Large pieces of coursework can seem extremely daunting, especially when it comes to writing your final project or your dissertation without the pressure of a deadline. We’ve put together 5 top tips to help you stay calm and keep motivated to tackle that assignment in the most efficient way.
1. Understand and research the topic
This may sound a little obvious, but you would be surprised how many people start working on something without properly understanding the question. Understanding the question is very important! Read it 100 times if that’s what it takes, but make sure that you know the question inside out. What is the assignment asking you to do? What topics does it cover? Get this clear in your head before you do anything. If you’re unsure, our tutors are here to help.
Go through the relevant material for the topic and review your notes to make sure you have at least a rough understanding of the topic. Once you have this covered, start with your further reading list to explore the academic literature on the topic.
This enables you to make sure that you know the topic you are covering fully, leaving you feeling more confident about your work. It makes sure that there won’t be any knowledge gaps within your work, which you could get marked down for. Do not get too intimidated by unfamiliar jargon, for now, just try to make sense of what they are saying.
Do the “future you” a favour and note down any particularly relevant bits and the relevant bibliographic details. It might be useful to compile all this information in a separate Word document. This way when you come to writing your bibliography and referencing section, you’ll have all the information you need in one place.
2. Plan how long it’s going to take
Our course assignments do not have a deadline; however, it is good to plan how much time you need to devote to complete a piece of work. This way you will work most efficiently as you’ll know how much time you need to spend doing each task.
If you require more structure to learn and complete assignments, we can provide you with an IPL (Individual Learning Plan) which your tutor will develop according to your goals. This will involve a set amount of studying hours to complete per week and self-set deadlines for assignments, although we will never enforce deadlines on you or email you to chase up assignments.
As coursework is primarily a research exercise, spending enough time researching the topic is crucial, so don’t skimp on it and go straight to the write-up. Use as many resources as you can: books, journals, the internet, and anything else you think might be relevant. Once you have completed your research the writing stage beings.
3. Plan your assignment carefully
Having a clear plan of what you need to do from start to finish is important. This helps you ensure that you don’t miss out on anything that you would want to include throughout your coursework.
A rule of thumb that can sometimes be utilised is to have three main ideas to develop in your essay. Your assignment should include these ideas in a nutshell, along with your conclusion. A tried-and-true formula usually used by university students for developing each idea is to first introduce factual information (usually things you will have picked up from the material provided), then to cite one or two sources that agree with the idea presented, along with their justification. Then you can provide disputing evidence from someone who disagrees with those studies.
You can further develop this by rebutting or accepting their point with an explanation that you came up with, preferably backed up by referencing a source that provides a similar argument to your idea. Remember that your marker won’t be looking for you to “reinvent the wheel”, but rather have a thought out and developed argument backed up by relevant research.
4. Ask for help
Your tutors are there to help you so don’t be afraid to ask! If you find yourself struggling with an essay plan or a certain concept or a method, don’t suffer in silence and contact your tutor. They will be able to give you advice and guide you on what you should do.
Sometimes things can be confusing and unclear before you’ve even started your assignment. That’s de-motivating right from the outset. Make sure you communicate with your tutor and get your questions answered. The clearer the directions are, the faster you finish the journey!
5. Do a final pre-submission check
Editing is one of the last things you do, but it’s one of the most important. Losing points to typos on a well-researched and persuasively argued assignment is a frustrating thing.
Check your work multiple times for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. When you’ve read through the same piece of work a couple of times, mistakes might be hard to spot so it is always useful to get a friend to read over your work as well.
Go and grab a cup of tea and a slice of cake while they do their proofreading. Then come back and look at it again. Compare your essay with the criteria to make sure you’ve answered the question. Keep polishing your essay until you feel ready to submit.
So, there you have it. A five-point approach to getting started early, staying on track, and handing in work you can be proud of. Try it next time, and good luck.
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