Spelling and grammar checkers are nice, but they are far from perfect. What can a student do to increase his chances of turning in a near-perfect paper?
In this day and age, it might be tempting to rely on one’s word processing program to do all the editing of one’s paper, but that can be a mistake. As helpful as spelling and grammar checkers and essay writer services appear to be, they miss as many things as they catch (if not more). They’re h, but nothing is better than a pair of human eyes going over one’s paper.
But what if a student doesn’t feel confident about her proofreading skills? Here are three different ways a student can increase her chances of correcting mistakes before turning her paper in.
One Time-Tested Method of Proofreading: Going Backwards Through the Essay
Students, after years of having one paper after another heavily corrected, may lose confidence in their proofreading skills. But they need to remember one thing: Computers are great, and some software is sometimes accurate, but nothing will ever beat the human eye and brain when it comes to interpreting the meaning of a particular phrase. A computer (and even other people, for that matter) may not understand what a student meant when he wrote a particular sentence. So if the student can, he should be the one to proofread his paper, at least the first time through.
So, if a student feels that his spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills aren’t up to snuff, what should he do? One method recognized by many instructors is that of proofreading by reading through one’s paper backward. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. The student begins at the end and reads the last sentence. Does it seem like a complete thought? Is it confusing? Does it, by itself, make sense, even out of context? If the sentence seems complete, it’s probably okay, but if it seems to be missing something or is confusing, the student should find out what’s not working.
For example, if reading backward a student comes across this sentence, “Which is why I decided to go to college,” she should ask herself, “What does ‘which’ refer to?” Chances are she’ll see that the sentence before this one should be connected to it. This sentence is a fragment; it is not complete. As she continues to read backward, the next sentence might say, “I wanted a better life for myself.” She then may realize that the two sentences should be combined to say, “I wanted a better life for myself, which is why I decided to go to college.” Fragments are often easier to catch when a student reads her paper backward.
Learning Through Repetition: Keep a Master List of Problems
Mom writes “flour” on the grocery list when it runs out, and dad might later add “toothpaste” to the list. This is a one-way household that runs smoothly. When a person goes shopping, he doesn’t necessarily remember everything he has to buy if he doesn’t have a list. He may return home and then realize he was supposed to buy salt! Other people keep “to do” lists to remind them of their daily agenda, the things they want to accomplish for the day.
So if people use lists in “real life” to keep them on track, doesn’t it make sense to ask someone to write my essay or keep a writing list? If a student gets the same comment from his instructors over and over, he might realize that it is a problem he has that he should work on. So he should keep a list, along with suggestions or referrals to his textbook, anything that will help him conquer that particular problem.
For example, his composition instructor might flag several points in his first essay of the semester, telling him he has a problem with run-on sentences. He first needs to make sure he understands what a run-on sentence is, by either talking with the instructor, a tutor, a peer or searching through his textbooks. Once he knows what it is, then he needs to find information on how to correct it. He should add problems that turn up consistently to his master list, and once he has conquered a problem (he can correct it without help and no longer gets marked down for it), he can remove it from the list.
When All Else Fails, Ask a Friend for Help
A student might have a friend who is a writing whiz. He rarely gets marked down for grammar, and his papers seem to be written well. Why not ask him for advice? A student can ask a friend to look over her paper and give her suggestions on how to improve. For example, if she consistently seems to have a problem with using broad pronouns, she can ask her friend how he was able to overcome that problem or why it was never a problem in the first place.
However, she shouldn’t rely too heavily on the friend’s assistance alone. She needs to be an active participant in the process. If the friend has questions about something, the student needs to be able to answer his questions; it will add an even greater level of clarity to the student’s paper, and she’ll also learn tricks and tips along the way.
Of course, if a student doesn’t have a friend who can help out, most campuses have writing tutors who are available to help students when he/she asks to write my paper and proofread it, from simple proofreading to full-on reviews, giving not only suggestions on how to strengthen one’s paper but problems to look out for. They are there to help, so students should use their assistance when it’s available.
Computers Are Nice, but They Will Never Replace People
Computers are great tools for writing. It’s easy to correct mistakes in a word processing program; it’s simple to conduct research online, and most programs will flag potential errors. However, no program will ever replace a person doing a careful job actively proofreading. Spelling and grammar checkers will not always catch mistakes and will sometimes flag words and phrases that are okay. Only a person (or several people) can make the final determination.