Just because your child is done writing does not mean their task is complete. Reading what they have written with a careful eye is very important, especially during an exam! This helps them to spot—and thus correct—any careless mistakes, which can save them from losing precious marks. Effective and thorough checking is a good habit to cultivate after your child finishes any piece of writing. The more your child makes this a habit, the easier it will become for them to spot their mistakes. In this way, they will be able to score better for their compositions and other written components of their exams!
How to effectively and thoroughly check compositions
Know your child’s areas of weaknesses
Take note of the type of errors your child typically makes, and remind them to check for it in their composition. Do they tend to miss out on punctuation, or have inconsistent tenses (e.g. not sticking to past tense) across their composition? Do they tend to spell certain words wrongly (e.g. “suddenly” as “suddendly”)? Inconsistent pronouns and character names (e.g. referring to the same character as “Tom”, “John”, or the first-person pronoun “I”) are also some common mistakes that children make.
Check for one type of error at one time
If your child tends to miss out on punctuation, have them check and ensure that they have used appropriate punctuation throughout their composition. After that, they can move on to checking for other potential errors like their tenses. Looking out for one type of error at a time will ensure they do not miss out even the most minor mistakes.
Use an opaque ruler while reading through the composition
When reading through their compositions, most students tend to scan or skip over lines of text, hence missing out on their potential mistakes. Putting a ruler under each line will help them to focus line by line and make it easier to spot errors. It will also be useful for striking off words or phrases neatly when they need to make any edits.
Allocate sufficient time for checking
Some students finish writing close to the end of their paper, and thus do not have enough time to read over their work even once. To give themselves enough time to check their composition, your child should plan their writing (some tips from our previous article here) and set aside at least 5 minutes to read through their writing. It will be time well spent indeed to secure marks that could have been lost to errors.
Do not rely solely on the spell checker on the computer
For students who submit their writing homework electronically, the spell checker on their computer may seem to be a lifesaver for them. Spell checkers are usually able to pick up most spelling errors, but they may not be the best at picking up grammatical errors. For example, spell checkers will not be able to detect when you have used “your” in place of “you’re”. While a spell checker can help with spelling errors and is good for the first round of checking, your child must still make it a habit to check for grammatical errors. If it works better for them, they can even print out their work to physically check and mark down any mistakes. This will be handy practice for them as well, since they will not have the luxury of a spell checker during an actual examination!
Read the composition out loud
Although this is not possible during an examination or in school, this is good practice for when your child writes at home. Reading out loud will let them hear the words they have written and how the words all sound together, and give them some practice for their Oral exam. They could also get someone to help read their composition back to them. Hearing their words from a different voice might help them with picking out their mistakes.
We hope this carefully curated checklist can help your child minimise their careless mistakes and losing out on precious marks. Never underestimate the importance of checking one’s work to secure valuable composition scores!
"Editing And Proofreading – The Writing Center • University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill". 2022. The Writing Center • University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/.
Frost, Jennifer. 2022. "10 Essential Proofreading Tips For Flawless Text". Grammarcheck. https://www.grammarcheck.net/10-essential-proofreading-tips-for-flawless-text/.
"Tips For Effective Proofreading - Writing Center - UA Little Rock". 2022. Writing Center. https://ualr.edu/writingcenter/tips-for-effective-proofreading/.