Don't hand in your first draft - most essays are dramatically improved by careful redrafting and editing.
Get some feedback
Get some feedback on your essay draft. Ask a friend, parents, or colleague to read it and comment, and make your own corrections based on the feedback.
If you need advice, make an appointment with a Peer Writing Assistant at The Learning Centre.
Sleep on it
If possible, put your essay aside for a few days before you try to edit. This gives you time to think further about your answer and arguments and return to your work with a fresh perspective.
Don’t panic if you find faults in your essay - this is part of the process. If you find that you need more information, or your argument has holes in it, keep calm and concentrate on fixing the problem.
Once you have a well-organised and complete draft:
- Check the overall structure of your essay; does it have a clear introduction, body and conclusion?
- Make sure that each paragraph has a clear main point that relates to the argument. Make sure that the paragraphs are arranged in logical sequence.
- Make sure that you have explained the evidence you use and integrated it appropriately.
- Revise sentences. Make sure the words you use mean what you think they mean.
- Check punctuation and spelling. A good dictionary is a useful tool.
- Check transition signals. Be sure that a reader can follow the sequence of ideas from sentence to sentence, and from paragraph to paragraph.
Questions to ask yourself
- Have I answered the question as directly and comprehensively as possible?
- Does the argument make sense? Is it well balanced and researched?
- Is the evidence relevant to and supportive of my argument?
- Have I used a consistent referencing style?
- Have I referenced all my quotes and paraphrases?
- If there were any special instructions or guidelines for this assignment, have I followed them?
- Have I remained within the set word limit?
For more about editing see our Editing checklist.