Do you often compare your English essays to the ones of your classmates who are straight- students and feel you’ll never be as good as them? Don’t be discouraged. Becoming a proficient writer takes time and patience, but it’s not as difficult as you think. With persistence, patience, and some clever self-editing techniques, your essays can become just as compelling and your grades will finally get better.
Don’t Proofread Immediately after Writing
The text feels very familiar and you’ll tend to skip words because you know what you wanted to say. To analyze your essay with a critical eye, you should proofread and edit about a week after finishing writing. But, if that’s not possible, try to have at least a 24-hour break. When you look at your paper from a fresh perspective, you can spot typos and grammar mistakes faster. Moreover, you can also notice structure and phrasing issues that aren’t that obvious at first.
Edit in a Familiar Format
Some people spot typos immediately on a computer screen. Others are more familiar with pen and paper. Hence, it may be easier for you to print your essay and revise it this way. So, don’t force yourself to look at your laptop for hours.
Split your Essay into Smaller Chunks
If you spent two weeks writing a 5000-word essay, don’t expect to proofread it in two hours. Firstly, it’s a heavy workload, and secondly, you’ll lose your focus and overlook many errors. For best results, take one chapter or section at a time and read each sentence carefully several times.
Read your Essay from Bottom to Top
Did you wait until the last minute to finish your essay and don’t have time to be thorough? One great trick is to read it from bottom to top. This will place sentences out of context and it will be easier for you to spot mistakes. You should also try changing the text font, size, and spacing to make the essay look less familiar and read it from a new perspective.
Read the Essay Out Loud
Sometimes it’s not the typos and grammar mistakes that lower the quality of the essay, but the phrasing and the flow of ideas. By reading your essay out loud, you’ll notice things like repetitions, incomplete sentences or vague phrases. For even better results, you can paste your text in a text-to-speech reader like TTSReader or Natural Reader. Hearing your ideas spoken out loud in someone else’s voice will definitely help you spot weak points more easily.
Use a Spelling and Grammar Checker
The default MS Word spellchecker does a decent job at spotting common typos and grammar mistakes, but it’s not enough to help you draft a brilliant essay. For a more accurate review, use online editing tools like Grammarly or Hemingway App. Apart from pointing out mistakes like to instead of too, or for instead of fro, they will give you more insight into advanced issues such as passive voice misuse, readability, and poor choice of words. They also help you improve your writing steadily by grading your essays and sending you weekly performance reports.
Ask for an Outsider’s Perspective
You wrote that essay yourself. You spent many late nights doing research, you fell asleep at your desk trying to polish it, and you’re pretty proud of what came out. It’s difficult to be critical when you read it, this is a problem even the biggest writers have. To fix mistakes that you wouldn’t normally see yourself, ask someone else to look over it. A colleague, a family member, one of your teachers or a professional editor from Hot Essay Service or Supreme Dissertations can give you constructive feedback and suggest weak points in your writing. If you notice there’s one particular thing you struggle with, such as adverb use or punctuation. Write it down on a post so that you can see it every day.
Avoid Adverb Overuse
Don’t say something’s very bad, say that it’s terrible. Don’t say that you’re really tired, say that you’re exhausted. Adverbs rarely add something meaningful to the sentence and most of the time they clutter writing. If your verb or adjective is strong enough, it doesn’t need a very or incredibly next to it. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all adverbs are bad and that you should cut them off from your writing completely, but you should try to use them more sparingly.
Learn to Write Concisely
Albert Einstein said that if you can’t explain it simply, you didn’t understand it well. Whether you’re presenting a complex concept, comparing and contrasting two ideas, or arguing for or against something, your writing should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. Don’t use fancy neologisms, inversions, metaphors or complicated sentence structures just to impress the reader, because the result ends up being confusing and difficult to follow. Let your ideas run smoothly, without digressions, and introduce only one idea per paragraph.
If you’re not Sure, Look it Up
Did you use a phrase the grammar editor didn’t flag, but you’re not sure it fits in the context? Look it up! If you see it popping up in online dictionaries or articles from credible websites, then it’s incorrect and you should replace it. Do you want to be even more thorough? Post your question in a writing forum like Absolute Write or Writers Digest and the users there will explain why that phrase was wrong. Unlike students from older generations, you have the Internet. You don’t need to manually skim through dictionaries or rely on your local library. Take advantage of all the online resources available and you will become better at self-editing.
Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself. Writing is a skill and honing it takes time. You may not be able to edit your essays to perfection from the first try, and that’s normal. If you managed to find three grammar mistakes in your essay that you couldn’t spot last week, you’re on the right track. Practice on some of your old essays until you find a system that works for you and next time you have a school assignment your ability to self-edit will be dramatically improved.
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