Sign of Ten: How to Proofread Your College Essay
You're done with the draft of your essay assignment, which didn't turn out to be difficult as you think. You're way ahead of the deadline, which is a good thing. Submitting your assignment is the farthest thing in your mind, as you need to proofread it.
Proofreading a college essay can take hours, if not days. It pushes your limits, tests your patience, and makes you prone to self doubt at the same time. This can be a punishing task if you're a BA English student. After all, your professors won't settle for less. If you're a Joint Honors student, then you wonder if it's possible to get a long sleep. It can happen if you have written your draft well enough. On the other hand, you're thinking that your professor is the only one who reads your assignment. Don't hold that thought, not even entertain it during your moments of desperation.
This is a task that you can't master in a short time. You might have reread your draft several times, but your professor can see it differently. There's a likely chance that there are corrections. If you ask the opinion of your roommate (or dorm mate), then you might save yourself from embarrassment. You don't have to take it hard if you're not aspiring to a career in authorship.
Check Out The Basics
Look for typographical errors. This is the simplest mistake that college students make while writing their essays. It's unintentional in many cases, as they blame it on procrastination. It's not hard to spot this kind of error, as it can be a misspelled word. It can also be a repeated letter (I.e. little) or a space between letters. You must be able to correct these mistakes immediately.
Read the sentences carefully. A proper sentence consists of a subject and verb, and it remains unchanged after adding a prepositional phrase. A college essay is two thousand words or more, which means there are lots of complex sentences. It must have a subject and verb. Think twice if your sentence ends with a preposition. It can confuse your professor, so rephrase it.
Shorten your paragraphs. The minimum number of word count prompts you to type the (computer) keyboard furiously without paying too much attention to the length of your paragraph. If you're repeating an idea (or argument), then delete the redundant statement. It's hardly related to the text, then omit it. If it's not persuasive enough, then think of something else. Some students forget to end a paragraph properly, which is a capital offense in writing. This particular statement (or sentence) serves as transition from one idea to another. You end up with a muddle of information if you don't do it, which could hurt your chances of getting a high mark on your paper.
Watch out for often-used words or phrases. You might think that there's nothing wrong with it, but it's a sign of laziness on your part. Some professors might look at it as lack of interest in the text, if not the course. You might be questioned about your dedication to the program. You're not expected to be a walking dictionary during your first year, but you must have a tab on the online dictionary. Nothing wrong if you opt for a thesaurus, but it will be better to consult both references.
Pay attention to the fonts and colors. Black is the preferred color. Choose a font that will make your paper readable to your professor. Don't think about adding colors, if not highlighting your favorite quotes. Your analysis is far more important here.
The task is not over after you're done with the basics. Read your title again. Look through the body (of your essay). You must be sure that you have addressed it. You didn't beat the bush unless you're thinking of an introduction that engrosses your professor right away.
You should keep on reading your opening paragraph, if not first few paragraphs of your essay. You must state your argument clearly. If you can write down the outline of your paper, then it will be much better. Try to make it a catchy opening, a lesson that you have learned after reading the classics.
Reading the body of your essay can wear you down, but you can do it slowly. Prioritize your assignment, so you can finish the draft ahead of the deadline. An information overload can confuse your professor, if not lose interest in your paper. There's nothing wrong if you're selective about what you've learned from other books. After all, your professor recommends a list of secondary reading. Conciseness is a must, as you would exceed the word count.
The conclusion should pique the curiosity of your professor, as you're thinking that another student reads your essay (and continue what you conclude in your paper). A quote is a huge mistake unless you explain your choice in one or two sentences. Make your own statement. Keep it simple.
Don't forget to read your edited essay in its entirety one more time. It will be better if you do it once more. No one is stopping you if you're thinking of reading it one more time. Keep on doing it until you're satisfied with your efforts.
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