How To Edit Your Essays and Papers and Get Higher Grades

author By Mary Boies

All students who consistently get good grades in their essays do one thing – they thoroughly self-edit their essays before submitting them. Self-editing is an art. It is basically carefully going through your essay to ensure it is logical, flawless, and easy to understand.

how to self-edit an essay

Most college students know that self-editing essays is vital before sending them for grading. The majority do it. However, only a small fraction does it correctly. If you want to get excellent grades in your essays consistently, you must edit them properly before submitting them.

In this post, you will discover how to edit your essays for higher grades correctly.

Importance of editing your essay

Benefits of Editing an Essay

The biggest difference between those who consistently score high grades in their essays and those who do not lie in editing. Those who properly edit their essays before submission will almost always get an excellent grade, while those who do not will often get a poor grade.

Research studies have reported that students who score better do at least two rounds of self-editing, which guarantees a significant raise in the base grade a student would get without editing.

Instead of submitting sloppy punctuation and grammar in your essays, research papers, and assignments, you can proofread and revise your essay for the best grades. There are five key reasons you should always self-edit your essay before submitting it for grading.

1.  Removes grammar errors

If your essay is full of errors such as typos and punctuation errors, it won't be easy to read and understand. Unfortunately, this means your professor will find it challenging to comprehend, making it nearly impossible for you to get a good grade.

Proper editing will catch and eliminate grammar errors and other kinds of writing mistakes in your essay. In addition, it will make your writing easy to read and understand.

2. Makes your essay flow

There is nothing professors want to see more than a good flow when marking essays. This is because essays with a good flow are those that have been well-researched and developed.

Proper essay editing will make your essay flow. It will make your professor like your work and increase your likelihood of getting a good grade.

3. Ensures proper formatting

Most professors will ask you to format your essay using a specific style guide, e.g., MLA or APA. If you do not do so, you will lose marks. Your essay could even be rejected.

Part of proper essay editing is ensuring your essay is appropriately formatted. This means that if you properly edit your essay, you will not lose formatting marks or points.

4. Gets your work checked by fresh eyes

Proper essay editing involves sending your essay to someone else to look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. This is excellent because it often helps to identify and eliminate more mistakes.

Most students think their work is perfect when they send it to their professors. However, there are often errors that the writer cannot easily catch. Fortunately, a fresh pair of eyes can help catch these errors and eliminate them.

5. Gives your essay the x-factor

When you want your essay to stand out, you edit it. Proper editing involves looking at several aspects of the essay to ensure they are perfect. So if you want your essay to have the wow factor, simply edit it thoroughly.

If you are not sure your own editing can give your essay the X factor, send it to us. We have tutors that have the skill and the experience to turn ordinary essays into excellent essays. Click the “order” button to start the process.

The time it takes to edit an essay

Generally, you will need an hour to edit 500 words. So, if your essay is 500 words long, expect to spend about an hour to edit it properly. If it is 1,000 words long, expect to spend about 2 hours to edit it properly.

If your essay requires full and substantive editing that may necessitate significant rewriting, expect to spend more time editing it. For example, if it is 500 words, it should take you about 1.5 hours to edit. If it is one thousand words long, it should take you about 3 hours to edit.

While you can always estimate the time it will take you to edit an essay, not all essays are the same. Some essays are more difficult to edit than others. Therefore, you may expect to edit an essay within two hours, which can take you three to four hours. So always edit your essays way before the deadline to get enough time to correct everything.

11 Steps to edit your Essay and Increase the chances of scoring higher grades

Steps to edit an essay or any paper

Even if you know how to research and write essays, you will never consistently get excellent grades if you do not properly edit your essays before submission.

In this section, you will discover the steps you need to follow to edit your essay before submission correctly.

1. Complete your essay earlier

The students who consistently get good grades in their essays usually finish their essays about a week or two before the submission deadline. Completing your essay early is important because it gives you enough time to edit it.

Many students believe they work best under pressure. While this is true for some students, it is not the case for most students. Writing and editing an essay under pressure often leads to errors and mistakes due to time constraints. So do not wait until the last minute to complete your essay if you want to do a good job.

Finishing your essay assignment early has three major benefits. First, it gives you control. It enables you to finish the assignment at your own pace. This reduces the sense of panic and stress associated with having to beat an essay deadline within a short time.

Second, it gives you enough time to change your mind. By finishing your essay early, you will have enough time to discuss its contents with your professor and your peers. If you discover something substantial to add or deduct, you will have enough time to consider it and do so.

Lastly, finishing your essay early gives you plenty of time to edit your essay thoroughly. If you leave it until late to finish your essay, you will not have enough time to edit it thoroughly. Your main goal will be to have something to submit before the deadline. In contrast, if you finish your essay early, your goal will be to ensure you submit the best essay possible.

Another benefit of completing your essay early is that you can handle other unexpected life events. You might get sick, or someone you know might, your boss might slot you for shifts, and maybe some unavoidable circumstances might happen in your life. Writing an essay early helps you to avoid emailing your professor for deadline extensions, which are always a bother to them and a guaranteed way of getting a poor grade.

2. Take a break after writing the first draft

Upon completing your essay, you should not go straight ahead to edit it. Trying to edit your essay immediately after completing your first draft will not be of much help. You will not be able to spot any errors.

What you need to do is to take a break. If you have enough time, take a day or two before attempting to proofread your essay. By taking time off working on the essay, you will give your brain time to rest and readjust.

When you give your mind/brain enough time to rest and readjust, you will have a fresh perspective when you go back to read and edit your essay. In addition, this should help you to find many of the errors you will miss if you opt to proofread your essay immediately after writing it.

3.  Print the draft to edit manually

This is probably the most important part of self-editing an essay. If you do this well, you will most likely not need to follow the rest of the steps in this guide.

This step entails printing the draft copy to edit it manually. Of course, it is easier to read and edit a draft essay on a computer. However, printing a draft essay on paper gives you a different perspective that will make it easier to catch mistakes.

Besides helping you to find more mistakes, printing a draft on paper to edit also enables you to see your sentence and paragraph structure better. This should allow you to improve your sentence and paragraph structure.

To properly edit a printed essay draft, get a pen and underline spelling and punctuation errors. Then identify complex sentences and sentences that add little value to your writing. Among these sentences, fix the necessary ones that can be improved and strike out the rest.

Once you are done making the corrections on paper, transfer them to your on-screen draft. By following this step, you should be able to produce an essay that is well-worth reading and receive a good grade.

4. Use a reverse outline

An outline is a guide you write to help you create an essay with good flow and organization. Many professors usually request you to make an outline and submit it before they allow you to complete their essay assignment. They use the outline to see your thinking and how you plan to develop an essay.

After reading and editing your essay on a paper, try to use your essay to create an outline. If you did everything correctly. You should be able to create an outline quickly and easily from your essay.

The best way to do this is to find an essay outline template online and reverse-create it with things from your written essay.   So, try to identify things like hook statements, background information, and thesis statement in your first paragraph and fill in the template.

In the body paragraphs, try to identify things like topic sentences, support information, and concluding sentences. And in the concluding paragraph, identify the thesis restatement, the restatement of the main facts, and the concluding statement.

If you can easily fill out your essay outline template, you should know that your essay is absolutely on the right track. If you cannot do this, edit your essay accordingly to ensure that a reverse outline can easily be created from it.

By adjusting your essay to make it easy to create an outline, you will indirectly enhance its structure and flow. You will also be making it more complete.

5. Read the work aloud

After editing your essay on paper and editing it to make sure you can easily create an outline from it, you should read it aloud. Students frequently lose marks because they submit essays with sections that are unclear or difficult to understand. To put your essay in a position to earn you the highest grade, make sure it has no muddy or unclear parts. And the best way to do this is to read it aloud.

By reading your essay aloud, you will hear every word and every sentence. Anything difficult to read will stick out like a sore thumb. In addition, reading aloud will enable you to correct it to get a better flow. Most professors read essays to themselves in their heads. So, reading out your essay loud will give you your professor’s perspective and make your work much clearer.

When reading your work aloud, mainly focus on enhancing clarity and shortening sentences. You will strengthen clarity when you correct the parts of your essay you find difficult to read aloud or understand.

Shortening sentences is something that you should expect to do when reading your essay loudly. This is because you will always run out of breath when reading extra-long sentences. So whenever you run out of breath when reading your essay, pause and shorten the sentence. You can shorten sentences by splitting them into two or removing unnecessary words.

Reading your essay aloud may feel stupid, but it is not. On the contrary, it is a critical college essay editing practice that helps improve the quality of an essay significantly. So, to really enhance the quality of your essay, you should not skip this editing step.

6. Use editing software

After reading aloud, your essay is all but ready. However, to ensure it is perfect, use editing software to identify further and eliminate grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.

The best editing software products currently available on the market are Grammarly, ProWritingAid, Hemingway Editor, and Ginger software. Among all these software products, the best one is probably It has a free version and a premium (paid) version.

Most editing software products work the same way. You upload your essay/text, and the algorithm reads it and points out errors. They work kind of like the MS Word Spelling & Grammar feature, but they are more advanced.

Therefore, check your essay using a good editing software product and correct the mistakes identified. Ignore the suggestions you 100% know are not correct or very important.

7. Get the structure right

After checking your essay using an editing software product, check the structure one more time. You must have made several changes to your essay at this point of editing. As a result, it no longer looks like the original. So, check its structure to ensure it has all the critical paragraphs and that each paragraph is properly structured.

The basic structure of most types of essays is – an introduction, body, and conclusion. So, make sure your essay has these three key parts. And then, check the body paragraphs to ensure each follows the sandwich method. This method ensures proper paragraph structure with an opening statement at the top, a closing statement at the bottom, and a middle made of support statements.

8. Check the content integrity

At this point, you just want to read your essay one more time to make sure everything is perfect. Therefore, your first task when checking content integrity should be to prune the long paragraphs and sentences. All your paragraphs and sentences should be roughly the same length. Therefore, shorten the long ones to make them easier to read.

Your second task should be to remove repeated ideas and complicated language. When you repeat an idea in a paragraph when trying to explain it better, you make the reader think you are just trying to reach the word count. This can make the reader give you a score lower than what they intended to give you because of a lack of conciseness.

Complicated language has a way of making even simple things a bit difficult to understand. So do your best to identify and eliminate complex words and statements from your work.

Your last task when checking content integrity should be to check your citations. This is an essential part of the self-editing process. It is very important to cite the ideas you get from books, credible websites, journals, and other reliable sources at the college level. So, make sure you cite your sources and that they follow the style/format your professor requires.

9. Email your instructor for feedback

You have now done all you needed to make your essay the best. You do not need to do anything else. However, if you have time, preferably a week before the deadline, email your instructor the first two paragraphs of your work and request feedback.

Most instructors are very understanding, and they are delighted to offer feedback. Just make sure you introduce yourself and send it early enough. Include the paragraphs as part of your email to make it easy for your instructor to read the paragraphs.

In your email, you can ask them if your essay is on the right track or if there is anything, they would expect you to add or adjust to get an excellent grade. Your instructor is more likely to respond to your email if you ask for specific feedback.

When you get feedback from your instructor, edit your essay accordingly.

10. Get peer feedback

If you still have time on your hands, send your essay to a friend or a family member and ask them to read it and include their feedback. Just ask them to highlight in yellow all the errors they see, all the things they do not like, and any problematic statement to understand.

If you followed all the steps before this one, your essay should include little or no suggestions for improvement. However, if you get feedback with suggestions for improvement that are legitimate, do modify your essay accordingly.

11.  Get a tutor to help

This is the last step you need to do if you want your essay to be perfect. Of course, you can send your essay after step ten above, but if you want perfection, strongly consider getting an experienced tutor to check your essay one more time.

Luckily, you do not have to Google or ask around for a tutor to give your essay one last check before submission. We have experienced English tutors who you can work with on our site. They are ready to provide you with all the help you need ASAP.

Content and Structure Checklists

Editing Checklist

After you are done proofreading your essay, use the checklists below to ascertain if it is 100% ready before submitting it. Make sure your answer is yes to all the questions in the checklists to ensure your essay is prepared for marking.

Content Checklist

Structure Checklist

Formatting Checklist

You can also look at this UNSW editing checklist to get more insights that will enable you to submit a spotless paper that guarantees you a better grade.

Parting Shot!

It is always important to thoroughly self-edit your essays before submission. Doing so will distinguish your essays from those of average students who submit their first draft as is. By following the eleven steps described in this essay, you will thoroughly edit your essay and leave it with no mistakes. This will significantly increase your chances of getting an excellent grade.

If you are stuck editing your work or do not have time to edit it as thoroughly as it needs to, contact us today. You can hire refined essay editors and proofreaders who are ready to work with you and provide you with any level of editing you need.

Need a Discount to Order?

15% OFF First Order!

What you get from us


Plagiarism-free papers

Our papers are 100% original and unique to pass online plagiarism checkers.


Well-researched academic papers

Even when we say essays for sale, they meet academic writing conventions.

24/7 support

24/7 online support

Hit us up on live chat or Messenger for continuous help with your essays.


Easy communication with writers

Order essays and begin communicating with your writer directly and anonymously.