Edit my essay free, edit my essay for free online, edit my paper free… No, this is not a mantra some students would repeat for heaven to give them what they need. These are actual search terms students type in about 1k times each month.
Of course, I am fully aware of the modest student budget, but knowing how much time, knowledge and effort it takes to edit an academic paper, I could only view free essay editing as a creative way to introduce students to the paid services.
Still, as a person fascinated with technology and technology essay topics, I truly wanted to believe there is a clever new bot competing with me in my trade. And yes, I would love one, for we could effectively cooperate to speed up my work.
Thus, I’ve decided to run my own research and answer this popular question I’ve been asked several times on Quora, “Is there a website where I get my essay edited for free?”
To understand whether a free paper editor can exist, it is important to know what it actually takes to edit an essay or a manuscript. Normally, editing includes:
While software can cope with improving grammar and style (possibly pointing to some contractions and slang words), it is unlikely that it will analyze the meaningful content of an essay, the logical connection between the statement and the supporting points, the strength of a thesis statement, etc.
Once quality editing can be performed only by a human, is it possible to get your paper edited by a trained professional for free? In fact, there are some cases when it’s possible. You can get free editing:
In other cases… no, you can’t. Time is a precious resource and there are many volunteering opportunities that are more rewarding than editing students’ papers for free.
Still, let us find out more about what can be expected from the automatic writing checkers that, unlike professional editors, can actually afford to provide services for free.
One of the websites providing a free paper grader just for the sake of warning against them (and offering affiliate links for professional editing services instead) makes a scary assumption that the papers submitted for grading are saved to the database and then sold to students. This way, instead of getting the promised help, you become a victim, as if the student who has bought your paper submits it before you do, you will be accused of plagiarism.
Well, I think everything is not so dramatic.
Otherwise, the Internet would have been flooded by messages of desperate students who found themselves in such a situation.
But it isn’t.
In fact, I have found just one piece of news telling that a group of students accidentally found their essay being sold online. Being knowledgeable in internet marketing, I think that free online writing checking tools have a different mission to accomplish and do not actually steal your papers even if they fail to provide any editing help.
To assess the value of free writing checkers, I have run a little experiment.
Instead of copy-pasting my own essay into the available tools, I pasted an article by Radley Balko “What You Eat is Your Business” (the one I have cited in the post teaching students to paraphrase, summarize and quote quality sources). This is one of the model essays presented in an excellent book teaching academic writing skills – “They say / I say”: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing (edition of 2015).
Will the free writing graders recognize such bold plagiarism? Will they have many improvements to recommend? Will they try to sell any services?
I already have the answer to these questions. Keep reading and you will have them too
Disclaimer: I have not partnered with any of the tools and remain fully unbiased in my review. Actually, you can easily copy-paste the same article to get the same results.
PaperRater showed the analyzed paper is plagiarized and gave it a B grade. Unlike other free online editors, Paper Rater asks you to indicate your educational level and the type of the paper, which is a good sign.
The tool suggests there are no grammar mistakes. However, it turns out that 66% of graduate students have a better style than Radly Balko and he has to do a better job with transitional phrases.
It should be noted that assigning a grade, PaperRater gives a clear disclaimer:
“this grade takes into account spelling, grammar, word choice, style, vocabulary, and more; but it does NOT examine the meaning of your words, how your ideas are structured, or how well your arguments are supported. We should also mention that our automated grader doesn’t always get things right. So, please consider this grade to be one facet of your paper’s overall grade”
Having this explanation in mind, let us ask ourselves:
Is the tool decent? Yes, it actually does what it says.
Is it helpful? No, not really.
Another tool Google returned to my query “edit my paper free” is EasyBib. It promises to check for accidental plagiarism and to give suggestions on grammar and writing style.
Upon the check, it turned out that the plagiarism check is not included in the free offer – you can subscribe to a paid plan and get it free for the first three days only. Out of 23 grammar issues the tool has found, only 5 were accessible. Again, you need to subscribe to a paid plan to see all the suggestions.
Some grammar and style suggestions were wrong (e.g. to add a comma after “News” in “ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, who last December anchored…”) but some were really helpful. For example, the tool has managed to pick up Balko’s incomplete sentence, “In other words, bringing government between you and your waistline” and to suggest cutting clutter in phrases like “our own” = “our” and “a sense of responsibility” = “responsibility”.
Concluding ideas? EasyBib is a helpful, yet not free, tool for proofreading. Just like other free paper editing tools, it cannot help you in terms of the structure or the meaning of your essay.
The resource uses the tool After the Deadline and promises to give general feedback on the writing and suggestions on how to improve spelling, grammar, and style.
In fact, the tool did not provide any feedback and the provided suggestions are questionable or even wrong. Here are a few examples:
Another free online editor, GrammarCheck, highlights the same mistakes and gives the same suggestions, so the critique and conclusion applies to both: better avoid the services not to introduce more mistakes into your paper.
The “Free Online Essay Grader” from Analyze Academic Help actually startled me. It is the only tool that promises to go beyond grammar and style suggestions. In fact, it doesn’t give suggestions. Still, it concludes that an essay by Radley Balko lacks in some crucial areas, critical thinking and reflection in particular.
Needless to say, the analysis is followed by the invitation to place an order and let an expert improve the paper.
Another free writing checker that has been unfairly harsh with poor Balko is Robot Don that rated the paper ‘F’ (Total Essay Score) with individual F scores for grammar, readability and redundant words. It should be noted that most grammar mistakes consisted in not adding a space between sentences – an issue that appeared only when the paper was pasted into the tool. The long sentences, too, were several sentences counted as one.
The disadvantage is that when you actually correct an issue splitting the sentence you cannot see the score change – you need to recheck the text. And… another surprise here – any further checks require subscribing to a paid plan.
Another option is to click an appealing “Edit Essay by Expert” button and not look into recommendations at all.
Typely gives a Randly’s paper a high score and highlights only three long sentences to revise. In two instances, however, the online editor did not get it right (it did not take closing quotation marks, which go after a full stop, as the end of the sentence).
Another tool you can use for free essay editing is Slick Write. This tool focuses on prepositional phrases and adjectives – Randly has too many of these, which Slick Write suggests to correct. Long sentences, which are truly present in an article, and an incomplete one are not marked.
There is a statistics on the number of words, paragraphs and long sentences, but it is not clear how one should act upon the statistics to improve one’s writing.
Grammarly has a dedicated editor where you can copy-paste your essay to get grammar and style suggestions. It is also a popular browser extension that can suggest corrections as you write in your Google Docs, email services and social media. It gave the grade 77 to Radly’s writing and is most dissatisfied with the author’s use of tautological expressions, e.g. “our own” instead of “our”.
Amazingly, this emphasis, “own”, is used six times in the Radley’s article – a good remark someone writing a rhetorical analysis of this paper can make.
The tool’s interface is light and user-friendly. You can consider possible issues one by one and choose whether to accept the suggested change or not.
To check for plagiarism, you will have to go to another Grammarly link. However, staying on the free plan, you will only get the yes or no answer (e.g. no plagiarism found, some plagiarism found, significant plagiarism found). This won’t help if you need to correct some accidental plagiarism in your paper.
ProWritingAid is another free paper editing app, which is also a browser extension correcting all of your writing online. ProWritingAid has so much in it! You actually look at your text from the different angles: core issues (style and grammar issues, overused phrases, thesaurus alternatives, etc.), repeats (words and phrases), structure (sentence structure and length, usage of transitions), readability (sticky phrases, cliches, diction, alliteration), consistency (e.g. spelling, hyphens and acronyms consistency). Plagiarism check is also available, but it’s a paid option.
My concern, again, is that students may be too eager to accept the recommendations adding tiny bits here and there and finally losing the sight of a larger picture. Structure recommendation relate only to the sentences structure, not the structure of an essay. Thus, I wouldn’t be too confident that my essay is great even if I actually revise it following all the recommendations.
Another free writing checker with a straightforward title – Proofreading Tool – is actually free only for the 7 days of trial. It offers a great user experience as you can read your essay as it goes or view all the found issues one category after another. Next to your text, you can see some editing tips. The Proofreading Tool does not give suggestions as Grammarly or ProWritingAid, but it gives nice examples with clues about what can be wrong.
The online editor highlights all the repetitions, which is also good for academic writing (even though repetitions do help Radly to sound more persuasive). Still, in some cases, the tool doesn’t get everything right. For example,
Hemingway is a popular app and I myself often use it when writing content to achieve a better flow. In Hemingway, Randly’s essay looks like an epic fail. The tool says it is a very “poor” writing with most of the sentences being difficult or very difficult to read.
Let us not forget that it’s a college-level persuasive writing, not a blog post. Unfortunately, an online editor does not presuppose any style or educational level settings.
What I like about Hemingway is that you can edit in the real time and see the frightening pink or yellow disappear. And it’s free forever.
A distinctive feature of Scribens is its vocabulary enhancement feature. While it can definitely help you add more sophisticated words to your essay, it will unlikely make the ideas you communicate more sophisticated too. Also, alternatives should be chosen with caution, as not all variants fit in. For example, in the phrase “to reward healthy lifestyles, and penalize poor ones”, Radly’s variant seems better than any other from the list of suggestions: unfortunate, miserable, wretched, defective, imperfect, inferior, mediocre, terrible… and much more.
Let me draw the conclusion answering the some key questions.
No, there isn’t.
There are some great free writing checkers, but
If you have serious issues in your essay, cutting a few redundant phrases or splitting a long sentence won’t help you get a good grade.
And still, …
Yes, I definitely would.
Even when free online editors give wrong suggestions, it is still a great grammar practice to look into each case, to analyse the recommendations, to look up additional resources when necessary.
It is not a new idea that we get used to our text and become blind to inconsistencies and mistakes. When we paste the text in a new medium and an online editor highlights certain issues, we look at our own writing in a new way and spot mistakes we failed to recognize before.
No, not yet.
First, no app can analyse the message of the writing, which remains the sole prerogative of a professional editor.
Using an online checker can help you proofread your paper on your own, but this requires your time and effort. Making a proofreading order, you get a ready to submit paper.
I also assume that free essay editors can only work well for native speakers. English language learners who make many grammar mistakes will unlikely be able to effectively correct them with the help of free editing tools.
What is your experience with free online paper editors? Please share in the comments!