Preparing for your assignment

First things first

The first step to getting your assignment done is to understand what you need to do. You need to pull your assignment question apart to figure out how to put an answer together that will score you top marks.

So how do you analyse an assignment question? Follow these 4 steps.

1. Get the bigger picture

Do you know what the learning outcomes of the course are? You need to know how your assignment fits in with the course learning outcomes and aims.     

Head to the course profile in myGriffith to find out what they are. How do they relate to your assignment?

Understanding the connection will help you find the focus of the assignment. 

2. Gather all the assignment information

You should be able to find all the assignment details in the course profile in myGriffith. Identify when the assignment is due, how much it’s worth (e.g. 50% of your overall course grade), how long it has to be (i.e. the word limit) and what format it should take.

You will be asked to submit assignments in different formats, such as essays, literature reviews, reports or oral presentations. The Writing your Assignment module introduces you to the different formats and provides an outline of what they could include.  

Be sure to check the marking criteria. It will tell you how many marks each section is worth and how your work will be assessed. If you understand the marking criteria, you can write an assignment that ticks all the boxes for your course.

3. Decipher the assignment task

You need to identify directive, topic and limiting words in the assignment question. These important words help you figure out how to research and write the assignment.

  • Directive words - The assignment task will contain directive words like ‘examine’, ‘analyse’ or ‘compare’. Directive words tell you how to approach the assignment. Not sure what the directive word is asking you to do? Look it up in a dictionary or consult this handy Definition of Directive Words from California Polytechnic State University.      
  • Topic words - Topic words identify the major concepts in your task. These will come in handy when you are looking for resources and help you stay focused on your topic.       
  • Limiting words - Limiting words help narrow the scope of your assignment. They set boundaries for you and are often dates, locations or populations. 

4. Ask lots of questions

Now that you understand what you are being asked to do, it’s time to break down the task into mini questions.  Having a series of question to answer will help you focus your research and writing. It also helps you develop a logical response to the topic.

The assignment task itself may contain mini questions. It may have a primary question and a number of secondary questions. The answer to the primary question is your overall argument.

The secondary questions could be descriptive or analytical. A descriptive question asks for background information or context to the primary question. Whereas, an analytical question prompts you to dig deeper into the assignment topic.