Revising

When you finish writing your essay, you should revise it. After you revise it, you may need to return to either of the previous stages (prewriting or writing) to make improvements to your writing. You also may need to do additional drafting.

Many people divide the revising stage into revising and editing. Revising focuses on making changes to improve the clarity of your ideas and organization. Editing focuses on making changes to improve the clarity of your grammar. Revising should generally be completed before editing.

Here are some questions you can use when you are revising your essays, giving feedback to a peer, or evaluating a sample essay:

  1. Does the introduction provide the general information a reader needs in order to understand the topic?
  2. Does the introduction end with an effective thesis? Does it match the style of the essay?
  3. Do each of the body paragraphs begin with an effective topic sentence?
  4. Are the body paragraphs sequenced in a logical order?
  5. Look at each body Do the supporting sentences support the topic sentence?
  6. Look at each body Are the supporting sentences sequenced in a logical order?
  7. Look at each body Is there enough development? Are there more details or examples that would help the reader?
  8. Look at each body Does the concluding sentence close the paragraph logically?
  9. Does the conclusion paragraph start by restating the thesis?
  10. Does the conclusion paragraph have a suggestion, prediction, or opinion at the end?

Self-check

You should always read through your essay to identify mistakes you have made. Try to finish your drafting with enough time to leave your essay and then come back to it to make revisions. As you revise your own work, you may need to add, delete, or move text. Mark any parts of your essay that you want to ask a friend/tutor to help you with. You should also proofread for mechanical errors (spelling, grammar, etc.). You may be surprised how many errors you are able to identify on your own. Here are some strategies for proofreading:

  1. Start by simply reading through your essay for errors. Especially in timed writing, this is an easy way to clean up your mechanics and present a more professional essay.
  2. Look through your essay for basic grammar that you know well. For example, you can check to make sure every sentence has a subject and a verb (and that they agree).
  3. If you are not writing for a test, try reading out loud. This may help you identify more errors.

Get feedback and make changes

If you are not writing for a test, have a friend or a tutor review your writing before you submit it to your teacher. Then use the feedback you get to make changes. If your teacher gives you feedback on one draft before the final draft is due, make sure you use it to improve your essay.

Many teachers use symbols like the following to mark specific types of errors. If your teacher uses codes, make sure you clearly understand what the codes mean and how to fix the error.