When you start university, the assignments you’re asked to do can be a bit confusing. Where do you start? How do you write a good assignment? University work is much more exacting than anything you’ve done before, and just thinking about it can make you panic. While we can’t give you the magic formula to writing a great assignment, there are some logical steps to follow. The key is to plan, organise and check your work; use the following guide to help you. And don’t leave it to the last minute to begin your assignment!
1. Plan your assignment writing
Failing to plan means you end up with a disorganised paper that lacks clarity and fails to answer the question properly. Before you even start to write your paper, sit down and think about what’s being asked. Jot down notes, make a plan for what you need to do, and be sure you understand what the question is asking and what your tutor wants.
2. Understanding your topic (Topic Analysis)
Many a student trips up by not actually understanding the question, so devote some time to thinking carefully what you’re being asked to do. If you really can’t understand what it’s saying, don’t be afraid to ask. Your tutor will prefer being asked for clarification to being handed a bad assignment.
3. Find information
You’ll probably be given a list of key books, but also do your own reading. Look for sources that other people may not spot to give you an advantage. Use books and journals, but be cautious of using websites, which may not be reliable (though you can read any sources cited and check them for reliability). Ask yourself if what you find is relevant and reliable before you use it in your paper.
4. Assignment Writing Process
You won’t be able to write a good assignment first time round. Start by drafting an outline. Most papers should follow the usual structure of introduction + discussion + conclusion. The bulk of the paper should be in the discussion; keep your introduction and conclusion brief. Then write your first draft, leave it, then go back and read through it. You should see where your assignment can be improved, and if any vital information is missing. Add your bibliography if you haven’t already done so.
5. Edit and Proofread
This is a very important step that should never be neglected (make sure you start your assignment early enough so that you have time to check it through). First check that you have answered the question and that your argument is presented logically. Does the assignment read well? Have you cited your sources? Then examine the paper for errors. Read through it carefully and don’t rely on spell check.
6. Formatting and presenting your assignments
Check your university guidelines regarding formatting. It’s important to be consistent and check that you’ve used the same formatting where necessary, for example that section titles are in the same size font and that spacing is the same throughout. Don’t forget to read through your footnotes and include a title page.