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Writing an Effective Essay: GED Test Prep (page 6)

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Updated on Jul 5, 2011

Step 6: Proofread Carefully

In the three-step writing process, the third step is to revise and edit. What exactly is the difference between revising and editing, anyway?

To revise means to carefully read over your essay and make changes to improve it. Revising focuses on improving the content (what you say) and style (how you say it). In other words, when you revise, you concentrate on the "big picture": your ideas and how you organize and present them in your essay. Editing, on the other hand, deals with grammar (correct sentences), mechanics (correct spelling, capitalization, and punctuation), and usage (correct use of words and idioms).

Editing is very important; your writing should be as clear and correct as possible. But as a general rule, it doesn't make much sense to carefully proofread each sentence only to realize that you need to rewrite several paragraphs.

However—and this is a big "however"—the guidelines are a little different on a timed essay exam, especially when the time is so short. Because your time is so limited, revising should actually take place before you write, while you are outlining your essay. As you outline, make sure you have a clear thesis that addresses the writing prompt, sufficient and relevant support, and logical organization. You probably won't have time to rewrite paragraphs or add new ones. That's why it's crucial to outline so carefully. But you will probably have a few minutes to change word order, adjust word choice, and correct grammatical and mechanical mistakes. And this final "polishing" step can help make your ideas come across much more clearly for your readers.

Sample Essay

You have seen the brainstorming and outline for the good neighbor prompt. Now, here is a complete essay. This essay would score a "6" on Part II of the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam.

No matter where you live, you have neighbors. The kind of neighbors you have can make a big difference in how happy you are. I'm lucky to have wonderful neighbors. The people who live next to me are friendly, they are helpful, and they respect boundaries.

Friendly neighbors help to make it nice to live where you do. Grumpy, unpleasant neighbors don't usually do you any harm, but they don't make you feel good, either. A friendly neighbor makes you feel welcome. For example, our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Ulerio and their children, are very friendly. Whenever we see them they say a cheerful hello and ask how we're doing. Mr. and Mrs. Ulerio often chat with my parents, and every Christmas, Mrs. Ulerio and her daughter Jessica bring us homemade cookies. They make us feel like they're glad to have us next door.

Good neighbors aren't just friendly, they're also helpful. If we run out of sugar while baking or need one more egg for a recipe, we know we can run over to the Ulerios' or our other neighbors, the Zurowskis'. Mr. Zurowski is particularly helpful to my dad. My dad doesn't have a lot of tools, but Mr. Zurowski does, and he's always willing to lend them to my dad. He also helps my dad with projects once in a while, like fixing the roof on the dog house. There have also been plenty of times when we stayed with Mrs. Ulerio while our parents were out.

Perhaps the most important aspect of being a good neighbor is respecting boundaries. I think most of us could live with neighbors who are unfriendly or never offer a helping hand. But few of us will tolerate neighbors who don't respect our property and our privacy. Our old neighbors, for example, used to come and take toys and lawn equipment from our shed without asking. Sometimes, we'd have to go to their house and ask for our things back because they didn't return them. Even worse, my Uncle Andy's neighbors were extremely nosey and gossipy. They got involved in Uncle Andy's divorce and made the experience more complicated and painful for everyone.

Good neighbors like mine are hard to find. I hope I will always have neighbors like the Ulerios and Zurowskis. They are kind, they know when to help, and they respect our property and privacy.

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