Tutor HuntResources English Resources

How To Write Exceptionally Well Without And Academic Bone In Your Body

Have you understood the Assignment?

Date : 05/01/2022

Author Information


Uploaded by : Vanessa
Uploaded on : 05/01/2022
Subject : English

We ve all been there. Some of us more often than others! We ve received an assignment or an essay and thought What the hell is this? You don t even know where to start or if you ve even covered this topic before in your lessons. (You definitely have, it was the same lesson you were scrolling through Instagram and watching TikToks. Naughty!) But whether you like it or not, you need to write this assignment to pass your course. I wish I could tell you that there was a quick fix but unfortunately, in order to reap the fruits of you labour, you need to put in that work!

As you can tell by the ever so catchy title, this is a guide to help those who don t have an academic bone in their body. You may be reading this because you are in one of the following groups of people:

You are not 18 yet and you need to be in full time education. School just wasn t for you!

You like education but you feel you have chosen the wrong course, but you need to complete the course before you can choose what you re really interested in.

You re on the right course and you absolutely love it but, you still don t understand how to write academically.

Whichever group you fall into, it doesn t matter. What matters is that you re here now! You must make the most of the situation and believe it or not, you can still develop the skills needed to pursue whatever it is you want. Yes! Even in a situation that does not seem too favourable.

This guide will outline what needs to go into an academic piece of writing. Whether it s an essay or an assignment, you will learn the key skills to write as if it was second nature.

As a college lecturer, I have seen students make the same mistakes in their writing. This is not necessarily their fault. I believe that if you are not told, then how will you know? (Or maybe you have been told and you weren t listening) So here I am telling you what all your teachers, lecturers and the examining bodies are looking for in your assignments.

1: Have You Understood the Assignment?

I cannot tell you the number of times I have looked at a students work and thought I never taught this. What s even worse is the gut wrenching feeling I get when the student has gone into so much detail, and I just cannot give them the grade for it. That is a different type of pain. But this comes from not understanding the assignment.

What students tend to do, is look at the criteria and just start typing away. Don t get me wrong, we have deadlines we just want to meet and nothing great was ever done without starting somewhere, right? But you need to start well in order to get the right results. Otherwise, you guessed it, you ll have to do it all again.

Take Your Time! The criteria now may look like double-Dutch to you, but I promise you if you follow these steps, it will all make sense.

1. Read the criteria all the way through (if the assignment has more than one criteria, read them all)

2. Read it again but this time highlight the command verbs*

3. Read it one more time and highlight the key words.

4. If you have access to the course textbook and/or the class PowerPoint, ask yourself which learning objective does this relate to?

These four steps are important because, how can you pass if you don t know what the requirements are?

Command Verbs

Did you understand the command verb? This has become my unofficial catch phrase. I won t lie, I need a new one! Hopefully after publishing this book, I will! (One can only hope!)

What is a command verb? I am so glad you asked. Well, a command is basically an order telling you that you must do something, and a verb is an action word. How does this relate to your work? Basically, your teachers and the examination boards need you to be able to demonstrate a certain set of skills. They are telling you that in order to pass this assignment, get this qualification and go off be great I need to know that you can explain quantum physics or list reasons why as a doctor, it is important to wash your hands.

Command verbs tell you what details and how much you need to put into your assignment to get the grades.

Let s have a look at the most common command verbs.

and what they mean

Command Verb



This type of question usually tests your skill of remembering information. It can mean that you need to select from a list of options, point something out or give a list of main features.


This can be seen as the `what is it?` command verb. For this you will need to provide a series of points, which usually need to be linked, that includes all the main features.


This is the `how does something work/do?` command. For this you will need to provide an explanation with reasoning. You will need to use words such as `because` or `therefore` to help you to provide explanations.


You will need to provide a response that explores the issue or situation that is being targeted in the question. You should consider different viewpoints and contrasting ideas such as `advantages v disadvantages` or `strengths v weaknesses.


Here an idea or information needs to be examined and each part explored. Provide good detail in your answer with justified reasons for any conclusions you reach. Analysing requires the writer to break something down into components


This is when you are required to provide a reasoned argument. Much like `discuss` you are expected to give both points of view, consider `strengths v weaknesses` or `advantages v disadvantages`. However, you must then provide a conclusion in which you decide on the most appropriate option and justify your choice.


Reasoned arguments of the factors with a conclusion


give the meaning of a word or phrase


Justify a concept by fully evaluating an example


Show how two or more things are similar and/or dissimilar.

Table 1- Command Verb Table

(BBC BITSIZE, 2021) TOC h z c "Figure"

One final thing. Sometimes you can follow all the steps and still just not get it and that s okay. It is absolutely fine to ask your teacher to explain the assessment to you again. When I was in school, I struggled with comprehension. I would have to be read the questions or assignments because I just did not understand. It really helped just the hear it from someone else. The earlier you seek the help, the better.

The Purpose

Once you have understood the assignment and the command verbs, you need to know the purpose of the paper. The only way you will know the overall purpose is if you look at it in the scope of your course. I would be very concerned if you were not sure what that is. You are the one who enrolled after all! Your instructor has specific criteria which they mark your work against. This criteria are usually identified within your lessons through the learning objectives. This is why it is important to always refer to your course notes (we will talk about this in the next chapter). You need to identify what the purpose is for your assignment. This can be done by asking yourself following:

What are the course objectives and how does this assignment relate to them?

Why have I been given this assignment and asked to look at the criteria/questions in this particular way?

These questions can simply be answered by saying My instructor wants me to

Identify my understanding of the idea/concept in my own words.

Show my ability to apply the ideas/concepts.

Show my ability to analyse and consider possible relationships with the ideas/concepts.

Evaluate different perspectives and decisions related to this topic/concept.

Create a new idea based on this topic/concept.

Once you have decided the purpose and understood each criteria you can move onto the next step.

This resource was uploaded by: Vanessa