Assignments are never easy. If they were, there wouldn’t be any point in doing them. But just because something is meant to be a challenge, doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to make it easier. Here are five ways to improve your assignment skills and set yourself up for success.
Assessment briefs and rubrics are your friends
This one might seem obvious but it’s amazing how easy it is to forget all about the assignment brief and rubric. These indicate exactly what’s expected of you and what your tutor and unit coordinator are looking for. Read them carefully before beginning and don’t be afraid to keep going back. They will prove faithful companions throughout writing your assignment, keeping you on track and heading towards good grades.
Make a plan
Taking the time to plan ahead can make all the difference. Organising your thoughts and committing them to paper (or, more likely, a blank Word document) will help declutter your mind and give you clarity. From there, you can break the tasks down into manageable chunks. A solid plan will alleviate pressure, help avoid those dreaded due date cram sessions and stave off stress-induced post-assignment madness.
Search for keywords
So much of being a student is about developing efficient and effective researching skills. Sometimes, the odd shortcut can be a saving grace. One worth keeping in your back pocket is the Ctrl+F trick. Pressing Ctrl+F on your Windows computer (or Command+F on a Mac) allows you to search for key words in most PDFs and Word documents. This helps you get a feel for a text while gauging whether or not it’s worth a closer read. Of course, it’s not a foolproof technique, but if your key words searched keep coming up empty, chances are it’s not suited to your purposes. If you get a dozen hits in one article, however, you might have struck gold.
Proofread – with fresh eyes
Nothing muddles the brain quite like hours of intense focus. You’ve made that final push, expended all your mental energy and got the assignment complete. All that’s need now is a quick once over and then it’s submission time, right? Hold that thought.
Take a break. Go for a walk, play a game, cook dinner. Do something other than stare at that screen any longer. And then come back to it. Fresh eyes will let you see the little mistakes you might have otherwise missed. Ideally, you would leave it until the following morning but even a little bit of time away can make all the difference to the final product.
Running into trouble? UniSkills to the rescue!
It’s not uncommon to run into trouble when working on an assignment. There are so many skills to learn and tricks to remember, it’s inevitable you won’t have it all stored in the brain. Luckily, the UniSkills website does a lot the remembering for you. If you encounter a new referencing style or just want to brush up on your academic writing, UniSkills has you covered. It’s a treasure trove for programs, instructional videos and workshops, well worth exploring.
When it comes to assignments, the little things can sometimes reap big rewards. Try out these ways to improve your skills and see what works for you. Good luck!
Written by Tristan Hull
Peer Academic Mentor and Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology and Sociology) student