In order to start on track, complete the following steps:
- Read the question
- Rewrite it, beginning with the words: ‘This task asks me to…’
Use words that you are familiar and comfortable with. Write your version of the question on a piece of paper. Whenever you are working on the assignment, either researching or writing, make sure you have the piece of paper with you. Glance at it regularly to ensure you are staying on task.
Start With The Question: always check that you understand what the assignment is asking you to do. Not fully answering the question is a common reason for assignments not gaining many marks.
Knowing what the question is asking will frame your planning and drafting of your assignment. Try breaking down the question into its separate parts; this will allow you to determine the focus and direction of the question. If unsure approach a member of staff.
Plan: Part of planning for assignments will always be to ask yourself how long you should devote to the developing question part. Do not underestimate the time required to complete an assignment to a high standard. Be sensible about it and plan to work on the question steadily; this will allow you time to process all the information while at the same time considering your analysis/argument.
When planning out your time break down a large assignment into more manageable smaller tasks. Remember you may have multiple assignments so spreading out the time and prioritizing work will help you manage your assignments.
Take Time To Think: a big part of masters is thinking! At higher level it is important to take time to think about your subject and your assignments and the question that has been asked to you. Always ensure that you set aside time to do this. You can refine your thoughts by bringing them together in one place; perhaps writing them down in an assignment journal/note book or by keeping a space at the end or start of your assignment drafts.
Draft The Structure: there are many methods available that you can use to plan the structure of an assignment; it is important to find one that suits you. As before ensure you have analyzed and understood the question before you embark on a plan.
You could break it down further into subtopics, headings or questions you want to answer. Use your notes, and sketch out the main ideas and points you think you want to cover. You may want to try mind maps, spider diagrams, concept diagrams or post it notes to organize the structure. Remember a structure is only a guide, it may change as you progress with your assignment.
Once you have a comprehensive plan or structure, go back to the question. Check whether your plan fully answers the question and addresses all the specific issues in it.