Making sure your college application essay is error-free, engaging, full of real examples, and free of grammatical mistakes may be a huge challenge.1 However, you should revise your essay one last time before turning it in to ensure your hard work counts.
This article provides helpful tips for revising a college essay and improving your score.
Definition: Revising a college essay
Revising a college essay entails looking at your thoughts’ structure and progression. Revising a college essay is important because it helps:
- Refine the content and structure
- Improving clarity and coherence
- Ensuring the message is effectively communicated to the reader
The typical process of revising a college essay involves:
- Reviewing the content
- Making necessary changes to improve clarity
- Checking for grammatical errors
- Polishing the final draft
Throughout the process, it is important to consider the target audience, the purpose of the essay, the flow of ideas, and the overall coherence of the essay.
Preparation before revising a college essay
When revising a college essay for the first time, focus on the ideas presented and how well they flow together, rather than correcting any grammar mistakes you see.
Here are some questions to consider when revising a college essay:
- How should I interpret the results of my essay?
- Have I addressed your question?
- Does it provide a lesson, or is it only illustrative?
- Do I illustrate my morals using personal anecdotes and case studies? Do these beliefs coincide with those of the school?
- Is there a good balance between focusing on myself and focusing on someone else or anything else?
Answering any of these questions negatively when revising a college essay means you need to rework your essay, as explained in the table below.
|You provide a story devoid of insight.||Include a takeaway from the experience and what you did to improve moving forward.|
|You make a claim about your character that you do not back up.||Provide examples of yourself displaying these traits in full detail
|You tend to focus your writing on something or someone else.||Give specific examples of how this person or concept altered your worldview, course of action, or aspirations.|
When revising a college essay, ensure it has a logical structure and flows well by highlighting each paragraph’s subject phrase and transition sentence.2 Adjust these subject and transition phrases as needed to create a coherent structure.
Conclude Revising a college essay by reading the essay over again to make sure it flows smoothly. Similarly, ensure your essay has an engaging opening and a satisfying conclusion that expands on the ideas presented in the essay’s body.
Call attention to anything confusing, dull, or redundant when revising a college essay. If you want your essay to stand out, you should:
- Go back and explain any unclear pieces
- Add lively language to the dull parts
- Cut away any unnecessary information
Check that your essay highlights the aspects of you that universities care about most: your hobbies, good qualities, and personality.
Revising a college essay: Style and tone
It’s important to employ the right tone while writing an essay, so read it and see whether you have struck the right balance between formality and informality. Consider the following questions:
- Is there a sense of myself in the essay? Do the words I have chosen flow well?
- Is it a weak point? Do my reflections about myself come over in my writing?
- Is the tone friendly and professional?
- Is it appropriate to broach such delicate subjects with such tact?
|Your tone is too casual.||Remove any text speak and acronyms and polish up the basic terms.|
|You are not vulnerable in your essay at all.||Discuss how you feel about a significant issue and what you have learned.|
|Your tone is much too formal.||Swap out any complex words or phrases that come out as unnatural.|
|The tone of your essay is off.||Be mindful of the clichés you may be using and try to rework them.|
Read it aloud
You may overlook issues with voice and form in your writing if you read your essay quietly. Therefore, hearing it read aloud may assist when revising a college essay. Examples are overusing words, constructing sentences without parallelism, and using phrases that do not sound natural.
During the editing process, you should read your essay out loud numerous times. Errors in language and punctuation may be uncovered in this way as well.
Here are some options to consider:
- Perform a dramatic reading.
- Listen to it read out by someone else.
- Use text-to-speech software to hear it read back.
- Put yourself on tape and listen to it afterward.
Revising a college essay: Grammar and punctuation
After checking for overall coherence and writing style, read your essay once again for grammatical and punctuation faults.
Start by checking for spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors using your word processor’s spell check when revising a college essay.
Some small mistakes in punctuation or capitalization may slip by spell check when revising a college essay. Verify that verb tense and subject agreement is proper.
Look for sentence fragments, run-ons, and other grammar problems. Use a range of sentence lengths and styles when revising a college essay to keep the reading engaging.
The parallel structure of longer, more involved sentences should be checked. Clarity is maintained by removing unnecessary or inappropriate modifiers.
It’s important to maintain uniformity in your usage of abbreviations, acronyms, and verb tenses when revising a college essay. Modify any names or references to the prior institution if you want to submit the same essay to several schools.
Second opinion after revising a college essay
Before you send in your application, be sure to acquire some comments on your essay. Avoid getting too many pieces of advice contradicting each other by sticking to two or three readers.
Get opinions from individuals who understand you well, such as your instructors or loved ones. Having someone with great writing abilities and knowledge of the college admissions process would be best to read your essay and provide input on its substance, tone, and flow. Put these queries to your readers or editors and wait for their responses:
- Is it easy to recall what you read in the introduction?
- Should I include examples of how I have put my ideals into practice?
- Do paragraphs flow into one another easily?
- Please tell me what you learned from reading my essay.
- Where did you become confused, bored, or frustrated?
- Does my voice come through in the essay?
- Is it a weak point? Is there evidence of honest introspection?
- Does it seem to have the right tone?
- Do you find my humor amusing, if any?
Feedback from a teacher, guidance counselor, or mentor
Here is the best team to get feedback from.
A teacher already acquainted with your work is a good resource for advice on narrative, flow, and language when Revising a college essay. Your English instructor is a good choice.
- Acquainted with your work
- Possesses a solid foundation in writing, grammar, and style fundamentals for narrative essays
- Possibly too many requests for assistance from other students
- Possible unfamiliarity with the format expected of college essays
You may even ask your school’s guidance counselor, who should know what admissions authorities search for in a college application essay.
- Has a solid understanding of how to apply to universities
- Undoubtedly swamped with requests for assistance from other learners
- Possibly will not be acquainted with your work or you as a person
Your extracurricular activity mentor or coach is another responsible adult you can approach.
- Is familiar with your history
- Perhaps they are not used to writing in a collegiate fashion
- Possibly not a very good writer
Feedback from family or friends
Having family and friends review your work when revising a college essay is a great way to ensure it accurately represents who you are.3 However, if you want more in-depth criticism, ask for assistance from relatives who excel in writing or English.
- Acquainted with your history, character, and major life events
- Allows you to gauge the degree to which your essay displays honesty and openness
- Potentially not the best person to edit your essay
- Potentially will provide emotionally-neutral recommendations
- Negative comments from a loved one may be particularly trying
Feedback from a professional coach or editor
When revising a college essay, an essay editor can provide impartial, experienced input after you have heard criticism from friends and family.
- Has an expert understanding of entrance essays for universities
- Provides insightful, impartial criticism of your writing’s structure, organization, and style
- Not acquainted with you or your history
Tip for considering feedback in your essay
When revising a college essay, get some sleep or take a few hours off after getting comments. Then, when some time has passed, come back with a clear head to consider comments.4
The number of revisions you do depends on the kind of writing you do. Keep each essay draft in its file in case you need to go back to it for ideas or words.
When revising a college essay, you should first look for any overarching problems with the paper’s content, flow, tone, style, or clarity.
The next step is to proofread for typos and fix grammatical problems.
There can be multiple revision phases, depending on the length and complexity of your essay. Always take a break from working on your essay after each round of editing so that you can return to it with fresh eyes.
Revising a college essay makes remembering the specifics of your studied subject easier. Students who review the material are more likely to try any questions on the subject in the test.
Revising a college essay effectively entails examining your response to the assignment’s directions and the clarity of your concept communication by revising a college essay. Similarly, correction of grammatical, punctuation, and presentational errors will be aided by revision.
1 Brian. “Revise Your Way to a Great College Admissions Essay.” Write The World Workshops. June 29, 2021. https://workshops.writetheworld.org/tips-for-college-admissions-essay/.
2 Coalition for College. “Revising College Essays.” Accessed April 21, 2023. https://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org/mycoalition-counselor-all/revising-college-essays.
3 dci-is.org. “The Complete Essay Editing Checklist for College Students.” Accessed April 21, 2023. https://www.dci-is.org/essay-editing-checklist.html.
4 Vuksanovic, Pavle. “Tips for Writing & Revising Your College Essays.” Niles West News. Accessed April 21, 2023. https://nileswestnews.org/67508/academics/tips-for-writing-revising-your-college-essays/.