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Key skills to improve your assignments

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Do you procrastinate on your assignments or find it difficult to know where to start? Assignments are an important part of the learning process, but they can be difficult and overwhelming when you are first getting started.

Check out these three key tips to brush up on your assignment skills:

  • Start early and plan your attack

Giving yourself enough time to plan and complete your assignment is an especially important first step. This allows you time to gather evidence, formulate your ideas and review your work. It also means you can plan breaks to refresh and relax, rather than rushing it on the last day. Work back from the due date and remember to be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to working on your assignment each day.

After you have planned your time, you should plan out the structure of what you will be writing. Review lecture and workshop recordings and the marking rubric so that you can work out what you need to include in your assignment to get great marks. Then write a brief outline so you know what areas you need to research and can make sure that you are covering everything you need to.

  • Learn to research smart and to take useful notes

Finding evidence to back up your points can be the longest part of the assignment writing process. When searching, you can use handy search tips like those covered on the Uniskills – Finding Information page to help narrow done your search. For example, if I wanted to find resources about mining companies’ ESG actions I could search:

 

Mining AND (ESG OR Environment OR Social OR Governance OR Sustainab*)

When you find a useful source, it is good to organise your notes so that you can make sense of them when writing your assignment. You could try creating a table of the sections of your assignment, or a list of questions you need to answer. Take note of where you got each piece of information by writing down the source next to each point. You can also use programs like EndNote to manage your references. When writing out your notes, make sure they are in your own words or in dot points so that you don’t accidentally plagiarise someone else’s work. See the Uniskills guide on Citing in Your Writing for more information.

  • Leave time to review your work

Making sure that your assignment flows well and makes sense to the reader is an important final step in producing a great assignment. You can use programs like Grammarly (provided free to Curtin students through the Library) to help you find all your grammar mistakes and to give you tips on improving your writing. It even has a plagiarism checker to help you pick out areas where you may have paraphrased incorrectly!

Don’t forget to check your references to see if they are all formatted correctly, even if you have used EndNote to add them. It is also helpful to plan to finish your assignment early so that you can have a break before you come back to review. You will be surprised at how many errors you notice once you look over it with fresh eyes.

 

If you want some additional help the Library has many resources available to you:

  • The Uniskills website has helpful guides to aid with all parts of your assignment, such as searching, writing, and referencing.
  • You can attend a Library workshop on topics including paraphrasing, EndNote, and sentence structure. They run online and in-person, and bookings are essential.
  • Studiosity is a free service available to Curtin students and is a useful way to get feedback on your assignment (usage limits do apply).
  • Book a time to see a Peer Academic Mentor for a one-on-one session to help with academic skills, searching, referencing, and other course-specific questions.

Written by Simonne Brown, Peer Academic Mentor and Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Finance) student.