How to Peer Edit an Essay

Everyone needs an editor, even the most successful authors, journalists, and scholars. Likewise, peer editing is an essential part of the process for student writers who want to improve and succeed.

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3. Finish with a Checklist

Complete a peer-editing checklist to put your thoughts in order for the writer. This will help you figure out whether any key elements are missing and make sure you’ve addressed all the main components of the essay. It’s a good idea to save filling out the checklist for last to save yourself from having to start over after you’ve fully processed your thoughts.  

If you’re peer-editing at the request of a professor, you may already have been given a specific worksheet or checklist for feedback. If not, there are many templates for these types of checklists available online through campus writing centers (a couple of examples are here and here). You can also create your own checklist customized to the assignment.

Finally, remember that there will often be some nervousness on both sides going into the peer-editing process. The writer may be dreading negative feedback, while the peer editor may hesitate to be critical or feel unqualified to critique another student’s work.

Just remember that no one’s asking you as the peer editor to be an expert on writing or anything else. You’re simply another set of eyes to look for potential issues, and that makes you a valuable resource for your classmates—and hopefully they will return the favor next time you need a critical eye too!

Lora Wegman is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

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