#10 Making the most of feedback

When you get an essay back, it’s natural to be most interested in the mark you received. However, far more useful going forward will be the feedback that you receive from the marker. This Bite will help you think about how to engage with your essay feedback in order to make sure you tackle the next essay in the best shape possible.

There’s one final step to consider in the essay process, and that’s what you do when you get it back. Understandably, most people are primarily interested in the mark they’ve received. But most markers will also provide useful feedback which can help you to make a better job of future essays. Some people tend to see such feedback as criticism, and are therefore disinclined to give it much thought. But taking on board and acting upon feedback is a vital part of the process of improving your essay writing skills. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of the feedback you receive:

Read the feedback carefully, and more importantly reflect on it – if you can come to understand what the tutor means when they identify weaknesses, you’re in a strong position to do a better job next time.

If you don’t understand the feedback, if you feel you need elaboration, or if you just plain can’t read the tutor’s writing, get in touch with them and ask for a meeting. Most tutors will be more than happy to meet with you and discuss what they mean face to face. Don’t be daunted – the whole purpose here is to help you do better next time.

Take careful note of any recurring comments, especially from different tutors. These may indicate particular areas for you to work on or to look out for in the editing & proofreading stages.

Have the feedback from previous essays in mind when you begin planning and writing your next essay. An awareness of where you’ve gone wrong in the past will help you to avoid such difficulties this time around.

Note the positive feedback too – most markers will point out what you’ve done well, even if it’s just a tick by the side of the essay or a scribbled ‘nice point’. Take confidence from these positive elements in your essay, and be sure to build on these strengths in future work.

As you’re hopefully seeing, there’s a lot to be gained from spending a little time contemplating the feedback you get, rather than simply concerning yourself with the grade the essay received. Why not begin now by digging out previous essays and thinking over the comments the markers have made?

Updated on 30/08/2021

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