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The Personal Statement: An Editing Checklist


Waves of relief wash over you as you write the final words to your college essay. You’re finished! Go ahead and breathe a big sigh of relief.

As tempting as it may be to hit “submit” on your applications without taking another glance behind you, editing your essay is a very important part of the writing process. Here’s a foolproof editing checklist to make sure that your finished draft is flawless.

Does your essay tell the story you were hoping for? What does your writing say about you? Were you able to represent yourself, your background, and your values effectively?

Review your introduction. Does it grab the reader’s attention? Does it begin to tell a story?

Review the structure of your essay. Consider carefully reading the first sentence of each new paragraph. Do you use transitions effectively? Does your story flow? Are the paragraphs in the right order, or should any content be sequenced differently?

Review the conclusion. Is your ending strong and effective? Do you tie your story together in a manner that is memorable, yet concise?

Did you answer the prompt? While answering a specific prompt effectively is less important for Common App essays, it is critical for supplemental essays that ask a specific question. Make sure you’ve answered it.

Read through your essay, focusing on word choice, sentence structure, and grammar

Do you use a variety of sentence types? If every sentence looks the same, you’ll need to make some edits! Quality writing features a variety of different sentence types, which helps to keep the writing fresh and interesting.

Are there any grammatical errors or spelling errors? The impact of a grammatically flawless essay can be a critical deciding factor in the college admissions process. Proofread, proofread, proofread!

Is your verb tense consistent? If you open your essay with a story in the past tense, keep it that way! Switching around the verb tense can cause your writing to sound scattered and incoherent.

Do you use a variety of different words, especially verbs and adjectives? The online thesaurus is your friend! Of course, you want to be intentional about exactly which words you use, and it’s important to keep your sense of voice strong throughout the essay. There’s no need to plop down a “big” word just to sound fancy; instead, find ways to weave more elevated vocabulary throughout your writing.

Does your essay fall within the word count? If not, read through again carefully, focusing on keywords, sentences, and phrases that aren’t adding meaning or context to your writing. You’ll often be surprised by just how many words you can successfully shave away, without impacting your story’s meaning.

Getting an additional set of eyes (or two) on your writing is essential to creating a flawless final draft.

Ask a relative, teacher, or counselor to read your essay and provide their feedback on the content. This honest critique can help you identify whether you were able to get your point across, or if there are areas that you need to tweak.

Next, ask for feedback on grammar, spelling, and other mechanics. (Make sure you pick someone who feels confident in this area!)

Avoid having more than 2-3 people edit your essay. You may assume that the more proofreaders you have, the better your final product will be, but that’s simply not true. Instead, having multiple people proofread your essay has the potential to provide conflicting feedback and can also dilute your sense of voice in the writing process. An essay can be “over-edited!”

Your essay is yours, and ultimately, you get to decide which suggestions to keep and which to discard. Read through it carefully one last time, and then hit “submit,” knowing you put forward your very best work.

Peer Editing Checklist Review and Feedback Sheets for Multiple Writing Genres

Use this editing checklist for students to make sure their published piece has the following Detailed picture with character and setting Multiple sound correlation in labels if present Sight words spelled correctly Phonetic spelling of words A simple sentence Begins to use finger spaces and punctuationThis resource also includes a Rubric grading system 1-4 with posters as well as a handout. Includes -Self Peer Checklists- for story with dialogue such as personal narrative or fiction story -Self Peer Checklists- for papers such as research, how to, informatio.

Use the ARMS and CUPS strategy to teach your students the difference between revising and editing. The graphics and mnemonics will help your students remember all the important steps to revise and edit effectively. This download includes one color copy of the chart, a black line master, a smaller version for notebooks or folders, plus a pocket chart display, student checklist, and two trifolds that can be used for note taking.Thank you for considering my ARMS and CUPS Revising and Editing Set!



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