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6 Tips from Graduates on How to Edit Your Essays

As tempting as it might be to send the text right after you finish writing it, no one can manage writing an excellent essay in one round. All texts have to go through rigorous editing to become engaging and outstanding.

Fortunately, editing is as much of a skill as writing. So, the more you practice, the easier turning your essay into a masterpiece will be. Here are 6 things top-class graduates and professional literature study guides would recommend for you to get better at it. Let them serve as your guide.

1. Make Time for Several Revisions

Editing requires time. You need to distance yourself from what you’ve written before each revision. Otherwise, you won’t be able to take a fresh look at the text. Just a half-an-hour pause can do miracles. Although, leaving it until the following day would be even better.

So, if you want to make your essay worthy of the highest grade on EssayPro review, finish the first draft a week or so in advance.

First Revision: Content & Structure

This part is all about making your essay concise, well-organized, and convincing. Remember: it has to have an introduction, thesis, arguments to support it, and a conclusion.

When reading your first draft, keep these questions in mind:

  • Does the introduction make me want to keep reading?
  • Is my thesis clear?
  • Do all of the paragraphs contribute to proving my point?
  • Do I have enough facts and/or examples to support my thesis?
  • Are all the arguments laid out in a logical sequence?
  • Do I stay on the topic throughout the text?
  • Does my conclusion reflect the thesis and all supporting arguments?
  • Does the essay fulfill the assignment?

Second Revision: Proofreading

Once you’re satisfied with the essay’s content and structure, it’s time to polish the text itself. Look out for:

  • Incorrect word choice. When in doubt, consult a thesaurus to make sure you’ve used the right word. Search for the examples, the usage of the word in a sentence shows a clearer picture.
  • Typos, punctuation, grammar, and spelling mistakes. Fortunately, most text editors will suggest how to correct them.
  • Convoluted sentences. Avoid the sentences that are three-four lines long. Readers will forget the idea such a sentence begins with by the time they reach its end. Break such sentences down into several ones and use linking words and phrases.
  • Long paragraphs. Keep them short – no one wants to read a wall of text. A good rule of thumb is “a new topic sentence = a new paragraph”.
  • Inappropriate tone of voice. Your essay should sound like you. Yet, depending on the assignment, readers may disregard your arguments if you don’t stick to the formal tone of voice.

Third Revision: Formatting & Other Requirements

This might be the most boring revision, but failing to meet such requirements may disqualify your essay. So, follow them to a T. Pay attention to:

  • Quotes and citations.
  • Links (if there are any).
  • Formatting (font, text alignment, paragraph, and line spacing, etc.).
  • File format (if you submit it online).

2. Keep Your Text Simple but Powerful

Language is a tool to get your thoughts across. How you use this tool matters the most. To use it right, remember: humans are quite lazy by nature, at least when it comes to receiving and processing information. So, help them understand your point without unnecessary effort.

  • Avoid repetition. Look out for the same verb or the same first word in three sentences in a row. Don’t repeat yourself unless it helps reinforce the key message.
  • Get rid of clichés and pompous words. If you’re used to seeing this expression everywhere, paraphrase. If you chose that word only because it’ll help you come across as more intelligent, use a simpler alternative.
  • Use stronger verbs. “To be” + adjective can be replaced with a verb in most cases: for example, “to be different” is the same as “to differ”. General verbs, like “to say”, have synonyms with a more nuanced meaning: claim, approve, suggest, allege, mention, disclose, etc.
  • Change passive voice into active. Instead of “This has been proven by numerous studies”, write “Numerous studies have proven this”.
  • Use as few words as possible. If you can get something across in five words instead of three sentences, do it. This is how you avoid overwriting.

3. Read It Out Aloud

Just scanning the text on a screen won’t give you an idea of how your readers will perceive the text. The reading out loud will. If a phrase or sentence sounds unnatural when you do it, replace them. If you can’t catch your breath when reading a sentence, it’s too long – so, break it down.

4. Change the Text Appearance

To get a fresh perspective on your text, change its appearance before re-reading. For example, if you wrote the essay in Microsoft Word, go into the read mode, change the font, or copy-paste it into a different editor like Google Docs.

5. Use the Full Potential of Editing Tools

Of course, you can do all the proofreading and editing the old-fashioned way – that is, by printing the text and using a pen to mark what needs to be changed. Some students would find this approach productive.

On the other hand, editing tools will speed up polishing your essay. Grammarly and Hemingway App are irreplaceable in every student’s toolkit. Grammarly will catch all those typos and spelling and grammar mistakes. Hemingway App, in turn, will highlight the hard-to-read sentences, extra adverbs, and passive voice uses.

6. Get a Second Opinion

Nothing can replace a truly fresh look. However, teachers are unlikely to read your whole draft. To get their opinion, email them one or two paragraphs you struggle with. Avoid attachments in this case – copy and paste the text into the email.

Make sure to ask a clear question. Instead of “What do you think?”, write “I am confident about point X but I struggle with phrasing Y. Could you suggest another way to put it?”

Another way to get a second opinion is from your fellow students or graduates. Yes, they might not be able to criticize the content if they don’t have any background in the topic. On the other hand, they can tell you if the text isn’t concise enough or some sentences are hard to comprehend.

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