In an academic context, assignments are tasks or volumes of work allocated to students as a part of their educational courses. They are targeted at developing certain skills, abilities, or knowledge according to a curriculum. The syllabus is periodically updated by Australian educational authorities to match evolving requirements imposed by society and to implement improving knowledge about educational methods. So, assignments aim to prepare students for individual work, develop critical thinking and decision-making skills.
Although there is a great diversity of assignments tailored for various disciplines, skills, and goals, below we focus on structured ones. This article explores how to write an assignment considering the structure, layout, process, by following some useful recommendations.
Here is an ordinary structure of an assignment that may be requested by teacher at any academic institution despite your preparation level:
Outline – this is where paper content is described in detail (titles of chapters, headings, subheadings are listed) and is more common for voluminous assignments. If a standalone outline section is missing, a brief outline might be provided at the end of the introduction by announcing the subtopics covered.
Introduction – it is where the purpose and scope of an assignment are explained. This is done by formulating a thesis, a research goal, objectives, by defining finalities or deliverables. In addition, an introduction is essential for capturing attention and for introducing readers into a topic, by explaining, concepts, processes, challenges, problem’s essence, the current state in a field.
Main body. The greatest proportion of content is found here and includes detailed evidence with references to appropriate sources, reasoning, arguments, descriptions, analyses, discussions, all of which are used to advance a topic.
Conclusion synthesizes all information, restating the thesis and the key points made through the prism of previously presented content but also make suggestions about future directions of research, potential limitations, might mention personal conclusions and interpretations.
Apart from the structure, students must take care of the assignment layout by considering formatting and text arrangement. Paragraphs deserve separate attention in this context, in particular:
Paragraph planning. When writing an outline for a relatively short assignment, try planning your content down to the paragraph level. End up with clearly delimited paragraphs of a fairly regular size – this is important for achieving an aesthetically pleasing text but also a regularly paced presentation of content, with a balanced amount of attention dedicated to each idea. Alternating shorter paragraphs with longer ones is fine but these shouldn’t be overly short or overly long.
Linking paragraphs. Paragraphs are not isolated constructs - writers should link them both semantically and by using transition sentences. Doing this is essential in obtaining a smooth content flow.
Below, we explain how to make assignment by following a natural step-by-step process:
Analyse instructions. Read instructions carefully and get a clear understanding of what is required. Highlight or write down key ones. A good recommendation is to periodically revise these requirements, for instance, before researching a topic, after doing this, before writing, during writing. This would help avoid a very common issue which is forgetting some important instructions along the way and deviating from an assignment’s purpose. As a result, you might need to rewrite significant parts or even an entire assignment, which is an incredible waste of time.
Read. Everything starts with some reading and research. Unless it is a very familiar topic, only when you wrap your head around it, you would know what to do. Informing yourself allows understanding fully both the topic and the requirements of a given assignment. If you’ve skipped some classes that are essential in understanding a given topic, go back and study that material before engaging with the content because you must be keenly aware of what you are expected to know when commencing an assignment.
Plan. Once you have a decent understanding of the topic, you are free to decide which aspects are worth covering, what are the key subtopics to be included, how much text would be dedicated to each section or subtopic. You’ll determine which sections should be written first, what sources should be looked up first, what search formulas should be used, how much time would be needed for proper research and write-up.
Draft an outline, based on things you anticipate covering. Planning should be accompanied by designing an outline in which content is detailed in a hierarchical manner. List all key headings of the same hierarchical level and for each heading, list related subheadings. Continue doing this until you exhaust all ideas stored in mind but mind your assignment format.
Find information. Research is a feedback process. Thus, having gathered some info about your topic, one understands better and better in which direction one should focus more as well as which materials are needed and which aren’t. This may lead to significant restructuring and refinement of the original outline as one obtains a deeper level of understanding. Information could be derived from books, scientific articles, databases, websites of various Australian governmental institutions. In each case, save the exact location you took this data from, be it page, paragraph number on that page, URL – you’ll need to reference all this information.
Write. Writing approaches differ depending on the assignment type. For creative assignments, try to turn off your “editing mode” and focus on describing impressions, feelings, ideas, harnessing the creative momentum. Write carefully and systematically by drawing information from reliable sources and using it to reason, build a position, develop an argument. Nevertheless, feel free to write down raw ideas, opinions, connections – these may always be revised later. Nevertheless, review the thesis to ensure that you are staying closely focussed.
Edit and proofread. Even geniuses make mistakes. In addition, in writing there is no limit to perfection and one can substitute a phrase or an expression with a better one. Editing involves rewriting significant portions, rephrasing, deleting and adding passages to improve content quality and relevance. Proofreading focuses predominantly on fixing grammar errors, optimizing word choice, eliminating stylistic errors – all to yield a perfect Australian English.
Format your assignment – bad formatting is what creates a negative first impression of your paper by spoiling its aesthetic look. Ignoring common formatting rules looks unprofessional and should be avoided by all means. Check whether a specific formatting style is required (MLA, APA, Chicago) and if so, match its rules by adjusting the formatting of all elements: cover page, page headers and footers, content headings and subheadings, line spacing, font, paragraph spacing and indentation, formatting of in-text citations and bibliography.
Writing assignments could be easier if you follow some basic recommendations:
The general philosophy of how to do assignments isn’t especially tricky – using the suggestions above and your common sense will get the job done. Problem is that not all assignments are created equal and some of them seem like a true nightmare, especially if students are out of time or haven’t mastered related study material yet. This guide will help you prepare for assignment writing.