The final stages of the essay writing process are very important, but often left out by students. After all the hard work of planning, researching and writing, it is worth making sure that your essay is the best it can be before you hand it in for assessment.
Read through the first draft of your essay and evaluate the content and overall organisation of your ideas. A good essay will demonstrate:
- an overarching argument
- a clear structure, including an introduction and conclusion, with each paragraph having a main point
- each point should be supported by research
- critical thinking
- correct and appropriate language
- (even better) some original or creative thought
At this point you may decide to make some changes. This might involve some additional research as well as rewriting some sections of your essay.
Image: Kristin Nador
Once you have redrafted your essay to a point at which it is ready for submission, remember to complete the next stage: proofreading.
Making sure that your essay has no mistakes will make a big difference to how it is perceived by your reader. Carefully read your essay from start to finish, looking for any grammatical errors, misspellings, typos, and punctuation errors. If possible, give your essay to a friend to proofread, since we are less likely to spot mistakes in text we have written ourselves.
You should also ensure that you have properly formatted your references and any explanatory footnotes included in your essay. Appearances matter: check that your essay is presented in the format stipulated by your department.
After you have had your graded essay returned to you and seen what mark you received for it, it is tempting to stick it in a drawer somewhere and never look at it again. But after all that hard work, it is worth taking note of your tutor’s feedback and using it to improve your skills for the future, be that in another essay or elsewhere in life. So do read the comments. If there is anything you are unsure about then get in touch with the marker to ask for clarification.
Use the feedback to reflect for yourself on the essay, asking yourself what you did well and what could be improved.