Assignment Writing Guide – 7 steps for quality pieces

Assignments are complex; they are designed to be that way. The idea is to challenge the knowledge you have gained as you work through your course. Now is your chance to showcase all the hard work you have put in; however, it doesn’t always feel that way. Finding the motivation to begin your assignment is often the hardest to overcome. Once you get through that, knowing where to start is overwhelming. Luckily, we have a few tips that can help you.  

1. Read your workbooks and research material thoroughly

Make sure you know what you’re writing about. Research the topic of your assignment, reread your workbooks and begin your project as well-informed as you can. As you work through your workbooks, take notes, and highlight the important sections that relate most to what you are being asked. If you don’t have the information, your assignment won’t make sense – which will, unfortunately, be reflected in your grade.

2. Plan your assignment out 

Organise your notes and plan each section of your assignment to save yourself confusion and repetition. Keep a copy of the assignment brief and guidelines open while you write – this will allow you to keep on track with meeting all learning objectives. Remind yourself of what the assignment asks you to do and ensure you are ticking all the boxes.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Contact your tutor if you aren’t quite sure what you are being asked in your assignment. That’s part of their job – to offer you support. They may not be able to provide feedback on a complete draft, but they can certainly offer advice on how to begin and which topics to focus on.

4. Keep it simple

Using vocabulary you aren’t familiar with tends to be a go-to when writing an assignment. When tackling academia, the need to ‘smart’ it up is often felt. To put it simply, don’t. Simplicity is the way forward, over complicating your writing will only stunt the flow of your assignment and frustrate your tutors. Write your first draft as if you are speaking it, and then comb through it again to make sure it makes sense. Repeating ‘thus’ at the start of every sentence will quickly become redundant. If you find reading your work back difficult, so will your tutor. Keep it simple, and your grade will thank you for it.

5. Drafting is important

Ernest Hemmingway once said, ‘the first draft of anything is s**t.’ Unfortunately, this often rings true with assignments; your tutors can tell when written work is your first attempt. Take your time writing, and redraft as often as you can. With distance learning, you have the luxury of flexible deadlines, so please take your time. Smooth your writing, eliminate easy-to-make spelling mistakes, and make reading as effortless as possible.

6. Sourcing correctly

  1. If you use quotes and references (which you should) in your assignment, ensure you do it right. Harvard referencing isn’t as complicated as you think; take your time and get adjusted to it. Remember, Wikipedia is not a source! Don’t be afraid to dig deeper with your research. Google Scholar is your friend. Find something that relates to what you’re trying to say and back it up. Always give credit to whomever you are quoting, even if it’s paraphrasing. Anti-plagiarism checks will be made upon submission, and the marks and subsequent investigation are worth more hassle than ensuring you’ve referenced correctly. 

We even have a video to help you with this. You can find it here

7. Leave your introduction and conclusion until the end

The hardest part of an assignment is always the beginning. Once you’ve spat out the usual ‘In this assignment, I will…’ you’re often left stuck. Focus on the main body, ensure you meet all your learning objectives and answer the question you are being asked. When you’re done, your introduction and conclusion should be easy to write because the hard part has already been taken care of. 

Each assignment will require a different approach, so these steps can be applied differently depending on what you are being asked. For example, a Pearson HNC Business Unit 1 assignment will require a different approach to  Unit 4 from our HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering course. Always be sure to read your assignment brief and make sure you understand what you are being asked. Preparation is always crucial, whether it’s a written essay or a maths-based assignment. It will allow you to access the higher-grade boundaries and achieve a better overall grade, whether an ILM Level 3 course or a Pearson HNC.

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