SAT* Workshop and Teenage Proofreaders

I’ve been putting together a worktext to go with the three-hour audio workshop I recorded in April, and all the pieces are finally coming together. The thing that has taken the longest is getting the live audio mastered into the proper format, but it’s happening today, and I believe I’ll have it duplicated and ready to go for the HEAV convention, which is less than two weeks away!

One thing I discovered- or actually re-discovered– I realize it every time I write a book or article- is that it’s nearly impossible to proofread my own work. Because I know the material so well, I tend to read what I think I wrote. Someone with a fresh eye can catch small typos and transpositions that I’ve overlooked, just as I can catch the errors in other people’s writing.

My first choice for front-line proofreading is always one of my own boys. If you write anything at all, I suggest that you ask one of your students to proofread it for you. They may or may not be naturally gifted in English, but it’s amazing how much they can catch. I am always touched by the amount of care and thought they put into the process. Even if the subject isn’t intrinsically interesting (66 pages of test prep tips, techniques, and strategies for the SAT isn’t exactly Lord of the Rings!) they know it’s important to me, and they invest the time to do their best.

Of course, as always, there’s a method in my madness. If it’s hard for me to catch typos in my writing, despite decades of experience, how much harder must it be for a teenager to catch the errors in his own writing? Therefore, because they need to learn to be good writing evaluators, it makes sense to let them practice on my work.

One of the benefits of letting a teenager proof my writing is that they sometimes discover phrases or concepts that may not be entirely clear to a younger person. This is especially important when I’m writing something such as the SAT-prep worktext that is meant for teens. Usually an extra word or two, or the addition of an explanatory phrase, will clarify the sentence, but sometimes, I find that I’ve wandered into a thicket of obfuscation, and just need to back out and take a clearer path.

The lesson my boys take away from this exercise is simply that writing is never perfect the first time through– even when a “writer” is doing it, and that it’s both normal and necessary to go back through and improve the first draft. We have never played “gotcha” with writing evaluations- we know that mistakes and typographical errors happen, and that fixing them is part of the writing process.

I highly recommend that you try letting your teenager proofread for you. It can be helpful to both of you, and working together is one of the greatest pleasures of being part of a family.


Conquer the Test! Tips, Techniques, and Strategies for Getting the SAT* Score You Need will be available on my website at within the next three weeks (I’m not sure if I can get it up before the convention, but it will definitely be up soon.)

Do you get the Circe Institute newsletter from Andrew Kern? He had an excellent guest article on “The Picture of Dorian Gray” or “The Picture of Oscar Wilde”? in the current issue. I recommend that you check it out!

Finally, I’m working my little booklet, Evaluating Writing: The Easy Way. Do you have any questions on writing evaluation that you’d like to have answered? If so, please ask them in a comment or via e-mail, and I’ll try to make sure they are covered. My goal for this little volume is to have something basic, approachable, and not overwhelming for parents to use- maybe even by the convention!

*SAT is a registered trademark of the College Entrance Examination Board, which has not endorsed this publication.

4 Responses

  1. Kimmie says:

    Hi Janice;

    Is there an editor that you’d recommend? Or an agent for your publishing? My daughter is nearly ready to send our her book…it is a fantasy book.(my daughter is a Christian and though God isn’t mentioned, the book has a strong undercurrent of Good vs. evil)
    Wondering if you have someone you could recommend.

    mama to 6
    one homemade and 5 adopted

  2. Carol Topp says:

    I used three editors for my book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out. Two were homeschooling mothers and I think they were too polite to be properly critical. The other editor was my 17 yo dd. She was brutal! Lots of red ink all over the pages, even AFTER the other two editors! She remembers all the grammar rules much better than I do, because she has learned and been tested on them more recently than me. She also really enjoyed critiquing my work for a change!

  3. Ed Nelson says:

    I apologise here for my ignorance and the liklihood that I’m stumbling into something where I have absolutely no place. I feel required, however, to put down somewhere a reaction to “A Circle of Quiet.” The title itself is truly inspired. And the content was lovely. I must say how deeply I admire the unknown author. I offer my thanks for the chance to read/see it.

    –Ed Nelson

  1. June 3, 2008

    […] Campbell presents SAT* Workshop and Teenage Proofreaders posted at Janice Campbell: Taking Time For Things That […]

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