While most college students spend their time learning how to write well, few college writers can dash out an A worthy college essay on the first draft. Most papers mature through the editing process, sometimes requiring multiple revisions. Learning how to edit your college essay objectively is a skill set that will serve you well. Here are three techniques to help you achieve the optimal detachment necessary for effective editing.
Step away from your writing.
The first step to editing your college essay objectively is to get time away from your paper. It’s hard to see typos, grammatical mistakes, and poorly worded statements if you try to edit your paper as you write it or immediately following its completion. Let your writing sit overnight, if possible. If you’re tight on time, find a 30-minute activity that forces you to focus on something else, so you can clear your mind from thinking about your paper. Without time away from your paper, you risk having the thoughts of what you were trying to convey cloud you from seeing what’s actually on the paper.
Shift your focus.
Objective editing requires that you put yourself in the mindset of the reader. To do this, first, you need to take some time away from your paper as mentioned in the previous point so you can come at it with a fresh set of eyes. Next, you have to assume the familiarity and perceptions the reader has about your topic. Is the reader as equally educated about your topic as you are? What are their perceptions, beliefs, and expectations about it? To be able to capture your reader’s attention and keep them engaged from your thesis statement to a strong conclusion, you need to know what filters they may be using when reading your paper.
Ask the important questions.
Now that you’ve taken some time away from the draft of your college essay and you’ve shifted your focus to match your reader’s mindset, ask and answer the questions listed below. You’ll notice that none of these are “I” or “me” centric to help you maintain objectivity when you re-read it. You aren’t answering these questions based upon your knowledge of your topic, but your paper’s ability to address each of these on its own merits.
- Is the thesis statement concise?
- Are there any distracting statements or data?
- Have all of the reader’s questions been answered?
- Does the paper bring a fresh perspective to the topic or does it rehash what others have written about it?
- How does the reader benefit from this paper?
- Does the paper flow smoothly?
- Is there a strong concluding statement?
- Is there enough relevant, objective data to back up the thesis and supporting statements?
When you refer to works by other authors, it’s important that you cite them accurately so your reader can validate the references. The citation style will vary based upon the writing format given to you by your professor, whether APA, MLA, or another. To ensure that you don’t lose points for not following the proper guidelines, you can use formatting software for accuracy. Plus, using formatting software can save you time during the editing process so you can focus your attention on what matters most, the quality of the content of your college essay.
David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. For more information, log onto http://www.referencepointsoftware.com/ or write to:
info @ referencepointsoftware.com
Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).