Nobody’s perfect, so it’s essential to revise your work.  This allows you to make sure that you’ve performed to the best of your ability so that you can receive the highest grade possible.  Sometimes, you’ll find huge mistakes, while other times you’ll find only small errors.  Whatever the case, you’re better safe than sorry, as the old saying goes.

A.)  Reread the instructor’s prompt and directions before you revise so that you can be sure you followed them without neglecting any requirements.

B.) Remember that there’s more to revision than merely checking your grammar and spelling.  You are seeing whether or not you have clearly made a compelling argument and completed all parts of the assignment properly. 
- Have you used all the relevant evidence available to you, and have you used it effectively? 
- Is there anything important you are leaving out? 
- Remember that effective revision involves examining not just what’s there, but also considering what could or should be there.
- Are there any holes in your reasoning? 
- Is every point you’ve made clear and relevant?
- Could your sentences or paragraphs be arranged into a clearer structure? 
- Holistic concerns like these are harder to revise than comma placement, but they’ll ultimately affect the quality of your paper (and your grade) much more. 
- The misconception that revision is just changing your wording and punctuation holds back so many young writers.  Don’t let it chain you up.
- Particularly, I’ve read that inexperienced writers tend to obsess over making sure their wording isn’t repetitive rather than examine whether or not their argument is clear, convincing, and flows well.

C.) If you have a friend in the class, consider exchanging papers with them and revising together. 
- If you want to get to know someone better, this could be a smooth lead-in. 
- If everyone’s writing on the same topic, though, your teacher might not want you to do this.  Consider asking the teacher if they’re okay with students revising one another’s work.

D.) Keep an eye out for vague words like thing, good, and bad.  Replace them with more specific words. 
- For instance, instead of, “The scientist took apart the strange thing,” try, “The scientist took apart the strange steel cube and its colorful wiring.” 
- And look at this sentence: “Nina Harukaze is a good author.”  That could be interpreted in roughly 255 billion ways.  Is she prolific?  Insightful?  Eloquent?  Famous?  Kind?  Educational?  Entertaining?  Profitable?  A combination thereof?  You have to let the reader know!
- If there are any vague words you tend to abuse, consider searching for them using the “find” feature in your word processor.  In Microsoft Word, you can search for certain words by hitting CTRL + F.

E.) On that note, use CTRL + F and “highlight all” in Microsoft Word in order to make sure that you have not used any words too often or too closely together.  I’d save this for the end of your editing, once you’re sure that the essentials are all in order. 
- Keep in mind, though, that your main topic should be restated often, so repetition doesn’t always mean your writing’s dry.  If you’re discussing how Egdon Heath influences the storyline of Return of the Native, don’t be afraid if you see the word heath a lot.

F.) Make sure your verb tense is consistent.  If you change from one tense to another, you should have a reason for doing so.

G.) If you have to remove a sentence or more, I would recommend cutting and pasting the material into a separate computer document specifically labeled for discarded material.  That way, if you ever change your mind, you can bring it back.

H.) Every sentence should flow naturally into the next.  It’s never an encouraging sign if you can rearrange your sentences in almost any way you choose.  You’re probably making a bunch of random points rather than developing cohesive ideas.
- Transitional phrases such as moreover or however often show how one sentence leads into the next, so they can guide you and your reader.

I.) Listening to music while texting your friends while looking at the computer screen is not revision.

J.) Revise at least once by reading the paper aloud.  It’s amazing what crappy wording or blatant errors you’ll catch.

K.) Do not treat revision like an afterthought. 
- As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, studies have shown that catching mistakes on your own is very educational, and you might as well learn something at your insanely expensive college. 
- And besides, if you went to all that work researching and writing, then you shouldn’t let that time be wasted on a bad grade.  Revise so that you’ll get a good grade and all your efforts will be worth it.

L.) When you get your paper back, thoroughly look over everything your teacher marked.  If something seems unclear to you, then ask that educator of yours to explain it.  If you just look at the grade and toss it aside, expect to make the same mistakes again on the next paper.  And the next one.  And the next one.  And the next one.  And the next one. 
- You might as well learn something from the assignment!
- Some helpful teachers comment on not only your mistakes but also your strongest points.  Knowing what parts of the paper you did well on can be incredibly beneficial to your writing as a whole.

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Last Updated May 7th, 2015

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