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Essay Revising Checklist

  1. Put your essay aside for a day after you have completed the first draft. Otherwise, you won’t be able to look at your essay with fresh eyes.
  2. Give yourself enough time to revise. Revising an hour before the paper is due is very unwise- don’t rush through the process.
  3. Don’t revise the entire essay at once. Work in sections, especially if it’s a long paper; otherwise, you’ll get bored and won’t notice as much.
  4. Read your draft aloud. This is one of the best techniques you can ever use to improve your writing.
  5. Use a typed copy for your revisions. Hand written drafts tend to get very messy, and it’s not as easy to see the revisions you need to make.
  6. Don’t check grammar when you revise! Save that for the editing stage.
  7. Be aware that you will probably need to write more than one draft. Very few professional writers end up with a perfect first draft, and the more drafts you write, the easier the process will be.
  8. Revise on your computer. However, be careful about deleting large sections of material--it may be useful at a later stage. Saving multiple copies could save you some heartache.

Essay Revising Guidelines

Feedback can be enormously helpful for any writer. Although many of you probably haven’t workshopped your essays before, sharing your writing with another student can open up new ideas and help you to see your essay in a new light. If you are having trouble with a certain section, you could ask your readers if they think you are going in the right direction. When it’s your turn to read someone else’s essay, use the following guidelines:

  1. Note the essay’s strengths and weaknesses. Many students feel hesitant about critiquing a peer’s work, but remember, you’re helping that person by noticing things the writer may not have seen.
  2. Write down your responses. Verbal feedback isn’t enough, and it’s hard to offer constructive criticism when speaking directly to someone. Make notes on the draft itself so the writer knows which section you are commenting on.
  3. Remember to be specific with your comments. State precisely what you find strong or weak about each section.
  4. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions. You’re taking part in the learning process as well, so offer specific comments about revision strategies.

Although revising can often seem tedious and pointless, it can be one of the most important steps of the writing process. Unfortunately, Mark Christiansen notes that many students spend less than 1% of their time revising their work, while professional writers devote close to 25% of their time to revision.

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