5 DIY Tips for Editing Your University Application Essay

Your university admission essay is your chance to show how you can be an excellent addition to the institution you wish to be part of. As such, you have to write an impressive piece that will encourage admissions counselors to give your application the attention it deserves.

It is also crucial that you proofread and edit your final essay before you submit it as part of your online university application. This is to ensure you will submit an essay that is free from grammatical errors and meets all the submission guidelines.

By doing so, you will increase your chances of impressing the admissions counselors and being accepted to your university of choice.

To ensure you submit a perfect, error-free college application essay, here are some DIY editing tips you can follow:

1.Don’t depend on spelling and grammar checking apps

Spellcheck and grammar check are helpful for noticing and correcting some obvious writing mistakes as you are typing and putting into good use the knowledge you obtained from the creative writing courses you took. However, in writing your college essay, it pays to use these features, apps or tools sparingly.

These tools won’t catch everything, and they sometimes even flag non-issues erroneously. Some free online grammar checking tools are not even capable of spotting basic, obvious mistakes as well.

You may use these tools if you want, but remember that it is still up to you to personally ensure that your essay is 100% error-free.

2.Edit your essay an hour or so after you have finished writing it

Once you’re done writing your essay, don’t edit it right away.

Step away from your monitor or laptop, and take a one-hour break. You can even consider editing it the following day if you still have ample time before the deadline.

By taking a break before you start editing, you will clear your mind and go over your essay with fresh eyes and a new perspective. This will help you efficiently edit (or proofread later) your work, and catch all grammatical and spelling mistakes.

Professional editors also recommend taking breaks when editing a long essay.

This is because if you check your work in one sitting, you will be more likely to brush over mistakes that you are used to making and seeing. But if you take breaks in between editing, you will be looking at your essay with relatively fresh eyes each time. And you will be able to spot mistakes faster and with razor-sharp precision.

3.Print your essay

Printing your essay will allow you to shake off that feeling of familiarity and discover mistakes that you did not notice while you were reading it on-screen.

This is precisely what traditional proofreaders do — they check the proof (print) copy or several versions of the same (after revisions) to ensure a document is error-free prior to printing.

Another benefit of printing your essay during the editing stage is that you will have an easier time catching punctuation and spacing mistakes.

A great technique you can follow is to highlight or underline each one of your punctuation marks. Next, go through each one of them individually in context. You can then see if you have been using them correctly in the overall flow of your sentences.

This technique is also a good way to catch common homonym mistakes such as its and it’s, and your and you’re, and tricky small words like the different prepositions.

4.Vary your reading style

To spot both easy and hard-to-catch errors, change up how you read by trying these two reading tricks:

●Read out loud and slowly

When you read your essay aloud, you will notice if your writing sounds confusing or vague. You will be able to pick up on missing words as well.

●Read backward

Split up your text by words, by sentences, or by paragraphs and read it from the end of the narrative to the beginning.

If you want to check for content cohesiveness and pacing, break the text into big chunks. If you want to look for more grammar and writing style mistakes, break the essay into smaller portions.

5.Have someone else read your essay

To really have an error-free essay, have your parents, an older sibling, or even a classmate or teacherread it before you submit it.

Since you wrote the essay, your eyes may skip a word that you forgot to remove, add or edit even if you have reviewed your paper a few times. A great essay needs a couple of new or fresh eyes (or more) to make sure that all errors are edited completely.

However, it is best to edit the essay yourselfbetween other people’s edits so that you can ensure the essay still sounds like something that you really wrote.

And to submit the perfect essay, read the whole piece again more than once after you’re done editing it.

Make sure it is free from all spelling and grammatical mistakes. Check the requirements given by the college as well to ensure your essay meets all of them. You should only submit your college application essay when you have double and triple-checked it again.

By following these tips, you will have a higher chance of making an impression on the college admissions officer. You won’t have to rely on luck to get into your choice of college as well.


Sybil AbouRahal-Jones is the Marketing & Communications Manager at The English College, Dubai. She has a work experience of 20 years working in graphic design, branding and re-branding, marketing and digital marketing, and internal and external communications.