Proofreading essays can be challenging. Editing takes time. It's tough to find all the little typos, especially the real words that aren't the right words. It's so tempting just to pay someone to proofread my essay, or in fact to just buy the whole thing to start with... but it's a bad idea. Instead, one simple technique will let you do your own work well. It will also let you feel confident that you're turning in an error-free essay without cheating. This secret technique has been handed down by grammar ninjas for generations, and I will reveal it to you here.
In case you're still wavering about buying an essay or proofreading online, keep in mind that those sites help people cheat. That's pretty sketchy. If they don't have problems helping their customers cheat, they don't have problems cheating their customers. And what could those customers do? Complain to the Better Business Bureau or the university? It's a little like going to the police to complain about the guy overcharging for a stolen car. Then there's the chance of the failing grade, academic probation, and maybe getting kicked out of college. Students who cheat usually just get panicky because they don't see other options. Enter the ninja.
Ninjas studied how the mind works, in order to hide and misdirect. They tricked their opponents into not seeing them, or misperceiving them as just shadows. They didn't have the expensive weaponry and heavy armor of the ferocious samurai, so fighting head on in plain sight was... a bad idea. This secret technique is called last line first editing, and it works because it tricks the mind.
We see mostly what expect to see. Our expectations cloud our senses. When people start reading over their essays from the beginning, they see mostly what they think they wrote. Most everything looks right because people don't really see much of what's there.
Instead, start with the last line of the essay. This disrupts the mind's assumptions. People's brains, once shaken out of their assumptions, pay more attention to what's actually there. You can focus on the characters, letters, and words on the page because your brain isn't filling in what you think you wrote.
It's even easier if you cover up everything besides the last line with two sheets of paper. Sometimes I hold the physical blank pages up to the computer screen, or print the document and slide blank pages over the document. Sometimes I just hold up my hands like framing a one-line photo. When you finish with the last line, move up to the next line, and look at what's really there. Every paragraph, you can think “moving on up”, and every page you can imagine level up music. In fact, the more like a game you make it, the better. You're a grammar ninja, hunting for the silly little typos and grammar mistakes that pretty much everyone makes when composing quality writing on challenging topics. How many can you spot?
Maybe you're thinking that you're just not very good at grammar. Most people feel that way. Truthfully, there's a lot of grammar out there to learn. Fortunately, you don't have to get it all right. You just have to get the basics right, and a little more. You're already pretty good at the basics. You know how to spell a lot of words. If you can think of what to call a thing, like fragments, or parallelism, you can find lots of YouTube videos teaching how to get it right. If you can't think of what to call a grammar thing, show a paragraph to your teacher, and he or she will give you some terms to go study.
In conclusion, last line first, if you go carefully (and playfully), will spot almost every mistake in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics that you have any idea about. If you mark the questionable things that you're not sure of, and then show them to a teacher or tutor, you'll end up learning a few more things. It won't help you spot something you have absolutely no idea about, but catching everything else is a great deal better than nothing.
You can edit more than once. You can use more than one technique. If you know you tend to have certain types of errors, like run-on sentences, you can edit one more time just for those. Oh, and don't waste any energy kicking yourself for the errors or making excuses. Just fix them.
And then you can turn in or publish your writing. You can feel confident that you've produced a final draft that is as close to free of errors as you can achieve. This will be much closer than you may have thought possible. Usually, that's good enough.
You are now an apprentice grammar ninja. Tell no one that you are a ninja. (You could tell people that you're a ninja, but then you'd have to...well, you know.) Hunt well, and remember, use your powers only for good.
Gregory Hanks has taught community college for upwards of 17 years. He's helped thousands of students achieve more of their potential, write better, and earn their degrees. In 2017, he left a traditional teaching role to help more people like you get better results, faster.
Copyright 2019 G. Hunter Hanks Media L.L.C.