Spellcheck Plus provides decent online spell checker and grammar analysis service. It advertises itself as a tool for people speak English as a second language. I checked it with a real PhD program SOP, and was happy to see that it does many things well. Compared to other online spelling and grammar services, Spellcheck Plus seems to use a different analysis method, not based on the same system. There are several free spellcheck and grammar tools as well. They match Spellcheck Plus on the level of feedback for the free service, but not Spellcheck Plus’s “Pro” service (paid).
What it does:
Applicants paste statement of purpose drafts into the text box and run the checker. Spellcheck Plus presents color coded results for items to look at closer, and items that need modification. When you hold your mouse over each suggestion, the new changes appear and you can accept or ignore each one (much like a spell check in Microsoft Word). Our test with an actual admissions essay show results that seem reasonable.
Spellcheck Plus drawbacks:
- The feedback text tells the user what changes to make, but doesn’t really explain why very well. It won’t help improve your writing without explanations about why it suggests changes. It seems risky to accept each recommendation without understanding the logic behind the suggestion. Indeed, accepting all changes could harm an essay.
- The other drawback is that Spellcheck Plus is free for use to analyze only up to about 250 words (2000 characters). This won’t be enough to analyze a 1-2 page grad school essay or SOP in one submission. Paying about $15 to upgrade to their “Pro” version will remove the length limit and provides additional functionality that actually could help improve your understanding and use of proper grammar.
The free version of Spellcheck Plus can help alert you that something might need looked at more closely in your SOPs or essays. It looks effective, and the small investment for an upgrade might be an effective solution that helps you actually improve your writing. Be sure you are careful to review and decide to accept changes to your essays that make it stronger and that you understand. You should never automatically accept suggestions from mechanical, automated systems. This site can compliment, but not replace, editing by a real person.