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How to prepare for assignments


Hands up, who loves assignments? OK, so we’re not expecting to see a sea of hands, but as the old saying goes, preparation is key. If you want to improve your marks then try following these steps.

First things first, make a note of the deadline. It may be three weeks away, but you want to give yourself plenty of time, so plan to have made a start by the end of week one and then work from there.

Make sure you understand the brief. Read it, think about it and if anything doesn’t make sense, ask your tutor to clarify before you start writing or researching.

Next, jot down a simple plan of what you intend to write about. Start with the introduction, then a bullet pointed list of the main content, and finally, the conclusion. Make sure your plan covers everything in the brief. You may find that you decide to move things around as you start writing and your essay evolves, but make sure you’re not going off on a tangent.

Now you can start your research. Remember to keep a list of all the sources you use so that you can reference them correctly at the end of your assignment. If you’re not sure about referencing then ask your tutor or the staff in the Learning Resources Centre.

When you’re ready to start writing, don’t be afraid to just go for it. Stick to your plan and include all of your resources, but don’t worry too much about your word count at this stage. Just get all the main points down in one place.

Take a bit of time out, then come back to it with a fresh mind and start editing. Read it through and cut out anything unnecessary, move things around if you need to and make sections more concise where you were rambling. Get it to the required word count.

Then read it through again this time checking for grammar, style and cohesion – in other words, make sure it reads well and flows from one point to the next. It is much better to read it out loud at this stage as you will be able to hear when something doesn’t sound right.

If you can, ask someone else to read it too and see what they think. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can pick up on things you hadn’t noticed because you’ve spent so long working on it. Once you’re happy, hand it in and give yourself a pat on the back!

When you get it back, make sure you read the feedback your tutor has given you. Keep a note of it and incorporate any improvements into your next assignment. There’s no point making the same mistakes twice – onwards and upwards!

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