Once you’ve written an essay it’s crucial that you take the time to read over it and check for careless errors you may have made, and any phrases that don’t sound right, or points that don’t t with your thesis statement.
A reader forms a subconscious instant judgement on the quality of your essay based purely on how many linguistic mistakes there are. This is the same in the workplace – if you send an email with lots of errors people will not understand your message!
The main things to check for in your writing are:
- Grammatical mistakes
- Spelling mistakes
- Awkward phrasing or things that don’t make sense
- Irrelevant statements or points that don’t add to your argument
Often when you have just written something you are unlikely to pick up the mistakes immediately after you have written it, so try to come back to your essay after a short while and look at it again. In an exam this may mean answering a question on another paper or taking a very short break to clear your mind. When you’re at home this is much easier – you can just go and get some food or talk to some friends and come back to the essay later. You might also like to get someone else to proofread it for you, as fresh eyes see more clearly sometimes!
Ways to help pick up mistakes
- Read your essay aloud (or at least in your head) – when you have to physically speak each word you’ll pick up the awkward phrasing and bits that don’t make sense. Read slowly to ensure you don’t skip over little mistakes.
- If you’re writing on a computer, print it out and use a red pen to go through and write changes on the page as you read. You’ll be more likely to spot the mistakes, and you can write the changes immediately onto the sheet. Pretend you’re the marker reading your essay and circle or write a note about everything you spot that isn’t right.
- Have a friend, your parents, or an instructor look over it – this can be good to pick up mistakes you may have missed and get a second opinion.
Note: we offer advice on essays that you have written, including giving notes on editing and proofreading, so if you are stuck please don’t hesitate to send your essays through to us!