An Editing Trick & Tips: Read Aloud


Reading your essay aloud can have a huge impact on the quality of your writing.

We've all done it at some point in our lives. When we were learning how to read, when we had to take our turn at reading a paragraph of an article or book to the class, when we're trying so hard to focus in the midst of chaotic background noise--reading aloud is not unusual or unheard of by any means. In fact, many people do it without even realizing it!

So how can we use this skill to our advantage when writing college application essays? For many, it may seem too easy to make a difference or even be a tad bit helpful. But, think about those times when you've watched a mesmerizing movie or enthralling television show, or listened attentively to a podcast or webinar. Something about those words being spoken out loud captivated you and drew you in. Sure, visuals shown concurrently in movies and television shows likely helped a lot in getting and maintaining your attention; but, visual scenes alone would probably not be able to keep you entertained for an extended period of time.

Truth be told, the simple act of reading your essay aloud can have a huge impact on the quality of your writing and the final version you choose to submit. If you're wondering how you could use this in a way that optimizes your proofreading process, check out the five specific tips below.

5 Tips to Make the Most of the Read Aloud Editing Trick

  1. Situate yourself in a quiet, private place where there are no distractions and where you can be assured no one else is around. Eliminate variables that could lead to triggering discomfort or embarrassment as you read your essay draft aloud.

  2. Make sure you have a clean, legible copy of your essay. You want to make sure you eliminate stumbling blocks that are not writing-related. That way, if and when you do stumble on phrases and sentences, you'll know editing is needed rather than clearer handwriting or cleaner pages.

  3. As you read, speak at a slow enough pace to allow yourself time to not just speak the words, but to hear and process them as well. There is a drastic difference between simply reading to get to the end of a sentence and reading for the purpose of comprehending what's being expressed. Aim for the latter and you'll have a better chance of catching areas that need extra attention.

  4. You may experience those moments when nervousness and insecurities flood in. But, there is a quick remedy for this. As awkward as it may sound and look (don't worry, if you're alone, remember that no one will see or hear you doing this!), smile. Yes, you read that right! Force yourself to smile for about five seconds, then relax. Smile for another five seconds, then relax. Next, laugh a little and try to think of something funny so you reach the point of belly-laughing. Laughter is free and easily available--you just need to "turn it on." Smiling (laughing is even better and more effective) may help to get you back on track to having a smooth, relaxed read-aloud editing session.

  5. If you stumble on your words or if anything makes you pause, stop and evaluate the root cause for the stumble or pause. If something simply distracted you, refocus and start up again with the previous sentence. If, on the other hand, something you wrote led to the stumble, look into it a bit further. Maybe a word is clunky or a transition phrase isn't worded well for optimal flow. Figure out what could be changed, apply your solution, then re-read the sentence to see if you can make it through smoothly from the beginning to the end of the sentence. Do this between sentences as well as between paragraphs to ensure your essay flows in its entirety.

There are many editing strategies that we can use for cleaning up our writing. Reading out loud is just one method that has been proven to work time and again, and the tips listed above have been helpful in making the read-aloud sessions meaningful and productive. As you work toward putting the finishing touches on your essay, take the extra minutes and put forth your best efforts and attention to make sure your story represents and showcases you in the way you want. Always set yourself up to be proud of your written masterpiece--you deserve it!

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