Want better grades? This interactive guide to editing and proofreading your assignments may help

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In this article, the Learning Skills team and WriteWISE leader Amanda Fernandopulle explain the importance of reviewing your assignments before handing them in. You’ll find tips and links to checklists you can download or you can jump to the end of the article to test your proofreading skills!

Have you ever wanted to ask: “Do I really need to edit an essay before I submit it?” Or thought: “I’m so sick of my assignments once I’m done writing them that I just can’t be bothered to re-read them at the end.”

If so, we completely understand. You’ve likely read each paragraph 100 times while writing, so the thought of reading them through yet again is just painful. But don’t hit submit just yet. Taking some time to edit and proofread can move your assignment from confusing, and even sloppy, to professional, clear and persuasive.

While writing your first draft, think about your arguments and ideas and what sources you can use. Once you’ve drafted your assignment, switch your focus to the reader’s perspective. Will your writing, presentation, video clip make sense to the reader/your teacher (who, by the way, will be marking your work)? How much effort will your reader need to understand your point? Read on for strategies to edit and proofread your work.

  1. Leave time at the end to go over your assignment. Ideally, you might come back to your assignment draft the next day so you can look at it with fresh eyes. If you can’t do that, at least take a 10-minute break to stretch, breath and grab a drink before you look over your work.
  2. Hold loosely to your first draft. Save a copy and don’t be afraid to cut, paste, add or delete to make your points clearer to the reader.
  3. Edit by reviewing the quality of your ideas and structure of your writing. Re-read your assignment and ask yourself:
  • Is my answer relevant? Does it answer the assignment question?
  • Does my assignment flow? Is it clear how one section follows on from the one before?
  • Is my answer logical? Have I given enough detail to support my ideas?

You can find a more detailed editing checklist on this page in StudyWISE.

  1. Get feedback on your writing: ask a friend to read over your draft to see if it makes sense, or ask a Learning Adviser (lunchtimes at the Library Info Desk or via email) about specific questions.
  2. Proofread by checking your writing for typos, grammatical mistakes, repeated words – these little mistakes can really annoy a reader. To help spot errors:
  • Read your writing out loud. We do this to listen to the words and ‘sound’ of grammatically ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ sentences.
  • So you don’t get distracted by the content, start reading from the end of the assignment (last paragraph, then second-last paragraph and so on). This will help you focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar.

You can find a more detailed proofreading checklist on this page in StudyWISE.

How good are you at proofreading?
Below is an extract from our recent MyMQ article on Staying on Track in which we placed some mistakes. Have a go at the activity here or download it on this PDF.

  1. Read through the extract and see if you can spot 10 errors.
  2. Drag the arrow from top to bottom to reveal the answers.

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