For most students the essays they submit during their time at university will be the most important pieces of writing they ever compose. Unfortunately, too many students fail to realise that the standards of writing required for such assignments are far more demanding than anything they will be familiar with from school or college. Labouring under the illusion that what counts is what they write rather than how they write it, many students fail to achieve the grades they aspire to simply because their level of academic English is not up to scratch.
Today’s Students and ‘Internetese’
Young people today write more than any generation before them, and one might suppose this can only be a good thing. The trouble is that most of what they write — in the form of text messages, emails, and comments on social media and networking sites — is informal, hurriedly composed, and pays little heed to the rules of correct English spelling, grammar and punctuation. Consequently, by the time they get to university, most students are in the habit of writing in a style that falls a long way short of the exacting standards required for formal academic papers.
Although students are aware that different standards are required for texting or emailing, on the one hand, and academic writing on the other, research shows a growing tendency for the bad habits of the former to creep into the latter. Teachers, lecturers and examiners report that for many students the line between formal and informal writing has become blurred, meaning that the truncated and conversational forms of expression characteristic of text messaging and ‘internetese’ are increasingly showing up in their academic papers. Needless to say, when this happens at university level, examiners are very far from impressed, and students risk not only losing valuable marks but even failing their written assignments.
Why Hard Work and Intelligence is Not Enough
While there has always been a need for proofreaders to check, correct and refine people’s writing, the foregoing suggests that this need is now greater than ever — especially for students. No matter how hard you may have worked or how intelligent you may be, if your level of academic English is below par, your grades will suffer as a result. The essays you submit must compete for your examiner’s attention alongside dozens of others, so if you are aiming for those higher marks, your work needs to stand out from the crowd in terms of clarity and readability. If you write badly, with poor spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence construction, your examiner will form an unfavourable impression of your academic merit that will be reflected in your final marks. It might well be the reason why those upper-second or first-class grades keep eluding you.
“No matter how impressive your ideas are, or how pretty your essay looks when it arrives in the print tray, bad grammar and poor spelling will instantly prejudice your tutor against you – and with good reason. The days of splurging your ideas out onto the page and letting the reader work out what you mean, are over.” (Richard Turley, Writing Essays)
The Importance of Professional Proofreading
Over the years students have been slow to take advantage of professional proofreading services. While experienced academics, professional journalists and world renowned authors have always had their work checked, corrected and perfected by professional proofreaders and copy-editors, students have been content to rely upon their computer spell-checkers for their editing needs.
Thankfully things are beginning to change and an increasing number of students are waking up to the fact that — if they are to stay ahead of the competition and attain the highest grades — they need to make use of the services of professional proofreaders and academic editors. This is why the smarter students are sending their work to us. They may not tell you they’re doing it, but we can assure you they are! So instead of asking yourself whether you can afford it, a better question might be: “Can I afford not to?”