As my clients crank out their initial essay drafts, many of them contact me a bit upset over the word limits imposed on them. They insist that they are not even halfway finished, but have completely run out of words. “It’s just not possible to describe my three most substantial experiences in only 600 words!”
My advice is to forget about word count and just write the essay. Focus on getting your content together and making sure that it is very strong. Once your content is there, you would be surprised at how easy it is to cut words. Most of us tend to be extremely verbose. You can frequently keep every important point, but just articulate with far fewer words.
You also may be forced to consider which pieces of your story are truly pertinent to answering the question. You would be surprised at how easy it is to start telling your story and ramble off of topic. Carefully examine each piece of your essay and make sure that it is really, truly relevant, as opposed to miscellaneous background information.
Finally, do you really have to strictly adhere to word count limits? The general rule of thumb is to stay within 10%. Don’t worry if you go a bit over, but much more than that and you are simply not following directions.