is useful to learn how to manage it early on since most academic or scientific writing you do throughout your life will have to abide by some form of word count. Without further ado, here are some tips for proper wordcount management:

Realise that the wordcount tells you a lot about the paper you are writing. Different wordcounts suite different kinds of writing, and you should use this fact to your advantage. An example would be the Business & Management (BM) IA, vs the Economics IA. They both are similar in content, with the BM IA offering you a space of 1600 words, while the Economics IA having a max of 800 words. This translates heavily into the type of writing that you should do. In BM, you are supposed to describe your entire research plan and proposal, offering your personal insight and interpretations all throughout, which is reflected by a longer word count. This can also tell you that you should offer an alternative outlook on the situation, which differs from your premise. In Economics, however, should be much more concise and to the point. It should remain entirely scientific throughout, with only room for personal interpretation left at the very end. To sum up, you should always answer the main premise of your IA in a lot of detail, but the wordcount can tell you whether or not you should include extra things, such as counter-arguments, research plans or personal suggestions.

Always make an outline of your paper before you start to write it. You should really do this with all of your schoolwork, but outlining the structure of your IA is really useful for keeping to the wordcount. This does not have to be all that complicated, but just by having a simple list of all of the points and paragraphs you need to include (and deciding how many words you are going to assign to each section based on relevance) can prevent you scrambling and erasing parts of your essay to fit the WC because you forgot a point you needed to make.

For your first draft, it’s always better to be a couple hundred words below the maximum wordcount. This is pretty self-explanatory. Writing dozens of academic papers has taught me that it is much easier to add things that are missing in your essay, than to erase parts of your essay to make room for these things, which almost always leads to your essay losing its’ structure, coherence and meaning.

Keep your writing concise. Even though we’re all guilty of repeating the same things multiple times, giving way too much personal insight and generally embellishing our writing, this should absolutely not be done in IB IA’s. These things are really apparent to the people grading your work, and might take away from their reading experience. It is most often better to write in a concise and professional manner and have less words, than to have the entire WC filled up with obvious embellishment.