Top Tips for Proofreading an Essay

TOP TIPS

Once you have finished writing an essay, it is easy to never want to see it again. However, proofreading is a vital part of essay writing when entering a competition!
Your essay may be the clever, creative and interesting, however if the spelling, grammar and structure are poor, you could miss out on the prize you deserve.

As students ourselves, the digital comms team for RCS Wales have written our personal Top Tips for proofreading…

  1. Take a Break.Taking a break from your essay – maybe a few hours, maybe even a few days! – and then re-read. When your mind has had a break from an essay it is more likely to notice small errors.
  1. Use Ctrl+F.Ctrl+F is an easy way to search on a computer. Look for key things you may have missed – e.g., if you always spell a word wrong. An example would be spelling Commonwealth ‘Comonwealth‘. Using Ctrl+F, search for ‘Comonwealth‘ to find every occasion where you have spelled it wrong! It is also a good idea for search for apostrophes (‘), to ensure you have not used words like “can’t” or “don’t“.
  1. Print it out.Reading an essay printed out is a very different experience to on screen, so your eyes may notice mistakes you did not notice before. This is also a great way to access how the structure looks. Is the font strange, the size too small, or are the margins too big? Printing the essay out will ensure your entry looks best when it is being judged.
  1. Read your essay out loud.Attempting to read your essay out loud means that your mind is busier, and therefore is more likely to struggle when coming across something spelled incorrectly. While our eyes can skate past grammatical and spelling errors, trying to pronounce these is difficult, making mistakes easier to notice.
  1. Use Spellcheck.Computers offer spellcheck and grammar check, which we do not use enough! Check every word that is underlined in red, green or blue, even if you are certain it is right. Often, Microsoft Word is just suggesting that you re-order a sentence to make it read better.
  1. Ask someone else to read it.After spending so long writing, we often struggle to find our own mistakes. Asking a fresh set of eyes to assess your work will really help, and they can offer suggestions for improvement.

Once you have finished proofreading and sent your essay off, its time to relax and wait for winners to be announced!
Find out more about the international prizes here and the Welsh PKV prize here

If you are struggling with your grammar or spelling, there are some great tutorials available on YouTube – here is one of our favourites!

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Top Tips for a Winning Essay

TOP TIPS

Writing an essay does not come easily to everyone, so here at RCS Wales we want to help! We’ve designed some Top Tips to help you plan, write and check your essay, to ensure your entry is the best it can be. Don’t forget to check the RCS website to see further details and instructions on what your essay must involve!

  1. Ensure you understand your theme in order to begin your essay, and identify key topics to discuss.

 This year’s theme is ‘A commonwealth for peace’, and there are multiple topics to choose from – check out this blog post we made to help you pick! Make sure you understand what your topic is asking you to discuss. Next, identify the key themes and start planning the structure of your essay before beginning to write.

  1. Entice your readers with a winning first sentence.

The first sentence is the most important for the essay competition. An attractive, powerful, interesting, moving first sentence will seize the eye of judges, attract the reader’s interests, and leave a deep impression. It is a great first step to make a winning essay.

  1. Always check your essay for grammar and spelling.

An essay may have brilliant content and thought-provoking ideas, however with poor spelling and grammar it can never be a winner. If you are not great at spelling or grammar, ask a parent, teacher or friend to help you! There are also great online materials to help if you are struggling.

  1. Be creative and innovative.

For your essay to really stand out, try being creative and bringing forward new ideas. Taking a risk can really pay off! You want your entry to be unique. Past winners have even taken the term ‘essay’ loosely and written poems! Try to be the entry that sticks in the judges minds.

  1. The end should be as strong as the beginning,

Towards the end of your essay, once all your brilliant, creative ideas and written, you may just want to quickly finish the essay and submit it. STOP! The end is a vital part of your essay, and the final memory the judge will have of your entry! With careful planning, you can create an ending that summarises and concludes your thoughts, and leaves the judges wanting more.

Get your entries in by 01 May 2017!

Top Tips for Staying Focused

TOP TIPSWe all have work to do, and we all want it to be done quickly and well. However, sometimes it’s just hard to fully focus on what we’re doing and we end up wasting our time.
Do you feel the same way?
Here are 7 tips for staying focused.

1. Find a place that makes you feel more inclined to remain focused. Sometimes, your bedroom may not be the best choice. Try the library and study rooms, where there’s no noise and limited access to TV and cell phones.

2. Take everything you need with you.  Don’t leave anything in other rooms so that you won’t need to leave your workplace. If you interrupt what you’re doing, you’ll lose concentration.

3. Take some snacks to your workplace. For example, nuts, blueberries, or a chocolate bar. Take water too – avoid drinking too much coffee, high caffeine tea, or energy drinks: they’ll get you stay up all night long, and the morning after you’ll feel dead-tired and without energy to go on with your work.

4. Make sure your mobile phone and other electronic devices are turned off. We all know that we get distracted as soon as we receive phone calls, text messages or notifications from social networks. Only use your laptop when you need it: it’s always risky anyway, because the temptation to go on youtube and watch your favourite videos is so strong!

5. Create a timetable. If you have a long day/ night of work ahead of you, a timetable is necessary. Make plans, like having a 10 minute break after every hour of work. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you’re lazy! Your brain needs breaks to recharge after processing a lot of information. Try an easy to use, online study timetable like this one.

6. Write down your goals for the day. You’ll have a clear idea of what needs to be finished by the end of the day. Every time you complete a task on your list, tick it. This will help you feel more motivated to go on and finish your work.

7. Reward yourself. Sometimes, it’s all you need to keep yourself going. Think about something that will help you relax, and why not, distract a little bit after many hours of concentration: a nice meal, a film, or some shopping with your friends.

Is it easy for you to concentrate? Do you have any other suggestions for remaining focused on what you’re doing? Leave a comment and let us know!

Top Tips for Writing a Personal Statement!

TOP TIPS

April is just around the corner and the time has come to make plans for the following months…

No, unfortunately we’re not talking about your summer holidays. Rather, jobs, internships and university.

We know it’s not as appealing as talking about the coolest music festivals to go to or the most beautiful beaches in Spain, but we want to help you with the serious stuff where you may need some support.

The most important step when making applications is probably writing your personal statement. The way you present yourself can really make a difference, because if you do it right, you will get those who are considering your application to think “this is the kind of person I am looking for”.

Don’t panic: we know this stage can be stressful, but we’re here to suggest you how to write an appropriate personal statement. We can’t promise miracles, but follow these easy steps and your chances to succeed will improve!

  1. First of all, introduce yourself. Explain why you are interested in the course/internship/job you are applying to and yes, don’t be modest, tell why you think you are the right person to choose.
  2. Give an overview of your academic life and achievements.
  3. Talk about extracurricular activities that you have taken part into, for example charity work, competitions, sports, jobs etc. Concentrate on the reasons why these experiences have been significant for you, which skills you have developed, and why you think they could be relevant to what you are applying to. Remember every experience is valuable.
    (We would like to remind you that if you are aged 18 or under and have a passion for writing, you have time until May 1st to enter The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition. Your motivation to make your voice heard on such an important theme as peace will be much appreciated and stand out from the crowd!).
  4. Always be aware of your limitations. Concentrate on your strengths but don’t exaggerate them and don’t pretend to have some kind of exceptional ability you actually don’t, because sooner or later truth always comes out! Rather, focus on your motivation: this is what professors and professionals are really looking for in a candidate.
  5. Talk about your plans for the future, even if your ideas are not 100% clear yet. Determined people always make a better impression.
  6. Concerning the style, try to be creative and original: don’t just make lists that may be boring, and avoid complex sentences. Create engaging contents and remember to always maintain a formal approach.
  7. Don’t write it last minute: you want to be sure that what you have written is correct and appropriate.
  8. Let someone proofread your final statement: after writing and reading it for so long, you may not notice mistakes you may have made.

We wish you the best of luck with your applications, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with RCS Wales if you have any more questions! Contact us on this blog or try tweeting us at @walesrcs!

Top Tips to Help You Chill Out

TOP TIPS

A small amount of stress can be regarded as motivation which helps us get things done effectively. However, if we are under a high level of stress, there will be negative impacts on our physical and mental health. Therefore, learning how to deal with pressure is important. Different people chill out in different ways, so here as some different options!

  1. Watch funny videos

Laughter is a stress cure. When you are under too much pressure, just go to YouTube or other websites, find some funny things like prank videos or comedy sketches, watch them and laugh. You will feel much better!

  1. Talk to your friends

It is usually better to deal with problems together with your close friends than do it all alone. When you are struggling, why not talk to your friends about what is on your mind? They will show their love and support for sure.

  1. Work out

Exercise does help to release the negative energy inside your body. When you feel stressed, you can work out for an hour, jogging, strength training or anything else you like. You will feel more positive and healthy after getting sweaty.

  1. Eat something sweet

Sweet snacks such as chocolate contain compounds that can relax your mind and improve your mood. Have a piece of cake or a chocolate bar when you are under stress. Remember to treat yourself for working hard!

  1. Pet an animal

Having a little bit ‘animal therapy’ will help you lower your blood pressure and ease anxiety. Animals offer us comfort without needing to speak about our problems, which is perfect if you don’t feel like sharing.

  1. Breathe deeply

Breathe in and breathe out. Deep breathing will soothe your body and mind. Breathe in, hold in for several seconds and exhale slowly. Repeat several times. And then enjoy the calm it brings!

  1. Take a bath.

Take a dip in warm water to relax your muscles and your mind. A daily good soak will relieve a lot of stress! Unleash your rubber duck as well. This ‘bath buddy’ will make you smile!

  1. Have a good cry

Bottling up your feelings is totally a bad idea which sometimes may cause severe problems and lead you to the wrong path. Don’t feel embarrassed to let your emotions out. You have the right to be sentimental sometimes. Just have a good cry, you will be surprised by the relief it brings!