Revising Stage

38 Revision: Higher Order Concerns

After you have written a draft, you very likely will need to make revisions—you should plan on it. In an academic writing class, your instructor probably might even have requirements about revising your work and showing the progression of drafts. You may feel that you write best “under pressure” the night before your assignment is due, but writing a single draft at the last minute rarely results in your best work.

You may feel that you’ve put a lot of effort into your first draft, and it can be challenging to think about changing your work or even eliminating words that you toiled over. But it’s well worth the pain of revising to produce a polished piece of writing that others can easily understand. Your instructor will expect that you have carefully considered the writing task, possibly done some research, and given considerable thought to your ideas and to the needs of your reader/audience. It’s unlikely that you will be able to do so without taking time in between drafts to reconsider your ideas and then revise your draft.

To revise a piece of writing, it may help you to think of three separate ways to improve your writing—even if you combine those three ways or move back and forth between them. You can look at the big picture, check your organization, and also edit and proofread your final draft.

Higher Order Concerns—Revision

Revising for higher order concerns means changing and revising sections of your paper and working on the organization of your ideas.

When you revise at the “big picture” stage, you are looking at the most important aspects of the writing tasks—the ones that require the most thought.

Here’s a set of questions to help you revise for these higher order concerns:

  • Have I met the purpose and requirements?
  • Does my draft say what I mean?
  • Have I changed my thinking through writing or researching?
  • Are there parts that do not belong here? (For more help with this, see “Reverse Outlining” later in this  text.)
  • Are there pieces missing?
  • Are there places where the writing does not make sense?
  • Is the tone right for my reader?
  • Are my sources the right kind for my purpose and reader?
  • Are all the pieces in the right place?
  • Are sources documented?

Text Attributions

  • This chapter was adapted from “Higher vs. Lower Order Concerns” in The Word on College Reading and Writing by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear, which is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 Licence. Adapted by Allison Kilgannon.


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Advanced English Copyright © 2021 by Allison Kilgannon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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