The Study Dude—A Cookbook on How to Write an Essay

The Editing Phase

Over the last two weeks, I’ve written about the essay research phase and the essay writing phase.  This week, let’s focus on the essay editing phase.

To earn an A+ essay, it’s essential that you ensure your paper has not a single spelling or grammatical error.  That means you need to devote at least three days, ideally up to a week-and-a-half to editing.

The more time you have for editing, the better.  That’s why I advise you start researching your essay the day it gets assigned.

For a recipe for editing, the only ingredients needed are a first draft of an essay, a red pen, a computer, printer, and paper.  You may also require a library database, just in case you need more research to get a minimum of three quotes per paragraph or section.

With those elements at hand, here is page three of a cookbook for essays—the editing phase:

First, print off your first draft of the essay.

Next, comb through the essay with a red pen and mark any glaring spelling, grammatical, or structural errors.  Do a once through in one sitting.  Immediately go to your computer and type in your changes directly into your essay while they’re fresh in your mind.

If you’ve allotted a week and a half for editing, put the paper aside for two days.  If you’ve only allotted yourself three days for editing, put the paper aside for just the night.  Once the time has lapsed, print out your revised paper and comb through it again, marking up any changes with red pen.

Keep in mind that if you make a lot of structural changes you might want to number each paragraph with red pen.  That way, if you move paragraph 5 to before paragraph 15, it’s easier to jot down and follow.

Immediately after marking up your paper, type in your corrections.

If you’ve allotted a week and a half for editing, then put the paper aside for another two days.  Then repeat the editing process every two days until four days before submission date.  In between edits, seek out additional articles to quote that might strengthen the weaker sounding parts of your essay.

If you’ve allotted yourself only three days for editing, you’ll need to maximize each day with multiple edits, correcting any glaring errors.  You’ll also need to ensure that you have not one spelling or grammatical error.  Get your friend to proofread your essay, if possible.  Only once you print it out and find nothing to change, it’s ready to be handed in.

If you’ve allotted yourself a week and a half for edits, transition to daily editing four days before submission.  That means, keep printing out your paper and making minor revisions—multiple times a day—until you finally print it out—and find not a single error.

For an even higher grade, read your essay out loud, making changes to the flow and rhythm of your paper.  Also, pull out a thesaurus and replace weak sounding words with more accurate or punchier sounding ones.

You’ll also need a clever title, a gripping opening sentence, and a provocative conclusion.  But that’s another recipe.

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