Portfolio Length


Greetings all,

As I navigate the COVID-19 crisis I have decided that the best route for me personally during this time is to pursue graduate schools. I have been looking over the portfolio lengths for applications at several schools I am interested in, and I am having great difficulty shortening my portfolio. I understand that this is a small detail in the large picture of applications, but for some reason it is causing me great stress. And, while this is not a new topic, I have of course narrowed my work to four of my most recent and refined projects, yet I am finding the twenty page limit difficult to manage. Is there anyway this 20 PDF page limit can include spreads? Furthermore, what could the consequences be if I exceed this 20 page limit by four or six pages? I am trying to trim as much fat as possible but I find that with three introductory pages including an about piece, CV, and table of contents in addition with roughly three spreads (totaling six pages) per project puts me roughly around 28 pages. Any input would be greatly appreciated. In addition any precedents that highlight well-executed brief portfolios would help in my pursuit of preparing materials for my applications. Lastly if this topic has already been discussed elsewhere on this forum please let me know. I would not like to repeat a thread that can be found elsewhere. I am new to this forum and just beginning to explore past discussions. Thank you in advance, for any help or input. 

May 28, 20 12:11 am

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Which schools are you applying to? GSD and MIT asks for 30 spreads while Yale has no limit. Many other schools have weird numbers. I recommend you to not exceed page limit as it is really not necessary. I will say cut down similar representations from your project. If you have shown a certain aspect of your ability in one project already, you don't have to show it again. 


May 28, 20 12:47 am  · 
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Here's my 2 cents, from experience on admissions committees:  a too-long portfolio isn't the type of thing that will get your application culled before it even gets to the committee, but the consequence is that it will probably be judged negatively for being too long.  Nobody counts pages, so if it's 2 pages over the school's limit it's probably not even going to be noticed, but if it's several pages over then it reflects poorly on your ability to follow directions, and more importantly on your critical thinking and ability to self-critique and edit, which are considered essential skills for success in architecture school.  The admissions committee, particularly in the early rounds of the process, may spend a grand total of a minute or less on your entire application, and you probably shouldn't want that fleeting glance to focus on the length of your portfolio.  There's usually a form or an internal site on which the reviewer's jot their impressions of the portfolios they review - often these are just a few words or one sentence long.  In the end the whole decision can come down to those notes, and I can't tell you how many times the notes say nothing but "cover hard to open" or "bloated book."  If you're ok with the sum total of your application and your admissions decision hinging on "bloated book" then ignore the school's parameters and don't edit, but if not, be ruthless with yourself now, so the committee won't be later.

First, you don't need a table of contents, CV, or "about piece" at all.  Your other application materials should be covering the "about", and your portfolio is too short (or should be) that it needs a TOC.  Nobody will read these pages.  Second: take all three spreads and edit them to 4 pages each, maximum.  If you absolutely, positively, cannot bring yourself to do this, then pick just one of them to keep at 6 pages.  But really, understand how brief the reviewers' interactions are with each portfolio, and know that it's very unlikely anybody will have the time to  delve so deeply into the specifics of projects that they need more than 2 to 4 pages.

May 28, 20 10:40 am  · 
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Make one large banner of your portfolio and shrink it till it fits 20 pages, or cut off 15% or so of each page. Or just follow Bloopox' tips ^.

May 28, 20 12:33 pm  · 

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