Tutors are forever telling their students to read through their written work, to check for errors and to edit. This is all well and good but often what happens is the student gives it a quick read though and thinks it sounds okay, breathes a sigh of relief and decides it is complete. Alternatively, they read it though, are aware that there are things that aren’t quite right, but they are not sure what those things are, so they have no choice but to leave it at that! The trick with proofreading and editing is to be on the look out for certain issues. These may be errors that can be corrected or wording that can be improved.
It is really important to have a box of checking and editing tricks up your sleeve, especially in the writing section of a test such as the PTE writing test tasks as you have so little time for the tasks in total that your editing skills need to be fast and efficient. Editing and checking are skills in themselves and need to be learned like any other skills.
We will provide you with your box of tricks and then all you need to do is commit them to your mind, put them into practice and let the magic happen!
*Trick 1: Capitalisation Check
It is so easy to miss out capitalisation and this is an error that crops up often. Remember to begin each new sentence with a capital letter and to capitalise proper nouns. A proper noun is a naming noun. This is usually the name of a person or a place but could also be the title of a book or an institution. There are other capitalisation rules as well of course that you should become familiar with, such as countries, days of the week, months etc. Also, make sure you haven’t capitalised common nouns by accident. The best way to remember this is by asking yourself. Is this the name of something?
*Trick 2: Punctuation Check
Usually students remember full stops, but it is worth having a quick scan just in case. Next comes commas. Have you included a comma after the opening clause at the beginning of a sentence? Have you used commas in your lists? If you use semi-colons and colons, are they being used appropriately. It only takes a few seconds to check that your punctuation is correct, and it is worth it to get the full score in this section.
*Trick 3: Voice Check
Check that your use of the first, second or third person is consistent. Of course, you can change throughout a piece of writing according to the context in each part of the essay or task, but you need to make sure that within the phrasing, the voice used remains the same.
*Trick 4: Unnecessary Words Check
One of the skills being tested in the writing section is your ability to get your point across in a succinct and concise manner. Have you use extra words that don’t add any meaning, emphasis or creativity to the writing? If so, get rid of them and your writing will instantly become more engaging.
*Trick 5: Sentence Length Check
Have you got too many short simple sentences? If this is the case, use some conjunctions to join them. Have you included sentences which are too long and contain lots of commas and conjunctions? If so, split them up into smaller, more manageable sentences.
*Trick 6: Engaging Vocabulary Check
In a rush to complete your essay on time, you may have forgotten to use all those wonderful wow words that you have learnt and were planning to slip into your PTE writing! During your edit, have a look at your nouns; are they preceded by powerful adjectives? Look at your verbs; are they accompanied with explanatory adverbs? Changing a few words can give your writing a quick “upgrade” which could be the difference in your overall grade.
You can add as many tricks as you like to your box of checking and editing tricks but these 6 are a great place to start. If you know what you are looking for in that crucial few minutes you have left at the end to correct and improve your work, you can easily add on a few marks to your score which could make all the difference.