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Improve Your Writing with Self Assessment

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Noreen Gunnell • updated: 2/8/2012

Are you being asked to edit your writing in school? Can you find spelling and capitalization issues but struggle to identify other problems with your writing, such as problems with word choice, sentence structure and/or sentence variety? Try this activity to improve your writing.

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    Analyzing Own Writing

    Analyze your writing by charting word choice and sentence structure from a previously written piece. The chart will help you to add variety and detail to your writing. You will improve your writing with this self assessment.

    Select Old Draft

    Step 1 – Select a piece of writing. It needs to be an essay or a short story and should be around a page.

    Make Writing Assessment Chart

    Step 2 –Make a chart on notebook paper. At the top, write Writing Assessment. Then make six columns. Each column should be labeled the following: First word, Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs, Sentence length, Punctuation used

    Step 3 –On the left margin, number the lines 1-25.

    Chart Sentences from Essay or Short Story

    Step 4 – Take the first sentence in the essay and write down the first word in the column “first word." Then, look at the rest of the sentence and fill in the columns. If there are no adjectives or adverbs, then leave the line in the column blank. Next, look at the second sentence and fill in the columns until you have completed around 25 sentences.

    Analyze Chart

    Step 5-- When the chart is finished, you should be able to see quite clearly a pattern in your writing. You should ask yourself the following questions and then look to the chart for answers:

    • Do I start too many sentences with the same words?
    • Are my verb choices strong?
    • Are the verbs passive or active?
    • Do I use the same ones over and over?
    • Do I have enough descriptive writing in my essay or story?
    • Do I use enough adjectives or adverbs?
    • Are the adjectives and adverbs good choices?
    • Do I use the same ones over and over?
    • Do I vary my sentence length?
    • Are they too short or too long?
    • Do I ever use a semicolon or colon?
    • Do I use the comma correctly?
    • Do I need a question mark and use a period?

    Once you have answered those questions, you should be able to see the weaknesses in your writing. You may be weak in verb choice or maybe even varying sentence length. Whatever the case may be, try to focus on these weaknesses in future pieces so that you can improve your writing with this self assessment.