Essay Writing: Pre-Submission Checklist

Updated: Nov 4, 2016

This article is a continuation of the article:The Top 10 Mistakes Made When Writing Essays (Part 1)

While Writing, Students Should Make Sure They:

Do Not Change Grammar Tenses Throughout the Essay 

Use the present tense (He takes this stance because …) or past tense (He said this because …) – but not both in one essay. Professors will take off quite a few points for this simple mistake.)

Write Only in the Third Person

  • Never write an essay in the first person (I believe).
  • Never write in the second person (You …)
  • Only write college writing assignments in the third person (The reader may not agree with this statement.)

Avoid Using Contractions

  • Not “can’t see,” but “cannot see.”
  • Not “couldn’t,” but “could not.”
  • Don’t use “didn’t,” used “did not.”
  • Don’t use, “should’ve,” but “should have.”

Spell Words Correctly

There are dictionaries and spell checks for a reason. Use them. Misspelling words will cost a student a substantial loss in points due to carelessness.

Fact-Check the Sources and Complete a Works Cited Page to Avoid Plagiarism

Any source used in an essay, no matter how little, should be recorded in the student’s Works Cited page. Just in case. It helps them avoid plagiarism: the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own. Which results in Expulsion.

Leave no Dangling Participles

This is when a participle (the nominal form of a verb, most often ending –ing) lacks a clear connection with the word it modifies. It’s like a sentence changing midstream for no apparent reason.

Incorrect – dangling participle: 

  • Writing at my kitchen table, the sudden noise startled me. [Writing lacks connection with noise]. 
  • Turning around, the view was much transformed. [Turning lacks connection with a view].

Correct – no dangling participle:

  • Writing at my kitchen table, I was startled by the sudden noise.
  • Turning the corner, he discovered that the view was much transformed.

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