Approach to writing an A+ grade assignment |LGAW01

by Dr. Alan October 09, 2018

Girl-completing-her-Assignment

 


You search ends right here. We have put down here ten pointers for you to create A+ grade assignments. Here are the key points.

  1. Topic Analysis
  2. Brainstorming
  3. Developing Questions
  4. Beginning research
  5. Reading critically
  6. Taking notes for assignments
  7. Planning your writing
  8. Structuring your Writing
  9. Editing and proofreading
  10. Time management for assignment

Largely, a very common hurdle faced by most of the students when they arrive at undergraduate level is how to manage so many assignments at the same time. Mostly, in high school level, students are used to long class hours and assignments are quite straight forwards, in terms of containing direct questions that can be answered mostly from the text books. In contrary, in undergraduate and obvious to graduate level, the class hours are quite less and students are provided with much more freedom to study outside class on their own, and express their perspectives.

 

Steps to make A+ grade assignments

 

In the beginning, this freedom is cherished by most of the students as typically they don’t understand that this free time is not to be misused, rather they are expected to study on their own in this outside-class time. A thumb rule to be remembered is that you should spend at least double the amount of in-class time, outside the class. Means, for every hour spent in the class, you should at least spend 2 hours outside the class. However, if one doesn’t understand the importance and necessity of this 2 hours outside the class, after a month or so in the new semester, he or she will find himself or herself completely submerged with a number of assignments, with very little or all most impossible amount of available time to finish them.

Now, as in colleges and universities, lots of importance is given on assignments, failing to submit these within the stipulated deadlines will cost you flat 20-40% of marks for the assignment, irrespective of how well-written and good your assignment were. Hence, utmost care and importance should be given to these assignments and you should diligently follow all the necessary steps to complete these assignments. These steps will not only help you to maintain the deadlines for assignments but also will help you immensely to produce a top notch assignment to get impressive grades. This document will guide you with step by step manner to understand all the necessary steps to produce a successful assignment. For more details of each step, you can follow the respective links to the dedicated page for each step.


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Topic Analysis



 

This is the very first step of completing an assignment. In this step, your primary objective is to analyze the question you have been given for the assignment. As already discussed, in college the questions for the assignment are not that straightforward as it is in high school level. So, most of the students struggle a lot to adequately comprehend the question given to them, and failing to do so, naturally can set them in a wrong direction from the very beginning. Thus, it is imperative that you are absolutely clear about all the details of how to conduct a comprehensive topic analysis.

Topic analysis can be considered the first and foremost step of writing an essay in cases where you have given a topic for the essay by your professor. Otherwise, if you are writing an essay completely based on your choice, then topic analysis will be the step after you have undergone the important step of selecting the topic. On this page, I will completely focus on the first scenario where you are answering a question through an essay or a report. Basically, the primary objective of the topic analysis is to understand what you are expected off and how you are going to structure your essay to meet the expectation. Topic analysis in that way is a very important step behind developing your questions and subsequently planning your writing.

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Steps involved in Topic analysis

 Before you concentrate on the question in your hand, you should think about the following points.

  • The primary objectives of the course you are undertaking and accordingly how you can meet the standards in this essay?
  • The marking criteria of this assignment, especially you should focus on the points that will enable you to get the top marks in the class?

Once you have a clear idea about these two points, you should shift your focus on the question. Especially, the following points should be kept in mind,

  • Read the topic carefully
  • Underline the keywords
  • Explain the topic in your own words, primarily with the help of the keywords
  • Try to find out answers to questions like, what should I write? And how should I write?
  • If you are unable to do that, then you are back to the first step.

Read the topic carefully

In this step you can try to break down the questions into smaller and simpler parts, so that you can comprehend them separately to form the meaning of the entire question. You can also try to underline all the verbs in the questions to get a clear idea of what you are expected to do. Subsequently, you can underline all the nouns to understand what you are supposed to write about or what should be the topic of your essay.

Underline the key words

This step is not actually very different from the earlier one. Here, the focus will be more on identifying nouns that can be considered as key words in writing the essay. Along with this, you can also try to underline or bracket the various limiting words that actually limit the focus of the essay and often involve:

  • Period or time span
  • Place
  • Population or some specific group.

The following image has provided a comprehensive example of how to underline or bracket limiting words.

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(Source: The University of Queensland > Student services > Topic Analysis)

Explain the topic in your own words

This is an essential step to realize whether you have completely grasped the question or not and whether you should proceed on to answer it or take some more time to think over it. This explanation might also help you to formulate the initial schematics of your essay.

What should I write and how

This step can be considered as the first step in really constructing your answer or arguments for the essay. Generally, to jot down different points around the topic, a brainstorming exercise is an ideal practice. In this regard, you should check other steps for successfully completing assignments.

If you find yourself completely clueless in the above step, then you most probably have not understood the topic completely. In that case, you should again begin from first or second steps depending on the level of your doubt.

If you still really find difficult to find some time to read all these steps and complete your assignment, then there are various top assignment help services to help you. You can just approach these assignment providers and give your requirements to them. They will come back to you with the best assignment services.


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Brainstorming



After topic analysis, you are supposed to exercise, brainstorming as the second step. Basically, brainstorming is an interesting exercise of bringing out your most unorganized thoughts, ideas, concepts, plans on to a piece of paper or in a computer. Initially, you might feel this step to be kind of perplexing as one often feels completely blank when asked to do brainstorming. Nevertheless, once you have gained some confidence about how to conduct an enriching brainstorming exercise, you will definitely enjoy this step more than any other steps of writing an assignment. As this step offers you ample scope of innovative thinking and also helps you to unleash your creative potential. From this perspective a fruitful brainstorming exercise, will certainly empower you and will provide lots of satisfaction.

Once you have successfully completed topic analysis, then the next step should be brainstorming exercise to bring all the possible ideas on the paper. Actually, this exercise taps your natural thinking process and then, channelize it into creating a ‘storm’ of ideas. These ideas in the form of diagrams and written words can then be converted quite easily with a good piece of writing. Brainstorming exercise can also be considered as the necessary step before you develop questions and plan to begin your research project.

 

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Brainstorming can be useful for both the common situations you might generally encounter when you are trying to write an essay. These situations are:

You have nothing in your mind

This is the most commonly encountered situations when you feel that you are completely blank and don’t know what to start and how to start. In this kind of a situation, brainstorming definitely brings forth plenty of new ideas to begin with and provide the necessary inspiration for writing.

When too many things in mind

At times, you might find yourself completely confused in this kind of a situation, with too many chaotic ideas to handle. Brainstorming also found to be extremely useful in this case, to bring out all the chaos on a piece of paper and subsequently help you to find the necessary schema or logical patterns to begin the writing.

How to do brainstorming

There are different techniques or ways of carrying out a brainstorming exercise. I will try to highlight a few of the important ones in the following. But I would definitely urge you to be creative in terms of modifying these methods in terms of your own needs and convenience. In this regard, instead of just focusing on method, the most important thing should be that you understand the basic essence of the brainstorming exercise. The following diagram more or less captures all the different ways of doing brainstorming:

Brainstorming map 383*271
(Source: The University of Queensland > Student Services > Brainstorming)

 

In the following points, a few important methods are discussed below

Free writing

For free writing, you just let the pen flow on the paper to jot down whatever is there in your mind. While freewriting, you should not at all bother about grammar, spelling, or punctuation and write key words or ideas as they come. Generally keeping an arbitrary time limit (like 15 minutes) for this exercise will really help you to focus on writing and keep writing even if you think you are writing nothing. This method is really useful as it almost forces you to write something, instead of being over-critical about your own thought process. Thinking and reading critically is a necessary step when you structure your assignment, but not at the time of doing brainstorming. You should also understand other steps of completing an assignment.

Mind Map

Making mind map also helps one enormously to capture the brainstorming process quite precisely. You should first get acquainted with key features of mind maps and then how to create one.

Cubing

Just like a cube has six different sides, you should think about the following six different directions and try to answer them for the chosen topic.

  1. Describe it.
  2. Compare it.
  3. Associate it.
  4. Analyze it.
  5. Apply it.
  6. Argue for and against it.

Journalistic Questions

You can also try to answer the six big questions that all journalists use as the background for their research. These are 5 ‘W’ and 1 ‘H’, i.e. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Write these questions on a piece of paper with some blank space between each of them, where you can fill your response in the context of the topic.

As a concluding remark, I want to highlight the fact that don’t try to ignore this exercise as being silly, because the outcome of this exercise can help you significantly later on, to plan your writing and eventually structure your assignment.

 


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Developing Questions



Once brainstorming is done, you are all set to start building the initial structure of your assignment. For that purpose, you need a set of interesting as well as unexplored research questions as the necessary spearhead of your assignment. As has been the spearhead, research questions need to be sharp and precise. Hence, it is not adequate to only form questions, rather it is imperative that you generate a set of excellent research questions. And for that matter, you need to know how you can develop a set of excellent research questions that can guide your assignment.

 

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Development of questions or research questions can be considered as the very first step before beginning the actual research. Generally, development of research questions should begin with an interesting topic which needs to be analyzed thoroughly to generate a large pool of ideas, concepts, and doubts about that particular topic; and for this, you can always try out a brainstorming exercise. To begin with, you can jot down some questions that can provide you with the following:

  • Give a clear sense of the clarity of your ideas.
  • Lead you to search for statistical data or evidence, depending on which you might plan for your own primary research project.
  • Help you to explore the relationship between the various aspects of the topics in details.

You can form these questions in the form of 5 W and 1 H. Actually, this different kind of questions corresponds to different types of knowledge that you can seek in the context of the topic. These different types of knowledge are:

Procedural Knowledge

This deals with ‘how’ of a topic, or in other words how to do things.

Declarative Knowledge

Declarative knowledge generally obtained with ‘what’ question. It provides the basic description of things.

Configural Knowledge

This generally generated with ‘when’ questions, deals mostly with the time period of events.

Now let us move towards six important properties of a good research question

  1. Identifies the theoretical construct you are trying to understand: A good research question will always direct you to grasp the underlying theoretical underpinnings of your inquiry. This is particularly important for beginning any research as this provides you the necessary focus as well as rigor to carry out your research project.
  2. Demonstrates recognizability and helps you construct a logical structure from the literature: Generally, before beginning actual primary research you are supposed to understand the academic literature concerning your topic. In that process, your primary aim should be discovering major gaps in the existing literature through an adequate critical reading of the literature. Research question should aid that process and help you organize the literature logically.

Research question 320*334

(Source: http://airs.library.qut.edu.au/1/1/)

  1. Transcends the data used in the research: Questions should be such that can’t be answered with a simple analysis of the data used in the research, rather answer to those questions can be obtained only through extensive data mining and reading.
  2. Highlights the significance of the research: The significance of any research solely depends on the importance and depth of the underlying research questions. If the research questions are simplistic and shallow, then the findings are going to be of less importance.
  3. The capacity to surprise: You should always try to demonstrate creativity in terms of developing research questions. Completely unexplored research questions will definitely lead you to make some novel contributions to the literature.
  4. Induces a complex answer: Research questions should not seek very simple yes or no answer, rather these should have the necessary analytical robustness to tease out the intricate nuances of the topic.

After describing the important properties of research questions, let us briefly discuss how to frame good research questions. Different perspectives can be referred to (such as cartography, values and attitudes, social justice, etc.) in this regard to frame the questions. For more examples of framing research question you can visit the page.

In conclusion, it can be said that, don’t consider the development of questions is a static step and ideally undertaken only once in the research. Rather, a good researcher should generate solid, well-articulated research questions to begin with, but should always remain self-reflexive on the issues faced in the research and should be ready to modify the research questions. Along with this, for producing an excellent assignment get accustomed with other steps to complete an assignment.


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Beginning Research



With the research questions, you should then begin your research. As often, assignments at this level you expect to conduct some form of research, mostly from secondary sources, at times even from primary sources. For this you first should be acquainted with how and where to access academic sources of information to begin the research. However, in academia any source of information can’t be used, and due to that reason, you should always verify the sources of information before you use them in your research. Once, you use any sources in your research as well as in your assignment, you should cite them properly to avoid plagiarism.

 

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Once you have successfully completed the brainstorming exercise after you have chosen and analyzed the topic, you should be ready with the basic set of research questions to initiate your actual research project. On this page, you will completely understand what steps are needed to be undertaken to begin your research smoothly as well as effectively. As the word research has the prefix of ‘re’ or again, in front of search, then eventually it is presumed that there is already some ‘search’ conducted by someone in the world for the same or very similar topic. And, ideally, you should understand the findings of those ‘searches’ carefully before beginning any research project, to make your contribution novel and effective.

Browse

As already pointed out, the very first step for any good research should be browsing information from the existing literature. For this, you can always search in all or some of the following sources depending on how far your objective is getting fulfilled.       

  • Libraries: A library, be it online or a physical one on the ground, is the best place to gather sources for your questions. Libraries generally contain in-depth catalogue, listing all of their sources, starting from books, journals, to archival materials. For more on this, you can see an excellent guide by Cornell University called The Seven Steps of Research Process, which focuses on how to use a library.
  • Databases: In addition to libraries, you are recommended to search various available online databases to get more sources published in scholarly academic journals. EBSCOHost and Lexis/Nexis are two of the most prominent databases for this purpose. Except these, if you need information from the newspaper then you can also search in the International Coalition on Newspapers, which can include centuries-old newspapers and popular publications along with their book catalogues. The trick to being able to search appropriate content requires that you understand how these search engines work. The underlying logical structure behind most of the search engine is Boolean logic. You can see tutorials on Boolean searching available on the Internet if you want to refine your skills.
  • Websites: Internet is the oceans of information, so if you don’t know how to swim and find your way to the shore, you can very easily drown. So except Google Scholar, you can check the Search Engine List to know more about academic search engines.

Evaluate your sources

Once you have enough sources in your hand, the next step should be the evaluation of those sources. Primarily, you should concentrate on the following three steps:

  • Determine the usefulness: You should first focus on the relevance of the sources for your research.
  • Evaluating Credibility: You should pay enough attention to determine the selected sources are all from published sources and can be considered as academic material. For websites, pay attention to the domain name of the site.
  • Detecting Bias: Generally good academic material should not have a bias in terms of supporting some ideological or political agenda. Still, you should read all the sources critically to detect any biases. Along with reading critically, you are recommended to see other steps to complete assignments.

Use your sources

The next step is to use the sources to begin your actual research. In the process, you should always be open to refining your research questions if necessary. In terms of using the sources, please keep the following two points in mind.

Citing Your Sources

If you directly quote or paraphrase a concept or idea from a paper, you should always cite the source properly.

Using Quotations

Don’t overuse quotations in your writing. Get familiar with the citation rules regarding how and when to quote directly from research sources.

In addition to the outlined process, it is always good to stop your research periodically and perform checks to make sure that you are still focused on your topic, maintaining deadlines, and on schedule to complete your project or assignment.


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Reading critically



Although the step of reading critically is placed after you have begun research, you should not treat it as just a step and limit it to this position. Rather, reading critically should be an attitude for anyone in academia and thus critical reading should be the backdrop of almost anything you do related to your assignments to completing your courses. At first, you should be clear about what it means to read anything critically. Once, you have comprehended that you should understand all the essential steps of reading critically. As highlighted, you should always try to understand the essence of critical reading and not merely conduct it mechanically.

 

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In both undergraduate as well as graduate level, a student is expected to demonstrate critical reading capability. Critical reading is also an integral part of topic analysis; at the same time, it is highly recommended for developing good research questions and for beginning research on the right track. Basically, critical reading is a rigorous, active, as well as an engaged form of reading. At its core, critical reading should be accompanied with annotated a text or the chapter you are reading. If you keep this annotation properly then it can also serve the purpose of keeping notes for your assignment. In this regards, better to get familiar with other steps to complete an assignment. At times, a student hesitates to do annotations in a library book or even in their own book, because it may devalue the book. However, you should remember that if you are not really annotating text and reading the text critically, you are not getting a real education. So don’t avoid this step at any cost.

What is it?

In a nutshell, to read critically is to understand what the author is arguing. This requires highly reflexive skill where you can “stand back” and gain some distance from the text you are reading. Ideally, you should try to read the text normally to grasp the subject matter first, and then you should begin reading critically in the second attempt. The key points to remember are:

  • Don’t read looking for information.
  • Do read looking for ways of thinking about the subject matter.

When you are reading the text and creating extensive annotations, don’t ask yourself what information I can get from here? Rather, you should ask how is the text argued? How is the evidence used and interpreted? How does the text reach in its conclusion?

How to read critically: The following steps can actually guide you to read a text critically and eventually help you write a critical review of the article or collection of articles.

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(Source:http://www.icjs.port.ac.uk/PathwaysCrime/academic%20skills/reading%20skills/readingskills3.html)

The first step should be to determine the central claim or the main purpose of the text. Through critical reading, your primary purpose would be to evaluate how these claims have been met or validated throughout the text.

  1. Then, think about the possible audience to whom this text is directed to. Which group of scholars or authors are going to engage with this text? What is the historical context within which the text is situated? All these contexts are going to play an important role in your evaluation of the text.
  2. Next step is to understand the kind of reasoning the text has used. What concepts are defined and used? Where any specific theories are discussed or referred? Is a specific type of methodology laid out? Try to get a sense of the underlying logical structure on which the arguments are made? In this regard, you should be aware of the different style of argument organization in different disciplines (e.g. History, social science, biology, etc.). You can see the types of reasoning to understand the above difference between disciplines clearly.
  3. Then, you should pay attention to the evidence the text is produced. In academic literature, an argument should always be validated with supporting evidence. Earlier 3 steps will help you to place the evidence in their context and will produce more accurate judgments.
  4. Critical reading should result in an evaluation. The above steps will make a series of judgements about the way the text has argued. However, in some cases, you might have to assess the strengths or weaknesses of an argument. Whether the arguments are strong, why? Could it be structured differently? Could the evidence interpret differently? What might be a contrasting argument?

In concluding remark, it should be highlighted that ‘reading critically’ should not remain as a mere exercise, rather you should try to become a critical reader from understanding what the basic characteristics of that kind of reader.


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Taking Notes for the Assignment



All the above five points can be considered as allied steps to complete an assignment, from this step onwards you will see how actually you can start writing an assignment and eventually complete it successfully. Taking notes is always a good habit for any students at all levels. In undergraduate and graduate level also, you should be aware of the importance of note taking. Along with it, you should always polish your skills of note taking. The clear knowledge of different strategies of note taking is also immensely vital in terms of producing effective notes that will substantially aid the assignment writing process.

Note taking is a very ancient scholarly form of art, even scholars in Shakespeare’s time used to carry a “table books”, just to portray themselves as “note takers”. In current academic standards, note taking is considered as a sign of a good scholar. From a strictly student perspective, note taking is highly recommended for planning your writing as well as structuring your assignment. Even, effective note taking habits will help you immensely to manage your time  and maintain your deadlines. In this regard, note taking is not only recommended for your assignment, however, you should be familiar of employing note taking as an effective strategy in terms of grasping any scholarly article.

 

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Why take notes?

  1. First of all, taking notes of the lecture to enhance your comprehension and retention capability. It is found in studies that if relevant information was contained in notes, then it had 34% more chance of retention.
  2. Lecture notes on research article can actually clarify ideas not fully understood in the text or help elaborate on material that the text mentions only briefly.

Effective note taking skills

Effective note taking requires

  • Recognizing the main points
  • Identifying the piece of information relevant for your task
  • Having a system of note taking that works for you
  • Converting the information to note and diagram
  • Wherever possible, try to put the information in your own words
  • Keeping track of the source of information.

Note taking strategies:

  1. Be selective and systematic: As you take notes from a source, you should keep in mind that all the information might not be relevant for you. Rather, you should concentrate on the deciding between following purposes of your reading.
  • Are you reading it for general understanding or information?
  • Are you reading it for a specific information that may relate to an assignment or a topic?

Before you start to take notes, skim through the text and then highlight or mark the main points and any relevant information you may need to take note from.

  1. Identify the purpose and function of a text: Identification of the purpose as well as the function of a text helps you structure your note-taking exercise. For this, you should be familiar with strategies to read a text critically.
    • First concentrate on the title and abstract.
    • Read the introduction or first paragraph.
    • Skim through the text to take note on the topic heading and to understand the structure of the article.
    • Follow the graphic materials (figures and tables) to predict its purpose in the article.
  2. Identify how information is organized: Most text employs a range of organizing principles to structure the arguments. Organizing principles tend to sequence information in a logical hierarchy, some of which are:
  • Past ideas to present ideas.
  • The steps or stages of a process.
  • Most important points to the least important point.
  • Simple ideas to complex ideas.
  • General ideas to specific ideas.
  • The largest to the smallest part of something.
  1. Include your own thoughts: In a note-taking exercise, you should also pay attention to include your own thought about the text. However, for this, you should record it in a separate column so that you don’t get confused later on.

The following note-taking check-list can help you immensely to ensure that taken notes are comprehensive.

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(Source: http://tutorials.istudy.psu.edu/notetaking/notetaking_print.html)

As a final remark, it can be highlighted that note-taking exercise at times can be found a very rigorous and time-consuming process. However, considering the benefit of the exercise you should not hesitate to invest any amount of time it demands. Except note taking, you should be familiar with other different steps of completing assignments for ensuring good grades.


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Planning your Writing



After you have taken good notes, you are supposed to start formulating a comprehensive plan for your assignment. You should spend solid 1-2 hours in drafting the plan before you go on to the next step. There are different types of method for planning to organize as well as structure the planning process. Remember to listen to your gut feeling in deciding which method suits you the most, as in this case the final result, i.e. The plan for writing is more important, not the chosen method.

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Planning your assignment is one of the essential steps for getting a good grade in assignments. Planning your writing also helps you to think the matter more clearly. Usually, planning of writing needs a set of good notes that you have taken on the targeted text. On the other hand, once you have a meticulously laid down plan, the job of structuring the assignment becomes really easy and you can save lots of time in proofreading and editing. A proper planning process, eventually, streamlines the entire assignment solving process and thus help you manage time effectively for assignments. It is imperative that throughout this planning process, you should ask yourself “what do I need to do to answer the question effectively?”, rather than asking “which quotes or pieces of information do I need to incorporate?”.

When should you draft the plan?

Ideally, as soon as you get the assignment, you should initiate the process of planning. This will provide you with an ample amount of time to refine the planning process and will also help you avoid excessive workload as the deadline approaches.

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(Source: https://student.unsw.edu.au/essay-and-assignment-planning)

Types of planning

There are several methods that you can follow to structure the planning process. Concept map, outlines and a list will be discussed.

Concept Map

Generally spider chart or mind map is considered as different types of concept map format that you can use to manage your thoughts. You can try out making a spider chart in excel as that is quite efficient and easy. The initial process of making these concept diagrams start with the step of jotting down the main idea in the center of the page. Then think about other directly related ideas and how you can connect all of these in a logical manner. Mind mapping is a particular way of consolidating ideas and you should familiar with how to create mind maps to make use of this tool to the fullest. You can take help of various free as well as paid software packages (e.g. Inspiration, Mind Manager) to help you create mind maps.

Outlines and Lists

Outlines or lists help you see how ideas follow from each other. At times, outlines can be considered as the written form of the diagram you prepared as the concept map. Thus, most of the mapping the programs allow you to view your plans in the outline as well as in the diagrams. The following steps can be followed to make an outline.

  • First pay attention to your research notes.
  • Then, try to conceptualize how these notes can be brought together under a few sections of the paper. Primarily, a paper is consisted of three sections, introduction, body, and conclusion. You should be completely clear about what should be included in what sections?
    • It is often useful to think about the body first and then focus on the introduction and conclusion. That generally helps you to maintain coherency in the article throughout.
    • It is quite likely that you will find that two or more questions about your research will come under the same heading in your plan. No need to panic, rather you should then try to think of a common heading that will summarize all the different questions.

As you are going through the writing process, don’t forget to include adequate links between ideas in all levels (between sentences, between paragraphs and between sections) and stitch them together. This ensures that the writing becomes lively to your reader. Sharpen your skill in paragraph planning to help you impress your reader. Get familiar with other steps of completing your assignments to highly impress your professor.


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Structure Your Writing



With a good plan in your hand, you should focus on structuring your assignment. Like a building, an assignment also completely stands on the underlying structure. Hence, at any cost, you cannot get loose on this step. Extending the similar analogy, paragraphs can be considered as the bricks of an assignment. Thus, your first task should be to understand how to structure paragraphs and what are different types of paragraphs used in structuring an assignment. Then, you are required to know what makes a good essay.

 

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Once you have created concept maps or guidelines while you have planned for your assignment, you should begin writing the assignment. As you write, you might get some new ideas to structure your assignment. But, you should always refer back to your initial plan to evaluate whether the new ideas can be meaningfully incorporated in the overall plan or in the paragraph you are writing at that moment. Actually, any forms of essays are the collation of different types of paragraph. So, one of the integral parts of structuring is to understand what are different types of the paragraph, and when and how you should use them in your assignment.

Paragraph planning

For writing every paragraph, get clear on the main idea you are trying to convey in that paragraph. In the beginning of the paragraph, write a clear topic sentence to inform the reader what to expect from the paragraph. However, deciding the main idea often is not going to be enough, you have to be sure of how you are going to discuss the idea in the paragraph. On the basis of how the main idea is discussed, different types of the paragraph are discussed.

  • List paragraphs list out different ideas. Linking words used in this type of paragraph are: similarly, additionally, next, another example, furthermore, firstly, secondly, thirdly
  • Cause and effects paragraphs should describe the cause and effect of the main idea. Linking words used in this case are, consequently, as a result, therefore, results indicated, etc.
  • Compare and contrasts paragraphs compare different views of the various authors around the main idea. On the other hand, similarly, by contrast, conversely, alternatively, etc. Are the linking words used in this paragraph.
  • Problem solution paragraphs list the problem as well as the solution concerning the main idea. Linking words are outcomes included, identified problems included, other concerns were overcome by, etc.

Linking paragraphs

Check your plan or map to identify key concepts that can be used to link the different sections of your assignment. If there is an idea that keeps occurring in various parts of the assignment, then you can mark it as a theme to link your paragraphs. For examples of linking paragraphs through the efficient use of linking words, please visit.

Different parts of an essay

Although different types of essays have different specifications for different parts of the essay, it is always good to understand how to structure the three most important portions of any essay as being introduction, body, and conclusion.

 Structure of an assignment

Writing an introduction

Introduction generally provides broad information about the topic. Typically, it includes

  • Background or the context on which you are basing your essay. This hint the reader about necessary area of academic literature you contextualizing your article.
  • An outline of issues or topics that will be covered in the essay.
  • A thesis or main idea which is your response to the question given for the assignment.

Please see this example of introduction, body, conclusion of an essay to understand the above points more clearly.

Writing the body

  • Each paragraph from the body section should be linked to the outline and the thesis statement.
  • Body paragraphs should contain the argument you develop as a response to the question. Arguments are built by linking points in and between paragraphs.

Writing the conclusion

  • Describe the most important point established in the essay.
  • Don’t include any new information, and thus should not contain any reference.
  • End with your own view about the topic, and also the further scope of research.

After you have structured and written your assignment, you should see how to proofread and edit your assignment and how to manage your time to complete the assignment well within the stipulated deadline for getting good grades. Along with the above steps, it will be highly beneficial if you check all the other steps for completing an assignment.


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Editing and proofreading



Most of the students find these steps very monotonous and boring. However, often it is found that proper editing and proofreading can enhance your marks by 20-30%. Hence, never underestimate this step and devote a significant amount of your energy and time for this one. Mostly, students consider editing and proofreading as the two sides of the same coin, but in reality, it is not the case. You should definitely try to clearly understand the different purposes and steps involved in editing and proofreading. At times, it is productive to exchange assignments among close friends for doing editing and proofreading.

 

Editing and Proofreading 550 × 372

 

Generally, once you have already gone through the rigorous steps of planning your assignment and structuring as well as writing your assignment, you might tend to take this editing and proofreading step lightly. However, a thorough editing and proofreading of your assignment can make a huge contribution to your grade. So, how much ever you feel this step to be redundant, you should follow this meticulously. And, when you plan for managing time for your assignment you should always keep sufficient time for editing and proofreading. You should also get familiar with other steps of producing a top quality assignment, to understand the importance of editing and proofreading.

What is meant by editing and proofreading, are these are the same?

Both editing and proofreading, loosely, refers to revising your work, or looking at it again to ensure that it’s well-written, reads smoothly and make sense to the reader. Although most of the students tend to take both these steps as the same thing and use them almost interchangeably, both these steps are quite different and very distinct purposes.

  • Editing means checking your assignment to ensure that it is clear, logical, well-written, factually correct, and forms a meaningful whole.
  • On the other hand, proofreading generally employed after editing and generally, mistakes in grammar, spelling and formatting are checked.

Editing-and-proofreading

(Source:http://carsondellosa.secure.miisolutions.net/media/cd/images/product/large/168073.jpg)

 

Different components of editing

  • Content:
  1. Re-read
    • Your assignment sheet
    • Marking criteria sheet
    • Other information from your lecturer
  2. Check whether you have answered the question properly or not.
  3. Create a checklist for all the requirements of your assignment to see whether you have covered all the points or not.
  • Structure: You should check whether different components of your essay are serving their purposes You can cross check all the points below.
    1. Introduction:
      • Should contains your
      • The structure of the essay should be outlined.
      • The scope of the essay should be discussed.
    2. Body:
      • Each paragraph should develop only one idea which is stated as the topic or the thesis statement.
      • All the arguments are based with evidences.
      • Linking words or phrases are used throughout the article to create a smooth flow between the paragraphs.
    3. Conclusion:
      • Repeat the main point of the essay.
      • Restate your thesis, and express your view about it.
  • Academic style: You always write your assignment in academic style. Means, you should
    1. Use object tone
    2. Focus more on evidences and facts, rather than opinion
    3. Consider different points of view.
  • Sources: For this you should ask yourself “have I indicated the source of every piece of information I have used in the assignment?”. Remember, that
    1. Any used source should be mentioned in the in-text citation and in
    2. Sources should be recent and from authentic sources.

Proofreading

Once you are done with editing, you should move on to proofreading. Proofreading is done at the following levels.

  • Word choice:
    1. Be concise.
    2. Use specialized word or jargon where necessary.
    3. Remove slang and colloquial word.
  • Grammar: You can use a software for checking the grammar. Otherwise, you can see whether all the sentences are complete and are these making sense?
  • Punctuation: Check whether you have punctuated all the sentences properly.
  • Spelling: The last but not the least thing is to check the spelling. Generally, now all word processing software has the auto correct feature. In this regard, pay attention to whether your instructor follow the American or Australian English spelling and maintain the consistency throughout the assignment.

 


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Time Management for Assignments



As indicated in the introduction that in colleges and universities, often there are stricter deadlines and a significant percentage of marks is directly contingent on the fact whether you are maintaining deadlines or not. Hence, at this level you should not have any doubts about how to plan your time and how to execute an effective time management practice. Although it is often found that time management skills highly depend on one’s personality, you should give this step your hundred percent, and take the necessary help from various available software for time management.

Managing time for your assignment is an indispensable skill that every successful students need to learn, especially in college. Unlike high school where teachers, mostly structured your assignments and classes filled your day, in college, you will have comparatively less in-class time, more outside of class work, and a great deal of freedom and flexibility. Generally, students get overwhelmed by this freedom, and don’t realize the importance of time management to get the most of this flexibility. And this negligence very clearly gets reflected in their grades.

 

Time Management 550 × 372

 

Plan your time

Typically, in graduate or even undergraduate level, a student should spend 2 hours outside class, per hour of class time. This means that if you are taking a 12 credit course, then every week you should try to spend at least 24 hours outside class for reading, writing for a class as well as an assignment. On an average, 10 to 15 hours outside class-time should be reserved for completing a 1000 to 2000 word assignment. The most effective way to use this time is to spread it over a few weeks, depending on the deadlines of various assignments. Nowadays, almost everyone has access to smart phones, you can use a free planning application like Google Calendar, with a reminder feature. Use this type of application to spread out the stipulated time for the assignment over a week or multiple weeks.

Time management comprises of four main components

  • Organization: Realizing the basic routines and systems that benefit you most can be extremely useful and remove a lot of worry from your life. Some examples are: where to store notes, how much sleep you need, what sort of sleep schedule fits you best, when to work, etc.  Making these beneficial routines for yourself will maximize your productivity and leave your mind free to contemplate other matters. I am not suggesting any one size fits-all method of routines, instead, figure out what works best for you and your unique circumstances.  Staying organized is also a must for just about any serious multi-tasking.
  • Prioritization: You should not only prioritize between your personal, social and academic life, but also create detailed priority plans for various courses and assignments depending on deadlines and the importance of those assignments and credit of courses link to those assignments.
  • Pareto principle: The third components might be the least well-known one. The basic idea of this principle is that for most areas in life you can get 80% of the results or end product, with a well-placed 20% of the effort or input. Understand that in terms of assignments as well as courses to extract maximum benefit out of your entire effort.
  • Focus: Once all the above components are taken care off then you need to focus and carry out your plans diligently.

Managing Assignments

Following points will highlight how you can efficiently manage your assignments.

  • Always, put aside some time in each week to work on assignments for each subject.
  • Allocate yourself a small part of the assignment writing process each week.
  • Try to use a semester planner
    • Write in the weeks of the semester and the courses that you are doing.
    • Assign some portions of the writing task to each subject every week.

The following diagram shows an example of semester planner.

time table for assignments

(Source: http://www.uq.edu.au/student-services/learning/effective-time-management-for-assignments)

For effective time management, please see how to plan your assignment and how to structure your assignment. Along with these, always keep sufficient time for editing and proofreading the assignment. Also, check out other steps of finishing an assignment.

Once, you are completely familiar and confident with these steps, it is expected that you are capable of producing top quality assignments if you are clear with the subject matter. However, often students find it difficult to understand how to approach different types of assignment like essay, literature reviews, Annotated Bibliography, Journal Article, etc. It is highly recommended that you should be clear about all the different steps to produce different types of assignment before you begin.


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