Yesterday I was commiserating with a professor about how many people write their essays the day before (as opposed to me, who took six weeks to write my college application essays), and she said something that blew my mind: “So many people don’t understand that revision is to re-see the work. You have to forget what your purpose was and reread it to see what you are actually saying.”
This, of course, is rather obvious. The second definition of “revise” in the OED is “to see or look at again.” For the Brits, who use “revise” as “to study,” it is also a close synonym with “to review,” which is of course to re-view. But as the professor went on to say, most of us think of revising as changing a word here or a comma there. Many people consider “revising” their essays to be rereading it once or twice to make sure everything makes grammatical sense.