What should I prioritize?

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when revising. Should you start by altering your organizational scheme? Your overall argument? Knowing where to begin and how to prioritize different types of revisions — organizational, grammatical, thematic — is one of the biggest challenges of revision. Mike and Josh  both argue, and we agree, that starting big and then narrowing your focus to smaller, lower-level concerns is a good way to think about prioritizing tasks during revision:

Melissa adds an interesting point when she emphasizes the role of the teacher and the course on the revision process — none of us write research papers or essays without thinking about how they will be evaluated. Even published authors need to think about what their readers expect, the standards of publishing companies, and the opinions of critics! Listen to what Melissa says about the role of rubrics in revision, then do the exercise:




Are you currently working on a writing assignment? If so, go find the prompt for the assignment and, if possible, the rubric that your instructor will use to evaluate your writing. The verbs in a writing prompt often tell youboth what thinking processes your instructor hopes you will experience andwhat your instructor will be looking for when he or she assesses your work. Do you see any of the following words in the prompt or in the rubric?

  • Summarize
  • Analyze
  • Argue
  • Synthesize
  • Describe
  • Support
  • Explain
If so, underline them. What do these words imply about your instructor’s expectations for this assignment? What does “synthesis” or “description” look like, and does your work reflect the expectations of the assignment?


To understand additional assignment keywords and what they’re asking you to do as a writer, you might want to check out this site, from the City University of New York.

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