Reread Your Essay

Once you have completed the first draft, you should go back to the beginning and read it. Try to read it from an objective standpoint, as if you are someone else reading your work. Because you are so closely tied to your ideas, it will be difficult at first to be objective. As you read over the draft, ask yourself:

  • Is everything explained fully?

  • Will the reader understand everything as it is currently explained here?

  • Are there any holes or gaps in the argument?

  • Are any ideas not fully developed or partially explained?

  • Does one idea flow smoothly into the next?

  • What additional information does the reader need to appreciate my point?

Make appropriate notes. Try to anticipate questions a reader might have and write them in the margins. Now you’re ready to rewrite. As you rewrite, answer the questions with more information. Revise the essay as many times as necessary, until you’re satisfied with it. The changes you make will improve the essay with each draft.

The first few times you read and rewrite, you should focus on the content—the ideas and points that are explained in the essay. Make certain all your ideas are clearly and fully explained—that nothing is ambiguous or partially stated, that there are no gaps in the discussion. Examine the organization of the essay and make certain that one point flows smoothly and logically into the next. You might try moving sections of the essay around to see if they work more effectively somewhere else. Check that everything in the essay supports the thesis statement, and take out anything that detracts from the argument.

In later readings, you will concentrate more on the writing, grammar, and spelling. For now, review individual sentences and paragraphs to ensure the material is clear and flows together. Think about ways you can rework sentences to make them clearer.

When you are reviewing your essay, check to make certain you have met the page requirements set by your teacher. Remember, choosing the right topic from the start is the best way to ensure your essay will be the appropriate length. Once you’ve started writing, you may find your essay is a bit longer or shorter than you intended. If your essay is only half a page longer or shorter, most professors will still accept it. If it is off by more than half a page, then you need to make adjustments.

The stages of writing: think, research, organize, draft, revise, edit, and proofread. Each time you revise, you make the essay a little better.

If you’ve included quotations and paraphrases from outside sources, you should also double-check the citations. Make certain you’ve given each source credit and followed the right format.

Turning in an essay that is not carefully edited makes a very poor impression on a teacher. It indicates that you don’t take your work all that seriously. Even if the ideas within the essay are good, not taking the time to edit can lower your grade significantly. Make certain you review your essay carefully.

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