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'If it's not on the marking criteria, it's not worth it!'


When I am given an assignment brief I always feel a sense of panic.

I think to myself, how am I going to possibly discuss a subject in 3,500 words as well as managing a home, children and successfully passing my placements?

I’m now a second year, but when I started my course I’d never written an assignment before. I had never used Harvard referencing. It was a completely new experience.

But it didn’t deter me, I always tried to stay positive and I tried my best.

So how did I do it?

I attended all my lectures and tried to make as many relevant notes as possible. I looked at the reference guides that were available via the university website as I needed to understand what referencing was all about. I didn’t want to get caught up in plagiarism.

I found studying the marking criteria and looking at the weight of the marking helpful, the higher the mark for that element the more detail I would give. I made a plan of what I wanted to include and used this as a guide for my writing. This was to structure my work and most importantly keep to the point. If it’s not on the marking grid I won’t be marked for it!

Evidence is always necessary to support what you write, so where did I get it from? Books, internet and journals. Always remembering to keep it relevant and to the point and most importantly current. I found paraphrasing quotes helpful as this allowed me to show that I understood the research I was reading.

The most important thing I needed while writing an assignment was minimal distractions and pressure. Sounds simple in theory but in practice it can sometimes be impossible. But with lots of forward planning, I managed it.

Once I started to write I soon started to run out of words - so how do you decide what is relevant what’s not? I found proof reading really helpful. The more I read it the more changes I would make. And by using my essay plan I was able to tick the marking criteria boxes.

Thanks to these techniques I thankfully passed all my assignments last year without any resists.

Do you have any tips for writing assignments?

Nicola Pountney is a second year student studying adult nursing at Wolverhampton University.


Readers' comments (2)

  • Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience of developing study skills. Similar advice is provided by the academic team but is often at risk of not being regarded as important. I will be encouraging students to read your comment so that hopefully it may appear more applicable and realistic.

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  • Thankyou Paula for your comment.

    I hope that it helps other students as I have found this approach to be very effective.

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