As a former college English instructor, I can tell you that getting a poorly proofread paper from a student drives us nuts. Proofreading isn’t hard, so there’s no reason not to take a few minutes to make certain that your paper is right before you pass it in.
Here are a few simple ways to make yourself a better proofreader:
- Give yourself time – When you are setting aside time to do an assigned paper, give yourself an extra day or two to set your “finished” work aside. If you try to proofread a paper or other written assignment right after you finish writing it, you won’t see all of the errors. Set it aside and come back to it with fresh eyes. You will see things that you did not see the first time.
- Read your paper aloud – It is amazing how much better the ear is than the eye when it comes to catching errors. When I am tutoring writing, I find that even average proofreaders become better when they take this step.
- Read it backwards – Stick with me here. Sometimes reading it backwards will help your mind focus on the individual words. The extra focus on individual words many aid you in spotting spelling errors.
- Give it to a friend – If the honor code at your school does not forbid it, give your paper to a friend to read. When I am writing something for a client, I frequently ask my wife to read it before I send it out. Often, she sees what I don’t because I am too close to my work.
- Don’t rely exclusively on technology – As wonderful a tool as MS Word Spellchecker is, it is not a substitute for manual proofreading. When you type then for than, Word’s Spellchecker is no help.
One of the easiest ways to improve your grade in English class is to learn to be a better proofreader. I encourage you to try these techniques and see which ones work for you.
If you’re using a technique that didn’t make this list, I would love to share it with other readers of the Tampa English Tutor blog.
Students looking to improve their writing or crack the verbal parts of the SAT or ACT over the summer can call 813.787.8959 to reach Eric Anderson, Private English Tutor in Tampa, FL.
Posted by Tampa English Tutor at 4/11/2009 9:54 PM