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Writing Guide: Step 5: Editing and reviewing

This guide covers: understanding the essay question; searching databases and organising research; the writing process: critical thinking and note-taking; referencing and citing in text, and using academic language.

Step 5

Five Key Questions

As you are reading over your essay for the review stage, ask yourself these five key questions:

  1. Have I made any generalisations or claims I can't back up with evidence?
  2. Have I repeated myself or am I using unnecessary words to add "padding"?
  3. Have I used appropriate academic language?  Am I entirely sure I know what it all means?
  4. Have I used complete sentences and proper paragraphs?
  5. Have I covered everything I mentioned in my Introduction, and has everything in my Conclusion been mentioned before in my Body?

Something to Think About

Have you answered the question asked in the essay task?

Have you looked at the marking criteria for this assignment and the learning outcomes for the last few weeks of the course?

In light of the learning outcomes (and using the marking criteria in your subject outline) what mark would you give yourself for what you have written?

What could you do better?

Editing Strategies

Step 5: Editing and reviewing

Whatever you do, don't finish your assignment five minutes before it's due and then hand it in!

You can save yourself a lot of missed marks just by reviewing and editing with a bit of care.

How much care?

At the very least:

  • Finish the assignment the day before it's due
  • Get a good night's sleep
  • Spend the morning thinking about something else (I find planning a vacation is a great distraction)
  • Then read over your assignment again and look for mistakes at least a couple of hours before it's due (give yourself time to fix anything that needs fixing)

Even better: 

  • Finish the assignment a couple of days before it is due and print it out
  • Give yourself at least a whole day (two is better) away from it before reading it again 
  • Read it out loud with a pencil in your hand to mark any corrections
  • Look for ways you could say something better as well as mistakes to fix

Much, much better:

  • Do everything listed under "Even Better" several days before it's due
  • After you've looked over it and created a new draft, give it to someone else to read (a critical friend)
  • Take all suggestions for improvement seriously (but not blindly)

The Power of Words

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