How to Proofread Your College Application Essay Like a Pro: 7 Tips

Proofreading plays a crucial role in the college application process as it ensures your college essay is free from both content and grammatical errors. One or two typos can be ignored, but too many make it look like you either don’t care or don’t know better. A well-polished college essay not only demonstrates your attention to detail but also leaves a lasting impression on college admission officers. You need to present the best version of your essay to convey your work ethic and dedication to academic pursuits.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore effective proofreading techniques that will elevate your college application and help you polish your college application profile. Stand out from the competition and impress the college of your choice with these insights.

Read your college application essay multiple times

To thoroughly proofread your essay and ensure proper punctuation and grammar, it is essential to read it repeatedly. This process allows you to identify and rectify both glaring and subtle mistakes. Find a quiet place and read your essay carefully. Take note of any errors or areas that require improvement such as missing quotation marks, overused question marks, and other spelling and grammar mistakes.

Once you’ve completed this initial read-through, take a small break, ideally a day, and return to your college application essay with refreshed eyes. The break will provide valuable perspective and enhance your ability to spot errors that may have gone unnoticed before.

Don’t go over the word count limit

You also need to remember that the Common App / Coalition App essay word limit is 650 words maximum. These word limits are set to challenge your ability to articulate your ideas concisely and make every word count, reflecting your ability to communicate effectively within constraints.

If you’re unsure of what to do, consider removing any unnecessary or redundant information that does not contribute to your core message. This may involve eliminating flowery language, excessive adjectives, or repetitive statements that do not add significant value to your response.

Printing out your essay is a valuable technique that aids in effective proofreading. Research has shown that printed words are perceived and processed differently than those viewed on a screen. By physically holding the printed copy of your essay, you engage with it in a new way, allowing errors to become more apparent (such as missing parenthesis, semicolons, and common typos).

Many writers have experienced the frustration of discovering mistakes only after printing a piece of writing. Read through your essay and double-check crucial elements like spelling, grammar, spacing, punctuation, verb tense, active voice, use of quotes, and commas to ensure your essay is error-free. Read your essay aloud to hear how it may sound and identify any awkward phrasing.


Seek a fresh perspective

In addition to self-proofreading, it is vital to have someone you trust review your essays. Your proofreader can be your English teacher, your counselor, your friend or a family member whom you trust for their honest feedback. Trusted individuals can proofread your work, provide an objective viewpoint, and catch grammar errors, missing words, or inconsistencies that you may have overlooked. They can also offer valuable insights on authenticity, uniqueness, and overall effectiveness. Their feedback can include suggestions for adding more detail or clarification, as well as identifying sections that may require improvement or restructuring.

DON’T post your essay on Reddit or any other forum so strangers can review it! They can plagiarize it, and posting it publicly will trigger plagiarism detectors used by admission officers. If you still need help, you can consult professional college counseling agencies that offer editing and proofreading services.

Craft a cohesive application narrative

Once you have reviewed your essay, take the time to read your entire application, including other essays, from start to finish. As college admission officers often summarize college applications for the admissions committee, crafting a concise two-minute summary of your key themes and narrative is crucial.

This exercise not only helps you gain a holistic perspective on your application but also allows you to refine your unique voice and strengthen your overall coherence. By ensuring your application’s summary clearly communicates your main points, you enhance the ease with which admission officers can present your application.

Also read: How to Avoid Clichés on the College Essay

Leverage free proofreading & editing services

In the digital age, technology can be a powerful tool for proofreading. Use advanced writing tools such as Grammarly or Hemingway to edit your college essay. These spellcheck editors will analyze your essay to help you find the correct tone, flow, and detect any grammar and punctuation errors.

Grammarly, a comprehensive writing assistant, provides grammar, syntax, and phrasing recommendations to enhance your essay’s overall quality and clarity. Hemingway, on the other hand, specializes in breaking down complex sentences for improved readability. Embrace these digital resources to smoothly elevate your college essay to its highest potential.

Take different approaches

When reviewing your final draft, change the font and size to something creative & unique. Studies have shown that people process text differently when it is in a different style, size, font, or presentation. This is especially true when it is done in an unfamiliar way. Ditch Times New Roman or Calibri and put your essay in size 18 font. Just don’t forget to change it back when you submit the final product.


Proofreading your college essay is a fundamental step in the application process. By following the strategies outlined in this comprehensive checklist, you can ensure a well-crafted, error-free essay that leaves a positive and lasting impression on admission officers. Your dream college will recognize your dedication and your hard work will pay off in the end.

Remember to read your college essay multiple times, leverage print, seek outside perspectives, craft a cohesive narrative, embrace technological aids, and consider alternative presentations. By employing these techniques, you will maximize your chances of standing out in a competitive college admission landscape.

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