Thompson Rivers University

How to Revise an Essay

  Posted on: November 30, 2015

Once you complete a first draft of your essay, it can be tempting to put it down, hand it in to your professor, and never look at it again. Unfortunately, this means that any grammar errors or problems with the structure of your essay will still be there. To avoid lost marks, you should set aside time for revising.

Revising is not the same as editing. Editing is the process of correcting your grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting. Revising involves dealing with issues in structure, flow, and focus. This can involve minor fixes, such as adding transitions or removing unnecessary information, or larger changes like rewriting whole sections or changing the order of paragraphs.

Although you will revise as you write, major revisions should be left until after you have finished your first draft. If you have time, consider taking a break (at least one or two days) between writing your first draft and revising it . This will help you to get a fresh perspective on your writing. Before you start making changes, read through the whole document first. Does the paper prove your thesis and make a strong argument? Do all of your paragraphs have a central topic, and do they stay focused on it? Is your essay easy to follow, or do you jump between ideas? These are the sort of things to watch for when revising.

As you read your first draft, you may find that you have to change some sentences to make your point clearer, or that a paragraph near the end of your essay would make more sense at the beginning. You also might notice sentences that are not relevant or repetitive. You may need to add new sentences, or even whole new paragraphs. You will probably notice grammar mistakes, so feel free to do some minor editing while you revise, but this should not be your main focus. Instead, concentrate on whether or not you are communicating your ideas in a way that is clear and logical.

Revising can be a difficult and sometimes painful process. Remember that good academic writing is not simply about good ideas, but being able to communicate these ideas in a way that persuades your readers. This is what revising will help you to do.

Posted by Gavin Hayes.

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