Starting a new assignment can be a little overwhelming. The best way to set yourself up for success is to plan your writing. 

Determine the assignment type  

Firstly, you need to understand what type of assignment you’re writing. There are many different types of assignments, each with their own requirements. Find out how to structure essays, literature reviews, reports and reflective writing on the assignment types webpage. 

Understand what you need to do 

The next step is understanding what the assignment is asking you to do. This helps you plan what content you need to include and how you should write it. Look for directive words. These words tell you how to approach the assignment. 

For example, if the assignment asks you to ‘compare and contrast’ you need to look at two topics and identify the similarities and differences of each. If your assignment asks you to ‘discuss’ you need to write about the topic from different perspectives and consider the wider implications. 

Plan out the overall structure of your writing 

Breaking down the task into smaller pieces can make the writing easier to manage. Most academic writing has a similar structure comprised of: 

  •  Introduction—acts as a roadmap for the reader. 
    • Usually, 10% of the word count. 
  • Body—develops the ideas and builds your argument. 
    • Usually, 80% of the word count. 
  • Conclusion—summarises main points discussed. 
    • Usually, 10% of the word count. 

Start building each paragraph 

Each paragraph is usually 150-200 words and has a consistent structure. Each will start with a topic sentence and finish with a concluding sentence. 

It can be useful to start a paragraph in your first draft by writing ‘This paragraph is about…’.  This will help you identify the main idea of each paragraph. This makes it easier to build on your ideas and make your argument clear.  

Just remember to delete any in-text notes that you’ve written to yourself before polishing your final draft! 

Write and review 

Sometimes it’s easier to begin by getting your ideas down. Then, once the ideas stop, review what you’ve written to make sure you’ve been writing on the topic and remaining on track. Then rewrite your topic sentence so that it’s more specific to your task. Make sure you have a concluding sentence to finish the paragraph. The concluding sentence reminds the reader how this idea is relevant and contributes to your overall assignment topic. 

Practice makes perfect 

Remember, writing takes time and generally improves with each experience. Use the feedback you receive on each assignment to help you improve for the next one. 

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