One thing that your lecturers and advisers never tell you is that your essay can be improved dramatically just by having a friend proofread it.

This doesn’t mean that they can go in and actually change your wording and rewrite the thing –  because that would be plagiarism and it would get you in a lot of trouble. But, just having someone look for all the typos and punctuation and grammar errors can be a huge help.

A lot of people see errors like this and immediately assume that you’re not as smart as they thought you were, or they think less of you because you clearly don’t care about what you’re writing. These opinions aren’t likely to be conscious ones either, which means they’re a lot harder to combat.

The most effective way to combat them is for someone else to check your work. Sure you can proofread your own work, but you will never catch every mistake; it just doesn’t happen. Ever read a book and noticed a typo that seems super obvious to you and you wonder how it could have been missed? Well it happens all the time. If you’re reading the same thing over and over again, and especially if you were the one to write it in the first place, your brain will just start to fill in what it knows should go there, rather than notifying you of the mistakes. But, if it’s your first time reading through something then that is a lot less likely to happen.

The same thing happens with your own work. You may look at it and think it’s perfect; there are definitely no typos or weird grammar mistakes in there at all. But I can guarantee that you’re wrong. Somewhere you’ll have missed a word or typed ‘red’ instead of ‘read’. The kinds of mistakes that spellcheck doesn’t pick up on. Yes the word is spelt incorrectly, but spellcheck doesn’t know that because it’s exactly the same as another word and who cares if it’s grammatically incorrect, right?

But having another actual physical human check your work before you hand it in can save you the embarrassment of these little mistakes. So make sure you grab your friend and sit them down with your essay (they don’t even have to know anything about the subject) because your work will be better off for it, and it may even net you a better grade.


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