Proofreading That Essay
Learn to speak better English |

You look at the clock, and it tells you there are still 15 minutes left before the end of the exam. You feel euphoric! You’ve done it! You’ve completed everything within the time limit! 

But wait, don’t relax just yet. There is still one more question you have to ask yourself. “Have I checked my work?” Checked, as in reviewed or proofread the essay. If you haven’t done so, then you are not done yet.

Why is Proofreading important?

In all exams, marks are deducted for incomplete answers and not addressing the prompt accurately. Other areas where you may lose marks is in your sentence structure, grammar and vocabulary. 

Hence, when you check, you are reducing the possibility of losing marks in these areas. Bonus: You may even discover a point of discussion that needs more explanation. When you review your essay, you will have the opportunity to do something about it.

How do I go about it?

Please ensure that you leave sufficient time (about 5-10 minutes) to review your essay(s). This is to give yourself time to review your work and correct and make any improvements / edits if necessary. 

When reviewing, Look Out for:

In Paragraphs

  1. PEEL format – details, examples, and supporting evidence in each paragraph
  2. incomplete thoughts
  3. rambling, off-topic thoughts
  4. paragraph breaks that help the reader see your main points
  5. effective use of transition signals / words between ideas

In Words and Sentences

  1. complete sentences (no fragments or run-ons)
  2. variety in sentence structure
  3. subject-verb agreement
  4. concise word choices
  5. clichéd, pretentious language
  6. ambiguity
  7. passive voice
  8. proper punctuation and capitalization
  9. correct spelling


Granted, you will not be able to do everything at the same time. However, if you make a habit of reviewing your essay every time you write one, it will become easier. You will know what to look out for. In fact, some students have even told me that they have become more aware of the structures and tenses as they are writing. They “know” when they have not developed a point of discussion well enough.  

In short

Do make time to go through your essay after you have completed it. You will find that soon enough, your writing will become so more precise and language more accurate.