Sometimes you just need a little extra help to get your work from good to great. Other times, you need a lot of help. But that help isn’t always freely available – your tutor only has a limited amount of time and you’ll often find you won’t have the one-to-one support you really need.
This means you need to undertake the process of proofreading, marking, editing and critiquing largely by yourself. There are however a number of tools that you can use to assist you and give giving you the reassurance you need before you submit your essays and assignments.
Correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar are really important, as is avoiding colloquialisms. Even trivial flaws in your essay will distract the most sympathetic lecturer from the real content.
Goode spelling and grammaar are like house-work. No won notices it when it’s done, but lapses are glairing.
Notice the errors above? See how much they stand out? That’s how noticeable they look to your tutor. It’s not just about those little errors though. To get a good grade, your work must:
- Answer the question fully
- Be well structured
- Include appropriate and well chosen content
- Critically appraise the material you’ve studied
- Include original thought
- Present arguments clearly and logically
- Cover and consider all the main issues on the topic
- Demonstrate a clear understanding
- Include appropriate references and supporting material
- Be well presented with few if any errors
Are you confident that your work covers all these bases? If not, don’t worry – read on.
Here’s how to proofread your own essay:
- Take a break: After finishing your essay, take a break for a few hours or even a day if possible. This will give you a fresh perspective and help you spot errors more easily.
- Check for spelling and grammar errors: Go through your essay carefully and check for spelling and grammar errors. Use spell-check and grammar-check tools if available, but don’t rely on them completely.
- Read your essay out loud: Reading your essay out loud can help you spot awkward phrasing and typos that you might not notice otherwise.
- Check for consistency: Make sure that your essay is consistent in terms of spelling, punctuation, and formatting. For example, if you use American English spelling, make sure that you use it consistently throughout your essay.
- Check for clarity and coherence: Make sure that your ideas are presented clearly and coherently. Make sure that each paragraph has a clear topic sentence and that each sentence within the paragraph supports that topic.
- Get a second opinion: Ask a friend or family member to read your essay and provide feedback. They may be able to spot errors or suggest improvements that you might have missed.
- Use online tools: There are many online tools that can help you proofread your essay, such as Grammarly and Hemingway. However, be cautious of over-reliance on these tools as they are not perfect and may not catch every mistake.
- Edit and revise as necessary: Once you have identified errors and areas for improvement, make the necessary edits and revisions. Repeat the proofreading process until you are satisfied with your essay.
- Don’t rely on ChatGPT: While ChatGPT can help with many aspects of writing, including generating ideas, providing feedback, and helping with grammar and syntax, it should not be relied upon for proofreading. ChatGPT’s abilities are limited to the information that has been input into its database, and it may not catch all errors or inconsistencies in your writing. It is always best to do your own proofreading or seek the help of a human editor if possible.
By following these steps, you can effectively proofread your own essay and ensure that it is well-written and error-free.
Essay Marking and Critiquing
Resist the temptation to use paid marking services: you cannot guarantee that you’ll be assigned a tutor or expert in the correct field of study, or even with relevant qualifications. Here is an example of how to mark your own work using a university-provided marking guide:
- Familiarize yourself with the marking guide: Before marking your own work, make sure you understand the marking guide provided by your university. Read through the criteria and understand what is expected of you in each category.
- Print out your essay: Print out a copy of your essay so that you can mark it up.
- Use a highlighter: Use a highlighter to mark the sections of your essay that meet the criteria outlined in the marking guide. For example, if the marking guide includes a criterion for “clear and concise writing,” highlight sections of your essay that are clear and concise.
- Use a pen or pencil: Use a pen or pencil to mark any areas of your essay that need improvement. For example, if the marking guide includes a criterion for “evidence of critical thinking,” mark any sections of your essay that lack critical analysis.
- Provide constructive criticism: When critiquing your essay, it’s important to provide constructive criticism. This means pointing out areas that need improvement, but also providing suggestions for how to improve them. Avoid being overly critical or negative, and focus on offering helpful feedback that will help you improve your writing.
- Assign a score: Using the marking guide, assign a score to each category of your essay. Be honest and objective in your scoring.
- Calculate your overall score: Once you have assigned a score to each category, calculate your overall score by adding up the scores and dividing by the total number of categories.
- Review your feedback: Review the feedback you have provided to yourself and identify areas for improvement. Use this feedback to revise your essay and improve your score.
By using a university-provided marking guide to mark your own work, you can identify areas for improvement and take steps to improve your essay before submitting it for grading.
Once you have identified areas for improvement by marking your essay, here’s how to edit it:
- Save a copy of your essay: Before making any edits, save a copy of your original essay as a backup.
- Turn on track changes: Open your essay in a word processor and turn on track changes. This feature will allow you to make edits to your essay while keeping a record of all changes made.
- Review the feedback you provided to yourself: Review the feedback you provided to yourself when marking your essay. Use this feedback to identify areas of your essay that need improvement.
- Make edits: Using track changes, make edits to your essay based on the feedback you provided to yourself. Use the comments feature to explain your edits if necessary.
- Review your edits: Once you have made edits to your essay, review them carefully. Make sure they improve the clarity, structure, and overall quality of your essay.
- Share your essay: If you want to share your essay with a trusted friend for feedback, you can use the “Share” feature in your word processor to send them a copy of your edited essay with track changes turned on. This will allow your friend to see your edits and provide feedback on your changes.
- Accept or reject changes: Once you have received feedback from your friend or others, review their comments and either accept or reject their changes. Use your judgment to determine which edits will improve your essay and which ones you want to keep.
- Finalize your essay: Once you have made all necessary edits, finalize your essay by turning off track changes and saving a final copy. Make sure you proofread your essay one last time to catch any remaining errors or typos.
By using track changes to edit your essay and possibly allowing a trusted friend to see your edits, you can improve the quality of your writing and get valuable feedback on your work.
You may also find this guide helpful: Your 8 point action plan for a first class essay grade