Not written an assignment in a long time? Daunted by the task at hand, unsure you can stretch your answer to 1,500 words or more?
Whether you are new to writing assignments or coming back to learning after a break, this simple but effective assignment writing guide is jam-packed full of fantastic information and advice.<
#1 Read the Question Carefully
First up is an obvious step, but one many students leave out. You need to always read the question carefully.
We often skim read the question, picking out keywords that we think are important. A word jumps out at you, and off you go, scribbling down 1,000 words in answer.
But are you really answering the question? In any question, there are keywords that are directing you to the information it wants to elicit from you.
For example, it may ask you to ‘discuss the use of split infinitives in popular writing’ or ‘explain the growing use of text speak in every day English’.
- Highlight or underline what the question is asking you to do – g. discuss, explain, examine,
- Refer to the question after each main point or paragraph – is it relevant to the question, or are you simply ‘filling in’ with concepts or ideas you do know?
- Rewrite the question so that you fully understand what information you need to answer it effectively.
It is rare for even for seasoned academic to plunge into writing an essay of any length, either 1,000 words or a 10,000 words dissertation, without outlining a response.
Outlining and planning your assignment will make the difference between a mediocre grade and a fantastic one, a boost to your confidence when it comes to your studies.
There are several things you need to do. As well as planning your assignment content, you also need to look at:
- Assignment criteria – how long does the assignment need to be? What other aspects is it asking for, if any e.g. a labelled diagram?
- What points do you want to include? What kinds of paragraphs will you write to illustrate these points?
- Setting it out – how does your tutor want the assignment set out? Should you include your name, student number, page numbers, double-line spacing and so on?
There are three main parts to your assignment: the start, the middle and the end.
This is a small paragraph that sets out what you are going to talk about in response to the question asked. It introduces the reader to the aim and purpose of your assignment, along with the basic concepts you will address.
The main body
This is where you will discuss these concepts in turn. The basic guidelines are:
- One idea per paragraph – when you start to discuss a new idea, start a new paragraph
- Always refer to the question to keep the main body of your assignment on track
This is your closing paragraph. It is a summary of what you have discussed. The ‘golden rule’ simple: don’t introduce new topics or ideas in your conclusion that you haven’t discussed in your main essay.
Academic assignments are not usually written in the first person. So don’t write ‘I found out through researching the topic’, instead write something along these lines, ‘Research shows that…’
When you write an assignment, you will use the concepts and ideas of other writers and academics. This is exactly what your tutor wants to see – you have researched the topic, used their ideas and applied them.
When you do this, you need to reference and cite their work. This is like giving your tutor and address or a signpost as to where you got the information and where they can find it.
Different learning providers will use different systems, so check carefully how they want references to be cited. In most cases, as well as giving an indication in the main body of the assignment, you will also need to create a bibliography of books and websites you have used, listing them in alphabetical order.
Check how to reference correctly, depending on the system the learning provider uses.
Practice Makes Perfect
For some people, writing is a tough assignment, but there is support, help and advice available. If you are unused to writing, why not take a look at creative writing courses such as these to give you the writing practice that you need.
Don’t forget to ask your tutor for help too. And when you get your marked assignment back, follow their suggestions for improvement too.