The Art of Editing


512px-QWERTY_keyboardThe writing of essays and reports, and the taking of exams, forms a major part of any GCSE or A’ level study.

When you have finished any of these tasks, it is always worth taking just a little extra time to check them through. Make sure you have answered every part of the question(s) asked, then edit your work into the best possible shape. If you polish your work in this way you are much more likely to achieve a higher mark than those who don’t.

One of the most common causes of losing marks in exams and set assignments is not reading the question accurately. Whenever you sit down to do a piece of work or take an exam, make sure you read your assignment all the way through before beginning. Then, with pen or keyboard to hand, read it again.

With revision already underway for many GCSE and A’ Level students, it is a good idea to get into the habit of reading through your mock papers thoroughly from the very start. So many teachers can give their pupils examples of brilliantly written exam answers to the wrong questions!

This read through rule applies to any essay, project or dissertation. It is never enough just to finish homework or school-time assignments without giving them a second look. Editing is essential.

Simply relying on your computer’s spell-check to hunt for errors isn’t good enough, either. Most spell-checks are notorious for missing mistakes or”correcting” things they shouldn’t, often causing sentences to become out of context.

By following the three basic editing and checking rules given below, you will improve your chances of getting good homework and exam marks.

1.      Read the questions carefully so that you fully understand what you are required to do.

2.      Read your homework through at least twice on completion. If possible, print out your work and check it through on paper as well as on the screen, improving it where and when required.

3.      If possible, complete your work a few days in advance of when it is to be handed in, then read it through once more nearer that time. You are more likely to spot any mistakes if you have a break between the completion of your work and editing it.

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Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.

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