You're probably used to having your writing evaluated by teachers. The odd abbreviations ("AGR," "REF," "AWK!"), the comments in the margins, the grade at the end of the paper--these are all methods used by instructors to identify what they see as the strengths and weaknesses of your work. Such evaluations can be helpful, but they're no substitute for a thoughtful self-evaluation.
As the writer, you can evaluate the whole process of composing a paper, from coming up with a topic to editing the final draft. Your instructor, on the other hand, often can evaluate only the final product.
A good self-evaluation is neither a defense nor an apology. Rather, it's a way of becoming more aware of what you go through when you write and of what troubles (if any) that you regularly run into. Writing a brief self-evaluation each time you have completed a writing project should make you more aware of your strengths as a writer and help you see more clearly what skills you need to work on.
Finally, if you decide to share your self-evaluations with a writing instructor or tutor, your comments can guide your teachers as well. By seeing where you are having problems, they may be able to offer more helpful advice when they come to evaluate your work.
So after you finish your next composition, try writing a concise self-evaluation. The following four questions should help to get you started, but feel free to add comments not covered by these questions.
- What part of writing this paper took the most time?
Perhaps you had trouble finding a topic or expressing a particular idea. Maybe you agonized over a single word or phrase. Be specific when you answer this question.
- What is the most significant difference between your first draft and this final version?
Explain if you changed your approach to the subject, if you reorganized the paper in any significant way, or if you added or deleted any important details.
- What do you think is the best part of your paper?
Explain why a particular sentence, paragraph, or idea pleases you.
- What part of this paper could still be improved?
Again, be specific. There may be a troublesome sentence in the paper or an idea that isn't expressed as clearly as you would like it to be.