Scholarship essays: avoid grammar and spelling mistakes

Scholarship essays help scholarship committees separate the candidates who look good on paper from the students who truly excel at written communication and unique thought. The actual text and content of your scholarship application essays aren’t the only thing that the committees and its readers pay attention to, though. Not only must your essay be clearly written with an original and captivating presence, it must also be written with immaculate spelling and grammar.

Everyone makes minor spelling and grammar mistakes. Spoken English is so distinct from Standard Written English (SWE) that it’s easy to allow a few conversational phrases slip into your essay, but some of those casual word choices and spellings may be technically incorrect. Here are some ways you can review your scholarship essay and ensure that it is error-free.

Use Multiple Spell Checks

Different spell check programs have different dictionaries, which vary widely in their size and their sensitivity to different word spellings and verb conjugations. If you rely on just one spell check software (such as the one included in Microsoft Word), you run two large risks. First, and most obviously, you may miss some egregious misspellings that will be noticed by your scholarship committee. Second, the software may accidentally flag words that are not misspelled, simply because the program does not recognize them!

Don’t get unfairly penalized for using obscure words! Instead, utilize multiple software programs to check your text. Run a spell check in your primary document editor, then switch to another on another computer (if you are using Windows, switch to Mac’s Pages program). Then input the double-checked text into Mozilla or Chrome, or use an online text editor like Google Drive. This will help you to be extra thorough in reviewing your text.

Review Grammatical Rules

You may have a pretty firm grasp on grammar, but everyone has a few grammatical rules that trip them up. To ensure that the grammar in your paper is correct, visit a few websites and podcasts that outline the basic rules of usage and style. Some fine examples are Grammar Girl’s Podcast and The Purdue Owl. Spent a little time reading their archives and listening to their audio examples, and your grammar will intuitively become much better and you will avoid errors in the future.

Enlist Human Help

When it comes to editing essays, nothing beats a fresh pair of eyes. If you can, ask a friend to read your essay and make notes in the margins whenever they notice a spelling or wording problem. It is preferable to have them edit a printed version of the document; research shows that editing a paper manuscript leads to more successful identification of errors! If you have the time and the access, approach your school’s writing center, or ask for help from an English instructor you know and like. Not only will they polish your essay to perfection, they will teach you some new tips!

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