Finishing well

After spending so much time with your writing task, resist the temptation to submit straight away. Some final steps can make a big difference.

Reviewing the task and CRA

Once you have finished a complete draft, it is a good idea to review the task and marking criteria a final time to check if you have answered the question and met the requirements. The marking criteria is what the marker uses when grading your work so why not grade yourself? If you are lacking a certain element but hope to achieve that grade, then you need to adjust your writing. Double check the task sheet to make sure you have answered the question and/or addressed the topic fully. Check that you have used the correct referencing style, you are within the word limit and followed all the instructions.

Editing and proofreading

All writing is improved with editing and proofreading, so make time for this before you submit. For both editing and proofreading it is a good idea to:

  • create some distance from your writing by leaving a draft for at least a few hours or ask a friend to read over it - fresh eyes can make a big difference
  • know your preference - do you proofread better when your writing is printed, on a screen or read aloud?
  • create the right environment by finding a quiet place without distractions and take a break when you start finding it hard to concentrate.
  • use your time wisely by focusing on one aspect at a time and prioritising the aspects of writing that you know are not your strengths.

Editing focuses on the organisation and content of your writing. You can review:

  • if the introduction and conclusion accurately reflect the content
  • if your position/argument is clear
  • if the organisation of the whole text and each paragraph is logical and linked
  • if all points are supported by appropriate evidence
  • if your style is consistent and engages the reader
  • if your citations and references are accurate and correct (including unintended plagiarism and matching every source you cite to your reference list and vice versa).

Proofreading should be done separately to editing and is a slow, careful review of your writing. You are looking for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. It is true most of your marks are for content, but small errors can distract the reader and give an impression of the care you take with your writing. Some proofreading tips are:

  • Do not completely trust spelling and grammar checkers. You can use them but always evaluate the suggestions and read your writing too as some things are missed. If you are unsure whether a word or the grammar is correct, look it up.
  • Use different methods to proofread. You can read aloud, circle punctuation marks, read backwards and/or read each sentence separately. Each method may find different things.


Always remember and work to your due date. If you can, allow enough time to submit your work without stress or panic.

If you have access (and permission for multiple submissions) to an originality report through electronic submission, use this feature to check your work. An originality report provides feedback on your use of sources by showing where citations are necessary and whether writing has been submitted previously. Always evaluate what an originality reports finds and decide if you need to make changes. If you have written following the principles of academic integrity, you should feel confident. If you are worried at all, an originality report will help you.

If you are only allowed one submission, do not leave it until the last minute as technical issues and outages could mean that your assessment is submitted late. Once you have submitted, reward yourself.

Using feedback

It can be tempting when you get your marks back to just look at the grade instead of reviewing the marker’s feedback on the assessment item. Your markers are unlikely to highlight everything that needs to be addressed but will point out common errors and/or places where your writing could be clearer, improved or better supported. By reading the feedback, you become aware of the skills and areas you need to develop to improve your writing. If you are unsure of what skills or how to develop, seek support at your teaching institution. People who write well are always looking for ways to develop their skills and you can too.

Analysing good writing

A person who writes well often does a lot of reading which will certainly be a part of your studies. Instead of keeping reading and writing separate, you can spend some time each week analysing a paragraph or two that you found useful. As you analyse, focus on the writing, not the content. Notice the choices the writers have made, the types of sentences and links they use, grammar, vocabulary and punctuation choices. Then decide if any of these techniques and choices can become part of your writing style.