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5 tips on writing better university assignments

how to write a good university assignment

Lecturer in Student Learning and Communication Development, University of Sydney

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Alexandra Garcia does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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University life comes with its share of challenges. One of these is writing longer assignments that require higher information, communication and critical thinking skills than what you might have been used to in high school. Here are five tips to help you get ahead.

1. Use all available sources of information

Beyond instructions and deadlines, lecturers make available an increasing number of resources. But students often overlook these.

For example, to understand how your assignment will be graded, you can examine the rubric . This is a chart indicating what you need to do to obtain a high distinction, a credit or a pass, as well as the course objectives – also known as “learning outcomes”.

Other resources include lecture recordings, reading lists, sample assignments and discussion boards. All this information is usually put together in an online platform called a learning management system (LMS). Examples include Blackboard , Moodle , Canvas and iLearn . Research shows students who use their LMS more frequently tend to obtain higher final grades.

If after scrolling through your LMS you still have questions about your assignment, you can check your lecturer’s consultation hours.

2. Take referencing seriously

Plagiarism – using somebody else’s words or ideas without attribution – is a serious offence at university. It is a form of cheating.

Hands on a keyboard using the Ctrl C copy function

In many cases, though, students are unaware they have cheated. They are simply not familiar with referencing styles – such as APA , Harvard , Vancouver , Chicago , etc – or lack the skills to put the information from their sources into their own words.

To avoid making this mistake, you may approach your university’s library, which is likely to offer face-to-face workshops or online resources on referencing. Academic support units may also help with paraphrasing.

You can also use referencing management software, such as EndNote or Mendeley . You can then store your sources, retrieve citations and create reference lists with only a few clicks. For undergraduate students, Zotero has been recommended as it seems to be more user-friendly.

Using this kind of software will certainly save you time searching for and formatting references. However, you still need to become familiar with the citation style in your discipline and revise the formatting accordingly.

3. Plan before you write

If you were to build a house, you wouldn’t start by laying bricks at random. You’d start with a blueprint. Likewise, writing an academic paper requires careful planning: you need to decide the number of sections, their organisation, and the information and sources you will include in each.

Research shows students who prepare detailed outlines produce higher-quality texts. Planning will not only help you get better grades, but will also reduce the time you spend staring blankly at the screen thinking about what to write next.

Young woman sitting at desk with laptop and checking notes for assignment

During the planning stage, using programs like OneNote from Microsoft Office or Outline for Mac can make the task easier as they allow you to organise information in tabs. These bits of information can be easily rearranged for later drafting. Navigating through the tabs is also easier than scrolling through a long Word file.

4. Choose the right words

Which of these sentences is more appropriate for an assignment?

a. “This paper talks about why the planet is getting hotter”, or b. “This paper examines the causes of climate change”.

The written language used at university is more formal and technical than the language you normally use in social media or while chatting with your friends. Academic words tend to be longer and their meaning is also more precise. “Climate change” implies more than just the planet “getting hotter”.

To find the right words, you can use SkELL , which shows you the words that appear more frequently, with your search entry categorised grammatically. For example, if you enter “paper”, it will tell you it is often the subject of verbs such as “present”, “describe”, “examine” and “discuss”.

Another option is the Writefull app, which does a similar job without having to use an online browser.

5. Edit and proofread

If you’re typing the last paragraph of the assignment ten minutes before the deadline, you will be missing a very important step in the writing process: editing and proofreading your text. A 2018 study found a group of university students did significantly better in a test after incorporating the process of planning, drafting and editing in their writing.

Hand holding red pen to edit paper.

You probably already know to check the spelling of a word if it appears underlined in red. You may even use a grammar checker such as Grammarly . However, no software to date can detect every error and it is not uncommon to be given inaccurate suggestions.

So, in addition to your choice of proofreader, you need to improve and expand your grammar knowledge. Check with the academic support services at your university if they offer any relevant courses.

Written communication is a skill that requires effort and dedication. That’s why universities are investing in support services – face-to-face workshops, individual consultations, and online courses – to help students in this process. You can also take advantage of a wide range of web-based resources such as spell checkers, vocabulary tools and referencing software – many of them free.

Improving your written communication will help you succeed at university and beyond.

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How to Write an Effective Assignment

At their base, all assignment prompts function a bit like a magnifying glass—they allow a student to isolate, focus on, inspect, and interact with some portion of your course material through a fixed lens of your choosing.

how to write a good university assignment

The Key Components of an Effective Assignment Prompt

All assignments, from ungraded formative response papers all the way up to a capstone assignment, should include the following components to ensure that students and teachers understand not only the learning objective of the assignment, but also the discrete steps which they will need to follow in order to complete it successfully:

  • Preamble.  This situates the assignment within the context of the course, reminding students of what they have been working on in anticipation of the assignment and how that work has prepared them to succeed at it. 
  • Justification and Purpose.  This explains why the particular type or genre of assignment you’ve chosen (e.g., lab report, policy memo, problem set, or personal reflection) is the best way for you and your students to measure how well they’ve met the learning objectives associated with this segment of the course.
  • Mission.  This explains the assignment in broad brush strokes, giving students a general sense of the project you are setting before them. It often gives students guidance on the evidence or data they should be working with, as well as helping them imagine the audience their work should be aimed at.  
  • Tasks.  This outlines what students are supposed to do at a more granular level: for example, how to start, where to look, how to ask for help, etc. If written well, this part of the assignment prompt ought to function as a kind of "process" rubric for students, helping them to decide for themselves whether they are completing the assignment successfully.
  • Submission format.  This tells students, in appropriate detail, which stylistic conventions they should observe and how to submit their work. For example, should the assignment be a five-page paper written in APA format and saved as a .docx file? Should it be uploaded to the course website? Is it due by Tuesday at 5:00pm?

For illustrations of these five components in action, visit our gallery of annotated assignment prompts .

For advice about creative assignments (e.g. podcasts, film projects, visual and performing art projects, etc.), visit our  Guidance on Non-Traditional Forms of Assessment .

For specific advice on different genres of assignment, click below:

Response Papers

Problem sets, source analyses, final exams, concept maps, research papers, oral presentations, poster presentations.

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Home / Blog / 15 foolproof tips for writing a great assignment

15 foolproof tips for writing a great assignment

15th Aug 2015

Student advice

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If you’re the kind of person that only has to hear the word “assignment” and immediately has flashbacks to stuffy classrooms, ticking clocks and staring a blank page for hours….DON’T PANIC.

Our 15 foolproof tips for writing a great assignment will guide you to success.

Before you start…

1. do your reading.

Your course or module will have a reading list; make sure you actually use it! Your tutors choose texts to specifically help with your assignments and modules, and you’ll gain some valuable insights into the topic that are sure to make writing your assignment easier.

Expert tip:  If you have the time, do some reading from other sources not on your list to back up your argument.

2. Check the deadline

There’s nothing worse than scheduling time to sit down and write then glancing at the calendar and realising you’ve only got a few days left. Double-checking the deadline means you’ll have no nasty surprises.

Expert tip:  There are many apps out there that can add a ‘countdown’ to your phone or tablet. Use these to keep your assignment deadline front of mind.

3. Plan your time

Finding time to write is easier said than done, but if you break your time down into manageable chunks you’ll find it’s much easier to keep on top of your workload. Try scheduling mini-deadlines along the way (e.g. aim to have the first section done by a certain day) to keep your momentum going.

Expert tip:  Be realistic about the time you have spare, and the time you’re willing to give up. If you schedule a writing session at 9 p.m. on Friday evening when you’d rather be relaxing, chances are you won’t get anything done.

4. Ask for help (if you need it)

If there’s any doubt in your mind about the question or the requirements of the assignment, ask your tutor. It’s better to start right than have to re-write in the last few days.

Expert tip:  Remember, your tutor wants you to do well. He or she will not be annoyed if you need to ask a few questions.

5. Plan your assignment structure

Before you start, it can help to create a basic assignment structure. This can be as detailed as you like but the basic structure should contain your introduction points, your key arguments and points, and your planned conclusion.

Expert tip:  Try writing out your plan on sticky notes. These will allow you to rearrange your arguments and points easily as your plan develops.

As you’re writing…

6. introduction.

You wouldn’t start a conversation without introducing yourself; your assignment is the same. Your first paragraph should introduce your key argument, add a bit of context and the key issues of the question, and then go on to explain how you plan to answer it.

Expert tip:  Some people find it easier to write their introduction after they’ve finished the rest of their assignment. Give it a try!

7. Structure your argument

As you write the body of your assignment, make sure that each point you make has some supporting evidence. Use statistics or quotes you gathered during your reading to support your argument, or even as something to argue against.

Expert tip:  If you’re using a lot of different sources, it’s easy to forget to add them to your reference list. Make things easier for yourself by writing it as you go along.

8. Conclusion

Your conclusion is your final chance to summarise your argument and leave a lasting impression with your reader. Make sure you recap the key points and arguments you made in your assignment, including supporting evidence if needed.

Expert tip:  Make sure that you don’t introduce any new ideas in your conclusion; this section is purely for summarising your previous arguments.

9. Getting over writer’s block

Struggling to write? There’s nothing more frustrating than putting aside time to write and then just staring at a blank page. Luckily, there are lots of thing to try to get you inspired : a change of scenery, putting on some music, writing another section of the essay or just taking a short break.

Expert tip:  If you find yourself unable to write, try to use your time to read ahead or re-read what you’ve already written.

10. Make sure you use your ‘essay voice’

While each university, school or each college will probably have its own style guide, you should always use a neutral and professional tone when writing an assignment. Try to avoid slang, overly-familiar phrases and definitely don’t use text-speak!

Expert tip:  If you’re not sure about a phrase or word, search for it online to see what other publications use it. If it’s in a dictionary or used by a national newspaper it’s probably OK to use in your assignment.

After you finish…

11. get a little distance.

If you’ve got time (and you should have if you managed to stick to your schedule!), put your first draft aside for a day or two before re-reading it. This will give you time to step back and read your assignment objectively, making it easier to spot mistakes and issues.

Expert tip:  If you find it easier to review on paper, print out your assignment with double-line spacing to accommodate your notes and corrections.

12. Make sure you’ve answered the question

As you’re reading through your first draft of your assignment, check that all your points are relevant to the original question. It’s easy to drift off on a tangent when you’re in mid-flow.

Expert tip:  Read each paragraph and consider it on its own merit as to whether it answers the question, and also to check that it contributes to your overall argument.

13. Don’t be afraid to cut text out

Sometimes, when you’ve struggled to reach a word count it can be hard to remove text that you’ve slaved over. But if a piece of text isn’t supporting your argument then it doesn’t have a place in your assignment.

Expert tip:  With word processing software, the ‘Track Changes’ feature allows you to edit text without losing it forever. And if you realise later that you’ve made a mistake, just reject the change.

14. Check and double-check your spelling

Nothing can give a bad impression as quickly as a spelling mistake. Errors are distracting, look unprofessional and in the worst case they can undermine your argument. If you’re unsure about the correct use of a word, look it up online or use an alternative that you’re more comfortable with.

Expert tip:  While you’re running your spell-checker, check your word count too. You’re usually allowed to deviate by 10% above or below the assignment word count, but check with your institution’s guidelines.

15. Cite your sources

References and creating a bibliography are key skills that you unfortunately have to master when writing an assignment. Check your institution’s guidelines before you start to make sure you’re including all the information you need.

Expert tip:  Some eBooks have a citation feature that automatically collates all the information you need for your bibliography.

Wondering how you can apply these skills? Download a prospectus to choose your course today!

how to write a good university assignment

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  • Designing Essay Assignments

by Gordon Harvey

Students often do their best and hardest thinking, and feel the greatest sense of mastery and growth, in their writing. Courses and assignments should be planned with this in mind. Three principles are paramount:

1. Name what you want and imagine students doing it

However free students are to range and explore in a paper, the general kind of paper you’re inviting has common components, operations, and criteria of success, and you should make these explicit. Having satisfied yourself, as you should, that what you’re asking is doable, with dignity, by writers just learning the material, try to anticipate in your prompt or discussions of the assignment the following queries:

  • What is the purpose of this? How am I going beyond what we have done, or applying it in a new area, or practicing a key academic skill or kind of work?
  • To what audience should I imagine myself writing?
  • What is the main task or tasks, in a nutshell? What does that key word (e.g., analyze, significance of, critique, explore, interesting, support) really mean in this context or this field?
  • What will be most challenging in this and what qualities will most distinguish a good paper? Where should I put my energy? (Lists of possible questions for students to answer in a paper are often not sufficiently prioritized to be helpful.)
  • What misconceptions might I have about what I’m to do? (How is this like or unlike other papers I may have written?) Are there too-easy approaches I might take or likely pitfalls? An ambitious goal or standard that I might think I’m expected to meet but am not?
  • What form will evidence take in my paper (e.g., block quotations? paraphrase? graphs or charts?) How should I cite it? Should I use/cite material from lecture or section?
  • Are there some broad options for structure, emphasis, or approach that I’ll likely be choosing among?
  • How should I get started on this? What would be a helpful (or unhelpful) way to take notes, gather data, discover a question or idea? Should I do research? 

2. Take time in class to prepare students to succeed at the paper

Resist the impulse to think of class meetings as time for “content” and of writing as work done outside class. Your students won’t have mastered the art of paper writing (if such a mastery is possible) and won’t know the particular disciplinary expectations or moves relevant to the material at hand. Take time in class to show them: 

  • discuss the assignment in class when you give it, so students can see that you take it seriously, so they can ask questions about it, so they can have it in mind during subsequent class discussions;
  • introduce the analytic vocabulary of your assignment into class discussions, and take opportunities to note relevant moves made in discussion or good paper topics that arise;
  • have students practice key tasks in class discussions, or in informal writing they do in before or after discussions;
  • show examples of writing that illustrates components and criteria of the assignment and that inspires (class readings can sometimes serve as illustrations of a writing principle; so can short excerpts of writing—e.g., a sampling of introductions; and so can bad writing—e.g., a list of problematic thesis statements);
  • the topics of originality and plagiarism (what the temptations might be, how to avoid risks) should at some point be addressed directly. 

3. Build in process

Ideas develop over time, in a process of posing and revising and getting feedback and revising some more. Assignments should allow for this process in the following ways:

  • smaller assignments should prepare for larger ones later;
  • students should do some thinking and writing before they write a draft and get a response to it (even if only a response to a proposal or thesis statement sent by email, or described in class);
  • for larger papers, students should write and get response (using the skills vocabulary of the assignment) to a draft—at least an “oral draft” (condensed for delivery to the class);
  • if possible, meet with students individually about their writing: nothing inspires them more than feeling that you care about their work and development;
  • let students reflect on their own writing, in brief cover letters attached to drafts and revisions (these may also ask students to perform certain checks on what they have written, before submitting);
  • have clear and firm policies about late work that nonetheless allow for exception if students talk to you in advance.
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How to write the best college assignments.

By Lois Weldon

When it comes to writing assignments, it is difficult to find a conceptualized guide with clear and simple tips that are easy to follow. That’s exactly what this guide will provide: few simple tips on how to write great assignments, right when you need them. Some of these points will probably be familiar to you, but there is no harm in being reminded of the most important things before you start writing the assignments, which are usually determining on your credits.

The most important aspects: Outline and Introduction

Preparation is the key to success, especially when it comes to academic assignments. It is recommended to always write an outline before you start writing the actual assignment. The outline should include the main points of discussion, which will keep you focused throughout the work and will make your key points clearly defined. Outlining the assignment will save you a lot of time because it will organize your thoughts and make your literature searches much easier. The outline will also help you to create different sections and divide up the word count between them, which will make the assignment more organized.

The introduction is the next important part you should focus on. This is the part that defines the quality of your assignment in the eyes of the reader. The introduction must include a brief background on the main points of discussion, the purpose of developing such work and clear indications on how the assignment is being organized. Keep this part brief, within one or two paragraphs.

This is an example of including the above mentioned points into the introduction of an assignment that elaborates the topic of obesity reaching proportions:

Background : The twenty first century is characterized by many public health challenges, among which obesity takes a major part. The increasing prevalence of obesity is creating an alarming situation in both developed and developing regions of the world.

Structure and aim : This assignment will elaborate and discuss the specific pattern of obesity epidemic development, as well as its epidemiology. Debt, trade and globalization will also be analyzed as factors that led to escalation of the problem. Moreover, the assignment will discuss the governmental interventions that make efforts to address this issue.

Practical tips on assignment writing

Here are some practical tips that will keep your work focused and effective:

–         Critical thinking – Academic writing has to be characterized by critical thinking, not only to provide the work with the needed level, but also because it takes part in the final mark.

–         Continuity of ideas – When you get to the middle of assignment, things can get confusing. You have to make sure that the ideas are flowing continuously within and between paragraphs, so the reader will be enabled to follow the argument easily. Dividing the work in different paragraphs is very important for this purpose.

–         Usage of ‘you’ and ‘I’ – According to the academic writing standards, the assignments should be written in an impersonal language, which means that the usage of ‘you’ and ‘I’ should be avoided. The only acceptable way of building your arguments is by using opinions and evidence from authoritative sources.

–         Referencing – this part of the assignment is extremely important and it takes a big part in the final mark. Make sure to use either Vancouver or Harvard referencing systems, and use the same system in the bibliography and while citing work of other sources within the text.  

–         Usage of examples – A clear understanding on your assignment’s topic should be provided by comparing different sources and identifying their strengths and weaknesses in an objective manner. This is the part where you should show how the knowledge can be applied into practice.

–         Numbering and bullets – Instead of using numbering and bullets, the academic writing style prefers the usage of paragraphs.

–         Including figures and tables – The figures and tables are an effective way of conveying information to the reader in a clear manner, without disturbing the word count. Each figure and table should have clear headings and you should make sure to mention their sources in the bibliography.

–         Word count – the word count of your assignment mustn’t be far above or far below the required word count. The outline will provide you with help in this aspect, so make sure to plan the work in order to keep it within the boundaries.

The importance of an effective conclusion

The conclusion of your assignment is your ultimate chance to provide powerful arguments that will impress the reader. The conclusion in academic writing is usually expressed through three main parts:

–         Stating the context and aim of the assignment

–         Summarizing the main points briefly

–         Providing final comments with consideration of the future (discussing clear examples of things that can be done in order to improve the situation concerning your topic of discussion).

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Lois Weldon is writer at  Uk.bestdissertation.com . Lives happily at London with her husband and lovely daughter. Adores writing tips for students. Passionate about Star Wars and yoga.

7 comments on “How To Write The Best College Assignments”

Extremely useful tip for students wanting to score well on their assignments. I concur with the writer that writing an outline before ACTUALLY starting to write assignments is extremely important. I have observed students who start off quite well but they tend to lose focus in between which causes them to lose marks. So an outline helps them to maintain the theme focused.

Hello Great information…. write assignments

Well elabrated

Thanks for the information. This site has amazing articles. Looking forward to continuing on this site.

This article is certainly going to help student . Well written.

Really good, thanks

Practical tips on assignment writing, the’re fantastic. Thank you!

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Understanding Assignments

What this handout is about.

The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it can be a tough one. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response. Much of the following advice will involve translating typical assignment terms and practices into meaningful clues to the type of writing your instructor expects. See our short video for more tips.

Basic beginnings

Regardless of the assignment, department, or instructor, adopting these two habits will serve you well :

  • Read the assignment carefully as soon as you receive it. Do not put this task off—reading the assignment at the beginning will save you time, stress, and problems later. An assignment can look pretty straightforward at first, particularly if the instructor has provided lots of information. That does not mean it will not take time and effort to complete; you may even have to learn a new skill to complete the assignment.
  • Ask the instructor about anything you do not understand. Do not hesitate to approach your instructor. Instructors would prefer to set you straight before you hand the paper in. That’s also when you will find their feedback most useful.

Assignment formats

Many assignments follow a basic format. Assignments often begin with an overview of the topic, include a central verb or verbs that describe the task, and offer some additional suggestions, questions, or prompts to get you started.

An Overview of Some Kind

The instructor might set the stage with some general discussion of the subject of the assignment, introduce the topic, or remind you of something pertinent that you have discussed in class. For example:

“Throughout history, gerbils have played a key role in politics,” or “In the last few weeks of class, we have focused on the evening wear of the housefly …”

The Task of the Assignment

Pay attention; this part tells you what to do when you write the paper. Look for the key verb or verbs in the sentence. Words like analyze, summarize, or compare direct you to think about your topic in a certain way. Also pay attention to words such as how, what, when, where, and why; these words guide your attention toward specific information. (See the section in this handout titled “Key Terms” for more information.)

“Analyze the effect that gerbils had on the Russian Revolution”, or “Suggest an interpretation of housefly undergarments that differs from Darwin’s.”

Additional Material to Think about

Here you will find some questions to use as springboards as you begin to think about the topic. Instructors usually include these questions as suggestions rather than requirements. Do not feel compelled to answer every question unless the instructor asks you to do so. Pay attention to the order of the questions. Sometimes they suggest the thinking process your instructor imagines you will need to follow to begin thinking about the topic.

“You may wish to consider the differing views held by Communist gerbils vs. Monarchist gerbils, or Can there be such a thing as ‘the housefly garment industry’ or is it just a home-based craft?”

These are the instructor’s comments about writing expectations:

“Be concise”, “Write effectively”, or “Argue furiously.”

Technical Details

These instructions usually indicate format rules or guidelines.

“Your paper must be typed in Palatino font on gray paper and must not exceed 600 pages. It is due on the anniversary of Mao Tse-tung’s death.”

The assignment’s parts may not appear in exactly this order, and each part may be very long or really short. Nonetheless, being aware of this standard pattern can help you understand what your instructor wants you to do.

Interpreting the assignment

Ask yourself a few basic questions as you read and jot down the answers on the assignment sheet:

Why did your instructor ask you to do this particular task?

Who is your audience.

  • What kind of evidence do you need to support your ideas?

What kind of writing style is acceptable?

  • What are the absolute rules of the paper?

Try to look at the question from the point of view of the instructor. Recognize that your instructor has a reason for giving you this assignment and for giving it to you at a particular point in the semester. In every assignment, the instructor has a challenge for you. This challenge could be anything from demonstrating an ability to think clearly to demonstrating an ability to use the library. See the assignment not as a vague suggestion of what to do but as an opportunity to show that you can handle the course material as directed. Paper assignments give you more than a topic to discuss—they ask you to do something with the topic. Keep reminding yourself of that. Be careful to avoid the other extreme as well: do not read more into the assignment than what is there.

Of course, your instructor has given you an assignment so that he or she will be able to assess your understanding of the course material and give you an appropriate grade. But there is more to it than that. Your instructor has tried to design a learning experience of some kind. Your instructor wants you to think about something in a particular way for a particular reason. If you read the course description at the beginning of your syllabus, review the assigned readings, and consider the assignment itself, you may begin to see the plan, purpose, or approach to the subject matter that your instructor has created for you. If you still aren’t sure of the assignment’s goals, try asking the instructor. For help with this, see our handout on getting feedback .

Given your instructor’s efforts, it helps to answer the question: What is my purpose in completing this assignment? Is it to gather research from a variety of outside sources and present a coherent picture? Is it to take material I have been learning in class and apply it to a new situation? Is it to prove a point one way or another? Key words from the assignment can help you figure this out. Look for key terms in the form of active verbs that tell you what to do.

Key Terms: Finding Those Active Verbs

Here are some common key words and definitions to help you think about assignment terms:

Information words Ask you to demonstrate what you know about the subject, such as who, what, when, where, how, and why.

  • define —give the subject’s meaning (according to someone or something). Sometimes you have to give more than one view on the subject’s meaning
  • describe —provide details about the subject by answering question words (such as who, what, when, where, how, and why); you might also give details related to the five senses (what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell)
  • explain —give reasons why or examples of how something happened
  • illustrate —give descriptive examples of the subject and show how each is connected with the subject
  • summarize —briefly list the important ideas you learned about the subject
  • trace —outline how something has changed or developed from an earlier time to its current form
  • research —gather material from outside sources about the subject, often with the implication or requirement that you will analyze what you have found

Relation words Ask you to demonstrate how things are connected.

  • compare —show how two or more things are similar (and, sometimes, different)
  • contrast —show how two or more things are dissimilar
  • apply—use details that you’ve been given to demonstrate how an idea, theory, or concept works in a particular situation
  • cause —show how one event or series of events made something else happen
  • relate —show or describe the connections between things

Interpretation words Ask you to defend ideas of your own about the subject. Do not see these words as requesting opinion alone (unless the assignment specifically says so), but as requiring opinion that is supported by concrete evidence. Remember examples, principles, definitions, or concepts from class or research and use them in your interpretation.

  • assess —summarize your opinion of the subject and measure it against something
  • prove, justify —give reasons or examples to demonstrate how or why something is the truth
  • evaluate, respond —state your opinion of the subject as good, bad, or some combination of the two, with examples and reasons
  • support —give reasons or evidence for something you believe (be sure to state clearly what it is that you believe)
  • synthesize —put two or more things together that have not been put together in class or in your readings before; do not just summarize one and then the other and say that they are similar or different—you must provide a reason for putting them together that runs all the way through the paper
  • analyze —determine how individual parts create or relate to the whole, figure out how something works, what it might mean, or why it is important
  • argue —take a side and defend it with evidence against the other side

More Clues to Your Purpose As you read the assignment, think about what the teacher does in class:

  • What kinds of textbooks or coursepack did your instructor choose for the course—ones that provide background information, explain theories or perspectives, or argue a point of view?
  • In lecture, does your instructor ask your opinion, try to prove her point of view, or use keywords that show up again in the assignment?
  • What kinds of assignments are typical in this discipline? Social science classes often expect more research. Humanities classes thrive on interpretation and analysis.
  • How do the assignments, readings, and lectures work together in the course? Instructors spend time designing courses, sometimes even arguing with their peers about the most effective course materials. Figuring out the overall design to the course will help you understand what each assignment is meant to achieve.

Now, what about your reader? Most undergraduates think of their audience as the instructor. True, your instructor is a good person to keep in mind as you write. But for the purposes of a good paper, think of your audience as someone like your roommate: smart enough to understand a clear, logical argument, but not someone who already knows exactly what is going on in your particular paper. Remember, even if the instructor knows everything there is to know about your paper topic, he or she still has to read your paper and assess your understanding. In other words, teach the material to your reader.

Aiming a paper at your audience happens in two ways: you make decisions about the tone and the level of information you want to convey.

  • Tone means the “voice” of your paper. Should you be chatty, formal, or objective? Usually you will find some happy medium—you do not want to alienate your reader by sounding condescending or superior, but you do not want to, um, like, totally wig on the man, you know? Eschew ostentatious erudition: some students think the way to sound academic is to use big words. Be careful—you can sound ridiculous, especially if you use the wrong big words.
  • The level of information you use depends on who you think your audience is. If you imagine your audience as your instructor and she already knows everything you have to say, you may find yourself leaving out key information that can cause your argument to be unconvincing and illogical. But you do not have to explain every single word or issue. If you are telling your roommate what happened on your favorite science fiction TV show last night, you do not say, “First a dark-haired white man of average height, wearing a suit and carrying a flashlight, walked into the room. Then a purple alien with fifteen arms and at least three eyes turned around. Then the man smiled slightly. In the background, you could hear a clock ticking. The room was fairly dark and had at least two windows that I saw.” You also do not say, “This guy found some aliens. The end.” Find some balance of useful details that support your main point.

You’ll find a much more detailed discussion of these concepts in our handout on audience .

The Grim Truth

With a few exceptions (including some lab and ethnography reports), you are probably being asked to make an argument. You must convince your audience. It is easy to forget this aim when you are researching and writing; as you become involved in your subject matter, you may become enmeshed in the details and focus on learning or simply telling the information you have found. You need to do more than just repeat what you have read. Your writing should have a point, and you should be able to say it in a sentence. Sometimes instructors call this sentence a “thesis” or a “claim.”

So, if your instructor tells you to write about some aspect of oral hygiene, you do not want to just list: “First, you brush your teeth with a soft brush and some peanut butter. Then, you floss with unwaxed, bologna-flavored string. Finally, gargle with bourbon.” Instead, you could say, “Of all the oral cleaning methods, sandblasting removes the most plaque. Therefore it should be recommended by the American Dental Association.” Or, “From an aesthetic perspective, moldy teeth can be quite charming. However, their joys are short-lived.”

Convincing the reader of your argument is the goal of academic writing. It doesn’t have to say “argument” anywhere in the assignment for you to need one. Look at the assignment and think about what kind of argument you could make about it instead of just seeing it as a checklist of information you have to present. For help with understanding the role of argument in academic writing, see our handout on argument .

What kind of evidence do you need?

There are many kinds of evidence, and what type of evidence will work for your assignment can depend on several factors–the discipline, the parameters of the assignment, and your instructor’s preference. Should you use statistics? Historical examples? Do you need to conduct your own experiment? Can you rely on personal experience? See our handout on evidence for suggestions on how to use evidence appropriately.

Make sure you are clear about this part of the assignment, because your use of evidence will be crucial in writing a successful paper. You are not just learning how to argue; you are learning how to argue with specific types of materials and ideas. Ask your instructor what counts as acceptable evidence. You can also ask a librarian for help. No matter what kind of evidence you use, be sure to cite it correctly—see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial .

You cannot always tell from the assignment just what sort of writing style your instructor expects. The instructor may be really laid back in class but still expect you to sound formal in writing. Or the instructor may be fairly formal in class and ask you to write a reflection paper where you need to use “I” and speak from your own experience.

Try to avoid false associations of a particular field with a style (“art historians like wacky creativity,” or “political scientists are boring and just give facts”) and look instead to the types of readings you have been given in class. No one expects you to write like Plato—just use the readings as a guide for what is standard or preferable to your instructor. When in doubt, ask your instructor about the level of formality she or he expects.

No matter what field you are writing for or what facts you are including, if you do not write so that your reader can understand your main idea, you have wasted your time. So make clarity your main goal. For specific help with style, see our handout on style .

Technical details about the assignment

The technical information you are given in an assignment always seems like the easy part. This section can actually give you lots of little hints about approaching the task. Find out if elements such as page length and citation format (see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial ) are negotiable. Some professors do not have strong preferences as long as you are consistent and fully answer the assignment. Some professors are very specific and will deduct big points for deviations.

Usually, the page length tells you something important: The instructor thinks the size of the paper is appropriate to the assignment’s parameters. In plain English, your instructor is telling you how many pages it should take for you to answer the question as fully as you are expected to. So if an assignment is two pages long, you cannot pad your paper with examples or reword your main idea several times. Hit your one point early, defend it with the clearest example, and finish quickly. If an assignment is ten pages long, you can be more complex in your main points and examples—and if you can only produce five pages for that assignment, you need to see someone for help—as soon as possible.

Tricks that don’t work

Your instructors are not fooled when you:

  • spend more time on the cover page than the essay —graphics, cool binders, and cute titles are no replacement for a well-written paper.
  • use huge fonts, wide margins, or extra spacing to pad the page length —these tricks are immediately obvious to the eye. Most instructors use the same word processor you do. They know what’s possible. Such tactics are especially damning when the instructor has a stack of 60 papers to grade and yours is the only one that low-flying airplane pilots could read.
  • use a paper from another class that covered “sort of similar” material . Again, the instructor has a particular task for you to fulfill in the assignment that usually relates to course material and lectures. Your other paper may not cover this material, and turning in the same paper for more than one course may constitute an Honor Code violation . Ask the instructor—it can’t hurt.
  • get all wacky and “creative” before you answer the question . Showing that you are able to think beyond the boundaries of a simple assignment can be good, but you must do what the assignment calls for first. Again, check with your instructor. A humorous tone can be refreshing for someone grading a stack of papers, but it will not get you a good grade if you have not fulfilled the task.

Critical reading of assignments leads to skills in other types of reading and writing. If you get good at figuring out what the real goals of assignments are, you are going to be better at understanding the goals of all of your classes and fields of study.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Writing Assignments

Kate Derrington; Cristy Bartlett; and Sarah Irvine

Hands on laptop

Introduction

Assignments are a common method of assessment at university and require careful planning and good quality research. Developing critical thinking and writing skills are also necessary to demonstrate your ability to understand and apply information about your topic.  It is not uncommon to be unsure about the processes of writing assignments at university.

  • You may be returning to study after a break
  • You may have come from an exam based assessment system and never written an assignment before
  • Maybe you have written assignments but would like to improve your processes and strategies

This chapter has a collection of resources that will provide you with the skills and strategies to understand assignment requirements and effectively plan, research, write and edit your assignments.  It begins with an explanation of how to analyse an assignment task and start putting your ideas together.  It continues by breaking down the components of academic writing and exploring the elements you will need to master in your written assignments. This is followed by a discussion of paraphrasing and synthesis, and how you can use these strategies to create a strong, written argument. The chapter concludes with useful checklists for editing and proofreading to help you get the best possible mark for your work.

Task Analysis and Deconstructing an Assignment

It is important that before you begin researching and writing your assignments you spend sufficient time understanding all the requirements. This will help make your research process more efficient and effective. Check your subject information such as task sheets, criteria sheets and any additional information that may be in your subject portal online. Seek clarification from your lecturer or tutor if you are still unsure about how to begin your assignments.

The task sheet typically provides key information about an assessment including the assignment question. It can be helpful to scan this document for topic, task and limiting words to ensure that you fully understand the concepts you are required to research, how to approach the assignment, and the scope of the task you have been set. These words can typically be found in your assignment question and are outlined in more detail in the two tables below (see Table 19.1 and Table 19.2 ).

Table 19.1 Parts of an Assignment Question

Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the task word requires you to address.

Table 19.2 Task words

The criteria sheet , also known as the marking sheet or rubric, is another important document to look at before you begin your assignment. The criteria sheet outlines how your assignment will be marked and should be used as a checklist to make sure you have included all the information required.

The task or criteria sheet will also include the:

  • Word limit (or word count)
  • Referencing style and research expectations
  • Formatting requirements

Task analysis and criteria sheets are also discussed in the chapter Managing Assessments for a more detailed discussion on task analysis, criteria sheets, and marking rubrics.

Preparing your ideas

Concept map on whiteboard

Brainstorm or concept map:  List possible ideas to address each part of the assignment task based on what you already know about the topic from lectures and weekly readings.

Finding appropriate information: Learn how to find scholarly information for your assignments which is

See the chapter Working With Information for a more detailed explanation .

What is academic writing?

Academic writing tone and style.

Many of the assessment pieces you prepare will require an academic writing style.  This is sometimes called ‘academic tone’ or ‘academic voice’.  This section will help you to identify what is required when you are writing academically (see Table 19.3 ). The best way to understand what academic writing looks like, is to read broadly in your discipline area.  Look at how your course readings, or scholarly sources, are written. This will help you identify the language of your discipline field, as well as how other writers structure their work.

Table 19.3 Comparison of academic and non-academic writing

Thesis statements.

Essays are a common form of assessment that you will likely encounter during your university studies. You should apply an academic tone and style when writing an essay, just as you would in in your other assessment pieces. One of the most important steps in writing an essay is constructing your thesis statement.  A thesis statement tells the reader the purpose, argument or direction you will take to answer your assignment question. A thesis statement may not be relevant for some questions, if you are unsure check with your lecturer. The thesis statement:

  • Directly  relates to the task .  Your thesis statement may even contain some of the key words or synonyms from the task description.
  • Does more than restate the question.
  • Is specific and uses precise language.
  • Let’s your reader know your position or the main argument that you will support with evidence throughout your assignment.
  • The subject is the key content area you will be covering.
  • The contention is the position you are taking in relation to the chosen content.

Your thesis statement helps you to structure your essay.  It plays a part in each key section: introduction, body and conclusion.

Planning your assignment structure

Image of the numbers 231

When planning and drafting assignments, it is important to consider the structure of your writing. Academic writing should have clear and logical structure and incorporate academic research to support your ideas.  It can be hard to get started and at first you may feel nervous about the size of the task, this is normal. If you break your assignment into smaller pieces, it will seem more manageable as you can approach the task in sections. Refer to your brainstorm or plan. These ideas should guide your research and will also inform what you write in your draft. It is sometimes easier to draft your assignment using the 2-3-1 approach, that is, write the body paragraphs first followed by the conclusion and finally the introduction.

Writing introductions and conclusions

Clear and purposeful introductions and conclusions in assignments are fundamental to effective academic writing. Your introduction should tell the reader what is going to be covered and how you intend to approach this. Your conclusion should summarise your argument or discussion and signal to the reader that you have come to a conclusion with a final statement.  These tips below are based on the requirements usually needed for an essay assignment, however, they can be applied to other assignment types.

Writing introductions

Start written on road

Most writing at university will require a strong and logically structured introduction. An effective introduction should provide some background or context for your assignment, clearly state your thesis and include the key points you will cover in the body of the essay in order to prove your thesis.

Usually, your introduction is approximately 10% of your total assignment word count. It is much easier to write your introduction once you have drafted your body paragraphs and conclusion, as you know what your assignment is going to be about. An effective introduction needs to inform your reader by establishing what the paper is about and provide four basic things:

  • A brief background or overview of your assignment topic
  • A thesis statement (see section above)
  • An outline of your essay structure
  • An indication of any parameters or scope that will/ will not be covered, e.g. From an Australian perspective.

The below example demonstrates the four different elements of an introductory paragraph.

1) Information technology is having significant effects on the communication of individuals and organisations in different professions. 2) This essay will discuss the impact of information technology on the communication of health professionals.   3)  First, the provision of information technology for the educational needs of nurses will be discussed.  4)  This will be followed by an explanation of the significant effects that information technology can have on the role of general practitioner in the area of public health.  5)  Considerations will then be made regarding the lack of knowledge about the potential of computers among hospital administrators and nursing executives.  6)   The final section will explore how information technology assists health professionals in the delivery of services in rural areas .  7)  It will be argued that information technology has significant potential to improve health care and medical education, but health professionals are reluctant to use it.

1 Brief background/ overview | 2 Indicates the scope of what will be covered |   3-6 Outline of the main ideas (structure) | 7 The thesis statement

Note : The examples in this document are taken from the University of Canberra and used under a CC-BY-SA-3.0 licence.

Writing conclusions

You should aim to end your assignments with a strong conclusion. Your conclusion should restate your thesis and summarise the key points you have used to prove this thesis. Finish with a key point as a final impactful statement.  Similar to your introduction, your conclusion should be approximately 10% of the total assignment word length. If your assessment task asks you to make recommendations, you may need to allocate more words to the conclusion or add a separate recommendations section before the conclusion. Use the checklist below to check your conclusion is doing the right job.

Conclusion checklist 

  • Have you referred to the assignment question and restated your argument (or thesis statement), as outlined in the introduction?
  • Have you pulled together all the threads of your essay into a logical ending and given it a sense of unity?
  • Have you presented implications or recommendations in your conclusion? (if required by your task).
  • Have you added to the overall quality and impact of your essay? This is your final statement about this topic; thus, a key take-away point can make a great impact on the reader.
  • Remember, do not add any new material or direct quotes in your conclusion.

This below example demonstrates the different elements of a concluding paragraph.

1) It is evident, therefore, that not only do employees need to be trained for working in the Australian multicultural workplace, but managers also need to be trained.  2)  Managers must ensure that effective in-house training programs are provided for migrant workers, so that they become more familiar with the English language, Australian communication norms and the Australian work culture.  3)  In addition, Australian native English speakers need to be made aware of the differing cultural values of their workmates; particularly the different forms of non-verbal communication used by other cultures.  4)  Furthermore, all employees must be provided with clear and detailed guidelines about company expectations.  5)  Above all, in order to minimise communication problems and to maintain an atmosphere of tolerance, understanding and cooperation in the multicultural workplace, managers need to have an effective knowledge about their employees. This will help employers understand how their employee’s social conditioning affects their beliefs about work. It will develop their communication skills to develop confidence and self-esteem among diverse work groups. 6) The culturally diverse Australian workplace may never be completely free of communication problems, however,   further studies to identify potential problems and solutions, as well as better training in cross cultural communication for managers and employees,   should result in a much more understanding and cooperative environment. 

1  Reference to thesis statement – In this essay the writer has taken the position that training is required for both employees and employers . | 2-5 Structure overview – Here the writer pulls together the main ideas in the essay. | 6  Final summary statement that is based on the evidence.

Note: The examples in this document are taken from the University of Canberra and used under a CC-BY-SA-3.0 licence.

Writing paragraphs

Paragraph writing is a key skill that enables you to incorporate your academic research into your written work.  Each paragraph should have its own clearly identified topic sentence or main idea which relates to the argument or point (thesis) you are developing.  This idea should then be explained by additional sentences which you have paraphrased from good quality sources and referenced according to the recommended guidelines of your subject (see the chapter Working with Information ). Paragraphs are characterised by increasing specificity; that is, they move from the general to the specific, increasingly refining the reader’s understanding. A common structure for paragraphs in academic writing is as follows.

Topic Sentence 

This is the main idea of the paragraph and should relate to the overall issue or purpose of your assignment is addressing. Often it will be expressed as an assertion or claim which supports the overall argument or purpose of your writing.

Explanation/ Elaboration

The main idea must have its meaning explained and elaborated upon. Think critically, do not just describe the idea.

These explanations must include evidence to support your main idea. This information should be paraphrased and referenced according to the appropriate referencing style of your course.

Concluding sentence (critical thinking)

This should explain why the topic of the paragraph is relevant to the assignment question and link to the following paragraph.

Use the checklist below to check your paragraphs are clear and well formed.

Paragraph checklist

  • Does your paragraph have a clear main idea?
  • Is everything in the paragraph related to this main idea?
  • Is the main idea adequately developed and explained?
  • Do your sentences run together smoothly?
  • Have you included evidence to support your ideas?
  • Have you concluded the paragraph by connecting it to your overall topic?

Writing sentences

Make sure all the sentences in your paragraphs make sense. Each sentence must contain a verb to be a complete sentence. Avoid sentence fragments . These are incomplete sentences or ideas that are unfinished and create confusion for your reader. Avoid also run on sentences . This happens when you join two ideas or clauses without using the appropriate punctuation. This also confuses your meaning (See the chapter English Language Foundations for examples and further explanation).

Use transitions (linking words and phrases) to connect your ideas between paragraphs and make your writing flow. The order that you structure the ideas in your assignment should reflect the structure you have outlined in your introduction. Refer to transition words table in the chapter English Language Foundations.

Paraphrasing and Synthesising

Paraphrasing and synthesising are powerful tools that you can use to support the main idea of a paragraph. It is likely that you will regularly use these skills at university to incorporate evidence into explanatory sentences and strengthen your essay. It is important to paraphrase and synthesise because:

  • Paraphrasing is regarded more highly at university than direct quoting.
  • Paraphrasing can also help you better understand the material.
  • Paraphrasing and synthesising demonstrate you have understood what you have read through your ability to summarise and combine arguments from the literature using your own words.

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is changing the writing of another author into your words while retaining the original meaning. You must acknowledge the original author as the source of the information in your citation. Follow the steps in this table to help you build your skills in paraphrasing (see Table 19.4 ).

Table 19.4 Paraphrasing techniques

Example of paraphrasing.

Please note that these examples and in text citations are for instructional purposes only.

Original text

Health care professionals   assist people often when they are at their most  vulnerable . To provide the best care and understand their needs, workers must demonstrate good communication skills .  They must develop patient trust and provide empathy   to effectively work with patients who are experiencing a variety of situations including those who may be suffering from trauma or violence, physical or mental illness or substance abuse (French & Saunders, 2018).

Poor quality paraphrase example

This is a poor example of paraphrasing. Some synonyms have been used and the order of a few words changed within the sentences however the colours of the sentences indicate that the paragraph follows the same structure as the original text.

Health care sector workers are often responsible for vulnerable  patients.   To understand patients and deliver good service , they need to be excellent communicators .  They must establish patient rapport and show empathy if they are to successfully care for patients from a variety of backgrounds  and with different medical, psychological and social needs (French & Saunders, 2018).

A good quality paraphrase example

This example demonstrates a better quality paraphrase. The author has demonstrated more understanding of the overall concept in the text by using the keywords as the basis to reconstruct the paragraph. Note how the blocks of colour have been broken up to see how much the structure has changed from the original text.

Empathetic   communication is a vital skill for health care workers.   Professionals in these fields   are often responsible for patients with complex medical, psychological and social needs. Empathetic   communication assists in building rapport and gaining the necessary trust   to assist these vulnerable patients  by providing appropriate supportive care (French & Saunders, 2018).

The good quality paraphrase example demonstrates understanding of the overall concept in the text by using key words as the basis to reconstruct the paragraph.  Note how the blocks of colour have been broken up, which indicates how much the structure has changed from the original text.

What is synthesising?

Synthesising means to bring together more than one source of information to strengthen your argument. Once you have learnt how to paraphrase the ideas of one source at a time, you can consider adding additional sources to support your argument. Synthesis demonstrates your understanding and ability to show connections between multiple pieces of evidence to support your ideas and is a more advanced academic thinking and writing skill.

Follow the steps in this table to improve your synthesis techniques (see Table 19.5 ).

Table 19.5 Synthesising techniques

Example of synthesis

There is a relationship between academic procrastination and mental health outcomes.  Procrastination has been found to have a negative effect on students’ well-being (Balkis, & Duru, 2016). Yerdelen, McCaffrey, and Klassens’ (2016) research results suggested that there was a positive association between procrastination and anxiety. This was corroborated by Custer’s (2018) findings which indicated that students with higher levels of procrastination also reported greater levels of the anxiety. Therefore, it could be argued that procrastination is an ineffective learning strategy that leads to increased levels of distress.

Topic sentence | Statements using paraphrased evidence | Critical thinking (student voice) | Concluding statement – linking to topic sentence

This example demonstrates a simple synthesis. The author has developed a paragraph with one central theme and included explanatory sentences complete with in-text citations from multiple sources. Note how the blocks of colour have been used to illustrate the paragraph structure and synthesis (i.e., statements using paraphrased evidence from several sources). A more complex synthesis may include more than one citation per sentence.

Creating an argument

What does this mean.

Throughout your university studies, you may be asked to ‘argue’ a particular point or position in your writing. You may already be familiar with the idea of an argument, which in general terms means to have a disagreement with someone. Similarly, in academic writing, if you are asked to create an argument, this means you are asked to have a position on a particular topic, and then justify your position using evidence.

What skills do you need to create an argument?

In order to create a good and effective argument, you need to be able to:

  • Read critically to find evidence
  • Plan your argument
  • Think and write critically throughout your paper to enhance your argument

For tips on how to read and write critically, refer to the chapter Thinking for more information. A formula for developing a strong argument is presented below.

A formula for a good argument

A diagram on the formula for a ggood argument which includes deciding what side of argument you are on, research evidence to support your argument, create a plan to create a logically flowing argument and writing your argument

What does an argument look like?

As can be seen from the figure above, including evidence is a key element of a good argument. While this may seem like a straightforward task, it can be difficult to think of wording to express your argument. The table below provides examples of how you can illustrate your argument in academic writing (see Table 19.6 ).

Table 19.6 Argument

Editing and proofreading (reviewing).

Once you have finished writing your first draft it is recommended that you spend time revising your work.  Proofreading and editing are two different stages of the revision process.

  • Editing considers the overall focus or bigger picture of the assignment
  • Proofreading considers the finer details

Editing mindmap with the words sources, content,s tructure and style. Proofreading mindmap with the words referencing, word choice, grammar and spelling and punctuation

As can be seen in the figure above there are four main areas that you should review during the editing phase of the revision process. The main things to consider when editing include content, structure, style, and sources. It is important to check that all the content relates to the assignment task, the structure is appropriate for the purposes of the assignment, the writing is academic in style, and that sources have been adequately acknowledged. Use the checklist below when editing your work.

Editing checklist

  • Have I answered the question accurately?
  • Do I have enough credible, scholarly supporting evidence?
  • Is my writing tone objective and formal enough or have I used emotive and informal language?
  • Have I written in the third person not the first person?
  • Do I have appropriate in-text citations for all my information?
  • Have I included the full details for all my in-text citations in my reference list?

There are also several key things to look out for during the proofreading phase of the revision process. In this stage it is important to check your work for word choice, grammar and spelling, punctuation and referencing errors. It can be easy to mis-type words like ‘from’ and ‘form’ or mix up words like ‘trail’ and ‘trial’ when writing about research, apply American rather than Australian spelling, include unnecessary commas or incorrectly format your references list. The checklist below is a useful guide that you can use when proofreading your work.

Proofreading checklist

  • Is my spelling and grammar accurate?
  •  Are they complete?
  • Do they all make sense?
  • Do they only contain only one idea?
  • Do the different elements (subject, verb, nouns, pronouns) within my sentences agree?
  • Are my sentences too long and complicated?
  • Do they contain only one idea per sentence?
  • Is my writing concise? Take out words that do not add meaning to your sentences.
  • Have I used appropriate discipline specific language but avoided words I don’t know or understand that could possibly be out of context?
  • Have I avoided discriminatory language and colloquial expressions (slang)?
  • Is my referencing formatted correctly according to my assignment guidelines? (for more information on referencing refer to the Managing Assessment feedback section).

This chapter has examined the experience of writing assignments.  It began by focusing on how to read and break down an assignment question, then highlighted the key components of essays. Next, it examined some techniques for paraphrasing and summarising, and how to build an argument. It concluded with a discussion on planning and structuring your assignment and giving it that essential polish with editing and proof-reading. Combining these skills and practising them, can greatly improve your success with this very common form of assessment.

  • Academic writing requires clear and logical structure, critical thinking and the use of credible scholarly sources.
  • A thesis statement is important as it tells the reader the position or argument you have adopted in your assignment. Not all assignments will require a thesis statement.
  • Spending time analysing your task and planning your structure before you start to write your assignment is time well spent.
  • Information you use in your assignment should come from credible scholarly sources such as textbooks and peer reviewed journals. This information needs to be paraphrased and referenced appropriately.
  • Paraphrasing means putting something into your own words and synthesising means to bring together several ideas from sources.
  • Creating an argument is a four step process and can be applied to all types of academic writing.
  • Editing and proofreading are two separate processes.

Academic Skills Centre. (2013). Writing an introduction and conclusion . University of Canberra, accessed 13 August, 2013, http://www.canberra.edu.au/studyskills/writing/conclusions

Balkis, M., & Duru, E. (2016). Procrastination, self-regulation failure, academic life satisfaction, and affective well-being: underregulation or misregulation form. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 31 (3), 439-459.

Custer, N. (2018). Test anxiety and academic procrastination among prelicensure nursing students. Nursing education perspectives, 39 (3), 162-163.

Yerdelen, S., McCaffrey, A., & Klassen, R. M. (2016). Longitudinal examination of procrastination and anxiety, and their relation to self-efficacy for self-regulated learning: Latent growth curve modeling. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 16 (1).

Writing Assignments Copyright © 2021 by Kate Derrington; Cristy Bartlett; and Sarah Irvine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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This resource describes some steps you can take to better understand the requirements of your writing assignments. This resource works for either in-class, teacher-led discussion or for personal use.

How to Decipher the Paper Assignment

Many instructors write their assignment prompts differently. By following a few steps, you can better understand the requirements for the assignment. The best way, as always, is to ask the instructor about anything confusing.

  • Read the prompt the entire way through once. This gives you an overall view of what is going on.
  • Underline or circle the portions that you absolutely must know. This information may include due date, research (source) requirements, page length, and format (MLA, APA, CMS).
  • Underline or circle important phrases. You should know your instructor at least a little by now - what phrases do they use in class? Does he repeatedly say a specific word? If these are in the prompt, you know the instructor wants you to use them in the assignment.
  • Think about how you will address the prompt. The prompt contains clues on how to write the assignment. Your instructor will often describe the ideas they want discussed either in questions, in bullet points, or in the text of the prompt. Think about each of these sentences and number them so that you can write a paragraph or section of your essay on that portion if necessary.
  • Rank ideas in descending order, from most important to least important. Instructors may include more questions or talking points than you can cover in your assignment, so rank them in the order you think is more important. One area of the prompt may be more interesting to you than another.
  • Ask your instructor questions if you have any.

After you are finished with these steps, ask yourself the following:

  • What is the purpose of this assignment? Is my purpose to provide information without forming an argument, to construct an argument based on research, or analyze a poem and discuss its imagery?
  • Who is my audience? Is my instructor my only audience? Who else might read this? Will it be posted online? What are my readers' needs and expectations?
  • What resources do I need to begin work? Do I need to conduct literature (hermeneutic or historical) research, or do I need to review important literature on the topic and then conduct empirical research, such as a survey or an observation? How many sources are required?
  • Who - beyond my instructor - can I contact to help me if I have questions? Do you have a writing lab or student service center that offers tutorials in writing?

(Notes on prompts made in blue )

Poster or Song Analysis: Poster or Song? Poster!

Goals : To systematically consider the rhetorical choices made in either a poster or a song. She says that all the time.

Things to Consider: ah- talking points

  • how the poster addresses its audience and is affected by context I'll do this first - 1.
  • general layout, use of color, contours of light and shade, etc.
  • use of contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity C.A.R.P. They say that, too. I'll do this third - 3.
  • the point of view the viewer is invited to take, poses of figures in the poster, etc. any text that may be present
  • possible cultural ramifications or social issues that have bearing I'll cover this second - 2.
  • ethical implications
  • how the poster affects us emotionally, or what mood it evokes
  • the poster's implicit argument and its effectiveness said that was important in class, so I'll discuss this last - 4.
  • how the song addresses its audience
  • lyrics: how they rhyme, repeat, what they say
  • use of music, tempo, different instruments
  • possible cultural ramifications or social issues that have bearing
  • emotional effects
  • the implicit argument and its effectiveness

These thinking points are not a step-by-step guideline on how to write your paper; instead, they are various means through which you can approach the subject. I do expect to see at least a few of them addressed, and there are other aspects that may be pertinent to your choice that have not been included in these lists. You will want to find a central idea and base your argument around that. Additionally, you must include a copy of the poster or song that you are working with. Really important!

I will be your audience. This is a formal paper, and you should use academic conventions throughout.

Length: 4 pages Format: Typed, double-spaced, 10-12 point Times New Roman, 1 inch margins I need to remember the format stuff. I messed this up last time =(

Academic Argument Essay

5-7 pages, Times New Roman 12 pt. font, 1 inch margins.

Minimum of five cited sources: 3 must be from academic journals or books

  • Design Plan due: Thurs. 10/19
  • Rough Draft due: Monday 10/30
  • Final Draft due: Thurs. 11/9

Remember this! I missed the deadline last time

The design plan is simply a statement of purpose, as described on pages 40-41 of the book, and an outline. The outline may be formal, as we discussed in class, or a printout of an Open Mind project. It must be a minimum of 1 page typed information, plus 1 page outline.

This project is an expansion of your opinion editorial. While you should avoid repeating any of your exact phrases from Project 2, you may reuse some of the same ideas. Your topic should be similar. You must use research to support your position, and you must also demonstrate a fairly thorough knowledge of any opposing position(s). 2 things to do - my position and the opposite.

Your essay should begin with an introduction that encapsulates your topic and indicates 1 the general trajectory of your argument. You need to have a discernable thesis that appears early in your paper. Your conclusion should restate the thesis in different words, 2 and then draw some additional meaningful analysis out of the developments of your argument. Think of this as a "so what" factor. What are some implications for the future, relating to your topic? What does all this (what you have argued) mean for society, or for the section of it to which your argument pertains? A good conclusion moves outside the topic in the paper and deals with a larger issue.

You should spend at least one paragraph acknowledging and describing the opposing position in a manner that is respectful and honestly representative of the opposition’s 3 views. The counterargument does not need to occur in a certain area, but generally begins or ends your argument. Asserting and attempting to prove each aspect of your argument’s structure should comprise the majority of your paper. Ask yourself what your argument assumes and what must be proven in order to validate your claims. Then go step-by-step, paragraph-by-paragraph, addressing each facet of your position. Most important part!

Finally, pay attention to readability . Just because this is a research paper does not mean that it has to be boring. Use examples and allow your opinion to show through word choice and tone. Proofread before you turn in the paper. Your audience is generally the academic community and specifically me, as a representative of that community. Ok, They want this to be easy to read, to contain examples I find, and they want it to be grammatically correct. I can visit the tutoring center if I get stuck, or I can email the OWL Email Tutors short questions if I have any more problems.

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  • Study skills online

Formatting your assignments

Illustrated step-by-step guides to help you understand the formatting and presentation expectations of university assignments.

A student working on a laptop

Introduction 

Although formatting your essay, report or dissertation can feel like a lesser priority than the process of research and writing itself, it is an important way to ensure your ideas are given the spotlight through visually accessible, professional presentation. Formatting can be a minefield, especially when you’re formatting at the last minute; it’s important to leave a few days at the end of your essay writing process for working on your formatting, and to spend some time familiarising yourself with the different aspects of formatting.

301 Recommends:

Our Essay Structure and Planning workshop will outline how to analyse your essay question, discuss approaches logically structure all your ideas, help you make your introductions and conclusions more effective, and teach how to link your ideas and ensure all essay content flows logically from the introduction.

Below, you will find some general introductions to the key areas. 

Action: know the rules 

Because formatting rules can vary greatly depending on your department or assignment, it’s crucial to check the formatting specifications in your assignment description/rubric, and any general departmental presentation standards, as a first port of call. Many referencing systems also have specific rules about how to format your work, so make sure to familiarise yourself with the university library’s referencing guides . Many referencing systems also have more detailed style guides available via their websites.

Formatting key information  

Assignment cover sheets .

In some departments, you may be expected to include a cover sheet on the front page of your assignment. This is a page including key information about your assignment, such as your module number, student registration number, essay title, and submission date.

You may be asked to submit a plagiarism declaration and to make your markers aware of any disabilities through the yellow sticker system . If you are asked to include a cover sheet in your assignment, your department should make you aware of where you can access this.

Assignment titles

Place your assignment title at the top of your first page, either centre or left aligned, in bold font. At university, you may be assigned a pre-designed essay title/question, or asked to select from several possible titles. You may also be asked to design your own essay title. Here are some top tips on designing your own title:

  • To bring focus to your essay, draft a working title at the essay planning stage. You can come back and review this title in light of your finished essay draft.
  • Make sure to use action words in your essay title that reflect the skills your assessors are looking for, both in the assignment description and the marking criteria you have been given. For example, if heavy emphasis is placed on critical analysis, you could use a title like ‘Analyse the effect of…’ See this glossary of essay terms , containing examples that you can use in your own titles. 
  • The action words you choose can also help you to reflect the structure of the essay in your question. For example, an essay using the action word ‘Discuss’ might use a for/against/conclusion or advantages/disadvantages/conclusion structure, or an essay using the term ‘Analyse’ might break an issue down into parts, e.g. into key themes, to understand its meaning as a whole. Think about the type of essay you want to write: do you want it to be comparative, look at several topics equally, or do you have a clear argument that you want to put forward? You can then create a question that gives you the opportunity to approach the topic from your own perspective.
  • Make sure to include the main terminology you are working with in your assignment title.
  • Make sure your question has a realistic scope, without being so broad that you cannot answer it within the limitations of your essay. To limit your question, you could include any limiting factors you are working with, such as specific time periods, geographical regions or sub-themes within the overall topic area. For example, in the title ‘Evaluate the proposition that a global monoculture will destroy diversity and difference’, the broad topic of global monoculture is limited down through a specific sub-focus on diversity and difference.

Stating word counts 

Depending on the instructions you have been given, you may be asked to state your word count, either on your cover sheet or at the beginning of your essay. If you are asked to include this information, make sure your word count accurately reflects the assessment guidance: for example, are references included in your word count?

Visual clarity  

Line spacing .

Most assignment descriptions specify that you should increase the space between each line on the page, from the standard 1.0 spacing to either 1.5 or 2.0 spacing. You are asked to do this to make the essay more visually accessible and easier to read, by breaking up the number of lines on each page. 

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to line spacing in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Fonts 

All non-examination based assignments should be word processed rather than handwritten. Most assignment descriptions will specify that for visual clarity, and to ensure a professional appearance, you should use a plain, sans-serif font such as Arial. For readability, this should be in 11 or 12 point size. Check your departmental or assignment guidance for any specific rules about font choices. 

Page numbering, headers and footers  

Including page numbers in your assignments makes them more accessible. Depending on the departmental guidance you have been given, you may be asked to include these in either the header or the footer of your essay (the blank space above and below where the text would go on a normal page in a word processor). It may also be helpful to include your registration number and the module code of the essay in the same header or footers that specify the page number. 

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to adding page numbers and using headers and footers in Microsoft Word and Google Docs. 

Page layout   

Margins .

A margin is the amount of blank space on either side of a paragraph in a normal word processor. Traditionally, assignment descriptions specified that the margins should be made wider at the binding edge (the left hand side) of the page, to allow for easier reading of printed essays. However, with the shift to online essays, you might not be asked to do this any more and the default settings on your word processor are likely to be sufficiently wide.

For printed dissertations and theses, you may receive specific guidance about the suitable layout of margins, as these are more likely to be printed: see this university guide on formatting PhD theses . 

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to adjusting margins in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Paragraph alignment 

Most formatting instructions specify that paragraphs should be lined up in a straight line (aligned) on the left hand edge, but left jagged on the right hand edge (like this page). This is called left alignment, or flush-left style, and should be the default alignment setting for your word processor. This style can be helpful for visual accessibility, but check any specific instructions you have been given by your department to see which style of alignment you have been asked to use. 

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to adjusting paragraph alignment in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.  

Paragraph indentation

You may be asked to add indents to your paragraphs: an indent is an additional small gap between the margin and the beginning of a paragraph (it makes a ‘dent’ in the first line of your paragraph). Indents are used to provide extra clarification that the reader is starting a new paragraph after finishing the last one: therefore, they should not be used in the first paragraph of your essay. Indents are not always required, and whether you are expected to use them may depend on your referencing style , and any formatting instructions you have been given by your department.

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to indenting paragraphs in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Formatting referenced material 

Footnotes and endnotes .

Some referencing systems require you to use footnotes or endnotes to format your references (make sure to check the library’s referencing guide to familiarise yourself with the expected format of your referencing style). Inserting a footnote into your word document when you have cited from a source adds a superscript number (a number formatted in a smaller font) to the sentence. It creates a note with a matching number at the bottom of the page you are working on (in the footer), which you can add the reference information to.

Endnotes work in the same way, but instead of appearing at the bottom of the page, the reference list appears at the end of the document.

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to manually inserting footnotes and endnotes in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.  

References and bibliographies  

Instead of, or alongside footnotes/endnotes, some referencing systems ask you to include a bibliography and/or a reference list at the end of the essay (make sure to check the library’s referencing guide to familiarise yourself with the expected format of your referencing style). A reference list is a list of all the sources you have directly referred to in the essay, which could be ordered numerically or alphabetically, depending on your referencing style.

A bibliography could be used alongside, or instead of, a reference list, depending on your referencing style; here, you list all the sources you have consulted that have influenced your ideas, whether they are included in the essay or not. The way this is ordered also depends on your referencing style. 

If you auto-generate your citations in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you can auto-generate your bibliography instead of creating it manually: instructions for doing so are in the resource below. If you use a different reference manager, such as Mendeley, Zotero, or Endnote, these have their own specific instructions for auto-generating bibliographies. See the reference management resources offered by the university. 

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to manually or automatically formatting a bibliography or reference list in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Block quotations  

When you need to include a quotation in your essay that is three or more lines long, you can add this as a block quotation. A block quotation appears on a separate line to the other parts of the paragraph, and is indented (i.e. there is a wider gap between a block quotation and the left-hand margin than there is between the rest of the paragraph and the left-hand margin). Block quotations aren’t placed in quotation marks, so the indentation is used to indicate that you are using a quotation.

Check your referencing guide and any departmental guidance to learn more about the specific rules on formatting block quotations in your department. Because they take up large chunks of your word count, and break up the flow of your texts, make sure to use block quotations sparingly: they are especially helpful when you are going to perform close analysis of a large section of text. For more information on different types of quotation and how to use them, see our workshop on paraphrasing and using academic sources.

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to formatting block quotations in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Advanced formatting 

Headings and contents tables .

Most standard short essays do not include headings, other than the essay title and reference list and/or bibliography. Section headings may be required for some longer or more structured types of academic writing, such as reports; reports often follow a very closely prescribed structure, so it is essential to pay very careful attention to the specific guidelines issued with your brief. Make sure that any system you use for numbering your headings and subheadings is consistently applied throughout the document.

Depending on the advice you have been given, and the length and complexity of a lab report, you may also be required to include a table of contents to help the reader navigate between headings. Contents tables are generally standard practice in longer assignments such as dissertations and theses. Make sure to check any departmental guidance you have been given about formatting reports.

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to formatting headings and contents tables in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

301 Recommends: Scientific Writing and Lab Reports Workshop

This workshop  will help you to familiarise yourself with some of the specific expectations associated with this assignment format.

Figures and tables 

Some kinds of essays, dissertations and reports will require you to make use of figures (pictures, diagrams, and graphs) and tables (any data in a table format). Figures and tables are normally numbered in sequence, e.g. ‘Table 1’, ‘Figure 4’, and are directly referred to in the text according to their number, rather than according to their location on the page (e.g. ‘as shown in Table 2’ rather than ‘as shown below’). 

If your text is of dissertation or thesis length, or if your text has several figures, it may also be helpful to include a list of figures immediately after the table of contents. Some referencing guides have specific rules about presenting and referencing tables and figures, so make sure to familiarise yourself with these and carefully read any specific instructions about figures and tables in your assignment brief. 

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to inserting figures and tables and creating lists of figures/tables in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Top tips for formatting tables and figures:

  • Make sure that any tables or figures you use are placed below the paragraph where you refer to them, and that you have directly referred to all figures and tables in the text of the essay.
  • The caption for a table usually acts as its title, so this is placed above the table in the document. The caption for a figure is usually placed underneath the figure. Do not include unnecessary additional titles in the graph image itself, if the title is already included in your image caption. 
  • Make sure to label your captions consistently, choosing between ‘Fig.’ or ‘Figure’ and consistently using either a full stop or a colon after the label (i.e. ‘Figure 1:’ or ‘Fig. 1.’) 
  • Your caption should clearly and succinctly explain what the figure or table is. If the figure is taken from an external source, you must provide a reference that accurately reflects its copyright status (see these university library guides to inserting and attributing images and figures in university work). 
  • Make sure to include legends in any charts you use (a key that helps to explain the data in the chart). Any data series you use should be clearly distinguishable from each other (e.g. avoid printing a report with coloured graphs in black and white!) If you are only using one series of data, a legend is not always necessary. 
  • Make sure tables are clear and easy to read, using sans serif fonts, a readable font size, and avoiding unnecessary use of colour. 
  • Make sure graphs are clear and easy to read, with clearly and appropriately labelled axes. Be wary of 3D effects that may obscure the clarity of a graph.
  • Make sure to avoid presenting the same information in a graph and a table.
  • Images and figures in printed essays, such as dissertations and theses, should be large enough for the text and numbers to be legible on the printed copy. Make sure they do not extend beyond the print margins of the document. 

301 Recommends: Displaying Data in Graphs and Tables Workshop

This workshop will provide more technical advice on using graphs and tables in your work. See also this Engineering department guidance on formatting graphs and tables in Engineering lab reports.

Appendices 

Appendices commonly appear in dissertations, theses, and lab reports. An appendix provides supporting information that gives the reader a better understanding of the essay, but that might be too long, detailed or awkward to insert into the main body of the essay without breaking up its flow. Interview questions or transcripts, sample questionnaires, raw data, figures, photographs, large/complex datasets, and diagrams are all examples of information that could be included in an appendix, if it is relevant to do so.

The reader should be able to understand the essay without reference to this supporting information, as all the most important and relevant information needed to answer the question should be included in the body (i.e., the appendix should not be used to make room for content that doesn’t fit within your word count). Your appendices must be clearly signposted and explained in the body of your report, highlighting any information that is essential for your reader to understand. Do not include any appendices that are not referenced in the text itself.

The appendices should be placed in numerical or alphabetical order, and signposted according to this specific system (e.g. ‘Appendix B indicates that…’) They should be clearly labelled, using headings that match up to the in-text reference. Appendices usually appear at the very end of the assignment, after your references/bibliography. Make sure to list any appendices used in your table of contents; if you have been instructed to do so by your department or within your referencing system, you could include a list of appendices separate to your contents list. 

The specific format of the appendix heading, and the reference made to the appendix in the text, depends on your referencing style , so make sure to carefully review this information before you design your appendices.

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to inserting appendices and creating lists of appendices in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Tips and resources

  • Use this 301 proofreading checklist to check over your work when you are finished.
  • Use the University Library referencing guide for advice about referencing and formatting that is specific to your referencing style. If you need extra clarification about formatting rules, it is often possible to download an extended style guide from the official website for a specific referencing system. 
  • For further training on referencing, using reference generators, and using images in your work, see the University Library workshop programme .

Related information

Academic Writing

Proofreading

Essay structure and planning

Scientific writing and lab reports

Creating accessible Word documents

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Essay and dissertation writing skills

Planning your essay

Writing your introduction

Structuring your essay

  • Writing essays in science subjects
  • Brief video guides to support essay planning and writing
  • Writing extended essays and dissertations
  • Planning your dissertation writing time

Structuring your dissertation

  • Top tips for writing longer pieces of work

Advice on planning and writing essays and dissertations

University essays differ from school essays in that they are less concerned with what you know and more concerned with how you construct an argument to answer the question. This means that the starting point for writing a strong essay is to first unpick the question and to then use this to plan your essay before you start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

A really good starting point for you are these short, downloadable Tips for Successful Essay Writing and Answering the Question resources. Both resources will help you to plan your essay, as well as giving you guidance on how to distinguish between different sorts of essay questions. 

You may find it helpful to watch this seven-minute video on six tips for essay writing which outlines how to interpret essay questions, as well as giving advice on planning and structuring your writing:

Different disciplines will have different expectations for essay structure and you should always refer to your Faculty or Department student handbook or course Canvas site for more specific guidance.

However, broadly speaking, all essays share the following features:

Essays need an introduction to establish and focus the parameters of the discussion that will follow. You may find it helpful to divide the introduction into areas to demonstrate your breadth and engagement with the essay question. You might define specific terms in the introduction to show your engagement with the essay question; for example, ‘This is a large topic which has been variously discussed by many scientists and commentators. The principle tension is between the views of X and Y who define the main issues as…’ Breadth might be demonstrated by showing the range of viewpoints from which the essay question could be considered; for example, ‘A variety of factors including economic, social and political, influence A and B. This essay will focus on the social and economic aspects, with particular emphasis on…..’

Watch this two-minute video to learn more about how to plan and structure an introduction:

The main body of the essay should elaborate on the issues raised in the introduction and develop an argument(s) that answers the question. It should consist of a number of self-contained paragraphs each of which makes a specific point and provides some form of evidence to support the argument being made. Remember that a clear argument requires that each paragraph explicitly relates back to the essay question or the developing argument.

  • Conclusion: An essay should end with a conclusion that reiterates the argument in light of the evidence you have provided; you shouldn’t use the conclusion to introduce new information.
  • References: You need to include references to the materials you’ve used to write your essay. These might be in the form of footnotes, in-text citations, or a bibliography at the end. Different systems exist for citing references and different disciplines will use various approaches to citation. Ask your tutor which method(s) you should be using for your essay and also consult your Department or Faculty webpages for specific guidance in your discipline. 

Essay writing in science subjects

If you are writing an essay for a science subject you may need to consider additional areas, such as how to present data or diagrams. This five-minute video gives you some advice on how to approach your reading list, planning which information to include in your answer and how to write for your scientific audience – the video is available here:

A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.

Short videos to support your essay writing skills

There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing, including:

  • Approaching different types of essay questions  
  • Structuring your essay  
  • Writing an introduction  
  • Making use of evidence in your essay writing  
  • Writing your conclusion

Extended essays and dissertations

Longer pieces of writing like extended essays and dissertations may seem like quite a challenge from your regular essay writing. The important point is to start with a plan and to focus on what the question is asking. A PDF providing further guidance on planning Humanities and Social Science dissertations is available to download.

Planning your time effectively

Try not to leave the writing until close to your deadline, instead start as soon as you have some ideas to put down onto paper. Your early drafts may never end up in the final work, but the work of committing your ideas to paper helps to formulate not only your ideas, but the method of structuring your writing to read well and conclude firmly.

Although many students and tutors will say that the introduction is often written last, it is a good idea to begin to think about what will go into it early on. For example, the first draft of your introduction should set out your argument, the information you have, and your methods, and it should give a structure to the chapters and sections you will write. Your introduction will probably change as time goes on but it will stand as a guide to your entire extended essay or dissertation and it will help you to keep focused.

The structure of  extended essays or dissertations will vary depending on the question and discipline, but may include some or all of the following:

  • The background information to - and context for - your research. This often takes the form of a literature review.
  • Explanation of the focus of your work.
  • Explanation of the value of this work to scholarship on the topic.
  • List of the aims and objectives of the work and also the issues which will not be covered because they are outside its scope.

The main body of your extended essay or dissertation will probably include your methodology, the results of research, and your argument(s) based on your findings.

The conclusion is to summarise the value your research has added to the topic, and any further lines of research you would undertake given more time or resources. 

Tips on writing longer pieces of work

Approaching each chapter of a dissertation as a shorter essay can make the task of writing a dissertation seem less overwhelming. Each chapter will have an introduction, a main body where the argument is developed and substantiated with evidence, and a conclusion to tie things together. Unlike in a regular essay, chapter conclusions may also introduce the chapter that will follow, indicating how the chapters are connected to one another and how the argument will develop through your dissertation.

For further guidance, watch this two-minute video on writing longer pieces of work . 

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Communication Across the Disciplines

10 tips for writing assignments.

  • Clarify the task. Don't let questions about the task encourage procrastination.
  • Do the research early. Collecting and absorbing the material will help you meditate on what you will write, even if you don't get to work on the writing immediately.
  • Leave a strong paper trail. Frequently, the lack of good note taking doesn't register until you are in the throes of the final preparation of your project, when deadlines loom, and materials are difficult to recover. This is because one often reads and discards materials as not being relevant during the research process, only to discover later, during the writing process, that they are.
  • Brainstorm, make notes, jot down ideas as they occur, and begin by writing the stuff you do know. Most writing will be complex and you can't do all of the stages--brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, proofreading--in one fell swoop. Breaking the process into smaller steps makes it more manageable, and lets you make progress even when you don't have large chunks of time to devote to writing.
  • Get feedback. It's difficult to anticipate the gaps, confusion, and potential misinterpretations that complex writing can generate. You need to have at least one outside reader to help you.
  • Allow time for revising and editing. Once the ideas are drafted, you'll usually find that you need to go back and re-read, re-search, re-organize, and re-think what you have said.
  • Make the organization apparent. Use paragraphs, subheadings, and spatial divisions (layout) to indicate clearly changes in subject matter, focus, and depth. Sometimes this is a good time to prepare an outline, to make sure that your organization makes sense.
  • Write the introduction last. A good introduction must point forward to what the writing contains. It is a promise to the reader, and should be accurate. The best introductions will be prepared after you know what you will say and how you will say it.
  • Check for accuracy. Research-based writing is often complex and it is easy to overlook a mistake made while drafting. Check your sources, read carefully through your quotations, citations, and documentation.
  • Proofread carefully. This is often a step left out in the crunch to finish by a deadline, and yet, it is often little mistakes (typos, errors of punctuation and grammar) which communicate to your reader a sense of carelessness or inability to write.
  • Forgive yourself for what is not perfect. We never stop learning how to write. No draft is ever perfect, but the deadline requires that you do your best and then send it out into the world of the reader.

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Design, Architecture and Building

  • Architecture
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  • DAB Research
  • Public Policy and Governance
  • Secondary Education
  • Education (Learning and Leadership)
  • Learning Design
  • Postgraduate Education Research Degrees
  • Primary Education

Engineering

  • Civil and Environmental
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  • Systems and Operations
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  • Postgraduate Engineering courses
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  • Sport and Exercise
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  • Women's and Children's Health

Health (GEM)

  • Coursework Degrees
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Genetic Counselling
  • Good Manufacturing Practice
  • Physiotherapy
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  • Research Degrees

Information Technology

  • Business Analysis and Information Systems
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  • IT Management and Leadership
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  • Systems Design and Analysis
  • Web and Cloud Computing
  • Postgraduate IT courses
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  • Postgraduate Science Programs
  • Science Research Programs
  • Undergraduate Science Programs

Transdisciplinary Innovation

  • Creative Intelligence and Innovation
  • Diploma in Innovation
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Sample written assignments

Look at sample assignments to help you develop and enhance your academic writing skills. 

How to use this page

This page features authentic sample assignments that you can view or download to help you develop and enhance your academic writing skills. 

PLEASE NOTE: Comments included in these sample written assignments  are intended as an educational guide only.  Always check with academic staff which referencing convention you should follow. All sample assignments have been submitted using Turnitin® (anti-plagiarism software). Under no circumstances should you copy from these or any other texts.

Annotated bibliography

Annotated Bibliography: Traditional Chinese Medicine  (PDF, 103KB)

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Essay: Business - "Overconsumption and Sustainability"  (PDF, 762KB)

Essay: Business - "Post bureaucracy vs Bureaucracy"  (PDF, 609KB)

Essay: Design, Architecture & Building - "Ideas in History - Postmodernism"  (PDF, 545KB)

Essay: Design, Architecture & Building - "The Context of Visual Communication Design Research Project"  (PDF, 798KB)

Essay: Design, Architecture & Building - "Ideas in History - The Nurses Walk and Postmodernism"  (PDF, 558KB)

Essay: Health (Childhood Obesity )  (PDF, 159KB)

Essay: Health  (Improving Quality and Safety in Healthcare)  (PDF, 277KB)

Essay: Health (Organisational Management in Healthcare)   (PDF, 229KB)

UTS HELPS annotated Law essay

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Literature review

Literature Review: Education (Critical Pedagogy)   (PDF, 165KB)

Reflective writing

Reflective Essay: Business (Simulation Project)  (PDF, 119KB)

Reflective Essay: Nursing (Professionalism in Context)  (PDF, 134KB)

Report: Business (Management Decisions and Control)   (PDF, 244KB)

Report: Education (Digital Storytelling)  (PDF, 145KB)

Report: Education (Scholarly Practice)   (PDF, 261KB)

Report: Engineering Communication (Flood Mitigation & Water Storage)  (PDF, 1MB)

UTS acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the Boorooberongal people of the Dharug Nation, the Bidiagal people and the Gamaygal people, upon whose ancestral lands our university stands. We would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present, acknowledging them as the traditional custodians of knowledge for these lands.

how to write a good university assignment

12 Professional Tips on How to Write an Assignment for University

How to Write an Assignment

  • Post author By admin
  • September 2, 2022

How to Write an Assignment? Assignment writing is not an easy task because it requires knowledge in a particular field. For writing a perfect assignment your grammar and writing skills should be excellent.

Before starting to write an assignment, you should understand you have the subject knowledge or not. If not so, first learn to gain knowledge about the subject before writing assignments.

Once you have the required knowledge then start collecting information and reference sources. With the reference sources and citation, start gathering necessary information, data, and other related elements.

There are many other things that should be keep in mind while writing an assignment. Here we provide 12 professional tips to write a good assignment.

Table of Contents

Plan : How to Write an Assignment

Writing a good assignment needs a great plan. Plan about paragraphs: like the main idea of writing that paragraph and listing main point describing problems and solution etc.

  • How many paragraphs and points should need in the assignment?
  • Draw a timeline for the key stages in order to make your task measurable.
  • Main three parts we should take care of is introduction, body and, conclusion.

Understand the topic:

If you have the freedom to choose your topic, then go ahead and select your assignment topic which holds your interest. Choosing an interesting topic will not only help you in developing an interesting assignment. It also helps you in making it more descriptive and informative.

Collect Information:

A good way to start collecting information is to recollect your books, and lecture notes. During the search, you need to find the key concepts, principles, ideas, and theories that would relate well to the assignment topic.

  • You can collect information from the internet.
  • Go to the library and collect the informational book. You also take help from the librarian.

Research and Read the collected information:

Read the collected data and once you start finding key ideas and concepts then start making notes. You can search online, go to the library, search for an academic database, or read newspapers.

  • Research can definitely give you a better understanding of the broader issue of your topic.
  • This will also give you plenty of innovative ideas which you can apply on your assignment.
  • Analyze the topic in-depth, identifying all relevant issues.
  • You can also consider journal articles. Because journals are updated and have a particular focus on the topic.

Read More: Is Homework Good or Bad

Create an outline

  • Writing an outline is an important part for assignment. It also saves your time.
  • Outline contains the main points and divides the assignment into sections.
  • It makes easy for you to organize their ideas or points.

Start with Introduction

  • Introduction is an important feature that shows the reader about the further discussion.
  • Keep the introduction short. It is necessary to keep the word count in control, but it doesn’t mean that you make the introduction boring.
  • You need to make the introduction interesting and attractive.

The main body

The main body is starting where you will discuss the concepts in brief. The basic guidelines about the main body are:

  • 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.
  • Don’t introduce new topics or ideas in your conclusion that you haven’t discussed in your main essay.

Referencing

References play an important role in assignments. The primary concern of reference is to acknowledge the source of information and ideas in the body of assignment.

Referencing are usually considered in two forms:

  • End-texting referencing:

It appears at the end of the writing section.

  • In-texting referencing:

It appears on the body of assignments with authors name and date of the source.

Some important tips for referencing:

  • Arrange the references in an alphabetical list at the end of the assignment.
  • If your teacher does not specify a significant referencing style. You can use the APA style of referencing for your assignment.
  • APA, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago are the various referencing styles used in university.

Revise and Proofread

  • After completing your assignment firstly you need to revise your assignment.
  • Check your assignment is complete or not.
  • Also check your assignment structure, title, and introduction
  • Always check any grammatical and spelling error.
  • If you have any error in your assignment then you can easily remove these.

Get online help

  • You can also get help from any homework help provider website. There are many websites, you can choose anyone.
  • They complete your assignment within the deadline and give you 100% unique solution.
  • You can save your time by taking online homework help service.

Submit the Assignment

After completing the assignment again you need to revise it. If there is no error in an assignment then you should go and submit it.

In this article we try to show you how to write an assignment and if any student follows these steps he will write an amazing assignment and for your future we will pray you do good in your academics and your journey will be safe and secure. For more wonderful and helpful content follow the Course Mentor and stay tuned with us.

How Do You Start an Assignment?

In your first line, you should introduce your main point, give some background, and talk about the main points of the question. You should then talk about how you plan to answer the question. Some people find it easier to write their introduction after they’ve finished the rest of their task.

What is the Format of Assignment File?

Depending on the OS, an assignment file is an ASCII or EBCDIC text file with the extension.asn. Any ASCII file editor can be used to make or change assignment files.

What is the Format of a University Essay?

Proper Format for Your Academic Writing

Most academic essays are written in the standard format of five paragraphs: an opening, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Also, each part will have its own structure on the inside.

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how to write a good university assignment

Read a text summary on how to write introductions and conclusions.

  • Newcastle University
  • Academic Skills Kit
  • Academic Writing

Introductions and conclusions can be tricky to write. They do not contain the main substance of your assignment, but they do play a key role in helping the reader navigate your writing. The usual advice is

  • Introduction: say what you're going to say
  • Main body: say it
  • Conclusion: say that you've said it

However, this approach can feel repetitive and is not very rewarding to write or read.

A more engaging approach is to think about the perspective of the reader and what they need to know in order to make sense of your writing. In academic writing, it is the writer’s job to make their meaning clear (unlike in literature and fiction, where it is the reader’s job to interpret the meaning) so that the reader can concentrate on deciding what they think of your work and marking it. Introductions and conclusions play an important role in explaining your aims and approach, so to help you write them well, you could think about what questions the reader has for you as they pick up your work for the first time, and when they have finished reading it.

Introductions

The introductions are the first part of your assignment that the reader encounters, so it needs to make a good impression and set the scene for what follows. Your introduction is about 10% of the total word count. It can be difficult to think what that first opening sentence should be, or what an introduction should include. 

From your reader’s perspective, they have three questions when they first pick up your assignment.

What are you doing?

You could approach this question in a number of ways:

  • Although your lecturer knows the assignment questions they’ve set, they don’t know how you have understood and interpreted it. To demonstrate that you’ve read it accurately, you can echo back the question to your reader, paraphrased in your own words so they know you have really understood it rather than just copying and pasting it.
  • There might also be different ways to interpret the assignment, and clarifying for the reader how you’ve interpreted it would be helpful. Perhaps different angles on it are possible, there is more than one definition you could be working to, or you have been given a range of options within the assessment brief, and you need to tell the reader which approach you are taking.
  • It’s also common to give a brief overview of a topic in the introduction, providing the reader with some context so they can understand what is to follow. Of course, your lecturer is already likely to know this basic information, so you could think of it as giving the reader confidence that you also share that foundational knowledge and have got your facts right. This aspect needs to be as brief as possible, as it can be very descriptive (which will not get you higher marks) and if it extends too far, can take up too much space in your essay which would be better used for analysis, interpretation or argumentation. A rough guide is to ask yourself which information is built on later in your assignment and cut anything that doesn’t get ‘used’ later on.

Why are you doing this?

The obvious answer to this question is "because you told me to write this assignment”! A more interesting response, though, is to show that you've really understood why your lecturer has set that question and why it’s worth asking. None of the questions you are set at University will be simple or straightforward, but will be complex and problematic, and many have no single clear answer or approach. In responding thoughtfully to the question “why are you doing this”, you are reflecting on why it is significant, complex and worth doing, that you've understood the complexity of the assignment you’ve been set and recognise the lecturer’s aims in setting it.

How will you do this?

Every student who answers a particular assignment will produce a different answer, with a different structure, making different points and drawing on different information. Your reader wants to know what your own particular approach to the assignment will be.

  • You might answer this question in terms of what your structure is going to be, signalling how many sections you use and what order they appear in, signposting how you have broken the assignment down and organised it, so the reader knows what to expect.
  • You might also explain to the reader which choices and decisions you have made to narrow it down to a manageable, focussed assignment. You might have chosen to set yourself particular limits on the scope of your assignment (for example, a focussing on a particular context, timespan, or type), or which examples and case studies you’ve chosen to illustrate your answer with, and why they are appropriate for this assignment.
  • If relevant, you might also tell the reader about your methodology, the theories, models, definitions or approaches you have applied in order to answer the assignment question.

Your introduction may not include all these elements, or include them in the same balance or in this order, but if you address the reader’s three questions, your introduction will fulfil its purpose. Make sure you’re not jumping into your argument too early. Your introduction should introduce your argument but not actually do the work of making it yet; that is the job of the main body of the assignment.

Conclusions

Conclusions can feel a bit repetitive, as you need to revisit the points you’ve already made, but not include any new material. Again, the conclusion is usually about 10% of your total word count. The challenge is to make them engaging to read for your marker, but also interesting for you to write, so they feel purposeful. You cannot include any new material as conclusions should close a discussion down, not open up new avenues or leave points unresolved. If a point is important, it should be dealt with in the main body rather than as an afterthought.

As they read, your marker is focussing on each paragraph in detail, identifying the point you’re making, analysing and evaluating the evidence you’re using, and the way you explain, interpret and argue, to see if it makes sense. They’re also thinking about the quality of your work and what mark they’re going to give it, looking to see that you’ve met the marking criteria. University assignments are long enough that the reader will find it hard to give each point this kind of detailed scrutiny and keep the whole assignment in their mind at the same time. The job of the conclusion is to help them move from that close-up reading and zoom out to give them a sense of the whole.  

Again, a good approach is to think of the questions that your reader has when they reach the end of your assignment.

Where are we?

Your conclusion is the overall answer to the original assignment question you were set. See if you can summarise your overall answer in one sentence. This might be the first line of your conclusion. Make sure that your concluding answer does match the question you were set in the assessment.  

How did we get here?

Having told the reader where they've got to, you will need to remind them of how you got there. To strengthen their confidence in your overall answer, you can remind them of the points you made and how together they build your conclusion.  

Where does that leave us?

Although you cannot include new information in your conclusion, you can show your thinking in a new light. One question your reader may have is “where does that leave me’?  or “so what?”. You could therefore briefly discuss the significance of your conclusion. Now that you’ve demonstrated your answer to the question, how does that add to our overall understanding of this topic? What do we know, what can we do now, that we couldn’t before? If we hadn’t explored this topic, where would we be? Why is this conclusion important? This might resolve the issues you raised in the introduction when you answered the question ‘why am I doing this?’

A possible follow-on to this question is to examine what work might come next, if you didn’t have time constraints or word limits. This is particularly relevant in second and third year and masters level assignments, especially dissertations. This is a good way to show awareness of how your own thinking fits in the wider context of scholarship and research and how it might be developed. It might be a way to touch on aspects you had to cut out, or areas you couldn’t cover.

When to write the introduction and conclusion

You don’t have to write your assignment in order. If you find that the introduction is hard to start, then you could write it at the end of the process, which will ensure that it matches the assignment you’ve actually written. However, it might be a useful approach to at least begin by thinking about the introduction questions above, as it will help you in the planning process. Likewise, you could start with writing the conclusion if you have done extensive thinking and planning, as formulating your end goal might help to keep you on track (although be open to your overall answer changing a little in the process). Again, thinking about the conclusion questions above at the start of the process is a useful planning tool to clarify your thinking, even if you don’t write it until the end.

Download this guide as a PDF

Writing introductions and conclusions.

Read a text summary on how to write introductions and conclusions. **PDF Download**

10 Tips on How to write an Assignment for University

how to write a good university assignment

  • Assignment Help

tips for assignment writing

How to write an assignment for university is a common question asked by young graduates today. University assignments are different and more complex as compared to the assignment work that the students are involved in during high school and college. The students have to focus on various kinds of criteria to secure good marks in the competitive academic scenario. While writing a University assignment, the appropriate structure and guidelines need to be followed strictly so that it is unique from the other assignments that have been done before.

A common question that might bother University students is How to write an assignment for the University to score top grades?”It is necessary to maintain a formal tone throughout the assignment so that the seriousness of the writer can be passed on to the readers. Some of the most crucial points have been highlighted to answer the question of how to write an assignment for University. These simple assignments writing tips can guide the students to keep in mind the important elements before writing a University assignment.

Categories of University Assignments

In Universities, the students are asked to work on different kinds of assignments and projects that vary in nature. Some of the most common kinds of University assignments that students have to work on during the phase of the post graduation degree have been highlighted below.

10 tips on how to write an assignment for university

  • Research proposals
  • Dissertations
  • Case studies
  • Term papers
  • Reflective papers and

The simple assignment writing tips that have been presented here would help the students to focus on core assignment writing criterion such as plagiarism, formatting, the significance of error-free grammar, referencing, and the relevancy of the content.

Key factors to be considered before writing an assignment

10 tips on how to write an assignment for university

Purpose and preparation It is necessary to understand the fundamental elements of the topic that would be constructed into the assignment. The core ideas must be highlighted along with the primary objective so that the assignment can be prepared for the intended readers and audience. The purpose of the assignment influences the mode of preparation of the university assignments. To prepare the assignment, thorough research is a must.

Intended readers Assignments are prepared for a certain section of readers. Before starting an assignment, it is necessary to determine the readers so that the assignment can be designed to establish a connection with the audience.

Time factor Before answering the question how to write an assignment for university, it is crucial to consider the time factor. Generally, students have to finish an assignment within a specified time frame. Thus, all the components of the assignments must be carefully planned and scheduled so that the core requirements of the assignment can be met and nothing would be left out.

Structure Students need to provide the appropriate structure on the University assignment so that a professional touch can be established. The provided assignment format must be strictly followed so that the flow of the content is maintained from start to finish.

Fluency in Language While writing an assignment a simple and intelligible language must be used by the student so that the readers can understand it. The formal tone of writing must be maintained throughout the piece. Fancy and bombastic terms must be avoided as these do not add value to the University assignments.

Techniques to write University assignments proficiently The main question that arises in the minds of new university students relates to how to write assignments for Universities and secure top marks. They need to understand the simple fact that an assignment can become successful and mark fetching if students understand what is expected of them while working on it. To produce an appealing and gripping assignment, students need to start working on it in advance so that they can carefully carry out the planning and pre-writing processes. Ten crucial assignment writing tips have been presented that can help students to write high-quality university assignments.

10 tips on how to write an assignment for university

  • Disciplined planning of time Preparing a high-quality assignment can be a time-consuming activity that requires sufficient effort from the students. There is need to carefully allocate the time for all the assignment parts so that no important element would be ignored. The core elements that must be carefully considered include allocating time for a thorough research process, reading the topics and collecting the information, grouping and sorting the collected information, developing the draft of the assignment, redrafting the work and designing the final version. Time must be allocated to compile the used references. Ultimately, sufficient time must be given for the proofreading the final work.
  • Researching and Gathering appropriate information Before collecting the appropriate data and information that can be used in the assignment, the lecture notes must be referred to so that the key concepts, principles, and frameworks can be identified. External sources such as peer-reviewed journals can be referred to strengthen the academic assignment. The books from reputed and authentic authors must also be used while preparing the assignment.
  • Going through the gathered information After the relevant information has been captured, it has to be read, and notes have to be made. This process is necessary to make sure that the collected information is useful for the academic assignment. The reading must be done selectively so that the background of the assignment could be understood more simply. The better understanding of the background knowledge would help to adopt a critical approach while working on the University-level assignment.
  • Preparing notes The next step that can help to answer the question on “How to write an assignment?” is to prepare the notes so that the key ideas could be captured. The ideas must be summarized in simple language for better understanding of the core theoretical concepts of the assignment. The notes relating to the reference must also be included so that the exact source of data and infuriation could be captured efficiently.
  • Interpretation of the assignment topic The proper understanding of the assignment topic is necessary so that it can be constructed into a logical write-up. The topic question must be thoroughly analyzed so that all the suitable and important theoretical concepts could be applied in the assignment. All the core issues relating to the topic need to be critically analyzed by following a comparison and contrast approach. It would help to get a better idea about the issue that needs to be addressed in the assignment. Thus, the interpretation of the assignment topic must be done simply so that the readers can understand it.
  • The relevance of the thesis statement The thesis statement refers to the goals and the objectives of the overall assignment. It must be framed in simple language so that the core issues can be presented to the readers. The statement must be presented in an analytical tone. All the arguments and points must revolve around the thesis statement so that the link can be established between the statement and the entire assignment.
  • Framing of the Introduction The introduction must be brief and to the point so that the readers can get a glimpse of what the assignment is all about. It must highlight the objective of the assignment. The various elements that would be highlighted on the work must be presented in this part so that the readers can understand the topic and its significance.
  • The “Discussion” section The discussion must be carefully framed so that all the valid arguments can be presented to the readers. There must be a connection between the theoretical framework and their application in the assignment. The students have to make sure that all the concepts and ideas that have been presented are linked to each other so that the flow of the discussion is maintained throughout the assignment. All the facts and pieces of evidence must be carefully placed so that they make sense for the readers.
  • Conclusion or Summary The conclusion is one of the most important parts of the assignment that summarizes the ultimate learning. Students need to make sure that no new information is included in this section. In the initial stage, an unambiguous conclusion could be drawn highlighting the core arguments of the assignment. Then a final message must be addressed to the readers highlighting the overall discussion.
  • Grammar While working on the University assignment, careful attention must be given to the grammar and the English so that the language is kept simple and understandable. The use of bombastic words could be avoided so that the readers could understand the clear message. To have a strong grammatical use, the proofreading process is a must.
  • Plagiarism The originality of the academic work should be maintained throughout the process so that the University policies could be followed and the personal learning could be encouraged. External sources could be used, but it must be represented in own language. Similarly, proper referencing must be followed so that the referred authors could be highlighted in the University assignment. The originality of the assignment must be maintained throughout the academic assignment.
  • Referencing While working on the University level assignments, careful attention must be given to the referencing activity. It is a critical part of the assignment that can pose challenges for the students. Some of the simple tricks that can be used to simplify the referencing process include the alphabetical arrangement of the references after the completion of the assignment. Two referencing techniques could be adopted namely the end-text referencing model and the in-text referencing model. The end-text referencing appears at the end of the assignment whereas the in-text referencing appears within the body of the assignment work. In this model, the name of the author and the date entry is mentioned. Some of the popular referencing techniques used while preparing University assignments include APA, Harvard, and MLA.

These guidelines must be followed to effectively answer the simple question relating to how to write an assignment for the University and secure high grades.

Jack Ng

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That’s an awesome piece of assignment writing tips, Now I can easily write my assignment for my papers

Thank you David

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how to write a good university assignment

How to write better university assignments

HOW TO WRITE

University life comes with its share of challenges. One of these is how to write longer assignments that require higher information, communication and critical thinking skills than what you might have been used to in high school. Here are five tips to help you get ahead.

1. Step one on how to write: Use all available sources of information

Beyond instructions and deadlines, lecturers make available an increasing number of resources. But students often overlook these.

For example, to understand how your assignment will be graded, you can examine the rubric . This is a chart indicating what you need to do to obtain a high distinction, a credit or a pass, as well as the course objectives – also known as “learning outcomes”.

Other resources include lecture recordings, reading lists, sample assignments and discussion boards. All this information is usually put together in an online platform called a learning management system (LMS). Examples include Blackboard , Moodle , Canvas and iLearn . Research shows students who use their LMS more frequently tend to obtain higher final grades.

If after scrolling through your LMS you still have questions about your assignment, you can check your lecturer’s consultation hours.

2. Take referencing seriously

Plagiarism – using somebody else’s words or ideas without attribution – is a serious offence at university. It is a form of cheating.

Hands on a keyboard using the Ctrl C copy function

It’s so easy to copy and paste sentences, but using someone else’s words without attribution is a serious offence in the academic world. Source: Shutterstock

In many cases, though, students are unaware they have cheated. They are simply not familiar with referencing styles – such as APA , Harvard , Vancouver , Chicago , etc – or lack the skills to put the information from their sources into their own words.

To avoid making this mistake, you may approach your university’s library, which is likely to offer face-to-face workshops or online resources on referencing. Academic support units may also help with paraphrasing.

You can also use referencing management software, such as EndNote or Mendeley . You can then store your sources, retrieve citations and create reference lists with only a few clicks. For undergraduate students, Zotero has been recommended as it seems to be more user-friendly.

Using this kind of software will certainly save you time searching for and formatting references. However, you still need to become familiar with the citation style in your discipline and revise the formatting accordingly.

3. Plan before you write

If you were to build a house, you wouldn’t start by laying bricks at random. You’d start with a blueprint. Likewise, writing an academic paper requires careful planning: you need to decide the number of sections, their organisation, and the information and sources you will include in each.

Research shows students who prepare detailed outlines produce higher-quality texts. Planning will not only help you get better grades, but will also reduce the time you spend staring blankly at the screen thinking about what to write next.

Young woman sitting at desk with laptop and checking notes for assignment

Spend some time planning your assignment before you start writing. Research shows it does pay off. Source: Shutterstock

During the planning stage, using programmes like OneNote from Microsoft Office or Outline for Mac can make the task easier as they allow you to organise information in tabs. These bits of information can be easily rearranged for later drafting. Navigating through the tabs is also easier than scrolling through a long Word file.

4. Choose the right words

Which of these sentences is more appropriate for an assignment?

a. “This paper talks about why the planet is getting hotter”, or b. “This paper examines the causes of climate change”.

The written language used at university is more formal and technical than the language you normally use in social media or while chatting with your friends. Academic words tend to be longer and their meaning is also more precise. “Climate change” implies more than just the planet “getting hotter”.

To find the right words, you can use SkELL , which shows you the words that appear more frequently, with your search entry categorised grammatically. For example, if you enter “paper”, it will tell you it is often the subject of verbs such as “present”, “describe”, “examine” and “discuss”.

Another option is the Writefull app, which does a similar job without having to use an online browser.

5. Edit and proofread

If you’re typing the last paragraph of the assignment ten minutes before the deadline, you will be missing a very important step in the writing process: editing and proofreading your text. A 2018 study found a group of university students did significantly better in a test after incorporating the process of planning, drafting and editing in their writing.

Hand holding red pen to edit paper.

Plan to give yourself time to read through and check your assignment. Assessors are not impressed by obvious careless mistakes. Source: Shutterstock

You probably already know to check the spelling of a word if it appears underlined in red. You may even use a grammar checker such as Grammarly . However, no software to date can detect every error and it is not uncommon to be given inaccurate suggestions.

So, in addition to your choice of proofreader, you need to improve and expand your grammar knowledge. Check with the academic support services at your university if they offer any relevant courses.

Written communication is a skill that requires effort and dedication. That’s why universities are investing in support services – face-to-face workshops, individual consultations, and online courses – to help students in this process. You can also take advantage of a wide range of web-based resources such as spell checkers, vocabulary tools and referencing software – many of them free.

Improving your written communication will help you succeed at university and beyond.

By Alexandra Garcia , Lecturer in Student Learning and Communication Development, University of Sydney

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  • How to write an essay introduction | 4 steps & examples

How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on February 4, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.

A good introduction paragraph is an essential part of any academic essay . It sets up your argument and tells the reader what to expect.

The main goals of an introduction are to:

  • Catch your reader’s attention.
  • Give background on your topic.
  • Present your thesis statement —the central point of your essay.

This introduction example is taken from our interactive essay example on the history of Braille.

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

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Table of contents

Step 1: hook your reader, step 2: give background information, step 3: present your thesis statement, step 4: map your essay’s structure, step 5: check and revise, more examples of essay introductions, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.

Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook.

Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you’re writing about and why it’s interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.

Examples: Writing a good hook

Take a look at these examples of weak hooks and learn how to improve them.

  • Braille was an extremely important invention.
  • The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.

The first sentence is a dry fact; the second sentence is more interesting, making a bold claim about exactly  why the topic is important.

  • The internet is defined as “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.”
  • The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education.

Avoid using a dictionary definition as your hook, especially if it’s an obvious term that everyone knows. The improved example here is still broad, but it gives us a much clearer sense of what the essay will be about.

  • Mary Shelley’s  Frankenstein is a famous book from the nineteenth century.
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement.

Instead of just stating a fact that the reader already knows, the improved hook here tells us about the mainstream interpretation of the book, implying that this essay will offer a different interpretation.

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Next, give your reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, this might include:

  • Historical, geographical, or social context
  • An outline of the debate you’re addressing
  • A summary of relevant theories or research about the topic
  • Definitions of key terms

The information here should be broad but clearly focused and relevant to your argument. Don’t give too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later, but save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of the essay.

How much space you need for background depends on your topic and the scope of your essay. In our Braille example, we take a few sentences to introduce the topic and sketch the social context that the essay will address:

Now it’s time to narrow your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. This is your thesis statement —a sentence or two that sums up your overall argument.

This is the most important part of your introduction. A  good thesis isn’t just a statement of fact, but a claim that requires evidence and explanation.

The goal is to clearly convey your own position in a debate or your central point about a topic.

Particularly in longer essays, it’s helpful to end the introduction by signposting what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give your reader a clear sense of the direction your argument will take.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

As you research and write, your argument might change focus or direction as you learn more.

For this reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until later in the writing process before you write the introduction paragraph—it can even be the very last thing you write.

When you’ve finished writing the essay body and conclusion , you should return to the introduction and check that it matches the content of the essay.

It’s especially important to make sure your thesis statement accurately represents what you do in the essay. If your argument has gone in a different direction than planned, tweak your thesis statement to match what you actually say.

To polish your writing, you can use something like a paraphrasing tool .

You can use the checklist below to make sure your introduction does everything it’s supposed to.

Checklist: Essay introduction

My first sentence is engaging and relevant.

I have introduced the topic with necessary background information.

I have defined any important terms.

My thesis statement clearly presents my main point or argument.

Everything in the introduction is relevant to the main body of the essay.

You have a strong introduction - now make sure the rest of your essay is just as good.

  • Argumentative
  • Literary analysis

This introduction to an argumentative essay sets up the debate about the internet and education, and then clearly states the position the essay will argue for.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

This introduction to a short expository essay leads into the topic (the invention of the printing press) and states the main point the essay will explain (the effect of this invention on European society).

In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.

This introduction to a literary analysis essay , about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , starts by describing a simplistic popular view of the story, and then states how the author will give a more complex analysis of the text’s literary devices.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale. Arguably the first science fiction novel, its plot can be read as a warning about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, and in popular culture representations of the character as a “mad scientist”, Victor Frankenstein represents the callous, arrogant ambition of modern science. However, far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to gradually transform our impression of Frankenstein, portraying him in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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  • Appeal to authority fallacy
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  • Sunk cost fallacy

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Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.

To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, July 23). How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved February 19, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/introduction/

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7 Ultimate Tips to Write University Assignments for Good-Grades

Getting into the university of your dreams takes hard work and determination and is a huge goal to achieve. But if you think the journey gets easier from there then think again. With the many other challenges it brings, probably the most daunting of all is assignment writing. You have of course had experience with homework and projects up till now. But the requirements of higher academic papers are a lot more challenging and strenuous. To help you master the techniques of assignment writing we bring you seven effective tips to write university assignments.

1.     Always plan beforehand

Nothing good comes out of a disorganized beginning. Without a proper mapping and scheduling of all relevant tasks, you are bound to get confused. An academic paper has extreme significance and is seen as your contribution to the existing literature in your field. Therefore, it is necessary to outline everything early on in the process. Not only can you avoid missing important points but also manage your time much better.

2.     Referencing is essential

We cannot insist enough on how serious an offense plagiarism is. And the tricky part is that it can also happen without you intending to do so. It is necessary to have knowledge of different referencing styles like APA, Chicago, Harvard, Vancouver, etc. Being familiar with them and paraphrasing will ensure plagiarism does not catch you unaware. Your on-campus library and online resources can provide the basic know-how of referencing you need.

3.     Understand given objects before beginning

Although it is an obvious enough tip, yet it is a common mistakes in assignments that most students make. Never start working on your assignment without fully comprehending the requirements and research question. Focus particularly on what you are asked to do and the details of the topic. In case the instructions are unclear to you, then ask your tutor to explain them. It is wise to be safe instead of sorry later on.

4.     Research extensively

Once you have a clear idea about what your assignment should cover, it is time to start researching Even if you think you have knowledge of the topic, university assignments need profound study. You need to examine, compare, and analyze other academic works to find premises for your paper. Research is the lengthiest task of the assignment process. Therefore, begin it early so you can gather as much information as needed.

5.     Use all types of authentic information sources

This is closely connected to the research phase. The academic works we mentioned above are of various types. But for them to be a part of your research they must have authentic scholarly sources. Your professor will have a number of resources available, and you should peruse them first. Next, you can go through libraries and academic journals, research, and essays online. Only include quotes or information from those sources which are relevant and genuine.

6.     Be mindful of the diction you use

It is important to use the right words and phrasing for your paper to meet university standards. A well-chosen set of words sounds more academic than a simply formed sentence. That does not mean however that you have to use rambling heavily elaborate sentences. But it does require you to select terms that are more technical and formal. It will not only refine your assignment but will also lend precision to it.

7.       Never submit assignments without reviewing

The final and most important phase of assignment writing is editing your work. It is never a good idea to complete your paper at the last minute. Schedule writing your final draft in a way that gives you several days till the deadline. So, you will have ample time to review your whole paper and correct any errors. It is a huge mistake to handover your assignment without proofreading and reviewing it.

Apart from the major flaws, smaller mistakes in grammar, spelling, or structure can cost you marks. They can seriously bring down the quality of your work and makes it look irresponsible and careless. Which is not the ideal reputation to build with your teacher. Hence, double-check everything and even have someone else proofread the assignment for you. Having a second opinion can provide you a new perspective and help in bringing more improvement.

Following our tips that can make assignment writing more convenient for you. But you also need dedication, effort, and patience to make your work truly exceptional. There are various excellent tools and resources available online which can support you if confusion hits. Make use of spell checkers, referencing software, plagiarism checkers and more for your paper to be as flawless as possible. View your paper as a way of communicating your theories and analysis of a topic. The more concise and well-crafted the material is, the better appreciation you will receive from your professor.

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K-12 students learned a lot last year, but they're still missing too much school

Cory Turner - Square

Cory Turner

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Sequoia Carrillo

how to write a good university assignment

From 2022-2023, chronic absenteeism declined in 33 of the 39 states AEI looked at. But it was still a persistent problem: In a handful of places, including Nevada, Washington, D.C., Michigan, New Mexico and Oregon, roughly 1 in 3 students – or more – were chronically absent. LA Johnson/NPR hide caption

From 2022-2023, chronic absenteeism declined in 33 of the 39 states AEI looked at. But it was still a persistent problem: In a handful of places, including Nevada, Washington, D.C., Michigan, New Mexico and Oregon, roughly 1 in 3 students – or more – were chronically absent.

It's going to take aggressive interventions to repair the pandemic's destructive impact on kids' schooling.

That's the takeaway of two big new studies that look at how America's K-12 students are doing. There's some good news in this new research, to be sure – but there's still a lot of work to do on both student achievement and absenteeism. Here's what to know:

1. Students are starting to make up for missed learning

From spring 2022 to spring 2023, students made important learning gains, making up for about one-third of the learning they had missed in math and a quarter of the learning they had missed in reading during the pandemic.

That's according to the newly updated Education Recovery Scorecard , a co-production of Harvard University's Center for Education Policy Research and The Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University.

6 things we've learned about how the pandemic disrupted learning

6 things we've learned about how the pandemic disrupted learning

The report says, "Students learned 117 percent in math and 108 percent in reading of what they would typically have learned in a pre-pandemic school year."

In an interview with NPR's All Things Considered , Stanford professor Sean Reardon said that's surprisingly good news: "A third or a quarter might not sound like a lot, but you have to realize the losses from 2019 to 2022 were historically large."

When the same team of researchers did a similar review last year, they found that, by spring of 2022, the average third- through eighth-grader had missed half a grade level in math and a third of a grade level in reading. So, the fact that students are now making up ground is a good sign.

These results do come with a few caveats, including that the researchers were only able to review data and draw their conclusions from 30 states this year.

2. Despite that progress, very few states are back to pre-pandemic learning levels

The Harvard and Stanford study of student learning includes one sobering sentence: "Alabama is the only state where average student achievement exceeds pre-pandemic levels in math." And average achievement in reading has surpassed pre-pandemic levels in just three of the states they studied: Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi. Every other state for which they had data has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels in math and reading.

"Many schools made strong gains last year, but most districts are still working hard just to reach pre-pandemic achievement levels," said Harvard's Thomas Kane, one of the learning study's co-authors.

3. Chronic absenteeism also improved in many places ... slightly

The rate of chronic absenteeism – the percentage of students who miss 10% or more of a school year – declined from 2022 to 2023. That's according to research by Nat Malkus at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He found chronic absenteeism declined in 33 of the 39 states he studied.

Yes, "the differences were relatively small," Malkus writes, but it's improvement nonetheless: "the average chronic absenteeism rate across these states in 2023 was 26 percent, down from 28 percent for the same 39 states in 2022."

Glass half-full: Things aren't getting worse.

4. But, again, chronic absenteeism is still high

Malkus found chronic absenteeism was at 26% in 2023. Before the pandemic, in 2019, those same states reported a rate of 15%. That adds some painful context to the "good news" two-point decline in absenteeism from 2022 to 2023. Sure, it's down, but it's still so much higher than it was and should be.

Think of it this way: In 2023, roughly 1 student out of 4 was still chronically absent across the school year.

In a handful of places, including Nevada, Washington, D.C., Michigan, New Mexico and Oregon, roughly 1 in 3 students – or more – were chronically absent. That's a crisis.

Research shows a strong connection between absenteeism and all kinds of negative consequences for students, including an increased likelihood of dropping out of school.

Chronic absenteeism also hurts the students who don't miss school. That's because, as the learning study's authors point out, when absent students return, they require extra attention and "make it hard for teachers to keep the whole class moving."

5. Poverty matters (as always)

Both the learning and the chronic absenteeism studies capture the headwinds that constantly buffet children in poverty.

"No one wants poor children to foot the bill for the pandemic," said Harvard's Kane, "but that is the path that most states are on."

On learning: Reardon told NPR "the pandemic really exacerbated inequality between students in high-poverty and low-poverty districts and students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds."

In 2023, students' academic recovery was relatively strong across groups, which is good – but it means "the inequality that was widened during the pandemic hasn't gotten smaller, and in some places it's actually gotten larger," Reardon told NPR.

In fact, the report says, "in most states, achievement gaps between rich and poor districts are even wider now than they were before the pandemic." The learning study singles out Massachusetts and Michigan as the states where those gaps in math and reading achievement widened the most between poor and non-poor students.

Similarly, Malkus, at AEI, found that, between 2019 and 2022, rates of chronic absenteeism rose much more in high-poverty districts (up from 20% to 37%) than in low-poverty districts (up from 12% to 23%).

"Chronic absenteeism has increased the most for disadvantaged students," Malkus writes, "those who also experienced the greatest learning losses during the pandemic and can least afford the harms that come with chronic absenteeism."

6. Families must play an important role in learning recovery

Both studies acknowledge that families must play an important role in helping students – and schools – find a healthy, post-pandemic normal. The problem is, surveys show parents and guardians often underestimate the pandemic's toll on their children's learning . "Parents cannot advocate effectively for their children's future if they are misinformed," says the learning study.

To combat this, the learning researchers propose that districts be required to inform parents if their child is below grade-level in math or English. Those parents could then enroll their students in summer learning, tutoring and after-school programs, all of which have benefitted from federal COVID relief dollars. That funding is set to expire this fall, and some of these learning recovery opportunities may dry up, so the clock is ticking.

7. There's a "culture problem" around chronic absenteeism

Reducing chronic absenteeism, Malkus says, will also depend on families.

"This is a culture problem," Malkus tells NPR. "And in schools and in communities, culture eats policy for breakfast every day."

By "culture problem," Malkus is talking about how families perceive the importance of daily attendance relative to other challenges in their lives. He says some parents seem more inclined now to let their students miss school for various reasons, perhaps not realizing the links between absenteeism and negative, downstream consequences.

"Look, the patterns and routines of going to school were disrupted and to some degree eroded during the pandemic," Malkus says. "And I don't think we've had a decisive turn back that we need to have, to turn this kind of behavior around, and it's going to stay with students until that culture changes."

How do you do that? Malkus points to some low-cost options — like texting or email campaigns to increase parental involvement and encourage kids to get back in school – but says these, alone, aren't "up to the scale of what we're facing now."

Higher-cost options for schools to consider could include door-knocking campaigns, sending staff on student home-visits and requiring that families of chronically absent students meet in-person with school staff.

The learning study goes one step further: "Elected officials, employers, and community leaders should launch public awareness campaigns and other initiatives to lower student absenteeism." Because, after all, students can't make up for the learning they missed during the pandemic if they don't consistently attend school now.

What both of these studies make clear is there is no one solution that will solve these problems, and success will require further investment, aggressive intervention and patience.

Malkus says, even the high-cost, high-return options will likely only drive down chronic absenteeism by about four percentage points. A big win, he says, "but four percentage points against 26% isn't going to get us where we need to go."

Edited by: Nicole Cohen Visual design and development by: LA Johnson and Aly Hurt

NEWS... BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT

Teacher assigned students to write ‘ways to kill’ a classmate

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The incident happened at Crestwood Middle School in Chesapeake, Virginia in January 2022 (

A middle school teacher has been arrested after giving her students an assignment to write about killing a classmate.

The assignment directed students to come up with ‘ways to kill’ one particular pupil within the English class at Crestwood Middle School in Chesapeake, Virginia, according to court records obtained by WTKR on Wednesday.

It was a student’s idea, but the teacher ran with it, the documents state. The students proceeded to work on the assignment on their tablets.

The students’ ideas for killing the student included burning him alive, chopping him, throwing him out the window and giving him to a dog to eat, per the records.

The teacher in Chesapeake, Virginia, surrendered his teaching license

On that night in January 2022, the boy shared the assignment with his parents, who informed authorities.

Questioned on the incident, the teacher explained that the student who was the subject of the assignment did not seem upset by it. The teacher added that it was difficult to engage the students, but admitted that the assignment was not appropriate and should not have been carried out.

The teacher has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of contributing to a minor’s delinquency.

Beside being arrested, the teacher surrendered his license to instruct. He has not been identified.

The teacher was employed at the middle school from August 2020 to April 2022, according to the Chesapeake School District.

‘Our practice is that we do not comment further on such situations involving personnel,’ stated the school district.

‘The safety of our students is our top priority, and Chesapeake Public Schools expects all employees to act with the utmost professionalism to provide a positive learning environment for all students.’

He was let go more than a year before a kindergartner wrote a story in class about her mother firing a gun in a fight with her father. The teacher at Donelson Elementary School in Arlington, Tennessee, reported possible child abuse, which led to the mother’s arrest.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected] .

For more stories like this, check our news page .

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  1. 5 tips on writing better university assignments

    Print University life comes with its share of challenges. One of these is writing longer assignments that require higher information, communication and critical thinking skills than what you...

  2. How to Write an Effective Assignment

    Preamble. This situates the assignment within the context of the course, reminding students of what they have been working on in anticipation of the assignment and how that work has prepared them to succeed at it. Justification and Purpose.

  3. 15 foolproof tips for writing a great assignment

    1. Do your reading Your course or module will have a reading list; make sure you actually use it! Your tutors choose texts to specifically help with your assignments and modules, and you'll gain some valuable insights into the topic that are sure to make writing your assignment easier.

  4. Designing Essay Assignments

    Three principles are paramount: 1. Name what you want and imagine students doing it However free students are to range and explore in a paper, the general kind of paper you're inviting has common components, operations, and criteria of success, and you should make these explicit.

  5. Designing Effective Writing Assignments

    Designing Effective Writing Assignments. One of the best ways for students to determine what they know, think, and believe about a given subject is to write about it. To support students in their writing, it is important to provide them with a meaningful writing task, one that has an authentic purpose, clear guidelines, and engages students in ...

  6. PDF Writing Your Assignment

    Introduction An assignment is something you'll be asked to produce as part of your course, and is usually assessed. There are many different types of assignment, so make sure you understand which kind you have been told to do. This guide will give you some tips to help you get started.

  7. How To Write The Best College Assignments

    - Usage of 'you' and 'I' - According to the academic writing standards, the assignments should be written in an impersonal language, which means that the usage of 'you' and 'I' should be avoided. The only acceptable way of building your arguments is by using opinions and evidence from authoritative sources.

  8. Understanding Assignments

    What this handout is about. The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it can be a tough one. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response. Much of the following advice will involve translating typical assignment terms ...

  9. PDF Strategies for Essay Writing

    When you receive a paper assignment, your first step should be to read the assignment prompt carefully to make sure you understand what you are being asked to do. Sometimes your assignment will be open-ended ("write a paper about anything in the course that interests you"). But more often, the instructor will be asking you to do

  10. Writing Assignments

    Introduction Assignments are a common method of assessment at university and require careful planning and good quality research. Developing critical thinking and writing skills are also necessary to demonstrate your ability to understand and apply information about your topic.

  11. PDF Planning and preparing to write assignments An Academic Support

    Writing University-level assignments Where and when to work on writing tasks Understanding the question: Process words Focusing on the content or topic Course and subject-specific types of writing Planning your writing Types of planning - spider diagrams / Mind MappingTM, outlines, lists Planning assignments by paragraphs "Help!

  12. Understanding Writing Assignments

    How to Decipher the Paper Assignment. Many instructors write their assignment prompts differently. By following a few steps, you can better understand the requirements for the assignment. The best way, as always, is to ask the instructor about anything confusing. Read the prompt the entire way through once.

  13. What Is Academic Writing?

    Academic writing is a formal style of writing used in universities and scholarly publications. You'll encounter it in journal articles and books on academic topics, and you'll be expected to write your essays, research papers, and dissertation in academic style. Academic writing follows the same writing process as other types of texts, but ...

  14. Formatting your assignments

    Place your assignment title at the top of your first page, either centre or left aligned, in bold font. At university, you may be assigned a pre-designed essay title/question, or asked to select from several possible titles. You may also be asked to design your own essay title. Here are some top tips on designing your own title: To bring focus ...

  15. Essay and dissertation writing skills

    Essay writing - six tips Watch on Different disciplines will have different expectations for essay structure and you should always refer to your Faculty or Department student handbook or course Canvas site for more specific guidance. However, broadly speaking, all essays share the following features: Writing your introduction

  16. 10 Tips for Writing Assignments

    Don't let questions about the task encourage procrastination. Do the research early. Collecting and absorbing the material will help you meditate on what you will write, even if you don't get to work on the writing immediately. Leave a strong paper trail. Frequently, the lack of good note taking doesn't register until you are in the throes of ...

  17. Sample written assignments

    Essay Literature review Reflective writing Report Look at sample assignments to help you develop and enhance your academic writing skills.

  18. 12 Professional Tips on How to Write an Assignment for University

    Some important tips for referencing: Arrange the references in an alphabetical list at the end of the assignment. If your teacher does not specify a significant referencing style. You can use the APA style of referencing for your assignment. APA, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago are the various referencing styles used in university.

  19. Writing Introductions and Conclusions

    The introductions are the first part of your assignment that the reader encounters, so it needs to make a good impression and set the scene for what follows. Your introduction is about 10% of the total word count. It can be difficult to think what that first opening sentence should be, or what an introduction should include.

  20. 10 Tips on How to write an Assignment for University

    The simple assignment writing tips that have been presented here would help the students to focus on core assignment writing criterion such as plagiarism, formatting, the significance of error-free grammar, referencing, and the relevancy of the content. Key factors to be considered before writing an assignment Purpose and preparation

  21. How to write better university assignments

    1. Step one on how to write: Use all available sources of information Beyond instructions and deadlines, lecturers make available an increasing number of resources. But students often overlook these. For example, to understand how your assignment will be graded, you can examine the rubric.

  22. How to Write an Essay Introduction

    Table of contents. Step 1: Hook your reader. Step 2: Give background information. Step 3: Present your thesis statement. Step 4: Map your essay's structure. Step 5: Check and revise. More examples of essay introductions. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.

  23. 7 Ultimate Tips to Write University Assignments for Good-Grades

    But the requirements of higher academic papers are a lot more challenging and strenuous. To help you master the techniques of assignment writing we bring you seven effective tips to write university assignments. 1. Always plan beforehand. Nothing good comes out of a disorganized beginning. Without a proper mapping and scheduling of all relevant ...

  24. Professors proceed with caution using AI-detection tools

    Elizabeth Steere, a lecturer in English at the University of North Georgia, has written about the efficacy of AI detectors. She and other UNG faculty members use the AI detector iThenticate from Turnitin. Students' work is automatically checked when they turn in assignments to their Dropbox.

  25. Students are still absent and making up for missed learning post ...

    Families will play an essential role in getting students back on track, researchers say. But it's going to take a "culture" shift around the importance of being in school.

  26. Teacher assigned students to write 'ways to kill' a classmate

    The students proceeded to work on the assignment on their tablets. The students' ideas for killing the student included burning him alive, chopping him, throwing him out the window and giving ...

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