General Question

KatawaGrey's avatar

In the English school system, are essays ever assigned based on physical length as opposed to number of pages?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21350 points ) April 5th, 2009

I am re-reading the Harry Potter series and whenever a student has to write an essay, the length is assigned in inches. For example, a paper might have be 10 inches long. Is this common practice among the English schools or did J. K. Rowling make this up solely for her books?

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20 Answers

Likeradar's avatar

I’ve never heard of a paper being assigned in inches. It’s usually page length, and if the teacher wants to get pickier, he or she says something like “2 pages, 12 pt. font, double spaced.”

KatawaGrey's avatar

That makes much more sense to me. I always thought it was weird that it was done in inches in the books.

Skyrail's avatar

It’s a fictional book, don’t take much out of it as face value. Every ‘essay’ I’ve had to write is given in number of words, and that’s the same for most subjects.

eambos's avatar

Maybe it is because they use parchment scrolls in Harry Potter? It would be one long, rolled up sheet, so length in inches would be a reasonable measurement.

@Vincentt =P

Vincentt's avatar

I suppose they’re writing on a length of parchment in Harry Potter, so you wouldn’t really have pages.

Damn you beat me @eambos :P

KatawaGrey's avatar

@eambos and @Vincentt: That makes a lot of sense. I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks guys!

5lisadianne's avatar

I’m an English teacher (high school level) & I actually do assign writing with a measurement length to the assignment. I teach the “applied” kids & this just seems to work best for them. They completely get the idea of: write this many inches for the first paragraph, this many inches for the 2nd, etc.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@5lisadianne: I’m glad that an expert in the field responded. Thank you very much!

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

I always thought it was a British thing, but what @Vincentt and @eambos said makes a lot more sense.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Well it wouldn’t the in inches in the UK!

Zen's avatar

I also accept essays according to weight.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Lightlyseared: Actually, when I visited England, I was very surprised to hear the people I met there referring to measurements in inches and feet as opposed to centimeters and meters. Maybe it was just how they spoke in that part of London.

adreamofautumn's avatar

In the UK universities they assign things based on word count. 15,000 words or something was my ex’s thesis paper. I think it came out to something like 15 pages.

lercio's avatar

I’m from the UK but I have not been in to school for a few decades. In my day it was pages or words.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

That’s never been done here while I’ve been a student… fairly often, essays are assigned according to word length, as @adreamofautumn said.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

@KatawaGrey Actually we tend to use a mish-mash of both measurement systems. I wish it made sense to us even!

Pcrecords's avatar

We do still measure in feet and inches in the uk, officially we adopted the metric system and that’s what we are taught in school, but we are fairly robust in using both. Ie feet and inches and also cm or mm (and it tends to be for smaller stuff) we still refer to vinyl records as 7“singles and 12“singles we also use stones and pounds for weighing ourselves although legally all produce is weighed in grams now. Interstingly we also use fahreinheit and celsisus in measuring temperatures, usually when talking about the weather people tend to use F for high temps and C for cold, possibly to exaggerate the extremes.

Love it when these answers veer off a bit.

Your friendly British record company, signing off.

ru2bz46's avatar

I think you’ll find more esses in the Hispanic school system than in the English (except maybe the American Southwest). Also, I don’t think it is politically correct to measure an esse without his permission. Then, assigning an esse to do something based on his “length” may get the ACLU involved. Finally, esses are not royalty (though they might act like it on their own turf), so they are unlikely to have any paiges at all.

eambos's avatar

I think you may have the wrong essay there, @ru2bz46.

Very well done.

Zen's avatar

A typical page is about 250 words.

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