Editing Checklist

Try to write a complete first draft before you worry too much about editing. Otherwise you might find your creativity hampered by your analytical side. Once you have a first draft finished, set it aside for a few days or more if you have that luxury. When you return to it with a fresh perspective, you will probably notice many problems that did not occur to you before and recognize better ways of handling various points.

Do not hesitate to edit at all levels, even if it means you will be doing a lot of rewriting. Throw out entire paragraphs if you cannot recall what purpose they were serving. Replace boring passages with vivid details and banal generalizations with sharp insights. Cut and paste until you have achieved the optimal structure. Fine-tune every sentence until it is clear, concise, and graceful.

Is there such a thing as over-editing? If you begin to lose sight of your goals and can no longer distinguish between constructive and unconstructive changes, then you may begin to detract from the freshness and strength of your essay. At that point, the only course you can take is to set the essay aside again until you can read it with a clear mind.

The following checklist is divided into the basic categories that we used to organize this course: content, structure, and style.




EssayEdge Extra: Soliciting Feedback

All writers rely on outside feedback. You may want to use friends, family, and teachers as an initial resource before submitting your essay for more hands-on editing by EssayEdge. While the people you know can give you valuable suggestions based on their relationship with you, EssayEdge offers a vital perspective in providing objective criticism and expertise specific to the admissions essay.

The following is an evaluative questionnaire for you to give your readers along with the essay:

  1. Did my opening paragraph capture your attention?
  2. Did you find the statement as a whole to be interesting?
  3. Did you find it to be well written?
  4. Did it seem positive and upbeat?
  5. Did it sound like me?
  6. Do you regard it as an honest and forthright presentation of who I am?
  7. Did it seem to answer the question(s)?
  8. Can you think of anything relevant that I might have inadvertently omitted?
  9. Is there material within the statement that seems inappropriate?
  10. Did you gain any insight about me from reading this?
  11. Did you notice any typos or other errors?
  12. Do you think the statement has in any way distinguished me from other applicants?

Next: Final Steps