Some assignments are given page count requirements instead of word count. A normal, typed, double-spaced essay without footnotes is said to yield approximately 250 words per page. Page count requirements are open to cheating by doing things like extending the line height, widening all four margins, increasing the font size or using a wider-style font, using footnotes, and other style elements that help spread the content over the pages. While this may satisfy the requirement, keep in mind that your instructor is expecting a certain level of content in the essay, and an incomplete essay stretched over the required amount of pages is still an incomplete essay. Conversely, an essay that blathers on will still seem to blather even if the student creatively crams more words into a smaller space.
Remember to schedule your essay well. Don't wait until the last few days to do the research, or you're likely to find all the good books have been signed out already. Don't wait until the last minute to do your writing, because if you discover you're missing a key bit of information, you may not have time to get it. Worse, you might end up feeling ill or having conflicting obligations the night before the essay is due, and no reasonable teacher or professor will give you an extension if you bring them a pathetic excuse such as, "I had to go to work," or "I had a headache." Furthermore, whatever you churn out in the wee hours of the morning is bound to be second-rate at best. Leaving the essay to the last minute is also tempting Murphy to throw in problems such as malfunctioning printers, computer crashes, being out of toner or paper, long lines at the printers on campus, etc. I always aimed to have my essays done one full week before they were due. In some instances, circumstances did prevent completion a week early, but because I had that buffer zone of a week, I never had to hand in something late.
Longer essays may also contain an introductory page that defines words and phrases of the essay's topic. Most academic institutions require that all substantial facts, quotations, and other porting material in an essay be referenced in a bibliography or works cited page at the end of the text. This scholarly convention helps others (whether teachers or fellow scholars) to understand the basis of facts and quotations the author uses to support the essay's argument and helps readers evaluate to what extent the argument is supported by evidence, and to evaluate the quality of that evidence. The academic essay tests the student's ability to present their thoughts in an organized way and is designed to test their intellectual capabilities.