A student walks into the writing center for an appointment. They hand you a paper that seems to be nearly flawless. Where do you go from there? I’ve had this experience before. At first, I wasn’t quite sure how to help them, but then I remembered a strategy that I had recently learned. It’s called Revision RADaR. It’s a strategy used to revise writing for effectiveness. Let’s face it, no matter how good a paper seems at first, there can be little teeny tiny things that can probably be improved. RADaR helps guide you to isolate sentences and find these teeny tiny things and examine if they are effective in the terms of your prompt. What’s with the name you ask? Well, RADaR consists of four steps;

  • Replace
    • Words that are not specific, overused, and sentences that are unclear
  • Add
    • New information if necessary
    • Descriptive adjectives adverbs
    • Rhetorical or Literary devices
  • Delete
    • Unrelated ideas
    • Words that explain the obvious, provide excessive detail, are repetitive, and redundant
    • Unnecessary determiners or modifiers
    • Unnecessary details
  • Reorder
    • To make better sense
    • To flow better
    • So details support main ideas

Each of these steps can be taken separately and applied at the sentence level. So let’s say a student walks in and hands you a draft that looks pretty solid, here is a way that you could possibly go about introducing them to this strategy.

Tutor: This seems like a pretty solid draft, but let’s take a closer look at some of your sentences and see if they can be improved in any way.

Tutee: Ok, how are we going to do that?

Tutor: We can use this strategy I know called Revision RADaR. Here’s a little chart that we can use to guide us in what to look for when making sure a sentence is as effective as it can be.

(Hand the tutee a print out of the chart below for both of you to look at and check off topics covered as you go)

Tutee: Ok, cool. Can we start with my topic sentence?

And the conversation would continue with the tutor and tutee picking out sentences and using the RADaR chart to analyze them.

This is an extremely effective strategy when trying to improve a draft that seems to be solid, lengthy, or not concise. Also, it’s a great strategy because I feel like everyone does these types of revisions, but sometimes you can forget to check for certain things just because you don’t have an organized way of revising. The Revision RADaR chart organizes it all for you! Another bonus is that the student can take the handout with them and use it when looking over other drafts that they have written.