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Editing your essay.

HEAT Stage 6: Drafting, editing and proofreading.

6.2 Checklists to help you edit and proofread your assignment


  • I find it difficult to spot any mistakes I may be making.
  • I don't know where to start when I edit.

Editing your essay can seem tedious but is a necessary part of the writing process. Editing something you have written invariably makes it better. It is actually a simple task if tackled in an organised manner.


Top Tip:

Take it slow and check for one thing at a time.


1. Print a copy of your essay and begin by looking at the content:


Begin with the introduction Does it state your intentions and the structure of the essay?.
Look at each paragraph Does it contain relevant information and have clear links to the next one?.
Look at the conclusion Does it sum up your argument and answer the question?


2. Read your work out loud or get someone to read it to you. If you hear something you don't like, change it and see if it sounds better.


Pause in your reading as punctuation indicates This helps you determine how your essay flows and sounds and whether your punctuation needs changing.
Check for spelling errors Read the work backwards as it will not make sense and so the spelling will be easily noticed.
Set your essay aside for a few days This will allow you to go back and critique it with a fresh pair of eyes.


Understanding feedback from tutors

  • I don't understand what the tutor is trying to say.
  • I don't know what to do next.
  • I never look at comments from tutors when I receive my assignment back.

It is important to look at feedback from your tutor in order to improve on your marks. Here are some comments from tutors and questions to ask yourself in order to improve on your next assignment.


Feedback from tutor Questions to ask yourself
Failure to answer the question Did you interpret the question correctly? Did you look at the action words? (e.g. compare, contrast, evaluate)
Too long or unfocussed Have you kept to the point? Did you refer back to the title?
Too short or lacks sufficient content Did you explain your points fully? Did you use examples? Did you research the question thoroughly?
Inclusion of irrelevant information Did you understand what the question required you to do? Did you answer it and not just give information you were comfortable with?


Top Tip:

Could those questions relate to the fact that you did not read the question properly or plan your essay with questions for reading?


Feedback from tutor Questions to ask yourself
Badly organised, rambling Have you used an essay plan? (E.g. Thought mapping or spider diagram?.) Did you check for repetition?
Lacks fluency, poor style or presentation Did you link your points/paragraphs? Did you check your spelling and grammar?
Poor introduction Did you introduce the topic and explain what you were going to do?
Poor conclusion Did the conclusion indicate how you answered the question? Did you avoid including new information?


Top Tip:

Could those questions show that you need to organise your structure, proof read your work or remind yourself what introductions and conclusions are for?


Feedback from tutor Questions to ask yourself
Unbalanced answer Have you presented both sides of an argument? Is it objective?
Reaching conclusions without good evidence Have you presented the evidence for your conclusion? Have you proved it?
Too descriptive Were you critical and evaluative of information you found? Did you have a theoretical background and examples to support your points?


Top Tip:

Was your reading focused on the aims and objectives, different points of view and linking theory to practice?


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