The Top 15 Things Every Law School Applicant Should Know is a series that will teach you the ins and outs of successful law school applications. Stay tuned for the remaining elements. This week we’ll discuss the importance of Micro-editing.
You know when you see a typo in a professional publication and think, “How did someone not catch that?” Well, we do too, and so do admissions officers. Everyone who puts pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, needs a micro editor. Over reliance on spell check and grammar tools are the hallmark of the new sloppy in the digital age. Even with these helpful tools, it is just too easy to make little mistakes that add up to a less than polished presentation, as anyone who has an auto correct feature on his or her smart phone can attest.
There are two levels in any editing process. The first, the macro level, consists of reviewing and analyzing the topic, theme, sentence structure, word choice, and the subjective “flow” of the essay. This first step is obviously crucial to the success of your essay, but once you and your editor have nailed this down and are at the polishing stage of editing, it’s time to focus on the tiniest of details.
Here are a few examples of common mistakes that editors catch, and that you should look for:
- Mixing up “to, two, and too,” using the wrong version of a homophone, i.e “herd” vs. “heard,” or using a word completely different than your original intent due to misspelling, i.e. “tanks” vs. “thanks.”
- Subject and verb agreement, as well as the consistent use of past or present tense are also commonly noted errors.
- Grammatical details like the consistent use of serial commas, i.e. “one, two, or three” vs. “one, two or three.” In this example, both are acceptable, as long as you are consistent in your usage throughout the essay.
Once you have written and rewritten your essay, and believe it is ready for submission, let it sit for twenty-four hours and then re-read it again before you cut, paste, and hit “send.” As an editor, I always read an essay over three times before sending it back to a client. The third time, I read it slowly and aloud. Almost without exception, in each of these iterations I will find an error that needs correcting.
Remember, the first run through of your application is going to get about 15 minutes of a reader’s attention. Make it easy for them to glide through your application without stumbling over errors, and your chances of admission success will soar.