Understanding Your Assignment

19 Sep

Seems like a simple enough task, right? And it certainly can be as long as you take the time to break it down.

The assignment, more than an outline or brainstorming, is your first step in the writing process. Misinterpreting one thing or another could make any hard work you do after totally pointless, which could result in a bad grade!

Now that we’re done with the scarywarning! part of this post, let’s talk about how you can break an assignment down into its parts.

1) Read it.

– Revelatory, I know, but hear me out. Do not fall into the trap of skimming the assignment while in class, only to read it right before you start the work. Read the assignment ENTIRELY while still in class. Then ask your teacher about anything you do not understand.

2) The Basics.

– Highlight, Underline, or Circle — choose the method that feels right to you & do so to the following:

* Due Date — I recommend writing this down somewhere else, preferably a place you look at often.

* Formatting Requirements — font & font size, page length, etc.

* Content Requirements — aka “the meat” of the assignment. What is the purpose? Is outside research required? What is expected of me?

* Miscellaneous Requirements — for example, will you have to turn in a rough draft? Are extra points possible (say for visiting the Writing Center)? Anything else?

3) The Verbs.

Looking at the verbs used in the assignment will give you a good idea as to how to approach your writing. Check out this link for a handy reference guide for commonly used verbs.

4) What if I’m Still Unsure About Something?

Go to the source & contact your teacher. If that is not possible for whatever reason, come on in to the Writing Center and we can help you!

Follow these steps and you’re well on your way to writing a great paper.


UPDATE: Found a fantastic link that I wanted to be sure to share.

3 Responses to “Understanding Your Assignment”


  1. The Process of Invention « LHS Writing Center - September 21, 2012

    […] already posted about breaking down your assignment to ensure complete understanding so now let’s move to the next stage of the writing process […]

  2. Getting Organized « LHS Writing Center - October 9, 2012

    […] off, understanding the assignment is the key to writing a great essay. Once you’re clear about what’s expected of you, […]

  3. Writing an Introduction: The Map « LHS Writing Center - October 31, 2012

    […] going to provide the larger framework and/or the significance of the topic at hand. Looking back at the assignment and paying special attention to the content requirements and the verbs should be all you need to […]

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