I find myself giving this bit of quick advice to students all the time, but realized today that I’d never written it down for y’all.

You might not have time for this, and that’s OK, but if you finish your essay early, there are a few productive things you can do that don’t involve wholesale changes (which are not realistically advisable given the fact that you’re writing in pencil). The minute you write the last period on your conclusion, go back to the beginning and scour your essay for two things:

  1. Grammar errors (especially in the introduction, where they’ll really make a bad first impression)
  2. Opportunities to erase one word and replace it with a better vocabulary word

You’ll never know for sure, of course, but the tiny changes you make here might improve how your Essay Star looks on 2 of its 5 points, and therefore might tip the scales in your favor if a grader is on the fence about your score.

[With the 2nd edition of the Math Guide all done, I’m again turning my attention to my Essay Guide, which I’ve been quietly working on for some time. It’s really starting to take shape now, but I need sample essays to fill it out. If you’re interested in writing some practice essays for me, in exchange for scores, commentary, and access to the Beta, fill out this form.]