Five Top Tips to Survive Writing Your Assignments

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Feeling stuck or unsure with your assignments? Assignments can be stressful and challenging at times, especially during the COVID-19 situation, but here are some hints to help you survive throughout the process. Read the five top tips below.

Tip #1: Give yourself TIME

A good, well-thought out assignment needs a lot of thought and planning to craft it. Therefore, start your assignment as soon as possible– doing this will give you the maximum amount of time to: Plan, Research, Write and Review.

Remember that any problems you have with your assignment won’t disappear the longer you leave it, but probably get worse. Give yourself the time to overcome them by starting early.


Tip #2: THINK and PLAN out

Read all assessment criteria related to the question! These will usually give you an insight into how your teacher will mark. Also remember to:

  • Listen in class to your teacher and record any clues.
  • READ your assignment question several times.
  • Underline keywords and circle task-words in your question. Work out what the task is.

Importantly, you MUST understand the question before beginning your assignment. Not understanding may result in your answering the question incorrectly and a loss of marks. If in doubt, ask your teacher. More tips include:

  • BRAINSTORM your assignment: write out all the points you can think of relating to the question. You might decide to start researching at this point and add this information to the brainstorm.
  • PLAN your assignment: write an outline section by section and paragraph by paragraph. Think about assignment structure – if an essay, you will need to have (minimum) an Introduction, Body, Conclusion and References. If a different format, you will need to research the structure. Follow the purpose of each section exactly– the Introduction introduces the topic/argument, the Body has your detailed argument, the Conclusion sums up everything.
  • Make sure your argument’s paragraphs are in a logical order. Does your argument make sense?
  • If you need further assistance, please see our Academic English Support page for further resources.

Once you’ve planned your assignment’s outline, if you haven’t already, start researching.


Tip #3: Use RESEARCH to support

Always use academics research to SUPPORT your arguments! Remember to:

  • REFERENCE all research sources used in your assignment (in-text citation and a References list). Be consistent – reference as you use each source.
  • Information can be FOUND via Library databases which provides access to high-quality journal articles, books, newspapers and more! This is your best research choice!
  • When searching, use your question’s keywords as your SEARCH TERMS.
  • Use Boolean search methods to get the exact information you are looking for ONLINE: AND- results in articles with only both search terms, OR- includes any article with either search term, and NOT- excludes unwanted term.
  • Use our Research Assistance tools.

Now that you have your assignment outline and research, it’s time to put all your arguments together and write it!


Tip #4: Outline and start to WRITE

In order to write, refer to the points below:

  • Follow your outline exactly and write out your assignment, starting with the Body and References.
  • Use appropriate language, as used in text-books and journals. No swearing, and try not to refer to yourself in the ‘first person’ (that is, try not to use you, me, I, etc.).
  • Make sure your argument/language is concise – do not use irrelevant nor repetitive information, nor be too ‘wordy’ (excessive wording).
  • Make sure your assignment is easy to read: think about headings, font, etc.

Once you’ve finished writing, review your work.


Tip #5: REVIEW and check your work

To efficiently review and check your assignment, read through your assignment and edit (correct all mistakes) using this checklist:

  • Check that you have answered the question! Is all your information relevant? Does your work meet ALL criteria, e.g. references, structure, etc.?
  • Use a word count to see if you have written the right amount (10% above or below the word limit is usually okay): If too many words, edit any repetitious or too ‘wordy’ sections OR if too few, check that you have answered the question with enough depth: you might need to do more brainstorming and research.
  • For best results, complete your work five days before the due date. Do not read it for two days. On day 3, print out your assignment, sit down with a pen and read slowly through it, marking out all errors. Reading through your assignment with ‘fresh eyes’ will help you see numerous mistakes you didn’t realise were there.
  • Print out your assignment and attach a cover sheet. Do a final check of what you are about to hand in to your teacher. Is everything there? Are you happy with it? If you’re happy, you’re ready to hand it in!.
  • Lastly, keep a copy of your assignment, just in case.

...And you're done!


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