Wait a day or so and re-read your essay. Get your essay done a couple of days before the due date so that you have time to go back and revise it to make it polished. Avoid turning in a first draft that you haven't double-checked for errors.
Correct errors related to grammar, punctuation and spelling. Consult a style book if you are unsure how to properly use quotation marks, colons, semicolons, apostrophes or commas. Avoid using exclamation points.
- Look for mistakes involving than/then, your/you're, its/it's, etc. Make sure you know how to use apostrophes correctly.
- Look for mistakes involving general punctuation. Check for run-on sentences, commas and periods inside quotation marks, as well as sparely-used dashes, colons, and semi-colons.
- At the same time, try to keep your language short, sweet, and to the point. A thesaurus is a great tool, but don't just use big words to sound fancy. The best essays are clear, concise, and easily understood by a wide audience.
- Focus on writing killer verbs for sentences. Verbs communicate the action in a sentence and drive the action. A great verb can be the difference between a bland sentence and a beautiful one.
- Use adjectives lightly. Adjectives are great descriptive words, but when used indiscriminately, they can burden an essay and make it less readable. Try to let the verbs and nouns do most of the heavy lifting before you focus on adjectives.
Avoid colloquial (informal) writing. Do not use contractions or abbreviations (e.g., don't, can't, won't, shouldn't, could've, or haven't). Your essay should have a serious tone, even if it's written in a light or lyrical style.
- When events happen in sequence: I first started to realize that I was in the minority when I was in middle school...My realization was confirmed when I proceeded to high school.
- If sentences elaborate on each other: Plants need water to survive...A plant's ability to absorb water depends on the nutrition of the soil.
- When an idea contrasts with another idea: Vegetarians argue that land is unnecessarily wasted by feeding animals to be eaten as food...Opponents argue that land being used for grazing would not be able to be used to create any other kind of food.
- If you're relaying a cause and effect relationship: I will be the first person in my family to graduate from college...I am inspired to continue my family's progress through the generations.
- When connecting similar ideas: Organic food is thought to be better for the environment . . . local food is believed to achieve the same goals.
Cut information that's not specifically related to your topic. You don't want your essay to ramble off-topic. Any information that doesn't directly or indirectly support your thesis should be cut out.
Have someone read your paper aloud to you, or record yourself reading it aloud and play it back. Your ears are sometimes better than your eyes at picking up mistakes in language. The essay should sound like it has a good flow and understandable words.
Rewrite any problematic body passages. If needed, rearrange sentences and paragraphs into a different order. Make sure that both your conclusion and introduction match the changes that you make to the body.
Choose a thesis. While picking something that you are interested in will make the writing process more enjoyable, you should also choose something for which you have hard evidence and can analyze/argue logically. If you were given a question to address, your thesis should answer it. for example ‘The economic position of the super-powers by the 1980s had set into motion the fall of Communism’ – this sort of statement is fine as long as you can show exactly why you have said it.
Write your introduction. This paragraph will introduce the issue to the reader. Make it interesting—you want your reader to keep reading. You should also provide background to your argument, including any relevant history, and your motive for arguing. Lastly, you want to use this paragraph to map out what you're going to discuss in the essay.
Construct your body paragraphs. Each body paragraph should contain its own relevant mini-argument. You should be able to back each of these up with hard evidence. It is not enough to simply list facts, you should also be able to analyze them for your reader. #*Address the counter arguments. Show, again with evidence, why they do not hold a candle to your argument.
Conclude your essay. Here, you should briefly restate the points that you have made in the essay, as well as your thesis. Explain the broader significance of the points you have made, and end on a strong note.
Edit. Review the essay yourself and give it to someone to edit. Having someone else look at your work will bring to your attention errors that you may not have noticed otherwise.
Make revisions. Revise things that need to be fixed so that your essay is the best that it can be.