Use These 5 Tips When Editing College Essays

Your college essay does not need to be perfect, but you do need to eliminate the most common grammatical and spelling errors within your text.

If you are graded on a curve and your efforts are caught in a dead heat with other students, inconsequential things such as grammatical accuracy may tip the scales in your favor.

You should also remember to check your text for things other than technical accuracy. Make sure your text flows and that each point is made with equal enthusiasm. Also be sure any vague sections are made more concise and that overly long chunks of text are made more succinct.

Below you’ll find 5 tips to keep in mind when editing your college essay:

1. Proofread with a spellchecker to start

Start with a spellchecker but do not click on “Change” unless you are absolutely sure that the correction is needed. It often involves closing the spellchecker so that you can see the rest of the paragraph. Some sentences look odd if they are taken out of context. You need to look over the words that it is asking you to change, and see how they fit into the sentence.

On many occasions the spellchecker is only offering a possible correction, not a certain one. Many times it will ask you to replace has with have, on grammatical grounds, when what you have already written is correct.

2. Spellcheckers have their limits and flaws

A spellchecker can only guess at the most probable meaning of your text. It has no way of gauging the importance of your words, so it is going to ask you to put a comma in places where they are unneeded.

As a rule, it will ask you to put a comma wherever it thinks an introductory phrase is. It will also ask you if you would like a comma in front of any coordinating conjunction words. As you may have guessed, putting a comma where it suggests is not always correct.

For example, starting a sentence with “however” will often require a comma after it, as it is an introductory phrase that links the previous sentence. But if you were to use it in the sentence, “However you dress for the show tonight is fine” a comma would be out of place. The spell checker would also ask if you would like a comma in front of one or both of the “you” words, which in this case would be unnecessary.

3. Check for commonly incorrect grammar

These are things such as run-on sentences, broken sentences and tense problems. Passive sentences are not a massive problem, but it is not wise to litter you text with them, even if you are writing about an event from the past.

You may have noticed that many websites make commonly incorrect grammatical errors. You should practice by spending the evening engrossed in personal online proofreading.

4. Deconstruct your sentences to correct commas

Comma usage is one of the harder aspects of proofreading, especially if you are not writing an English paper, you are unlikely to be wildly familiar with all the comma rules. There are a lot of them, so it may be a good idea to brush up on a few.

If in doubt, you should deconstruct your sentences and check them one at a time. If you are unsure about the grammatical accuracy of a sentence then change it. If you have a compound sentence and you are unsure of the comma use, then break it into two sentences.

Also, look up the rules on “Which” and “That”, and try to follow the basic rules as a matter of principal. For example there is a rule that states no comma should come before the fifth word of a sentence, with the exception of a few introductory phrases. If you are unsure then simply extend the first few words. For example turn “Next, you should…” into “On your subsequent work effort, you should…”.

5. Manually check your paper for errors

Checking every sentence and deconstructing it for comma errors is very labor intensive, but you are likely to find other mistakes such as added “s” and “ing” letters on the end of words that do not require them.

You will also find typos that were not picked up by the spellchecker because they spell correct words. Easy typos such as “inn” for “in” are not going to be highlighted by the spellcheckers.

Your manual check should also look out for incorrect possessive uses of apostrophes. Look up the four most common uses for an apostrophe, as their use is often a common mistake within college essays.

The article was contributed by a best essay writing service writer.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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