A simple yet effective guide to writing the perfect assignment
Writing assignments can be daunting; feeling under pressure, and unsure of if we’ll ever be prepared enough to tackle the question effectively. Remember it does not have to be like this; the most important thing is to start – and start early.
Starting your assignment in good time will allow you to keep looming deadline pressures down. This should help with maintaining a better relaxed head space; which will increase your ability to focus.
Keep reading for our insightful guide to writing assignments; perfect for all levels.
1. Reading the Question
This may seem like an obvious step, but it is one that is often overlooked. Many of us do not take the time to carefully read the assignment question, and instead skim read. This can be risky as although you may have identified some of the key words you think are important, you need to fully understand what is being asked and what answer the examiner is looking for.
It is easy to get carried away and delve into writing your assignment without really answering the question. A good way to avoid this is to take some time to consider the key words within the question and what they are prompting you to do. Understanding ‘Directive words’ such as evaluate, discuss, and explain, are vital in writing your assignment, as they provide instruction on how you are supposed to answer the question. It is a good idea to highlight or underline these words within the question, to help you keep them in mind as you progress through your assignment.
Sometimes the question can be written in a manner that makes it appear more intimidating than it is. Once you have read (and reread) the question, you may find that what is being asked is actually quite straight forward. You may also benefit from rewriting it in a way that you are able to process the instructions better.
2. Research & Planning
Carefully researching and planning your assignment will give you a structure to follow when it comes to writing it. Research and planning will allow you to be better prepared and could make the difference between a mediocre piece of work and an exceptional one.
This is your chance to consider any specifications for the assignment such as word count, the points you would like to include, and how it needs to be set out.
When planning the points for your assignment it is important to understand what you are working towards. You should refer to the learning outcomes and assessment criteria for the assignment to help you with this. You can find these on the assignment brief as well as within the syllabus, in your Study Guide or in the Qualification Specification document for your course.
As well as researching the topic, it is also a good idea to find good source materials to include in your assignments beforehand. Use the unit reading list and Emerald Business Journals to help showcase your wider reading and gain different perspectives to support your answer.
Before you start, it can help to create an assignment structure. This can be as detailed as you like but the basic structure should be your introduction, key arguments and points, and your planned conclusion.
This refers to a short paragraph that explains what you are going to be discussing. It should outline your argument and reference the key issues within the question.
This is where you should focus on structuring your argument. You may need to compare or critically evaluate two or more different methods or theories to explain your choices or recommendations. Examiners are looking to see if you can analyse information and make decisions accordingly. You should make sure that your ideas and claims are supported with research when required.
- When you start to discuss a new idea, you should start another paragraph
- When using a lot of different sources for supporting evidence, it can be easy to forget to add them to your reference list. To avoid this, try referencing as you go along
The conclusion is your final chance to summarise what you have discussed. You should be careful not to introduce new points that you did not mention within your assignment. A good conclusion will leave a lasting impression on the examiner, so make it count.
- Recap on the key points in your assignment, include supporting evidence if needed.
Ask your teacher for feedback by submitting a first draft of your assignment a few weeks before the final hand in date. This will help you improve your assignment before submitting your final version.
- Make sure it is your own work; although you teacher can give you some advice on how to improve your work, you must write the assignment yourself
5. Proof Read
Editing and proofreading can help you to improve your assignment even after you’ve finished writing it. Before doing this, it is important to get some distance from your work. Taking a short break, will help you to come back and check it over with fresh eyes.
When proof reading, as well as grammatical; and spelling errors; you should be checking that the structure of your assignment is clear, and that you have properly addressed all of the question.
- It can often be difficult to see mistakes in your own work, if possible ask a friend or family member to proofread your assignment for you
- Refer back to the assignment objectives; have you answered the question?
- Make sure that your assignment reads well, and you are within the word count
6. Plagiarism & Referencing
Not taking the time out to reference properly is the biggest way to lose marks on an assignment. When using books, cases and journals you must reference to show where you got your information from.
When writing ABE assignments, you should use Harvard Referencing to correctly cite information sources and include a bibliography at the end. Citations should be listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. If there are multiple sources by the same author, then citations are listed in order by the date of publication.
Using your own words, and correctly citing information sources mentioned within your assignment will help you ensure you have not committed plagiarism.
- Use anti plagiarism software such as Quetext to check your work before submission, to pick up any risk of plagiarism. Your examiner will also be checking for plagiarism when marking; remember it’s not worth the risk – your assignment could be rejected if you get caught
Writing assignments is something most of us cannot avoid; following these steps should make the process a lot easier. Remember to prepare, ask for help and always do your best.
We wish you every success. Do share any top tips of your own.