{revised 6.01.07}

How to Review a Draft

Work SmartóNot Hard!


As a reviewer, your task is to make sure that the writer has (1) done the assignment and (2) followed the guidelines.


How much time to devote to reviews? If you don't have much time, limit your response to two key questions:


        Question 1: Has the writer done the assignment? To determine if she/he has met the criteria, quickly read the draft and check it against the assignment criteria. If she has failed to meet one of the requirements, mention this and move on to question 2. (To review the criteria, go to Our Class Webpage and click on the assignment number that we're working on. In the calendar that appears, click on the link to the criteria.)


        Question 2: Has the writer followed the basic guidelines listed on our class webpage? The 8-point Checklist is important for all papers, but it is especially so for the first two papers. If she's failed to meet one of the important rules, point this out. If the paper requires use of MLA, be sure to review the MLA guidelines on our class webpage.


If you have time, do a more thorough review, pointing out additional key problems based on the assignment and checklists.


What's a good review? Click here to read examples of excellent and poor reviews. These are examples from the ENG 215W assignment; however, the principles are the same for ENG 100 reviews. Also, click here for suggestions from Chris McNeal, a student in ENG 215W, summer 2007.


Number of reviews to complete for your classmates: If you're pressed for time, complete a minimum of two. If you have time, do more. Make sure that every classmate has at least two reviews.


Steps in WebCT: In our WebCT discussions, go to the RD1 submissions forum. Select a paper, read it, click on the Reply directly above the writer's name, and compose your review.


Missing reviews: If by the deadline for reviews you receive fewer than the number required for your RD, email your classmates and ask for help. For instructions on how to send email via WebCT, see "How to Email Classmates" under Other Topics on Our Class Webpage.


Incorrect suggestions: Avoid and ignore misinformation. Don't give incorrect suggestions, and don't heed suggestions that are obviously incorrect.




1. You must use hanging indentation in the works cited section.

Don't indent. All lines should begin at the left margin.

2. You'll be penalized if your paper is longer than the maximum.

No penalty for papers that exceed the maximum word count.

3. The thesis must be the last sentence in the intro paragraph.

It doesn't have to be the last sentence in the intro paragraph. However, it must be labeled.

4. The use of "you" is always incorrect.

Second-person is OK when used in dialogues. Also, in some cases (e.g., in speeches where the writer is directly addressing an audience), it is allowed.

5. Rhetorical questions (RQs) are always incorrect.

RQs may be used when they serve a strategic purpose. However, if it's obvious that you're simply setting up your own response, avoid it.

6. Get and its variations, as well as empty-it and empty-there, should always be avoided.

These and other AIP style "errors" are acceptable when the usage is logical or alternatives are lacking.

7. Indentation is required for block quotes.

No. See item 3 in the FAQs under "Other Topics" on our class webpage.

8. Avoid the first-person "I" construct.

In papers for this class and in most college papers that are somewhere between formal and informal in style, the first-person point of view is acceptable if not preferred.

9. The thesis must be a single line.

It should be a single sentence in length.

10. The title of your essay must be in bold.

Don't bold, italicize, quote, all-uppercase, or underscore the title of your essay.




Tips on How to Work Smart


DON'T spend hours on each RD, commenting on every spelling and grammar error. This is not the purpose of our review sessions. If she has many mechanical errors, simply state that fact and mention the main ones, for example, "I found many basic errors such as subject-verb agreement, spelling, and comma. Many of the sentences were also poorly written." Again, work smart, not hard.


DON'T quote or include the writer's entire RD in your review!