What makes a Successful Assignment?

Assignment essays require a structure with the arguments or topics flowing cohesively through the document in a logical manner in order to create an argument that answers the question asked. If you’ve prepared a good outline, the resulting written work’s structure should develop from that. Reports and Briefing Papers have similar requirements although the logical structure is made explicit through headings and sub-headings.

As you write try to be concise and to the point. Think of the most economical way of putting every point across. Similarly, be as clear as possible. If you don’t understand what you have written the chances are that nobody else will either. Try to give the reader a smooth progression from one idea to the next through your work, rather than a series of random, disconnected points. Your writing should lead the reader clearly and naturally to your conclusion.

With this in mind, you should only use bullet points if they are appropriate, i.e. you have an actual list of brief items that are clearly a list. Don’t write in bullet points because you think it relieves you of the need for a logically flowing structure. Avoid the use of jargon unless you are sure what it means. Likewise, don’t pepper you work with large, unwieldy words in an effort to sound ‘academic.’ Using words that you almost (but don’t quite) understand fully simply makes you sound silly.

Try to put things in your own terms. There is no sense in regurgitating passages from books or articles that you clearly don’t understand, and this in any case carries the risk of committing plagiarism. Nobody wants to see that you have merely read the books; you need to show that you have understood them. A good assignment demonstrates both an understanding of relevant readings and independent thought about a topic.

You should therefore use direct quotations sparingly. Direct quotations should only be used when an author says something utterly unique in a unique and memorable way. Direct quotations are meant to add emphasis and interest to your ideas. They are not meant to be a substitute for your ideas.

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